By Vincent Ujumadu
Awka—FOR the first time since his controversial article which dwelt on the presidential aspiration of the Labour Party, LP, candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, Governor Chukwuma Soludo and former Governor Peter Obi met at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, yesterday.
The occasion was the thanksgiving Mass for the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, who celebrated his 70th birthday.
Before the commencement of the church service, Governor Soludo stepped out from the pew where he was sitting and walked up to where the LP presidential candidate was seated to greet him.
Both hugged each other to the admiration of the congregation, with Soludo welcoming Obi to Awka before returning to his seat.
I’ve no rift with Obi—Soludo
Speaking during the thanksgiving Mass, Soludo insisted that there is no quarrel between him and the former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi.
The governor said: “Let me tell you, we, (himself and Obi), spoke two times just last night. We are brothers. You know I’m not one of those politicians that speak from two sides of the mouth. I can’t pretend. I’m a politician, but also want to make heaven. I’ll keep saying the truth.
“There’s no rift between Obi and me at a personal level. Nobody snatched each other’s wife. What appears to be the rift between us is fundamental political differences. Nothing else.
“On the fundamental differences we have, we are going to meet in the next few weeks. We’ve agreed to discuss and iron out our differences. Unfortunately, he’s left. We must get it done. Anambra is for all of us.”
Appreciating God for sparing the celebrant’s life to attain 70, Soludo said Ezeokafor has been of great influence on him and his government, especially in the area of prudence and patronage of locally made products.
He said: “You changed my thinking when you visited my village house in 2019 and rejected the foreign wine offered to you in the place of palm wine. Today in Governor’s lodge, the highest wine served there is palm wine.
“I was also humbled by the moderate type of car you drove to my house. You told me you chose not to go with a vehicle far above the average of those you’re pastoring. I think this is exemplary.
“When you see me drive Innoson cars, that’s part of the inspiration I got from you. If not for security, I would have been riding bicycles to work.
“We’re taking the prudence you taught us to the next level because when we came in, it cost us over N137m to clean offices. Now, it cost barely N11million. I can only promise to take the message to the world.”
Obi congratulates Ezeokafor at 70
Also yesterday, Mr Peter Obi, felicitated with the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, who marked his 70th birthday celebration with an Episcopal High Mass at Awka.
Obi, who addressed journalists in Awka, described Bishop Ezeokafor as one who has continued to dutifully execute his covenant with God and His people in all ramifications. Obi said the Bishop had continued to demonstrate his love for God by caring for God’s people and meeting their physical and spiritual needs.
Speaking highly of the cleric, Obi said: “The love of God which radiates through him to all the faithful is aptly captured in his motto: “caritas mea cum omnibus vobis in Christo Jesu.” Continuing, he said that a critical look at the activities planned for his birthday, culminating in the empowerment of the less privileged, are practical demonstrations of his motto.
“Right from your days as a priest, you have continued, whether in the parishes, seminaries, or other educational institutions, to deploy your knowledge and rich experience in the discharge of your pastoral duties.
“People and institutions that have interacted with you appreciate your dedication and hard-work.”
Recalling his days as the Governor of Anambra State, Obi said Ezeokafor gave him huge support and encouragement, especially during his challenging times.