Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has congratulated the Archbishop of Abuja, the Very Reverend John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan following his elevation as Cardinal by the Catholic Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI.
In a statement from his media office yesterday, Atiku Abubakar described Archbishop Onaiyekan as a Nigerian prince of peace.
He said that Onaiyekan and Sultan of Sokoto were jointly nominated for the Noble Peace Prize, which was eventually awarded to the European Union.
The former Vice President noted that the elevation of Onaiyekan to a Cardinal was an indication that the world and indeed the Catholic Church had taken cognizance of the sterling qualities of the Nigerian clergy.
Atiku noted that Onaiyekan’s recognition was a great honour done to Nigeria and its peoples in general and the Catholic Church in particular.
He observed however that as a country in search of nationhood and integration, the promotion and recognition of Onaiyekan “is a blessing to our nation and her people” adding “it should be a rallying point for the unity of our diverse peoples irrespective of their religious and cultural differences.”
Bemoaning that the subversion and perversion of social and religious values in our country have made possible the existence of various brands of “men of God” in all religions in our land, the former Presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP said that as Onaiyekan had observed in the past, Nigeria needs a dedicated clergy to build peace and mutual understanding in our country.
According to Atiku, “there is no doubt that John Onaiyekan is a deserving Man from God and worthy of his elevation to the status of a Prince of the Roman Catholic Church.”
Atiku noted that though Onaiyekan’s elevation as a Cardinal was not a secular appointment those like the former Vice President who had followed the trajectory of the clergy man have admired his pastoral career and service to our nation and humanity.
“Cardinal John Onaiyekan has been an instrument of peace in our land, a detribalized Nigerian who spoke out against military dictatorships, and openly told truth to power when an attempt was made to violate our constitution in favour of one man’s-life presidency project.
It was therefore not a surprise when he was jointly nominated alongside his good friend and compatriot, Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III for the Nobel Peace Prize. His elevation as a Cardinal is the icing in the cake in his illustrious pastoral career,” the former Vice President said.