John Kennedy Opara, Alloma Mukhtar: Where are they now?

They served their father land meritoriously in various capacities, but since they left office, they have not been seen or heard in public space. In this piece, ELEOJO IDACHABA wonders where they are now.

John Kennedy Opara, JP, OFR

John Kennedy Opara is the pioneer executive secretary of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC). The Commission was inaugurated in 2008, by former Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (then vice-). It was set up by an Act of the National Assembly in 2007, and tasked with the responsibility of organising, supervising and coordinating the movement of Nigerian Christians to Israel and other Holy Sites across the world. The Commission was also empowered to regulate and license Christian Private Tour Operators (CPTOs) involved in pilgrimage activities.

Upon inauguration, the John Kennedy Opara-led which, according to the head of media, Celestine Ogugua Toruka, was premised on visionary, dynamic and purposeful leadership brought to bear on the Commission by this Umuopara, Nguru Mbaise, Imo state-born biological scientist swiftly swung into action and promptly distinguished himself by his innovations which changed the face of Christian pilgrimage by uniting religious leaders and the entire Christian community in Nigeria.

John Kennedy Opara, while addressing intending pilgrims, once urged them thus: “My brothers and sisters, the times we live in are indeed perilous and call for prayers; our nation yearns for transformation, a transformation that will bring us closer to the ideals of God. Romans 12 versus 2 says, ‘do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.’ Therefore, I join my faith to that of St. Augustine who exhorted, ‘if we live good (transformed) lives, the times are also good’ (our nation is also transformed). As we are, such are the times.”

How prophetic John Kennedy Opara was at that time – indeed the country and the whole world are now experiencing perilous times. He decentralised pilgrimage activities by establishing six functional zonal offices across the six geo-political, introducing the local content policy with Tour Operations, ensuring zero abscondment during pilgrimage exercises, increasing the number of Nigerians that performed pilgrimage annually from 4, 000 to at least 20, 000 as a result of his effective sensitisation drive.

In recognition of his stellar performance, John Kennedy Opara scooped the 2013 African Leadership Magazine Award – the Magazine, under the auspices of the African Public Forum on April 9, 2014, conferred on him the award of the Most Outstanding African Public Servant of the Year 2013, in addition to the U.S. Congressional Commendation Award, which were all presented to him at St. Regis, Washington DC, USA.

On the home front, John Kennedy Opara, born on January 17, 1970, at Umuopara, Nguru, Aboh-Mbaise, was conferred with the National Honours Award of the Order of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) by former Jonathan on September 29, 2014. According to the former , John Kennedy Opara ‘is one endowed with innate public relations abilities that could stand any challenges, no matter how difficult the situation may be.”

However, since this quintessential Nigerian left the NCPC, he is yet to be seen or heard in public space; so, where could he be now?

Alloma Mukhtar

Honourable Justice Muktar Alloma is the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN). She was elevated to that position under the leadership of former in 2012, until her tenure expired and she left in 2014. What is, however, remarkable about her is that she opened the vista to what is today known as the fight against unprecedented rot in the judiciary. For example, in a keynote address she presented at a workshop for judges at the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in 2012, she said, “Let me quickly add that the fight against in the judiciary is not only targeted at judicial officers but also against members and staff of the judiciary who find luxury or convenience at engaging in corrupt practices or in any unwholesome conducts. It is a notorious fact that this category of workers has in the past caused leakages of judgement written by judges which were yet to be delivered.”

In an interview she granted months after she left office, she said, “After my assumption of office as Chief Justice of Nigeria, 198 fresh cases were filed. Of this number, 150 were found to be frivolous, 15 were awaiting responses from judges and 20 were slated for consideration.” To prove her to stamp out in the system, two judges were sacked during her tenure. They were Justice Charles Archibong of the Federal High Court in and Justice T. D. Naron of the High Court of Plateau state. Acting in consonance with the National Judicial Council (NJC), she also set up a fact-finding committee on the allegations of against Justice Abubakar Talba of the FCT who was eventually given a one year suspension.

At the expiration of her tenure in 2014, and having attained the mandatory age, she left office. Justice Alloma is one Nigerian worth celebrating, but who has been away from the public square in recent times, thereby prompting the question of where she could be at the moment.

Patrick Anwuzia

Pastor Anwuzia, as he was popularly called in the 90s, was one Nigerian cleric who mesmerised his members and adherents of his preaching with miracles of prosperity when his church, Zoe Ministries Worldwide, was very popular in the country, especially in . This -born charismatic preacher was a toast of many Christians and non-Christians alike. The headquarters of his church located on Jimoh Odutola Street in Iganmu was usually a beehive of activities in the 90s, as there were several miracle programmes almost on a daily basis leading to heavy vehicular and human traffic that stretched from the Eric Moore end of the street up to Orile Iganmu.

Pastor Anwuzia was not particularly sound in grammatical verbosity, but the acrobatic style of his preaching was an attraction in itself. To this end, the sea of human heads that adorned his programmes in the days that televangelism was not popular was great. He was said to have returned to limelight, but not much has been heard about him. According to a popular newspaper in 2016, “The Zoe Ministries pastor made no pretence about his predilection for prosperity and he truly practised what he preached as he cruised about town in exotic cars with customised number plates of Zoe 1, Zoe 2, Zoe 50, but like a forgotten Shea butter in the sun, Anwuzia disappeared from the scene with his ministry.” 

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