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. 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. The Standing Committee acknowledges with immense gratitude the assistance of the Government of Niger State in ensuring the success of the meeting.
The theme of the meeting is God, our Refuge and Strength, taken from Psalm 46:1: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. The Bible assures us that God is our strength and shield. He 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.
The Church sympathises with families and communities that suffered from the damage caused by Hooding in various parts of our country, resulting in loss of lives, property and displacement of human beings and communities. It passionately calls on government to be proactive in providing relevant machineries that can control natural disasters in the future. It urges the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other related bodies in the private sector, including church organisations, 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.
The Church reviews the state of education in Nigeria and notes with regrets the fall in standards, and the lack of employment for graduates from our tertiary institutions. It calls on government to review curriculum to include vocational training and skills acquisition that will guarantee self-employment on graduation.
The Standing Committee notes with concerns the continued deteriorating state of our health facilities, and decries government’s failure to give adequate attention to the health of the citizenry. A situation whereby Government Hospitals, including the National Hospital, have no adequate facilities is not only disappointing but also unacceptable. Nigerians demand proper medical care at home instead of travelling abroad which only a handful of the populace can afford. It calls for proper monitoring of budget of the hospitals and to ensure that allocated funds are channelled towards improving the state of the hospitals, thus enhancing affordable Medicare for the masses.
The insecurity and escalation of violence in different parts of the country continue to be a source of worry to all. The Church laments the death of the health worker in the captivity of the Boko Haram terrorists and strongly appeals 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) are not killed but released unharmed.
2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS
The Standing Committee calls on Nigerians to exercise hope and confidence in God as they prepare for the forthcoming General Elections. It commends the Not too Young to Run bill that was passed by the National Assembly. But it views with grave concern the prohibitive cost of obtaining nomination forms for elective offices, which has an undermining effect on the bill, as this makes it further difficult for the youths to secure nomination to run for key offices. It condemns the exorbitant cost of nomination forms. This is only a contradiction of the ideals for which the Not Too Young to Run Act stands.
It calls on the political parties to present well-qualified and sound-minded candidates to run for political offices, as the country needs people who can appreciate its problems, proffer solutions and successfully pursue to logical conclusion any proposals towards alleviating the challenges of the country.
It therefore calls 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 can reflect the true wishes of the electorate. It calls for a peaceful electioneering devoid of violence where campaigns are issue-based reflecting genuine aspirations of the people within the context of their particular campaign issues.
STATE OF THE ROADS
The Church laments that the deplorable state of Nigerian roads have persisted both at the State and Federal levels. It calls on government at all levels to address them as a matter of urgency to avoid continuous loss of lives and ensure comfort and peaceful travel for all road users.
WELFARE OF NIGERIAN WORKERS
The Church calls 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 has reached unacceptable level. The suffering of the masses and the near-absence of morality in the distribution of wealth in the country is indicative that the government may be out of touch with its people.
It calls on the Government to give priority’ to the welfare of pensioners who have served the country faithfully. Neglecting them will 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.
EXTERNAL BORROWING AND THE FUTURE OF NIGERIA
The external borrowing of the country’ has become a matter of grave concern to all. It calls for 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.
GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE CONFERENCE (GAFCON)
The Standing Committee rejoices in the success ofGafcon3 which held in June 2018 in Jerusalem. It supports 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 have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices that are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have 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 resolved that they will decline any invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of the Communion.
And now, Be still, and know that I am God; I will he exalted among the nations, I will he exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jac oh is our refuge (Ps. 46:10-11).