(BY NGOZI ADIGHIBE)
“Rely on God and God alone and He will guide you.”
This is the charge of the former Primate of all Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Peter Jasper Akinola to the Church at the dedication of St. Matthias House, which is the newly built Church of Nigeria National Secretariat situated at Plot 942, Ibrahim Waziri Crescent CAD Zone B01, Gudu District, FCT, Abuja. The retired Primate emphatically warned the Church against taking counsel from lobbyists and politicians, whom he described as unreliable; explaining that they cannot be depended on for guidance. He described the beautiful edifice being dedicated as a venue where decisions will be taken for the forward movement of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion; pointing out that God, and not anyone else is present to guide His Church in her decisions.
Primate Akinola gave a brief history about the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, narrating how it was forced to sever ties with the Western world because of their decision to accept teachings and doctrines contrary to the word of God. According to him, the Anglican Church does not belong to a single individual and it is not a tribal Church. However, he described the Anglican Church in Nigeria as the Church of Nigeria that embraces every tribe and makes decisions as a body, including the decision to build the new national secretariat in Abuja. He said this was a decision of the General Synod and not the desire of a single individual. He therefore urged the Church, especially Church leaders to put away every form of tribalism and rely on God for guidance in every decision.
The preacher observed that Nigerians live in a time of great confusion, where things do not work in the country because people cannot decide on what they want to do. He said there is so much confusion that the nation, as well as the Church needs guidance from someone who has intimate knowledge of the way and someone who can guide people on what to do. He explained that that someone is none other than Jesus Christ, the way, truth and life; stressing that just like the Psalmist in Psalm 48:14, the Church and Christians must come to the conclusion that God will remain their God regardless of any challenges and amidst all suffering and pain. He pointed out that the problem with Christians is that they hear the word of God but they do not obey it. Hence, he urged believers to embrace the word of God wholeheartedly and trust God to lead them in every decision.
The Most Rev. Peter Akinola addressed the congregation, charging the Anglican Church to ensure that every decision taken in the building must be based on five things: the Scriptures, on Christ alone and not any individual, on the grace of God, faith in Jesus Christ, and the glory of God. He added that when the Church bases its decisions on these five principles, it can never go wrong. He highlighted the various ways through which individuals have offered their own services towards ensuring the completion of the building, pointing out that all of these services were rendered freely to God and therefore every decision taken in the building must be guided by God. He appreciated all who had worked to erect the edifice, especially the incumbent Primate, the Most Rev. Dr. Nicholas D. Okoh and concluded with a question to all present, “Who guides you?” He further asked if they are willing to join the Psalmist in saying that this God will be their God forever.
Earlier in the service, the Primate of all Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Dr. Nicholas D. Okoh presented his address, which began with an appreciation to all the dignitaries present at the event; from the former Primate, Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola to the former Dean of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa, a former Head of State of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd), former Minister of Information of Nigeria, Prof. Jerry Gana, former Minister of Land, Works and Housing, Ms. Amal Pepple, current National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Olasupo Ayokunle, Chancellor of the Church of Nigeria, Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), Registrars of the CoN, Archbishops, Bishops and their wives, house of Clergy and Laity and of course, Mama Nigeria and wife of the Primate, Mrs. Nkasiobi Okoh.
He quoted the scripture, “Unless God builds a house, they labour in vain that build it” to point to the fact that it was God who made the day a reality and therefore, all glory must first go to Him. He gave a brief history of the Anglican Communion, which according to him was dedicated on St. Matthias day, describing it to be like the journey of the Israelites who moved from one place to the other until they got to the Promised Land. He said over the years, the administrative headquarters of the Anglican Church has moved locations until finally settling in Abuja.
Listing out the sources of funds for the building: Gen. T. Y. Danjuma, CSS Bookshops Ltd., Rivers State Government, Advent offerings from all the dioceses for 3 years, money from Standing Committee gatherings, and interest from treasury bills lodged with the account, and pointing out that over one billion naira had been spent so far, he called on all to not relent in well doing and continue to support the Church in ensuring that the building is well furnished and ready to be occupied. The Most Rev. Okoh concluded with an appreciation to all who supported the project, praying that God will reward them richly.
The service in which the Chapel, lift, kitchen/canteen, toilet, library, MU/WG’s office, ACNN’s office, general secretary’s office, Primate’s office, security post/gate house, generator house, and multipurpose hall were dedicated, also featured intercessory prayers led by the Subdean of the Cathedral, the Ven. Benjamin Idume, special anthem by the Diocesan mass choir and thanksgiving offering to God for the successful completion of the National Secretariat of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion.