On the 1st of October in 1960 a special Independence Bible was launched in the Nigerian Church. This Amethyst text Bible carried a frontispiece portrait of Samuel Ajayi Crowther and a colour picture of the Lagos Cathedral.
The special edition of the Holy Bible was designed to be an Ebenezer, a landmark memorial by the Church leadership of that day, that would speak to future generations of Nigerian Christians. The Church Fathers wanted us to know that the pre-Independence development of Nigeria and the struggle for Independence was in most parts a Christian legacy.
It was their hope that the post-Independence church would continue to serve in no less capacity. 50 years after Independence the Nigerian experience is yet to justify the sacrifice and investments that was poured into her foundation.
Ranging from healthcare, education, communication, transportation to national and food security issues we are yet to guarantee the provision of the basics that constitute the bedrock of stable nations. Our citizens are continually demeaned at home and disrespected abroad without any hope of redress. Youth in the gloom of despair are resorting to crime, prostitution and illegal immigration to hostile nations in search of a better life. Unbridled corruption has brought us to the point where infant and maternal mortality quotients show that the privileges enjoyed by a few are funded by the blood and bones of infants and their mothers!
Perhaps the time has come when the Church of Jesus Christ in Nigeria has to speak up on the behalf of our voiceless millions that this was not what we bargained for when we started out in 1960. Through decades of aimless drift the Nigerian citizen has held on to the slender hope of a bright tomorrow but we never imagined that we would be asked to sit still in the rough seas of global economic meltdown in a decrepit national ship manned by confused hands with a captain that is nowhere to be found.
We did not come through slave trade and colonial chains to sit by and watch innocent millions sacrificed on the altar of political ambitions. The church is aware that righteous change does not come cheap as history has taught us that the oppressor never gives up voluntarily. Righteousness exalts a nation and two can never walk together until there is an accord.
If need be as in the days of old, the church will yet again make the necessary sacrifices until hope, progress and direction is restored to our great nation. In the words of James Holy Johnson the parson of St Paul’s Church, Breadfruit, Lagos, 1874 “Africa is to rise once more; Ethiopia is to stretch out her hands unto God, her tears are to be wiped off her eyes” His parsonage in Breadfruit was the centre of nationalist meetings; where issues affecting the welfare of Nigerians were discussed. Championing socio-political change in many areas, they compelled the government to spend more on education and insisted on timelines to build bridges to connect the Lagos mainland to the Island.
The testimony of Holy Johnson is one out of the many Christian leaders that we may need to look back to draw strength from in the days ahead until righteousness is restored in Nigeria.
The church and the people of God cannot continue to remain silent in the face of the challenges that have engulfed our nation. The lot of the common man has become increasingly burdensome, and the yoke he carries has reached a critical point, yet we see no respite coming from our political leadership.
The cankerworms of corruption, nepotism, greed and injustice, to name just a few, continue to eat away at the fabric of our society unchecked. These ills have led us in recent times to:
The lingering fuel crisis that has continued unabated since October 2009.
The power situation, which has improved marginally recently, continues to be epileptic, with most Nigerians still receiving less than 12 hours electricity supply every day.
The expansion of terrorism from within our borders to the international community has brought shame and opprobrium to our nation.
It is important also to note that the prolonged absence of our President from the seat of government has exacerbated all these crises and created problems of its own.
Brethren, we must by our own example of righteous living set a standard for our nation, we cannot participate in the sins of our people and expect that somehow it will be well with Nigeria. We also as a people of God cannot continue to remain silent in the face of our national malaise. For evil to triumph all it takes is for the righteous to remain silent.
Finally, “Change is never achieved without sacrifice and inconvenience” RICHARD HOOKER (1554 -1600). Do not allow the word sacrifice to fill you with trepidation, because “sacrifice is simply an investment toward a better future”.
LONG LIVE NIGERIA!!
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