By Nwabueze Okonkwo
The Metropoli- tan Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Most Rev Valerian Okeke, has admonished the inmates of Nigerian prison, Onitsha Correctional Center to always have absolute faith in God, who he said never fails in any given situation.
In his homily while celebrating his 66th birthday anniversary inside the St Maximillian Chaplaincy, Onitsha prison center, Archbishop Okeke reminded them that their period of incarceration may be a turning point later in life, pointing out to them that Abraham believed he would be father of all nations when God told him so even when he was still childless.
According to him, “your stay here is a period of prayer, reformation, change and turn around. If you came in here out of your misdeeds, take it as a reformation stage but if you didn’t commit anything bad, but you are here, God is planning greater things for you”.
He noted that it was for this reason that decided to build a multi-million naira ultra-modern skill acquisition center which was completed and handed over to the Nigerian prisons during last Easter period to train the inmates on various skills so that when they complete their jail term and come out, they would be useful to themselves and the society.
The Archbishop who commiserated with the victims of Onitsha fire disaster and promised that the Archdiocese would help the state government to put smiles back on their faces, further noted that a good leader cares for his subjects and should always be a conduit of God”s power, who perseveres in prayers to win the battle always.
The celebrant announced the presentation of gift items to the inmates ,including tubers of yams, bags of rice, toilet tissues, cartons of bar soaps, tooth brushes and pastes for all the inmates, coolers of rice cooked with a cow, a live cow and some bags of rice for another day’s meal, amongst others.
The wife of Anambra State Governor, Dr Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano represented by the Commissioner for Basic Education, Professor Kate Omenugha and other government officials both at state and federal levels who were on ground to celebrate with the Archbishop, also presented coolers of cooked foods and bottled water with other consumables for the inmates to add up to the Archbishop’s own gifts.
Speaking after the mass,Comptroller-General of Prisons, Alhaji Ja’ afaru Ahmed represented by Lady Clementine Okereke,Assistant Comptroller General Incharge of Zone G Benin commended Archbishop Okeke for his humanitarian services towards the spiritual and physical reformation of the inmates, as as she thanked him especially for building a skill acquisition center for the inmates.
According to Mrs. Okereke, “Our Comptroller-General, though a Muslim, appreciates the contributions of Archbishop Okeke. This church which is the biggest among other churches in all the Nigerian prisons nationwide was erected by His Grace, Archbishop Okeke.
“Your Grace also provided vehicles to Onitsha prisons, sank water bore-holes, modern toilet facilities and above all, the ultra-modern skill acquisition center where tailoring, hair dressing and other skills would be impacted on the inmates. We are so grateful to your Grace”.