By Deji Elumoye, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Eromosele Abiodun in Lagos
Chairman, THISDAY Newspapers and Arise Media Group, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, yesterday marked his 60th birthday with pomp and ceremony as the upper echelon of government and the economy, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, representing President Muhammadu Buhari; governors, former ministers and top businessmen joined him and other dignitaries at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos for a thanksgiving to mark the day.
Other dignitaries present at the church were Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Chiedu Ebie; former Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; former Minister of State Petroleum, Chief Odein Ajumogobia SAN; former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro; former Minister of Sports, Mr. Bolaji Abdulahi; former Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan; and National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Uche Secondus.
The guests also included former governor of Ekiti State, Chief Niyi Adebayo; former Secretary to Lagos State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello; former Commissioner for Information, Edo State, Mr. Louis Odion; the Archbishop of Abuja Province and Primate of the Church of Nigeria in the Anglican Communion, Nicholas Okoh, represented by the Diocesan Bishop of Lagos; Rt. Reverend Humphrey Bamisebi; and Obi of Owa Kingdom, Dr. Emmanuel Oyinke Efeizomor 11.
Also present were Chairman of First Bank Nigeria Plc, Dr. Oba Otudeko; Mr. Kunle Ojora; Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia; Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Mr. Segun Agbaje; Chairman of Silverbird Group, Senator Ben Muray-Bruce; Dr. Fatai Williams; Chairman of Seplat Petroleum Plc; Dr. ABC Orjiakor; Co-founder, Sahara Group, Mr. Tonye Cole; Managing Director of Benin Electricity Distribution Company, Mrs. Funke Osibodu; Managing Director of the Bank of Industry (BoI), Olukayode Pitan; former Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc, Mr. Emeka Onwuka; Publisher of Vanguard Newspaper, Mr. Sam Amuka Pemu; Chairman of Guardian Press Limited/Publisher of the Guardian Newspapers, Maiden Alex-Ibru; Publisher of Leadership Newspapers, Mr. Nda-Isaiah; Publisher of the Source Magazine, Mrs. Comfort Obi; Publisher of City People Magazine, Mr. Seye Kehinde; the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Mr. Waziri Adio; the Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo; PDP governorship candidate in Lagos State in the last election, Mr. Jimi Agbaje; Managing Director of THISDAY Newspapers Group, Mr. Eniola Bello; Managing Director of The Nation Newspapers, Mr. Godwin Ifijeh; Deputy Managing Director of THISDAY Newspaper Group, Mr. Kayode Komolafe; Publisher of Daily Times, Fidelis Anosike; Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan; Alhaji Kasim Imam; Dr. John Abebe and Mr. J.K. Randle, among others.
The thanksgiving service commenced with a procession led by Diocesan Bishop of Lagos, Rt. Reverend Humphrey Bamisebi and other officiating ministers with the processional hymn titled: ‘Come, Ye Thankful People, Come.’
It was followed by the ‘call to worship,’ and the first lesson taken from Genesis 8:1-22.
The second lesson was taken from the book of 11Corinthians 8:1-15, followed by a hymn and a sermon titled, ‘We Plough The Fields, And Scatter.’
In his sermon, the Bishop of Osun North East, Rt. Reverend Akorede Okuyelu, urged Christians to learn the act of giving selflessly to God, stressing that those that sow in tears will surely reap in joy.
Okuyelu congratulated Obaigbena and wished him many more years on the face of the earth just as he urged him to hold unto God at all times.
While calling on Christians to praise God at all times, he said the most important thing in life was praising God in season and out of season.
Quoting Isaiah 43:7, which says, “even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have forged him; yea, I have made him, “he said humans are created to praise God and to glorify him daily.
Okuyelu who also quoted from 1 Corinthians 10:31, which says, ‘Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God’, said “our life as Christians must be a source of praise to the glory of God.”
According to him, “We should understand the purpose for which God created us; He created us to praise Him; He created us to seek His face on a daily basis. We must learn to honour, worship and to glorify His holy name. We should know that no one is excluded from praising God, no one. When we love God with all our heart we will be able to worship and praise Him, rejoice in His presence and glorify His name.”
Meanwhile, more congratulatory messages came in yesterday for Obaigbena as Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Okowa and the All Progressives Congress(APC) felicitated with him for hitting a major milestone in his earthly journey.
Lawan, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mohammed Isa, said the contributions of Obaigbena in uplifting and changing the face of journalism profession in the country had assured him a safe place in Nigerian history.
According to him, it was significant that in spite of the challenges confronting the media industry, which resulted in the collapse of many newspapers, THISDAY Newspapers has continued to soar to enviable height.
“This has demonstrated your ability to deploy your administrative, managerial and professional acumen to navigate a difficult business and professional terrain to succeed.
“As journalist, columnist and publisher, you have no doubt made your impact to the growth and development to journalism profession in Nigeria and beyond,” Lawan said.
Okowa described Obaigbena as a media mogul and an accomplished journalist.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, in Asaba yesterday, Okowa said Obaigbena was a pacesetter whose contributions to the growth and development of the Nigeria media industry remained indelible and worthy of emulation.
According to him, Obaigbena remains an illustrious son and a pride of Delta State and commended his vision in establishing several media outfits that have continued to make a mark in disseminating information to Nigerians and the world.
He lauded the exemplary leadership Obaigbena has provided as President of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), adding that history of the Nigeria media industry would not be complete without the mentioning of Obaigbena’s astute contributions to the growth and development of the industry.
In its goodwill message, the APC said it celebrated Obaigbena whose contributions to the Nigerian media industry remained unequal till date.
The APC in the goodwill message signed by its National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the description of Obaigbena by many as flamboyant, phenomenal, resilient and trailblazing was apt.
It said: “Obaigbena has no doubt been influential in reshaping and revolutionising the Nigerian newspaper landscape and recently the television business.
“Obaigbena who has built THISDAY Newspapers, Arise Magazine and the 24-hour international news channel, Arise TV, into frontline international media companies, has also shaped our politics, economics and positively projected the unique Nigerian brand, fashion, trends and lifestyle to the international audience.
“Through the annual THISDAY Awards founded in 2000, Obaigbena and his team have continued to identify and honour men and women who have made positive contributions to the Nigerian society in the political, global business, education and other critical sectors.
“We celebrate Obaigbena’s patriotic and dynamic interventions in our nation’s life. We celebrate his pan-Nigerian outlook, which has made him to build enduring relationships across the divides in our country. For us at the APC, Obaigbena represents Nigeria’s can do spirit, open-mindedness, creativity, diversity and prosperity.”