BreakingNews 21/12/14 - Peter Obi's Papal Knighthood

[ Masterweb Reports: Valentine Obienyem reports ] - The concept of granting dignities and honouring people who have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields has always been part of man  in all epochs and cultures. Its inception might remain unknown to anyone. It probably belongs to the mysteries of origin about which all might guess and propound theories, but none might ever know conclusively.


In the years gone by, there were a lot of values that were applauded in Igbo land and beyond. Then, excellence was the norm; Igbos cherished and applauded it. Titles and dignities were conferred on, and granted to people based on merit and nothing else. As far back as a pry into Igbo history can reveal, it was not in vain that Igbos conferred names and titles such as Diji, Diochi, Dike, Dimgba, di this or di that on people. The bearers of such titles were experts in cultivation of yam, palm wine-tapping, wrestling, or would have performed some heroic acts in other endeavours. These people achieved excellence in their fields and were consequently honoured.
 
Today, title-taking, granting of honours and awards have been bastardized. Among many cultures today, it has been reduced to commodity that can be bought by the rich. Look around you and all you see is Ukwachinaka, Onwa this, Onwa that; Kpakpando this, Kpakpando that; Akuirighiri this and that. Other tribes have their own variants.  These titles, like the Onuku in the masquerade genre, as masterfully interpreted by Dr. Okey Ikechukwu, actually represent degeneration as Ijeles are in short supply. Most often this new crop of title holders are men without noble pedigree.  In the past, Igbos preferred a man without money; today they amazingly show preference for the money without the man.  This ignoble passion mocks the wisdom in what obtained long in the history of man: many years before the birth of Christ, two suitors who wanted to marry the daughter of Peisistratus were presented to him to choose his preference; he said he would choose the " the man without money", rather than " money without the man." Today, many people will choose one Akuirighiri  and Ukwachinaka for awards because of the lures of some wads.
 
The bastadisation of awards informed the refusal of same by Mr. Peter Obi when he was the Governor of Anambra State. He was frank about that: “I refused awards as the Governor because of my belief that the appropriate time for awards is when one has completed one’s tenure(s) and is thereafter adjudged as deserving of such awards and honours.”
 
Since March 17th, 2014, the awards have been coming in torrents and from organizations that do not play to the gallery.  All of them are full of kind words for him for approaching governance from the point of view of service to the people and the community.  If not being honoured for his unassailable efforts towards the renaissance of library culture by the Association of Librarians of Nigeria, or honoured by the Society for Corporate Governance for his innovation in governance, the association of all the Bishops in Nigeria would be honouring him for his giant strides in the rehabilitation of education in Anambra State as nobody has done in recent time. Today, Anambra State comes first in WAEC and NECO, as well as other external examinations. We owe this epochal achievements to Mr. Peter Obi
 
It is only those who lived in Anambra during the period of chaos who will understand and appreciate the various reasons everybody is desirous of honouring Mr. Peter Obi. In those days, Anambra carried on as if she was controlled by Bedlam.  The Catholic Bishop of Nnewi, Most Rev. Dr. Hilary Okeke, who is in a position to judge those days has this to say: “Indeed, before Mr. Peter Obi became the Governor, Anambra State looked like a state abandoned by God. Many people in Anambra State really believed that Anambra State was abandoned. Political turmoil and turbulence generated by godfatherism halted development in the State. The little money that would come to Anambra State was used to settle the godfathers. An attempt to shake off the tentacles of the godfathers resulted in wanton and reckless destruction of government houses and property. Schools at all levels suffered abysmal neglect; public hospitals suffered the same neglect; life was listless as people in Anambra State were bereft of sense of direction and responsibility. One could liken the state of affairs in Anambra State to the situation in Israel at the time of the Judges, "In those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did as he saw fit" (Judges 21:25). Lawlessness was the order of the day; gross indiscipline, general insecurity and lack of respect for human dignity and life, lack of development in most public sectors and loss of confidence in government.”

Indeed Obi became Governor when Anambra was faced by all manner of problems. His coming into power was equally turbulent. However, in his characteristic doggedness, each challenge he conquered brought out his essence to the people. He was the first person to unseat a sitting Governor through the courts; he was the first to come back from impeachment and to go for tenure interpretation.

Obi's sterling governance in Anambra State has made him not only the darling of the State, but a darling among Nigerians. In appreciating Obi, Bishop Okeke again has this to say:  “We commend Mr. Peter Obi for his perceived determination to serve the people of Anambra State through his development strategy of Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS); for his courageous return to their legitimate Church proprietors (Anglican and Catholic) of schools forcibly seized by the Government of East Central State under Chief Ukpabi Asika, that destroyed education in our area; his determination to revamp education and health care by partnering with the Churches to reconstruct dilapidated schools, providing buses, computers, generators, laboratory equipment, funds for sports and other needs of the schools system to both public schools and mission schools; his investment in healthcare delivery by uplifting hospitals, maternities and health centres, and schools of nursing, midwifery and medical laboratory to provide suitable personnel in our health institutions. Anambra State enjoys one of the best networks of roads. Retired persons, the poor and marginalized of Anambra State are receiving government attention. Every aspect of life in Anambra State has benefited from the administration of Mr. Peter Obi, CON! Indeed, Anambra State under his administration is no longer an abandoned State!”
Because of what Obi is to humanity, his salient contributions to the Church, innovation in governance and his community at large, his Bishop, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor recommended that he be honoured with the Papal knighthood.
 
Collaborating the reports through independent enquiry by the Holy See, the Supreme Pontiff, His  Holiness, Pope Francis, through his Cardinal  Secretary of State, signed a Bull by which the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi became a Papal knight of the Order of St Sylvester on the 31st of July, 2013. This made him one of the few to be so recognized by the Pope and one of the first sets to be so recognised by Pope Francis.
 
We note that in Nigeria, we have Papal knights, but Obi was the first person to merit it through using the instrument of governance to serve God and humanity.
 
Papal Orders are not easy to come by, and it is not for sale.  The  holder of the highest among the five Papal Equestrian Orders, granted by the Pope as a temporal sovereign, known as the Supreme Order of Chris, died in 1993. Only one living person is holding the second one, Order of the Golden Spur. The third one, Order of Pius  IX may be presented to even non-Christians. We also have the Order of
 
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