By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
The dialogue leading to the 2019 general elections has permeated several segments of the Nigerian system from political parties to ethnic nationalities, cultural associations; interestingly, the dialogue has extended to leading Churches in Nigeria.
At a public lecture in commemoration of Nigeria’s 2018 Democracy Day anniversary, on the theme “Awakening the Giant (Nigeria): A Collective Responsibility”, held at the NAF Centre, Abuja, the Regional Pastor of Christ Embassy Abuja, Reverend Tom Amenkhienan, highlighted the imperatives of individual and collective roles and responsibilities requisite to deliver Nigeria to desired future dreams.
The Pastor remarked that the intention to deliver the nation to a desired future pre-supposes that Nigerians, as a people, have first, collectively envisioned for themselves, a dream future and, therefore, seek to chart a path to that future. The clergy acknowledged that this is where greatness begins; advocating: “this is where every great civilization has begun; this is where Nigeria must begin.”
Rev. Amenkhienan observed that Dr. Chris Oyakhilome, President of the Believers’ LoveWorld Nation, first identified and articulated this noble agenda through God’s Spirit, championing a campaign, a vision, and a movement for change ‘from the inside out’ in Nigeria.
The Reverend remarked that the movement which began over a decade ago has stimulated discourse relating to articulation of national interest, national integration and overall nation building within Christian organizations. He noted that though, many were of the view that this should be the responsibility of politicians and civil society, not of the Church.
The Reverend honoured to Pastor Chris for promoting an innovative socialisation ideologue – “a nation of nations, a nation without borders,” which stimulated his followers “to take responsibility for the future of our country Nigeria;” and subsequently, imbibed nationalism impulse in them to believe in Nigeria and to commit themselves to invest in the future of the country.
“I salute my father and Man of God; Thank you Pastor, Sir, for believing in Nigeria and inspiring countless of us to believe also; to so believe, that we are now driven by the vision of a great future that we see, and are stirred to help others see and believe in,” Rev Amenkhienan declared.
He recalled that as far back as 2002 or earlier, Pastor Chris began to cultivate revolutionary patriotic consciousness, mobilising for collective actions in the minds of his followers towards finding solutions to questions like ‘What is the problem with Nigeria?’; ‘Why would Nigerians leaders travel around the world, see the developmental strides that many nations have made, but seem to be unable to replicate it here at home?’
Rev Amenkhienan typified the nationalism consciousness evolution as “out-breathings of a patriotic heart, with a burning desire to see a new Nigeria;” adding: “and with these, our consciousness as a ministry began to be channelled in the direction of true patriotism and national interest.”
It was articulated that within this ideologue, Pastor Chris, ruminating about Nigeria, identified the following challenges:
· Absence of a national ideology (no vision or dream for Nigeria)
· Lack of true patriotism
The venerable Pastor was cited to have described Nigeria as, “a nation affected by its Educational System which is orchestrated to administrate, and not to produce.”This was attributed to the error of approach to leadership, the economic system, governance, among other phenomena, requisite for organising the state system in the 21st Century.
National Daily observes that the above compendium reflects the colonial structures bequeathed to Nigerian leaders at independence in 1960 by the British rulers which indigenous leaders failed to decolonise in the education and human capital development systems.
Accordingly, Rev Amenkhienan decried that Nigerians were trained, not to be producers but to rely on administration of power as the only hope for a successful life; a people without a vision for their nation, all seeking to receive from a nation into which they were making no investments.
Unfortunately, those who run the Nigerian state have in their economic reforms over the years emasculated Nigerian citizens from acquiring and developing their production and creativity capacities required to stimulate economic development.
These were indicated to have given impetus patriotic inclinations in the initiatives of the Christ Embassy ministry not to take a passive stand in Nigeria’s socio-economic development trajectory. Accordingly, the Ministry has taken the responsibility to be drivers, contributors and leaders in charting a new course for Nigeria.
“We began to organize from the year 2004, strategic Youth Conferences with a vision to begin to spark in the hearts of our youth, a desire to make a success of their lives and to hold themselves responsible for the future of our nation,” Reverend Amenkhienan said.
He disclosed that several of such Youth Conferences were held at national and delegate levels, focussing majorly on discourse about Nigeria.
The Conferences become pull factors for hundreds of thousands of university undergraduates and teeming youths; and subsequently, got the attention of the political class, who developed phobia that the Man of God could be setting the stage for a future political ambition.
“But this was never the vision or intention; as Pastor would say, it would be a demotion for him to aspire to political office, having been established by God as His voiceto the nations,” Rev Amenkhienan declared.
He maintained that the role of the Church and its leadership would never be to involve in partisan contest for political power, but to groom and influence people who go into partisan politics.
