…May Sever ties with Church of England at Lambeth Conference
By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, has expressed unhappiness with the continued delay by the Federal Government of Nigeria in resolving all issues pertaining to the minimum wage of Nigerian workers led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The Church therefore called on government to resolve without delay issues surrounding the agitation of the Nigerian workers for a new minimum wage, noting that the level of poverty amongst Nigerian workers had reached an unacceptable level.
It noted that the suffering of the masses and the near absence of morality in the distribution of wealth in the country were indicative that the government may be out of touch with its people.
It called on the Government to give priority to the welfare of pensioners who had served the country faithfully, pointing out that neglecting them would discourage the workers now in active service from serving faithfully.
'Many pensioners have no other means of survival without the payment of their monthly entitlement. It is important, therefore, that they are properly and timely supported,' it noted.
This was contained in the communique of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) held at St Peter's Cathedral Church, Minna, Niger State, in the Diocese of Minna, Province of Lokoja, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and presided over by The Most Revd Dr. Nicholas D. Okoh, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of the Church of Nigeria.
The communique was signed by the General Secretary, Church of Nigeria, Dr Paul Gershinen Dajur; Dean, Church of Nigeria, The Most Reverend Dr Ali Buba Lamido, the Archbishop, Metropolitan, and Primate of All Nigeria, Anglican Communion, as well as Chairman of GAFCON, Primate's Council.
As well the communique by the Standing Committee rejoiced on the success of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON3) which held in June 2018 in Jerusalem. It supported the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria in reaffirming the Statement of GAFCON, 2018, that the Archbishop of Canterbury should invite as full members to Lambeth 2020, the Bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America and the Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil, and that he should not invite those Provinces that had endorsed by word or deed, sexual practices that were in contradiction with the teaching of the Scripture and Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they had repented of their actions and reversed their decisions.
'In the event that this does not occur, the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) unanimously resolve that they will decline any invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of the Communion,' the communiqué stated.
In attendance were his wife, Mrs. Nkasiobi Okoh, the President of the Mothers' Union; the Dean of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Revd Dr Ali Buba Lamido; 163 Bishops; 122 clergymen; 79 members of the House of Laity and delegates of the Mothers' Union.
It received many guests who attended the opening ceremony, including an erstwhile Minister of the Federal Republic, Professor Jerry Cana, and the President of the Nigeria Bar Association represented by the Secretary General of the Association, among others.
The Standing Committee acknowledged with immense gratitude the assistance of the Government of Niger State in ensuring the success of the meeting
The theme of the meeting was, ''God, our Refuge and Strength'', taken from Psalm 46:1:
It maintained that God was their refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble and noted that the Bible assured that God was the strength and shield of the faithful.
The communique wrote in part that: ''God has done that for us before and will do it again; therefore, we can be certain. Thus the Standing Committee calls on all Christians and the entire populace not to fear in the midst of the present challenges and uncertainties of life, but to put their trust and confidence in the living, unchanging and all-powerful God, who is the shield and defender of His people''.
On the natural disasters in the country, it read: ''The Church sympathizes with families and communities that suffered from the damage caused by flooding in various parts of our country, resulting in loss of life, property and displacement of human beings and communities.
''We calls on government to be proactive in providing relevant machineries that can control natural disasters in the future. We urge the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other related bodies in the private sector, including church organizations, to treat the issues of climate change with utmost seriousness, undertake more public enlightenment in this regard, especially that citizens should avoid building along water courses, and make adequate provision to assuage and alleviate such occurrences in the future.''
On education and unemployment, the communique stated that the Church reviewed the state of education in Nigeria and noted with regret the fall in standards, and the lack of employment for graduates from tertiary institutions.
It called on government to review curriculum to include vocational training and skills acquisition that would guarantee self-employment on graduation.
Speaking on the health sector, the Standing Committee noted with concern, the continued deteriorating state of health facilities, and decried government's failure to give adequate attention to the health of the citizenry.
It said that the situation whereby government hospitals, including the National Hospital, had no adequate facilities was not only disappointing but also unacceptable.
It noted that Nigerians demanded proper medical care at home instead of travelling abroad which only a handful of the populace could afford. It called for proper monitoring of the budget of the hospitals and to ensure that allocated funds were channeled towards improving the state of the hospitals, thus enhancing affordable medicare for the masses.
On security, the communique said the insecurity and escalation of violence in different parts of the country continued to be a source of worry to all. The Church lamented the death of the health worker in the captivity of the Boko Haram terrorists and strongly appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that Leah Sharibu, the other Chibok girls and the other abductees of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were not killed but released unharmed.
As well, the Standing Committee calls on Nigerians to exercise hope and confidence in God ahead of the forthcoming general elections. It commended the Not too Young to Run Bill that was passed by the National Assembly, but viewed with grave concern the prohibitive cost of obtaining nomination forms for elective offices.
It believed that it had an undermining effect on the bill as it made it further difficult for the youths to secure nomination to run for key offices. It condemned the exorbitant cost of nomination forms, describing it as only a contradiction of the ideals for which the Not Too Young to Run Act stood..
The communique further called on the political parties to present well qualified and sound candidates to run for political offices as the country needed people who appreciated her problems and who could proffer solutions and successfully pursue to a logical conclusion any proposal geared towards alleviating the challenges of the country.
The communique therefore called on INEC and security agents not to compromise their constitutional roles, and to give equal opportunities to political parties and contestants; to maintain the position of an unbiased umpire so that the outcome of the election could reflect the true wishes of the electorate.
It called for a peaceful electioneering devoid of violence where campaigns would be issue-based reflecting the genuine aspirations of the people within the context of their particular campaign issues.
The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion lamented that the deplorable state of Nigerian roads had persisted both at the state and federal levels. It called on government at all levels to address them as a matter of urgency to avoid continuous loss of life and ensure comfort and peaceful travel for all road users.
On external borrowing and the future of Nigeria, the Anglican Church noted that the external borrowing of the country had become a matter of grave concern to all. It called on the government to consider the future of the yet unborn Nigerians by limiting its borrowings and use money already retrieved through its anti-corruption drive for the benefit of the masses.