...Warns Anglican Youths against Political Thuggery
By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
The National Council of the Anglican Youth Fellowship (AYF), Nigeria, has ended its 61st Annual National Youth Conference in Awka with a charge on all their over two million registered members across Nigeria to obtain their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to enthrone a God fearing leadership in the country in 2019.
The 5-day conference tagged, ''Awka 2019'', with the theme, ''Power for Exploit'', started on 8th August and ended on 12th August, 2018, at Paul University, Awka.
The Grand Patron AYF Nigeria, the Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, who is also the Archbishop Metropolitan and Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, was represented by the host and Anglican Bishop of Awka, Right Reverend Alexander Ibezim, PhD.
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev Nicolas Okoh, warned youths to desist from any act that could cause violence during the 2019 general elections in Nigeria but rather use their PVCs to vote for candidates of their choice.
The Archbishop represented by the Anglican Bishop of Awka Diocese, Rt Rev Alexander Ibezim, handed the warning at Paul University field in Awka, Anambra State, during the 61st Annual National Bible Study Conference of the Anglican Youth Fellowship (AYF) which had over 3000 participants across the country in attendance.
The theme of the week long programme was taken from Acts 1:8.
Okoh however urged the youths to participate actively in the 2019 elections and to avoid acts of violence and the temptation of being used as thugs by politicians.
Archbishop Okoh said: 'Our nation today is marred by violence, killing, kidnapping, robbery, political recklessness, wicked rascality and other similar vices. You must be very careful in all your activities. You must make sure you are not involved or become a tool in the hands of the evil people. It is a sin for anyone to be used as political thug. Do not kill or allow yourself to be killed.
'Endeavour to get your PVCs and be ready to vote, come 2019 general elections. Nothing stops you from registering with political parties and be ready for elective positions. We are praying that God will raise faithful people for us,' he said
Speaking on the theme of the conference, Archbishop Okoh called on the youths to emulate Christ and follow his footsteps for their own salvation.
The Vice Chancellor of Paul University, Awka, Venerable Prof Uche Isiugo-Abanihe, who was represented by Ven. Gift Ohakwe, while welcoming the delegates at the conference, stressed the need for youths to resist the negative characteristics of the present time, which, he said, was characterised by immorality, sexual abuse, homosexuality and prostitution.
The conference was attended by the Chief Host, Bishop of Nnewi and Archbishop of the Niger, Most Reverend Prof Godwin Okpala, OON; as well as Ven Osaze Egbenusi, National Religious Coordinator; Bro Ogunubi Gbenga, National Public Relations Officer; Bro Aghogho Igho, National Secretary and Bro Brown Lloyd, National President; Right Reverend Jolly Oyekpen; Ven Prof Uche Isiugoabanife, Vice Chancellor of Paul University, Awka; Administrative Secretary to Anglican Bishop of Awka, Ven Onyinyechukwu Ilione; AYF outgoing National President, Bro Chukwuebuka Eze, Outgoing National Secretary, Sis Ogechi Chima Anyaku; a renowned priest of God, Ven Gift Ohakwe; Archdiocese of the Provincial Chaplain, Revd Osita Nwofia; Awka Diocesan Chaplain, Reverend Nnamdi Ajaoku; a school Administrator and Chaplain of Paul College Awka, Ven Ifeanyi Umeh; AYF National Coordinator and Bishop of Akoko Edo Diocese; AYF National Coordinator and Bishop of Akoko Edo Diocese, among others.
It featured prayer sessions for Nigeria, Bible study, quiz competition, talent hunt, variety shows, seminar sessions, including ''Closed Heaven and its consequences'' by Evangelist Great Nnamani, among others.
In an interview, a former National Vice President and Pioneer President of Province 11, Prof Ifeanyi Ezeaku, urged the AYF youths not to relent in prayers and hard work as the two remained the key in surmounting all challenges in life and unlocking blessings in abundance.
Prof Ezeaku said the conference was an eye opener for him as he experienced that youths were still zealous to serve God in their prime in line with the motto of AYF, ''Towards a Perfect Man''.
While urging the youths to remain resolute in serving God, he encouraged those who had the opportunity to be mentored not to neglect its glory but maximize its benefits.
Also, a school administrator and Principal of St Paul's College Secondary School, Nibo /Nise, Ven Ifeanyi Umeh, who led in the ministration on the opening ceremony day, appealed to youths to ensure that they were not choked up by current happenings but to be above board always in Christ Jesus. He reminded them that shortcut to success was no success.
In his remarks, the new National President of Anglican Youth Fellowship, Nigeria, Bro Brown A.H. Lloyd, said they gathered across the nation with the sole aim of studying the word of God and rededicating their lives to Christ Jesus.
He said their gathering was for renewal of strength since they had no power of their own. He reminded the youths that evangelism remained the supreme task of the Church which they needed the power of the Holy Spirit to do.
Archbishop, Province of the Niger and Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Revd Prof G.I.N. Okpala, OON, lamented that Nigeria was plagued by all forms of evil, namely corruption, armed robbery, killing of people by herdsmen, Boko Haram, child trafficking, kidnapping , prostitution, among others.
Archbishop Okpala disclosed that Christians passed through untold hardship occasioned by what he called the inhuman actions of leaders in the country and their institutions, adding that poverty was hurting the majority of the people. This is even as he noted that even democracy was in short supply.
The National Coordinator of AYF and Bishop of Akoko Edo Diocese, Rt Revd Jolly Oyekpen, said that it had been testimonies galore between their last conference in Lagos and the one in Awka, and commended other bishops for their support to the youths, even as he commended youth chaplains on their doggedness in following the youths amid what he described as the tough situation in the country.
Bishop Oyekpen charged the youths to insist on redeeming the times because, according to him, Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5: 16-17, charged Christians to redeem the times because the days were evil.
He said it was compulsory for Anglican youths to understand the perfect will of God while aspiring towards a perfect man in tandem with their motto. He encouraged them to mortify their bodies and shun all youthful lusts so as to escape the wrath of God that would come upon the disobedient.
He enjoined them to pursue greater exploits in Jesus Christ.