ALL AFRICA REPORT: Calabar — The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XV1 has presented a Papal award to the Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke in appreciation of his assistance and sponsorship of Catholics to the beatification of the Late Pope John Paul-11 in Rome.
Ukpo who was represented by the Very Rev. Fr. Malachi Ephraim, the Chancellor of the Arch-Diocese, noted that Cross River was the only State in Nigeria recognized among the thousands of people who had an audience with the Pope in Rome, after the beatification ceremony in Rome saying that for this, he came back with a Papal message, special cake and an apostolic blessing from the pope.
While commending Imoke for sponsoring them to attend the trip, Arch-Bishop Ukpo called for the state's participating in his retirement programme next year when he would have attained retiring age of 75 years.
He commended the Pope in particular on the award which he said was a recognition of hardwork and service to the people and prayed that God should continue to guide the state.Responding, while receiving the Papal award, Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State restated his government's commitment to partnering with the church for the development of the state and the citizenry, stressing that the message which was an appreciation of government's dedication to service would not only strengthen government and propel it to render more service but would also foster the bond of relationship between them.
On the retirement of Arch-Bishop Ukpo next year, when he attends 75 years, he promised that the state would play a prominent role as well as support the retirement programme of one of the state's illustrious sons.