Two former Presidents of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr Goodluck Jonathan, were among dignitaries who felicitated with Chief Gabriel Igbinedion at his 85th birthday thanksgiving service held yesterday at Saint Gabriel The ArchAngel Catholic Church in Benin City.
The church, which was filled to capacity by parishioners, also had traditional rulers, politicians, clergies, friends and well-wishers of the Patriarch of the household of Igbinedion in attendance.
Delivering the homily, titled “Gratitude and Thanksgiving: A fulfillment of God’s will,” Rev. Father Alfred Agbonlahor, charged the congregation to take thanksgiving, which is a moral obligation of Christians, seriously in order to attract God’s blessings.
The priest who cited relevant sections of the Bible, including Luke Chapter 17 verse 17 and 19, that talk about the 10 leapers who were cleansed by Jesus Christ, but only one returned back to show gratitude.
He likened the celebrant, Igbinedion as a distinguished entrepreneur and a man after God’s heart for contributing immensely to human capital development in Edo State in particular and Nigeria at large.
He also described the Octogenarian as a dogged man who does not give in the face of daunting challenges in life.
“If there is no investment, there is no future. You have diversified your investment; even before we were born, you raised many people through your act of generosity,” Agbolanhor said.
The Catholic Archbishop of Benin Metropolitan See, Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze who presided over the service, blessed the mass.
The Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare, II who was represented by Chief Eduwu Ekhator, The Obasogie of Benin; and Chief H. Bazuaye, The Aiwerioghene of Benin; and were accompanied by Chief Sam Igbe, the Iyase (Prime Minister of Benin), to the event.
A former Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu; former Senate Whip, Senator Rowland Owie; Mr. Parry Osayande, Deputy Inspector-General of police (retired); former minister of Industry, Mrs Nike Akande; and former minister of Science and technology, Prof. Emmanuel Emovon attended the service.
Others were Senator Matthew Urhoghide, representing Edo South senatorial district; and Prince Sunny Omatseye while the Alaafin of Oyo, and the Ooni of Ife sent goodwill messages.
Also in attendance was the Vice-Chancellor, University of Benin, Prof. Faraday Orumwense and his wife, Mrs Francisca Orumwense, who led members of the Governing Council of the ivory tower to the event.