Valentine Ozigbo pays tribute to the Nigerian Prince of the Universal Church, Cardinal Okpaleke

Ozigbo, Peter Obi, Okpaleke

Valentine Ozigbo, a Nigerian business tycoon, released a statement from the Vatican in Rome, congratulating His Eminence, Cardinal Peter Ebere Okpaleke, whom His Holiness Pope Francis established during the consistory held on Saturday, August 27, 2022, at the iconic St. Peter’s Church. Saint Peter’s basilica.

Cardinal Okpaleke, Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese and a native of Amesi in Anambra State, is one of nineteen newly created cardinals and one of two from Africa. He is a close friend and former teacher of Mr Ozigbo, the former chairman and chief executive of Transcorp Plc group and candidate for governor of Anambra in 2021.

“What a joyful experience to witness the creation of Cardinal Peter Ebere Okpaleke by His Holiness Pope Francis today at St. Peter’s Basilica.

“I celebrate this special occasion with the Catholic faithful around the world and I congratulate my elder brother, His Eminence, Cardinal Okpaleke, Bishop of the Diocese of Ekwulobia, for this elevation of service.

“His Eminence is an incarnation of grace, humility and wisdom, and this elevation to the rank of Prince of the universal Church comes precisely 30 years after his priestly ordination.

“I honor what His Eminence means, especially to us in Amesi and Ndi Anambra. We are grateful to the Almighty for keeping it and granting us the grace to attend this solemn ceremony. May Almighty God receive the glory,” Ozigbo prayed.

Ozigbo will be the president of the grand reception to receive the new cardinal of the diocese of Ekwulobia on September 8, 2022.

Other notable Nigerians who attended the consistory include Mr. Peter Obi, the Labor Party presidential candidate; Professor Charles Soludo, Governor of Anambra State, and his wife, Nonye Soludo; His Eminence, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja; His Grace, Bishop Valerian Okeke, Metropolitan See of Onitsha; Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, the Senator representing Anambra South; Senator Victor Umeh, Labor Party senatorial candidate for Anambra Central, Nonso Okpala, MD/CEO of VFD Group; Ichie Sunday Ezeobiora; leader Sir Joseph Ezeokafor of the Jezco Group; Senator Margret Okadigbo, Chairman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); Ada Umeorji, deputy general manager of Zenith Bank; Professor Charles Esimone, Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University; Rt. Hon Uchenna Okafor, Speaker of the Anambra House of Assembly; Chief Ikenna Okafor (Ide Akwaeze); Mr. Robert Umeozulu; Ms. Obby Okwubanego; Ozonkpu Victor Oye, President of APGA, Hon. Chris Azubuogu, Professor Joseph Ahaneku, former VC of Unizik and many more.

Other men of God present at the event were His Grace, Archbishop Jude Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to the Czech Republic; His Lordship Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor of the Diocese of Awka; His Lordship Bishop Jonas Benson of Nnewi Diocese, His Lordship Bishop Martin Uzoukwu of Minna Diocese; His Lordship, Bishop Anselm Umoren of the Archdiocese of Abuja; and much more.

After the ceremony, His Holiness Pope Francis led the new cardinals on a courtesy visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery. As reported by the Vatican News Agency, Pope Francis greeted Benedict XVI with great affection and made the sign of the cross on his forehead during a brief emotional encounter. Then the new cardinals introduced themselves one by one to exchange brief messages.

Martha J. Finley