By Sam Eyoboka
WITHIN 60 hours two democratic-ally elected presidents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, one serving and the other retired, visited the oil city of Warri on account of another president, this time the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayodele Joseph Oritsejafor.
The charismatic cleric was celebrating his birthday, 40 years in ministry, 25th anniversary of his church as well as the 25th convention of the church and President Goodluck Jonathan with Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan in tow and erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo reputed to be the political god-father of the former visited Warri at different times to felicitate with the celebrant.
Eminent traditional rulers like the Olu of Warri and the Orodje of Okpe, their counterpart from Gbaramatu Kingdom as well as seasoned preachers of the gospel from the local scene as well as the international community also participated in the 10-day spiritual fiesta that featured a variety of programmes for every participant.
Apart from the presentation of a jet to the celebrant on November 10, his birthday which was watched by the serv-ing president, and which has generated so much interest across the nation, there was a presentation of a book written by the celebrant, a public lecture on ways to fashion unity among Nigerians, health and business seminars. There were also career counseling for the youths as well as sessions for the women-folk on how to manage their homes.
Over 700 delegates from 30 states of the federation in addition to several others from neighbouring countries of Ghana, Cameroon, Togo and Senegal attended the programme.
There was free accommodation and feeding for all the delegates throughout the duration of the event just as they got free medicare at the health centre owned by the church.
According to the head of the medical team in charge of the church’s medical ministry which is different from the Eagle Health Clinic, Dr. Solomon Oru, there was an upsurge of patients during the Jubilee as delegates from mostly the northern part of the country naturally were treated for ailments due to the change of weather.
Dr. Oru said the clinic which is being run by a volunteer medical team attended to some medical emergences by prov-iding medical services free to all persons, noting that there was no major medical situation.
“The clinic is open to all and sundry every Sunday; and during major church programmes such as this Jubilee Word Festival and the services are available for everybody irrespective of religion or tribe free of charge. Participants especially those who have be affected by the change of weather and others who after long trips to Warri needed some medical assistan-ce,” he stated.
The head of the team emphasized that the clinic is a full medical bay that is open for 24 hours to anybody who wants to avail him/herself of any medicare at very subsidized rates at the clinic, pointing out that the church had decreed that on Sundays and during major programmes all medical treatment should be free.
“We encourage people to come for treatment at any time of the day at the clinic,” he said adding that the medical ministry gives talks on common medical conditions that people very often neglect and could be very devastating to their health. “We give such talks to help them better appreciate their medical status and prepare them on how to better manage such conditions and live quality lives and make quality contributions to their families and the nation as a whole,” he stated.
Absence of okada didn’t stop traders from making brisk business
Business persons in Warri and especially all around the Okere, Ajamimo-gha, Airport Road right up to the Ogunu axis smiled to the banks as the upsurge of per-sons from different parts of the country and other countries boosted their sales tremendously.
Sellers of religious materials—books in-cluding bibles, hand-crafts, female head gears, handbags, local dresses, and much more did great business as they virtually took over all the approaches to the Word of Life Bible Church in the neighbourhood.
Hotels in Warri were fully booked just as food vendors, eateries, business centres, as well as barbers and fashion houses in the vicinity would have loved to see the programme extend-ed to make way for in-creased business.
The only persons who missed out in action were the ubiquitous motorcycle operators popularly known as Okada. This group of persons, who should be making huge business were no where to be found, no thanks to a governmental policy that banned okada op-erators from operating in the commercial city of Warri and the state capital, Asaba.
Participants compl-ained severally, saying that the tricycles deploy-ed to Warri have not filled the gap left behind by the ban on Okada operators. They there-fore appealed to the state government to assist the people of the state by deploying more tricycles to the oil city as soon as possible to alleviate the sufferings of the people.
Tremendous exp-erience, says Pro-phet El-Buba
A former Islamic cultist who experienced conversion in 1982 and is the president/General Overseer of Evangelical Bible Outreach Ministries in Jos, Prophet Isa El-Buba who spoke on behalf of all the northern delegates described the 10-day spiritual fiesta as a tremendous experience.
“Well it’s been a tremendous experience because for somebody to be able to clock 40 years in ministry is a tremendous experience in the life of one man that has been consistent. One man that has a proving character, one man that has also shown the way to the younger generation and one man that has been consistent.
“It’s one thing to begin a journey; its one thing to come midway and it’s another thing to keep on consistently. And it’s tremendous for me to be here to see the grace of God. It’s just like the days he began, the zeal and the fire in him is like he just began. Truly, this is the beginning of a new beginning,” he stated when asked about his impression about the celebrant.
Asked what his message would be for Papa, this is what he said: “Papa, it’s our pride to have you; you are the pride of every true believer. You are the pride of the Church in Nigeria, in Africa. You are the pride of all of us. We look up to the grace of God upon your life. As we imitate the steps of God and the steps you’ve taken, we follow you as you follow the Lord. We are so proud of you.
“Actually I was meditating that you still have 40 more years to celebrate and that means that we’ll be around to celebrate with you on your 80th celebration in ministry. Congratulations. We love you so dearly, and the people of Plateau State love you so dearly. The Lord bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. We love you Papa,” El-Buba prayed.