December 18, 2022
By Uwem KERNS
It was emotional moments as the final edition of the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carol festival under the watch of Governor Udom Emmanuel as Governor of the State, held at Ibom Hall Grounds Uyo.
One of the key features of the exercise was the institution of the Emmanuel award for Excellence Gospel Music Ministry.
Akwa Ibom state Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel performed the ceremony, Friday night, during the Festival with the theme “Go Forward” culled from Exodus 14:15.
The Governor noted that the award initiated to encourage creativity among International and Local Gospel artistes in Nigeria will be presented annually to gospel music artistes who distinguished themselves in expressive talents within a preceding year, and also create a global brand for the event.
“In demonstrating our resolve in creating a global brand that will be reckoned with across the gospel music community in Nigeria and further encourage and reward these creative ministers to do more in winning souls for the kingdom of God through music ministration, we wish to announce tonight the addition of Emmanuel award for Excellence in Gospel Music Ministry .
“The Emmanuel award for Excellence in Gospel Music Ministry will be given every December during this event to the Nigerian gospel music artiste who in the last twelve months of the proceeding year has demonstrated extraordinary expressive talents and deep humanism has been able to awaken new audiences through music ministration, presentation, teaching”.
The maiden edition of the Emmanuel Award for Excellence in Gospel Music Ministry was presented by Governor Udom Emmanuel to Nathaniel Bassey, a Gospel singer, pastor, trumpeter and songwriter who hails from Ikot Ofon in Akwa Ibom State. He received a plaque and ten thousand dollars for the award.
The event co-ordinator and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Tourism Mr. Aniekpeno Mkpanang who carved a niche for himself through a popular radio programme ‘”something to remember'” and organizer of world-class Christmas Carols holding the Guinness world record of 25,272 carol singers was another recipient of Excellence in Service Award, for his creativity and innovation presented by Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Mr. Aniekpeno Mkpanang who hails from Ukanafun LGA, Akwa Ibom State received a plaque and the sum of N20,000,000 million naira.
The Chief Executive urged Christians to reflect on the essence of the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and show love to one another during the Yuletide season, adding that Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols in the past seven years has been an event where christians sing praises to God in acknowledgement of the birth of Christ.
Presenting a goodwill message, the Governor of Delta State and vice presidential candidate of PDP, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for sustaining the Christmas Carols over the years which he noted has been an avenue to connect the people to God and encourage christians to show love to one another to commemorate the birth of Christ.
Setting the tone for the event, the event co-ordinator, Mr. Aniekpeno Mkpanang who described the event as the largest Christmas service of songs in the world thanked governor Udom Emmanuel for giving Akwa Ibom people and Nigerians a platform to join in celebrating the birth of Christ the saviour of the world.
In his homily, the general overseer, Salvation Ministries, Pastor David Ibiyeomie, who spoke on the theme ‘Go Forward’, culled his text from John: 3: 16, noted that to go forward a Christian should possess five major keys of love, global vision, faith, giving and salvation.
The event featured song ministration from music minstrels; The Davasol Brothers, praise medley by Solomon Moses, Triumphant Philharmonic Chorale, AKSG Choir, Unity Choir of Togo, Ibom 5,000 Mass Choir, Hezekiah Walker, Special number by Governor Udom Emmanuel and wife, Dr. Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, Nathaniel Bassey, Ronke Adesokan, Sonnie Badu, Sinach, Aity Dennis, Eben, Larry Sax and Emmanuel Iwok.
High profile personalities who attended the event include Governor of Delta state and PDP Vice Presidential Candidate, Dr. Ifaenyi Okowa, Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, past and serving Deputy Governors ,Senators, governorship candidates of various political parties as well as popular Nollywood personalities.
Others were Oni of Ife, Adeyeyi Enitan Ogunwusi, the Oku Ibom Ibibio, Ntenyin Solomon Etuk, and other Traditional Rulers.