The role of the Church, according to Rev Amenkhienan, is “to invest in them the right ideologies and mind sets; to inspire them with patriotism; to have a plan for the future, so that when opportunity beckons, they would be equipped and ready to lead with vision and inspiration in government, business or industry, contribute to the development of society, and make history for our nation.”
The Reverend celebrated that, “ttoday, the university undergraduates and young people who attended those conferences are well positioned in society at different levels and in diverse areas, making an impact, and passionate about Nigeria.
“They were then called the leaders of tomorrow, but that tomorrow is here now, and we are confident that the seed that has been sown in their hearts is set to revolutionise Nigeria.”
Rev Amenkhienan narrated that at the 4th National Youth Conference with Pastor Chris, in Lagos in 2005, amidst several thought-provoking subjects, Pastor Chris expounded on what he titled “The Theory of Nations,” a true exposé on nationhood, and a charge on the path to greatness for any nation, but with particular reference to Nigeria and the African context.
It was observed that the exposé has gone around the world as a reference material for national discourse. The reverend noted: “at this historical time in our country, we are saturating the nation with it, re-educating and re-culturing our citizens and leadership to think right, and reposition Nigeria.”
It was highlighted that the ReachOut Nigeria Campaign which began in 2007 was also born out of this passion for Nigeria, and the vision was ‘Promoting a Patriotic Spirit for Nation-Building’.
“ReachOut Nigeria sparked a mind-set and culture revolution in our citizens, as through the distribution of divinely tailored literature from our Man of God, Pastor Chris, and glamorous display of our national colours, we inspired Nigerians and the government of the day to celebrate Nigeria again with hope in her future, and to speak positive words about their country, in-spite of the present circumstances.
“At a time when the Nigerian Independence Day celebrations were progressively low-keyed and almost eliminated, all across the nation, we awakened the desire to mark October 1st with pomp and pageantry, through this campaign.
“It was a deliberate effort, and we knew the impact would be progressive. Hence, each year since 2007, we have sustained the campaign in increasing scope and impact, to the extent that now, practically all nations of the world have ReachOut Campaigns commemorating one national day or the other, where their citizens go out on the streets, celebrate hope and impart life by distributing the world’s foremost daily devotional; Rhapsody of Realities,” Rev Amenkhienan declared.
He added that “he ReachOut Campaign has become an export from Nigeria to all countries/territories in the world; “so, who says Nigeria is not a giant? We just must awaken this giant with the realisation of our endowments and potentials, and with the determination to forge into the future with vision and focus,” he advocated.
The Reverend admitted that the event of the day was a springboard of the ReachOut Nigeria vision, because from the year 2010, they expanded the vision to include exemplifying patriotism, and not just inspiring it.
“We began to execute community development projects in all states of the Federation, working with our members and partners to identify and meet basic-to-major needs in their locations in the spirit of patriotism,” he disclosed.
He highlighted, we have: Sank and donated bore holes in numerous communities; Donated volumes of literature and other educational materials to hundreds of schools; Donated Medical equipment to hospitals; Renovated orphanages and provided much needed consumables and food supplies for the children; Built and equipped e-learning centers in some of our major prisons, including the Kuje Prison facility here in the FCT, enrolling a number of inmates in the Open University; Renovated, rebuilt and equipped several government schools around the country; Carried out free medical services to various communities nationwide; Provided logistic, communications and safety equipment to sections of the Nigerian Police Force and the Federal Road Safety Corps, including patrol vehicles, computer systems, radios, etc.
The ministry also began to organise symposia, schools debates, public lectures and other public enlightenment campaigns, to drive home the purpose and essence of ReachOut Nigeria, and stimulate progressive discourse for a greater future.
The ministry’s Democracy Day initiative was recognised as an offshoot of the ReachOut Nigeria campaign, which provides ample opportunity to focus on Nigeria’s nascent democracy, and sow the seeds of greatness.
“Underlying every ReachOut Campaign in every nation is the free distribution of Rhapsody of Realities, knowing that every major movement in human history, positive or negative, was sparked by the re-education of the minds of a people in the direction of a vision.
Rev Amenkhienan articulated: “Our dream for Nigeria is articulated in words captured in the Rhapsody of Realities, and for the past 11 years, we have sown this seed of God’s Word into our nation, because Bible says in PROVERBS 14:34, Righteousness exalteth a nation: But sin is a reproach to any people.”
The Reverend noted the “Future Africa Leaders’ Foundation,’ an inspiration and mentorship program, has since inception in 2013, raised exceptional young leaders across Africa, who have risen to national and international repute, for their amazing strides in leadership in diverse fields, rising to the challenges in their countries and societies, proffering solutions and mobilising other young people to join them in leading change in their nations.
