By Umezulike Desmond-cruz
Beaming in his signature immaculate white apparel and his ever-alluring smile, is the Irrunando of Africa, conspicuously occupying the front pew of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Ikot Ansa. Flanked on the side are his pulchritudinous wife, Barr. Gertrude Onor, and his ever-alluring running mate, Lady Emana Duke Ambrose-Amawhe–the presence of both women offered a dazzling illumination to the auditorium. The arrival of the Irrunando into the church premises held the parishioners spellbound and bestowed a selcouth ambience, as parishioners in a spontaneous and electrifying mood, whispered uncontrollably his name, “The Original Caterpillar”. It took the ecclesiastical anointing of the service moderator to control the exhilarated parishioners.
Then came the solemn songs ringing in the ears of parishioners and thousands of political supporters that filled the auditorium, as the liturgical men and the Parish Priest opened the mass of Eucharistic celebration with the ceremonial burning of incense. Outside the auditorium was a sea of heads converging in their numbers with their countenances bearing different inscriptions of hope and faith in the candidacy of Senator Sandy Ojang Onor.
“We are reclaiming our state” said Mrs Offiong Ikpeme, a retiree from the State civil service who according to her, was yet to receive neither her gratuity nor pension 5years after her unceremonious retirement from the State Civil Service. “This is our chance to bring back the lost glory of our state. It’s now or never. I believe in Senator Sandy Ojang Onor” she would later continue in her eulogy.
Cross River State, everyone agrees, is sick, with its list of ailments enough to make one mad. Unemployment rate has risen from 23.1% in 2019 to 33.5% in the early quarters of 2020, then skyrocketed to 53.65% in 2021. Data from Debt Management Office indicates that the state has a strangulating debt profile of #176.086billion as at 2022. The State IGR has been personalized and its tourism potentials bastardized.
As the priest began his message, taking his reading from the holy Gospel according to John 1:29-34, he spoke about the lamb of God who took away the sins of the World and further admonished parishioners to remain as light to the Nation despite the despairing situation they find themselves today.
Speaking during the dedication of the campaign, Senator Sandy Ojang Onor reiterated his unflinching belief in the Trinity and Catholicism.
“We are here because we believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and we have no other God. What he gives us we take, what he chooses not to give to us, we thank him for. We urge you to continue to pray for us. For those of us who have been living in this state for the last 15years, you will agree with me that we are currently living in a dark place and our state needs total rejigging. We are confident that by God’s grace, we shall lead the charge for that revitalization”
In a way of appreciation, the Parish Priest presented a Holy Bible to Senator Sandy Ojang Onor as a symbol of God’s presence and protection.
“You are called the Caterpillar and the Caterpillar smashes. Go in God’s might” charged the Parish Priest as the Parishioners echoed a thunderous Amen!