The Anambra State government has congratulated Most Reverend Hilary Odili Paul Okeke, the Catholic Bishop of the Nnewi Diocese, who clocks 74 tomorrow.
Dr. Okeke has been the Bishop of Nnewi since the creation of the Diocese in November 2001.
“He has done a masterful job of shepherding the diocese in the last 20 years to the glory of God and to the admiration of mankind”, said the state government in a statement in Awka, the Anambra State capital, signed by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, who disclosed that Governor Willie Obiano has already sent a special birthday message to the respected religious leader.
The commissioner observed that the Vatican could not have chosen a better person to serve as the pioneer bishop of the diocese.
“Bishop Okeke is not just the tallest bishop in Nigeria in terms of height”, declared the government, “but also very tall in wisdom, knowledge, intellect, energy, faith, morals, peaceful co-existence, administration and leadership.
“He is the first in his class of priests ordained by Francis Cardinal Arinze on April 20, 1974, at the Holy Trinity Basilica in Onitsha to become a papal chamberlain, and was by the time he was raised to the bishopric serving as the Vicar General of the Onitsha Archdiocese, from where the Nnewi Diocese was carved out.
“An internationally recognized authority on the Canon Law, Bishop Okeke has always enjoyed a reputation for discharging duties with aplomb.
“Apart from serving as a senior lecturer at the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Port Harcourt where he set up the Department of Canon Law, Most Reverend Okeke has served with the Anambra State Ministry of Education as a supervisor and taught at Boys High School, Ogbaru, when Ogbaru Local Government Area had no such basic amenities as tarred roads, pipe-borne water, public electricity supply and telephones, apparently on account of its difficult terrain.
“He carried out each assignment with cheer and enthusiasm, inspiring other people to do likewise.
“A lively conversationalist, lucid writer and engaging debater, Bishop Okeke is the author of books, learned journal articles and conference papers.
“We are delighted that the bishop takes no credit for any of his considerable achievements but rather ascribes them to God. His humility is, indeed, infectious.
“The government and people of Anambra State felicitate with the bishop and the people of God everywhere on the 74th birthday of Most Reverend Okeke, Nna ora ndi Anambra State.
“Ad multus annos”.