"The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) shall be bible based, spiritually dynamic, United, disciplined, self-supporting, committed to pragmatic evangelism,social welfare and a Church that epitomizes the genuine Love of Christ."
ADDRESS OF PRESS CONFERENCE DELIVERED BY THE MOST REVD NICHOLAS OKOH
ADDRESS OF PRESS CONFERENCE DELIVERED BY THE MOST REVD NICHOLAS OKOH, ARCHBISHOP, METROPOLITAN AND PRIMATE OF ALLNIGERIA (ANGLICAN COMMUNION) ON WEDNESDAY 14TH JULY, 2010 AT EPISCOPAL HOUSE,ABUJA.
Gentlemen of the Press,
I bring you greetings of our Lord Jesus Christ from the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion. This is our maiden Press Conference since our assumption to the primacy of the Church. The subject of our address today is on the state of the Church and the Nigerian Nation. This comes as we prepare to mark the 50th anniversary of our dear country, and in the wake of preparations for another round of electioneering campaigns towards the 2011 general elections.
We considered it imperative as we start our tenure, to embark on nationwide familiarization tour of all 14 Provinces of the Church of Nigeria, being archbishoprics of our 161 dioceses, pasturing a flock of an estimated 18 million Anglicans. From April 26 to June 15, 2010, we visited provinces of Jos, Kaduna, Kwara, Lokoja, Ibadan, Lagos, Niger Delta, Ondo, Bendel, Niger, Aba, Owerri, Enugu, and Abuja. The interactive sessions afforded us and our flock the opportunity to share views on the state and future of our church and our dear nation Nigeria. The outcome and feedbacks of this interaction inform our addressing the world through the Press today. Subsequent to this exercise, we are in a process of reviewing the vision of the Church and her mission to the contemporary society.
The Church has been designed by her calling and traditions to be voice of the people in human societies. Biblical Ezekiel calls this role that of ‘Watchman’, while secular society calls it ‘Watchdog’. In this country, the Church led and contributed immensely to the fight for decolonization and the independence which 50th years anniversary the country is gradually preparing to mark. The Church educated many citizens, trained artisans, produced pioneer elites and provided social welfare.
In a sense, it served as alternative and complement to the social services of the state. Like Biblical prophets of old who were champions of moral, socio-political and economic destinies of their nations, we do not intend to abandon this divine responsibility.
But if the Watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned, if the sword come and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity but his blood will I require at the Watchman’s hand. So thou son of man, I have set thee as a watchman unto the house of Israel. Therefore thou shall hear the word at my mouth and warn them for me. [Ezekiel 33: 6-8].
THE STATE OF THE NATION:
Because sentence against an evil is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner do evil an hundred times and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him. But it shall not be well with the wicked; neither shall he prolong his days which are as a shadow. [Ecclesiastes 8:11-13]
As Nigeria prepares to mark her 50th independence anniversary, there is cause for reflection about how well the country has fared during these 50 years of self-governance. We congratulate ourselves that we have a country to call our own, still united as one political entity, numerous difficulties notwithstanding.
Secondly we are grateful to God that we survived a 3-year bloody civil war.We equally note with gratitude and a sense of pride the restoration of democracy after a prolonged military rule.Our country has made remarkable progress in contributing to world peace through her peace-keeping operations either for the world body, UNO or the two regional bodies of ECOWAS and AU.
However, we are all aware that the dreams and expectations of our founding fathers, prior to and at independence have not been met. Basic infrastructure which is taken for granted in less-endowed countries than ours have virtually collapsed. Crime has hit an all-time high; ritual killers are on the prowl with little defense to the man and woman, boy or girl on the street; high profile hired assassinations have not been resolved creating an ominous culture of impunity among the powerful in society. At 50 we lack a well organised public transportation; we are virtually being held hostage by Generator suppliers; there are only a few cities that can boast of pipe borne water.There is high level of unemployment in the country. There is clearly poverty in the land as evidenced in our housing, food and clothing in most rural communities.Inspite of this, corruption is still growing in all segments of society; leaving the most vulnerable in society completely dispossessed.
There is warning everywhere that fossil oil will not continue to rule the world.Serious scientific research is going on around the world to find viable alternative.Therefore:
1.Nigeria should diversify without further delay to avoid a dramatic decline from high income from oil to penury which will be the case if an alternative is eventually found.
2.Control and develop our solid mineral base adequately.
3.All efforts should be made to revive and complete the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
4.Develop mechanised agricultural settlement in different states and draft our drifting youths there to contribute to society.
As we move closer to the next general elections, the electioneering campaigns are already in high gear.
1.Our president has promised both local and international communities a unique election of one-man-one-vote: that the elections will be free and fair.We call upon all to pray for him to be able to achieve this.
2.We welcome the appointment of a former ASUU leader Prof. Attahiru Jega as Chairman INEC.
