OrderPaperToday – At 7:00am on the 23rd of February, all routes leading to Mother of the Redeemer Catholic Church, Effurun, Delta state was on lock-down as residents await the entry of dignitaries to attend the thanksgiving service of the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege.
Prior to this day, hotels around the church were fully booked with people who travelled from various places across the country for the event.
At the entrance of the church, there was a huge crowd as security personnel struggled to ensure easy movement.
Some attendees were seen wearing blue Ankara with the image of Omo-Agege printed on it.
Dignitaries file in…
At about 10:25am, dignitaries began to arrive the venue.
The traditional rulers were the first to arrive the church, heavily dressed in their native attires—creatively designed shirts, colourful patterned wrappers on their waist and adorned with orange beaded neck pieces. After all, the event was to celebrate the emergence of their ‘illustrious son’ as the Deputy President of the Senate in the 9th national assembly.
On the other hand, the crowd seemed to increase minute by minute as they came to celebrate with the man of the day.
First to hit the ground rolling was the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole who deliberately trekked from the gate into the church in his usual showmanship.
The crowd hailed Oshiomhole responded by waving his hands in the air, while walking briskly to the church.
Similar manner of entrance was done by Senator Rochas Okorocha, the immediate past governor of Imo State.
The ceremony was well attended by Senators from the APC and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), both present and past.
Senators Tolu Odebiyi, Betty Apiafi, Uche Ekwunife, Akon Eyakenyi, Aisha Dahiru, Mathew Urghohide, James Manager, George Sekibo, Bamidele Opeyemi, Clifford Ordia, Sabi Abdullahi, Gershom Bassey, Emmanuel Bwacha, Ibikunle Amosun, Peter Nwaoboshi, Samuel Anywanwu, Eyinnaya Abaribe among others graced the event.
It also attracted dignitaries from all walks of life including; Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha; Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Nasiru El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa) and Hope Uzodinma (Imo).
Others are former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori; Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Silva; Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, SAN; Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, lawmakers from both chambers of the National Assembly, captains of industry, among others.
At 11:15am, officials from Department of Security Services (DSS) dressed in black dispersed the crowd following the arrival of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo who was swiftly ushered into the Church.
The ceremony started at 11:25am with an opening prayer and followed by a hymn. Omo-Agege then took the stage to read Leviticus 19: 1-2 and 17-18 from the Holy Bible.
Reverend Father Anthony Mario Ozele continued the session with a sermon. Aware of and smart enough to take advantage of the unusual presence of the political elite in the Church, he spoke on the demands of the people of Delta State to Omo-Agege and others in attendance.
Ozele said: “We need Warri port; we need Sapele Port; we need Aladja rolling mill. We we need a university of food science and technology.
“Thank God Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is here, you are a beloved neighbour of Delta state; assist our brother in bringing home dividends democracy in Delta Central. I thank God for the presence of the federal Minister of State for Labour Barrister Festus Keyamo is here and hearing me. Assist your brother in bringing home the dividend of democracy. Mr. Vice President sir, you are an ardent believer.
“Delta State is the chick that lays the golden egg and needs federal support. We need your voice to re-echo the voice of the senator to bring home to our people in Delta central and other parts of the Delta state. I call on all Urhobos of all political extractions and all Igbos in the Niger Delta to support the Distinguished Senator in fasting and prayers.
“Let us put aside all political division and lift up this illustrious Urhobo son; for his success is our collective success. Let the Senator go to Abuja and battle while we all hold up his hands in the mountain of fasting and prayers.
Advice and Prayers for the DSP…
Continuing his rendition, the priest offered words of advice and prayers for the DSP: “Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, be wise and be courageous. We know courageous not a virtue in which you are lacking; in wisdom be wise. Be mindful of fair weather friends because a leader is only as good as those he surrounds himself with. For the sake of your people, reach out your hands across the political divide; search for common grounds.
“While congratulating you on your recent appointment to head the Constitution review committee at the national assembly, be sure to let the Lord guide you; together you can bequeath to Nigerian the document that can really be reflective of the aspirations of ‘we the people of Nigeria.”
Gov Okowa rejoices…
Governor of Delta state, Ifeanyi Okowa, stressed the need for thanksgiving even as he congratulated Omo-Agege on his emergence as Deputy President of the Senate and urged him to use his position to attract more federal presence in the state.
“It is never late to give thanks my brother. So we rejoice with you as a state and as a people. And we want to thank God for the brothers and sisters who made it possible to the glory of God to take you to this elevated position.
“Obviously your position is a call to service; first as service to our nation and secondly as service to our state”.
Lawan: ‘Omo-Agege a blessing to Senate’
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan praised his deputy, Senator Omo-Agege describing him as one who possesses rare leadership qualities among his peers.
“Courageous and never shy away from taking responsibility, this is the kind of leadership traits that we need in our leaders today. We are thankful to God for all the blessings He has bestowed on him.
“He is a big blessing to us even though we emerged unopposed.
“Today, the Senate is one. In fact, here we have all the principal officers from the Senate, led by no other person than the Leader of the Minority himself, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe. And of course we believe in the nation, particularly at this time,” Lawan said.
Osinbajo: ‘Omo-Agege a brilliant, bright lawyer
In his remarks, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo lauded the Deputy President of the Senate for his courage, patriotism and commitment to nation building.
Osibanjo also commended him for his loyalty to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said: “Brilliant and bright as a lawyer is not sufficient to win an election in a rugged terrain. Omo-Agege has just described this place as rugged and everybody knows.
“Omo-Agege came not just with brilliance but with enough courage, loyalty and reliability to start first as a politician and secondly as Deputy President of the Senate.
“He might not be doing justice to everybody but the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and himself were the unanimous choices of most of us. At least at the leadership of the APC, there were very little doubts that these two and we worked very hard to make it happen. The reasons are very simple. Senator Lawan has always proven to be a party person and same as Ovie.
“His courage, loyalty and steadfastness, not only was he rewarded by his constituent but also by the leadership of our great party and the Ninth Senate.
“With your loyalty to the party and steadfastness, I am convinced that we are going to see much from you”.
Omo-Agege: Nation building a collective response
Speaking at the thanksgiving, Senator Omo-Agege assured that he would continue to use his position to advance the cause of national unity.
He said: “I will seek to push for those things that bring us together as a country than those things that tear us apart.
“Listening to the sermon of Father Ozele, yes we have challenges in the country, nobody is denying that but our people need to understand that these are very serious challenges that only one man cannot solve all of these. It requires the collective response of all of us.
“For us in the Senate, that is the path we are taking to work, cooperate with Mr. President, to create that working environment so that all of those things that we know that he needs to address the myriads of challenges that Father Ozele has mentioned here today, he is able to do them. That is all I owe the President, that is all I owe to my people and all that I owe Nigerians”.
He ended the event with a vote of thanks to his wife and dignitaries in attendance.
THROWBACK: Journey to the big stage
It was a fierce battle for the second position seat in the Senate as lobbying and alignments formed part of the strategies for the election on the day of inauguration of the 9th assembly.
The major contenders for the deputy Senate President seat were: Orji Uzor-Kalu, Oluremi Tinubu, Ajayi Boroffice and Kabiru Gaya.
They dropped their ambition following the anointment of Omo-Agege as the Deputy Senate President by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Cleared by the APC, Ovie had to battle with his counterparts in the PDP for the second seat in the red chamber.
On the election day, immediate past Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu showed interest in vying for the seat.
Ekweremadu was whopped having secured 37 votes while Omo-Agege emerged winner with 68 votes.