by Isi Esene
President Goodluck Jonathan has sent a congratulatory message to Bishop John Onaiyekan on his recent elevation to the position of Cardinal of the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI.
In his statement made public by Reuben Abati, the special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Jonathan said this elevation clearly shows that the exemplary diligence, dedication and commitment with which he has gone about his labours in the Lord’s vineyard since his ordination in 1969 has been recognized and appreciated.
The president, who sent the congratulatory message on behalf of himself, the Federal Government, and the people of Nigeria, noted that the country now has three members of the most eminent and distinguished College of Catholic Cardinals.
Jonathan prayed that God Almighty will grant Onaiyekan continued good health, strength, wisdom and Divine Guidance he requires to discharge his new responsibilities to the glory of God and his fatherland.
The president ended his message by wishing the newly elevated Onaiyekan a successful tenure as Cardinal.
While responding to his elevation by the Vatican, Onaiyekan said he sees the elevation “as a great honour to Africa, Nigeria, my country and (Nigeria’s capital) Abuja.
“It is an encouragement for me to continue the good works that I have been doing for humanity,” the 68-year-old said.
John Onaiyekan co-chairs a key inter-religious forum with Nigeria’s top Islamic leader, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar. He holds a doctorate in biblical theology and was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1969.