Nigeria’s first pilot, Captain Robert Emmanuel Hayes, has been bestowed with the Karis Award at the G.R.A.C.E. 2017, for his contributions to the country’s aviation industry and aeronautical education sector.
The event, which was held at the Household of God Church, Ikeja, Lagos, was pioneered by the General Overseer, Pastor Chris Okotie, and was chaired by Gen. Esio Obada (Rtd), a former member of the Supreme Military Council.
In his opening remarks, maritime lawyer, Mike Igbokwe (SAN), said GRACE, an acronym for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, was established in 1990, for donations of cash and support to charity organisations.
He explained that the purpose of the Karis Award is for the recognition of, and giving of an award along with cash reward to any Nigerian living or dead, who had distinguished themselves through their contributions to the development of Nigeria.
In the words of Mike Igbokwe:
“The Karis Award is borne out of patriotism, and the need to foster national unity and zeal, but it is without any religious, political, geo-political, tribal or social bias. This is one of the Church’s ways of giving back to the society, recognising those who have contributed to national development, and also to encourage patriotism and excellence in national development.
It is a social/charity event to celebrate God’s grace, encourage patriotism and support the needy and the poor. Nigerians from different walks of life, different faiths, tribes, political leanings, geo-political zones and social backgrounds, had been conferred with this award in the past.
In some cases, the governments and other Nigerians had followed suit in honouring the Karis Award recipients.
For instance, after Mrs. Margaret Ekpo became the Karis Awardee in 2001, the Government named the Calabar Airport after her, after Mr. Taiwo Akinkunmi was honoured in 2003, he was given a National Honour; Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN, who was honoured in 2010, had gardens and monuments named after him by the Lagos and Ondo State Governments, among others.”
Speaking about the awards, Pastor Chris Okotie said:
“We are motivated by love; we are actuated by Christ likeness to do what our master has mandated us. In a world where there are political imbalances, and economic instability, we still have people who believe in love, who believe in community, who will look after their neighbour, and be their brother’s keeper. We are saying it very clearly that God, who so loved the world gave Jesus Christ to us, and that same spirit is what has brought all this.”
In his response, 82-years old Karis Awardee, Captain Robert Emmanuel Hayes, expressed appreciation to Rev. Okotie and the Church for the award.
In the words of Captain Robert Emmanuel Hayes: