The first Nigerian police woman enlisted with No. 001, late Mrs. Beatrice Ihuoma Ibeneme, who died on March 19, 2007, was posthumously honoured with the 2014 Karis Award and cash prize of N1 million at the 24th annual Grace Event organized by the Rev. Chris Okotie-led Household of God Church.
The annual event held on Sunday, December 14, 2014, at the church premises in Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos was a beehive of political movers and shakers, as well as stakeholders from walks of life. They all gathered to lend their voices to this year’s Grace Event, which is dedicated to the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls who remained AWOL for over eight months.
The still-missing schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants on April 14, 2014, in Chibok, Borno state was the anchor of this year Grace Event, and in the words of the convener, Rev. Chris Okotie, “This is why we are carrying lamps and dressed in black.”
On the roll call of dignitaries present was the governor of Abia state, Chief T.A. Orji, who was the day’s special guest, also present was former president of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Prof. Joe Ogbonnaya Irukwu, SAN (the chairman of the occasion) and a host of others.
What inspired the choice of this year’s awardee, Mrs Beatrice Ibeneme?
We recognize, number one, that women are marginalized in our nation. We are trying to provoke nationalist sentiments and to encourage people to participate in nation building. I am hoping that this gesture is demonstrative of our position and will inspire other people to do the same.
This year’s Grace Awards is dedicated to the Chibok girls, tell us more about that?
Like I have said, what we are doing tonight is identifying with them and that’s why we are carrying the lamp and dressed in black. The lamp is emblematic and a demonstration of God’s illumination. The Bible says ‘thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path’.
So, as we lift the lamp, we create a scenario of total deliverance, we allow God to step into the situation and annihilate all these enemies and release the girls.
Why have you continued this event for over two decades?
Because it is a philosophy that our church has imbibed and we have demonstrated through the years that it is not just enough to talk about charity, it must be demonstrated in concrete terms. Jesus said that it is not about talk and talk, but the doing of it. He said whatsoever you do to the least of you, you do unto me. God gave us His Son and He demonstrated sacrificial love. Let’s move away from self-aggrandizement and the concept of me, I and myself, which is what has destroyed Nigeria.
‘It feels great to be crowned the queen of household’ -MITCHELLE ISIKALU, winner of the Queen Esther Pageant
One of the highlights of the evening was the eagerly-anticipated Queen Esther Beauty and Costume Pageant. The 17 contestants strutted their stuff, but at the end of the day, Mitchelle Isikalu emerged the winner…
How does it feel winning the Queen Esther pageant?
It’s inexplicable. It’s a very beautiful and great feeling to be crowned the queen of Household.
Did you envisage yourself winning?
No, I did not. All I did was I prayed to God about this and somehow everything fell into place.
What do you think gave you the edge?
First, I think my costume is very unique. I don’t think anybody would have thought of wearing black for a competition. But I thought of it and that was the first thing that came to my head.
Tell us about this costume of yours. It’s quite elaborate…
There’s nothing really special about it. It’s a costume depicting Queen Jezebel, who, we all know was very beautiful but a wicked queen. My costume was put together in one week. A week precisely before today. But as God could have it everything fell into place for me.
Why the choice of Queen Jezebel ahead of other characters from the Bible?
We all know queen Jezebel was very audacious and that gives freedom to express yourself. Also, Jezebel is a character I can carry with ease.
I think when you are coming for a competition, you should go with something that you will carry with ease. You shouldn’t stress yourself trying to be something you are not. You should portray something you can easily carry without fear, which was what I did.