Standing barefoot with arms outstretched, the “Jesus de Greatest” statue weighs in at 40 tonnes.
More than 100 priests and hundreds of Catholic worshippers attended the nine-metre (30-foot) statue’s official unveiling in the village of Abajah, Imo State.
It was commissioned by Obinna Onuoha, a 43-year-old chief executive officer of an oil and gas distribution company. who hired a Chinese company to carve it and placed it in the grounds of a 2,000-capacity church that he built in 2012.
In his homily at a Mass before unveiling the statue, presiding bishop Augustine Tochukwu Okwuoma said it would be a “very great symbol of faith” for Catholic worshippers and passers-by alike.
The cost of the statue has not been revealed.
The 43-year-old boss of an oil and gas distribution company timed the statue’s unveiling to coincide with his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.
“We think religions can exist side by side,” Onuoha said. “We hope that people can live in harmony.”
Onuoha says he had a dream in 1997 to build a giant statue of Jesus. When his 68-year-old mother fell seriously ill a few years ago, she made him promise that he would build a church if she survived. He built it in Abajah, some 500 kilometres southeast of Lagos, and it is here that the “Jesus de Greatest” statue is located.
The Bishop of Orlu Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Augustine Ukwuoma performed the unveiling ceremony shortly after a mass attended by the Bishop Emeritus of Orlu Diocese, Most Rev. Gregory Ochiagha, and more than 100 priests at St. Aloysius Parish Abajah compound, Friday.
Ukwuoma, who described the statue as magnificent, commended the Onuoha family for the gift and their benevolence to the church.
“This statue is a great symbol of Christian faith, and I pray that for the Catholics that the statue will continue to constantly remind us of what Jesus Christ stands for us.
“For other passersby, looking at the statue will also bring them closer to Jesus,’’ the Bishop said.
Speaking on the golden jubilee, the cleric used the medium to remind marital couples on the need to see marriage as a vocation through which they could positively impact on the society.
“God did not call any of us clergy and religious to be fathers and mothers, but those called into this vocation must use it to reflect God’s peace, love and unity.
Chief Obinna Onuoha, the Managing Director of Premier Petroleum Ltd., and the donor of the statue, said that he constructed the statue to fulfill a vow he made to God in the year 1997.
“Onuoha, who did not mention the cost of the statue, added, “it took about three years to construct and erect the Jesus De Saviour statue at Abajah.’’