Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on Sunday said that he will remain grateful to Justice Mary Odili for her timely intervention that saved his political career in 2004.
Governor Wike stated this during the 70th birthday and retirement thanksgiving mass of Justice Mary Odili as Justice of the Supreme Court that was held at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Chaplaincy, Catholic Institute of West Africa, (CIWA) in Port Harcourt.
He recalled how he cried to Justice Odili when he got the hint that his name was not included among those cleared to contest either as first term or second term chairmen of local councils in the state
Having listened to him, Wike said the retired jurist took the complaint to her husband, Dr Peter Odili, who was the governor of Rivers State then.
Wike explained that the manner Justice Odili presented the matter got her husband acting on it immediately.
He said, first, Dr Peter Odili invited the then Rivers State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman, Uche Secondus, to confirm the observation and thereafter put a call across to the then National Secretary of the PDP, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor.
“In 2004, that time her husband was the governor, so she was going to Bori Camp for women empowerment scheme. I was to run for the second tenure as chairman of my local government (Obio-Akpor),” Wike said.
“Now, they were having lunch with her husband and the former state party chairman then, Prince Uche Secondus. And, I was told that my name had been removed in the list. So, I ran down to Government House.
“She has finished her own lunch, left her husband and was entering the vehicle. I said ‘Mummy, I’m finished.’ She asked what happened; I said they’ve removed my name.
“She ran back straight to her husband and informed him. Her husband asked who removed his name. At that time, Secondus had left. The husband then called the security at the gate, they stopped Secondus and ask him to come back.”
He further added: “That was how I went back as second term chairman. For me, I can’t talk about my growth without mentioning her. If she was not around that day, to see the governor, you know is not an easy thing. Her being around that particular day saved my career in politics. And so that was how I grew from there to become what I am today.”
Wike noted a vital lesson of life he learnt from Justice Odili, which is the determination to build the capacity to be successful in ones career while not ignoring giving requisite attention to the family.
For Justice Mary Odili, Wike stated that there was a good balance she maintained that made her to succeed both in her career as a legal practitioner, a mother and wife in the family.
Governor Wike said Justice Mary Odili had remained an embodiment of care and compassion because without relenting she treated everybody with dignity that they deserved.
“I have seen somebody who is very compassionate, and very caring. The moment you’re around her husband, she takes care of you. She sees you as her husband’s person and so she will always relate with you. Some of us are direct beneficiaries of the care through our relationship with the husband,” Wike added.
He therefore commended Justice Mary Odili for the 44 years of meritorious public service, which he described as no mean feat.
In his homily, the chaplain of the Chaplaincy at CIWA, Very Rev. Monsignor Pius Kii, exhorted on the physical and eternal benefits Christians derive when they love God, one another and their enemies.
Kii emphasised that living a life of love demonstrates faithful discipleship, obedience to God and secures daily victory in life’s endeavours.
In her remarks, Justice Odili described the joy she felt as unspeakable and a thing of honour to have Governor Wike, as a sitting governor, doing a vote of thanks in her honour.
According to her, she and her spouse, Dr. Peter Odili have lots of things to always thank God for and will remain grateful to him because he gave them countless triumphs despite the challenges that they have encountered.
She said: “The good Lord knows that Peter and I don’t know how to properly thank God. Our journey in life has been such that the good Lord has always been there. There have been challenges no doubt, but the good Lord did not promise us that we will not have challenges, tribulations or difficulties. But the good Lord has always stood by us and made us prevail in all those trials and tribulations.”