It was revealed that many of them, even United Nations fora have taken note and celebrated their works; some have been invited to represent the interests of their nations’ youth at multinational forums moderated by the United Nations, European Union, African Union and others. It hinted that most of the young African Leaders under the mentorship of Pastor Chris are less than 25 years of age, many of them teenagers. All these were said to be channelled towards building innovative future for Nigeria and Africa.
Rev Amenkhienan, accordingly, declared that “The Church is a place of vision, a place of insight, a place of purpose and a place of divine ability; contending that, “the Church cannot afford to be aloof from national development; it would be a great disservice to our nation and our people for us, who know God’s mind, and are enabledby His Spirit to see into the future, to fold our hands and watch things go as they shouldn’t.”
He cited that aphorism which stipulates that “evil is perpetrated in a society, when good men do nothing.”
Rev Amenkhienan observed that the challenge of Nigeria, has been a challenge of leadership; adding that visionary and purposeful leadership has been lacking. He decried: “our nation has not been given an ideology, our people lack a picture of the purpose of Nigeria, and as such, after 57 years of independence, not much has been achieved.”
The Reverend further bemoaned that younger nations, far less endowed than Nigeria, have been observed confronting the challenge of leadership and developingtheir countries to an enviable level. “We cannot continue to observe and comment; we must take action and the time is now,” he declared.
He recalled that Pastor Chris articulated that ‘A nation would receive the leadership it deserves’, because the leaders are not imported from outside, but come out from among the people, being a product of the society, a result of the ideology and a reflection of the character of the people.
Rev Amenkhienan admonished: “If we do not change the general mental attitude and culture of our people to reflect our dream future, we would never have leaders who would take us there. In every nation, where the people decided to be the change, nothing could stop the positive revolution. This is why we are driven to raise leadership by investing in our people, particularly our youth.”
It was also indicated that ministry has taken many kids scavenging for food under bridges in Lagos and other cities, off the streets, providing them with quality free education, daily meals and going further to support their families through the InnerCity Mission for Children, “a vision birthed by our man of God, Pastor Chris in the year 2006.”
The Regional Pastor of Christ Embassy Abuja, noted: “Today, some of those one-time street kids are university undergraduates, making a difference in their world. They were headed to a life of crime, certain to be destitute, prostitutes, robbers, kidnappers, but someone stepped in to make a change. It doesn’t take so much, but it always pays off.”
He expressed the passion: “This is our inspiration; we paint the pictures of possibility and inspire others to arise and make a difference, because, like Pastor Chris says, “If we each do a little, we can all do much.””
The Reverend started that in identifying the role of the Church in national discourse on the future of the country, “the Church represents an agent of change, and has always been.’ He added that when the Church arose in knowledge of God’s Word; the dark ages came to an end.
He articulated that the Church is God’s indicator, His ‘thermometer’, His chronometer for the world.” He maintained: “every time in human history that God’s people arose in leadership, the world recorded a new phase of its existence. In every generation, from the days of Abraham till now and into the future, God’s people and their actions or inactions, have determined the course of human history.”
The Regional Pastor of Christ Embassy Abuja, accordingly, advocated that “this is the day for the Church in Nigeria to lead change in our nation; we can trust our intentions and desire for our nation, so, why subject ourselves to men whose integrity we haven’t proven?”
It was contended that a system is only as good as the people who make it up; so, the thought that politics is a dirty game has held true because the so-called ‘clean’ ones have stood aloof and allowed the ‘dirty’ ones run their lives, make the policies and create the socio-economic environment in which they live and function.
“This is our charge: it’s time to sanitise the system, and you cannot achieve that from outside. It’s time for those whom the Lord has influenced with His Word to step out and make a difference; to exemplify leadership by showing how things can be done right, with sincere motives for the good of all,” Rev Amenkhienan declared. He cited that, “the Bible in Proverbs 29:2, says: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
He further advocated that political parties in Nigeria must be run by ideologies and not just interests; arguing that, “ideologies that are binding on every member of the Party such that anyone elected into office on the platform of the Party who fails to live out the party’s ideology, would have their offices vacated.”
It was his view that “this will only happen if men of vision and integrity get involved in the political process, not just in pursuit of office, but with a view to righting the wrongs and charting a new course.”
It was declared that the day in which Nigeria would be governed by leaders of vision, leaders of purpose, with the character and determination to insist on what is right and guide the people on the path of progress is now. According to Rev Amenkhienan, “the time has come, and we must take action and make a difference; everyone has a role to play. We are playing ours; it’s time you play yours.”
Rev Amenkhienan generally summed up the basics of socialisation for value re-orientation and national rebirth in the build up to 2019 general elections