3.But there are issues to watch such as the ethical conduct of politicians. The fracas that erupted in the National Assembly recently should never be allowed to happen again as it is an eloquent testimony of indiscipline on the part of our leaders.There is also the clamour in the PDP house over zoning.We caution all to be mindful of the law of the land while commenting or expressing their feelings on this volatile issue.
4.We call upon all Nigerians to show increased awareness of the political programmes that had been put forward and others to be put forward so that they can act as their own policemen in order to checkmate irregularities and also to spare the time and participate actively in view of the promise already made by Mr. President that their vote will count.
Before we discovered oil in marketable quantity, we prospered on agricultural produce; even with our regional governmental structure. In my travels by road through various regions I observed the vast uncultivated but arable land mass everywhere; all green. I wonder why we still lack vision and mission such that can explore this resource to employ and feed all our people; why do most people hunger when God has so endowed us?
During my visit to the South East, I was saddened by the apparent breakdown of law and order in Aba and environs; how criminals have virtually shut down social and economic life in the area through violence, brigandage and kidnapping of the high, middle and low class people in quest for money. We are baffled that forty years after the horrors of the Civil War from which we are yet to fully recover, we have now set out on another war; against ourselves. This is self-destruction. if what I saw at Aba is anything to go by, and the wave of wanton destruction is not curbed, the communities will be completely ruined. There is no viable life anymore; no good roads, the markets are in decline, banks are forced to suspend operations due to incessant robberies. I appeal to leaders in the church and communities to organize and put up proposals for the resolution of the matter so as to avoid terrible devastation. The effect of what is happening in the South East will take at least 10years to recover from.Regrettably this is a self inflicted wound.
We suggest that the National Assembly should recognize this as a state of emergency.We humbly call on Mr. President to recognize that the insecurity in the South East is already beyond the capacity of the Governors in the area to handle, and to lend it his federal might.
After 50years of living together, Nigerians of all religious persuasions should learn to live in peace together bearing in mind that no one group can wish away the other.Properly considered, our religious plurality is an asset and not a curse.We call on politicians and religious politicians to desist from using religion as an instrument for personal advancement, and by so doing blackmail religion.Therefore, as we celebrate the 50years of independence, we call upon our State Governors, all over the country and the FCT to make every Nigerian feel at home in their States irrespective of their religion or state of origin.All should learn the principle of ‘Give and take’ and the golden rule of ‘do to others as you will like them to do unto you’.
We congratulate Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the new CAN President and wish him a very successful tenure.We invite him and all denominational leaders to protect Christian interests and our cherished way of life, including speaking out against the invading army of homosexuality, lesbianism and bisexual lifestyle under any guise.In this matter silence can be detrimental to public well being.The issue at stake of human sexuality is not an Anglican prerogative and it is by no means limited to the Anglican circle as it is clearly shown all over the world.Same sex marriage, paedophilia and all sexual pervasions should be roundly condemned by all who accept the authority of Scripture over human life.
Our main thrust as a Church remains the evangelisation of our people.The Gospel is not only proclaimed as a religious faith but a means of godly civilization.By evangelism we mean the spreading of “the faith once for all delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3).We equally mean effective teaching and discipling to reduce the yearning gap between profession of faith and morality.It also includes getting deeply involved in the work of mission by providing some amenities and support to individuals and rural communities so as to reduce poverty and complement the effort of Government that the people may have life more abundantly.
Recently, our Church was classified along with Churches who have broken call for moratorium by the Anglican authorities in Canterbury, in certain areas such as ordination of Gay Bishops, conducting of same sex marriage and border crossing.Our church is said to have crossed borders in its pastoral work in the USA.We reject being put in the same category with churches conducting gay ordination and same sex marriage, and the equating of our evangelical initiative (for which we should be commended) with those who are doing things unbiblical.But for the Nigerian initiative and others like her, many of our faithful Anglican American friends who cannot tolerate the unbiblical practices of the Episcopal Church in America could have gone away to other faiths.The great commission to go in to all the world to save souls is our compelling constitution.The step taken by Canterbury in this regard therefore is ill-advised and does not make any contribution towards the healing of the ailment in the Anglican extended family.
The Church in the West had vowed to use their money to spread the homosexual lifestyle in African societies and Churches; after all Africa is poor.They are pursuing this agenda vigorously and what is more, they now have the support of the United Nations.We therefore call on parents to ensure that their children obtain their first degree in Nigeria before travelling abroad.Parents and guardians should closely watch and monitor the relationship which their children or wards keep so that deviant behaviour could be timely corrected. The sin of homosexuality, it must be reemphasised, destroyed the communities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
We invite all our clergy to look towards Crowther Graduate Theological Seminary in Abeokuta for their post graduate theological studies.Future leaders of this Church necessarily have to pass through this School.
In conclusion, we call upon true patriots of Nigeria living abroad to partner with our Government at the Federal and State levels and make their own contributions.We call upon all people to refuse to be used by politicians, religious politicians and ethnic enthusiasts to foment trouble and violent crises.The perpetrators of the past crises should be tried and severely punished.The prevalent culture of impunity in the country must be brought to an end.
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