MESSAGE TO THE NATION
FROM THE 9TH GENERAL SYNOD, 16TH – 20TH SEPTEMBER, 2008
1. The Ninth General Synod of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), comprising the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, held the Opening Eucharist at the Cathedral Church of the Advent and continued their meetings at the Ladi Kwali Conference Center, Abuja, FCT, between 16th and 20th September 2008. We were honoured by the presence of His Excellency Dr. Goodluck E. Jonathan, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the opening of the Synod. We welcomed his gracious words and greetings on behalf of His Excellency - President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
2. The theme for the meeting and of the daily Bible Studies led by Canon Dapo Asaju, Professor of Theology at Lagos State University, was “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…” taken from the Book of Isaiah 40:31. We were reminded that the people of God must always look to Him for their strength during difficult times. We were also assured that by doing so we will witness a radical transformation of our circumstances. The Synod was reminded of the Biblical narrative in which time after time God’s people not only survived ‘impossible’ situations but also grew stronger because of them. We were also blessed by remarkable testimonies of God’s faithfulness among those who had gathered for this General Synod.
3. The Primate challenged us by his powerful Opening Address in which he developed the theme of the Synod by pointing to several arenas where our only hope is to seek after the Lord. He reminded us that God is faithful and far more willing to bless than we can ever imagine. He illustrated this theme through the remarkable history of the Church of Nigeria and the tremendous growth that it has experienced in recent years.
4. The Primate did, however, point out some of the grave needs that still confront us especially as we struggle to overcome the gap between God’s provision of bountiful resources for this great nation and the poverty and deprivation experienced by far too many of its citizens. He pointed to the structures of government, the debilitating impact of corruption and the complete lack of accountability as being major contributors to this gap. He challenged all of us to raise up men and women of integrity who will resist the temptation towards selfish interest and the abuse of power and help lead the nation into a time of well deserved prosperity for all people without regard for their faith perspective or regional affiliation.
5. The General Synod expressed its profound appreciation for the inspired leadership of the Primate both in the church and the nation. It also embraced enthusiastically the themes he identified. Study groups were assigned to focus on some of them and the conclusions presented in this statement.
GOVERNMENT AND NATIONAL CONCERNS
6. JUSTICE FOR ALL. We commend the faithful endurance and perseverance of the vast majority of Nigerian people in spite of their continuing suffering due to ineffective and corrupt governance.
7. We recognize that we are a God-fearing people and that our first obligation is to patiently seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness confident that God will hear our fervent prayers and reward our faithfulness. However, we also acknowledge that as a Church we are called to stand against injustice and the oppression of the poor and we are also to warn against any misuse of God’s creation. In light of this we call upon every Nigerian and all those who serve at the various levels of Government to redouble their efforts to promote justice and the equitable treatment of all our people. We must note that the cost of governance has become outrageously high and urge substantial reductions so that those who lead us can be seen as faithful stewards and not oppressive masters.
8. MUTUAL RESPECT FOR ALL. We are a nation of many religions including Christianity, Islam and African Tradition Religion. It is a reality that both Islam and Christianity are mission oriented. For the sake of peace and to promote harmonious national development this Synod calls on the three strata of government in this country to treat all religious communities with equal respect regardless of regional location. The rise of religious intolerance is a growing international concern, the deadly strife in India being one more tragic example, and we urge all national leaders to take urgent action to reverse this trend and demonstrate mutual respect for all.
9. EDUCATION FOR ALL. Without comprehensive education we will never fulfill our God given potential as human beings and as a nation. We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to pay particular attention to the deplorable condition of our educational facilities. Every effort should be made to repair, upgrade and expand these facilities and recruit qualified teachers if we are to provide world-class education for all our children in the years to come.
10. IDENTIFY KEY LEADERS. We are a nation that has been blessed by God with remarkable resources. We have a diverse population of creative and energetic people with an abundance of natural resources and a temperate climate. There is no reason why we should not be among the 20 developed nations of the world by the year 2020. We need to identify and honour those individuals who are making a genuine contribution towards the development of our nation to inspire others to follow in their good example. We suggest that National honour awards should only be given to those who have served the nation with zeal and commitment.
11. FOOD FOR ALL. We are a nation that should have no difficulty providing more than enough food for every citizen and yet now we face the prospect of food scarcity. This is unacceptable. It is a betrayal of the One who has blessed us with a good land. We urge the government to bring a renewed focus on farming and that a new generation of students be encouraged to study all of the latest insights about the best practices of agriculture and then return to the land and show the world that we cannot only feed ourselves but also make provision for other nations who have not been so well blessed.
12. ELECTRICITY FOR ALL. This Synod urges the Government to make good its policy on private participation in the Energy Sector without further delay. We believe that only by total commitment and a renewed emphasis on improvement in the provision of electrical power will we be able to fulfill our Nation’s Vision 2020. We would also urge those in authority to explore alternative means of generating electricity such as solar power. We have the resources, what we have lacked is the will and creativity to use them. Now is the time to do so!
13. TRAVEL SAFETY. Good and safe roads, the restoration of our railways and our entire transportation network is essential if we are to grow our Nation’s economic base and develop tourism. We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to develop an achievable road safety action plan with specific emphasis on reducing deaths and carnage on our highways.
We also call on all those who drive to avoid distractions such as the use of cell phones and observe all relevant traffic laws.
14. NIGER DELTA. We are deeply grieved by the continuing violence and destruction in the Niger Delta. We believe that this tragedy has escalated to its current level because of systemic failures at all levels of government. The destruction of the farms and streams of the local community is a continuing nightmare for those who struggle to find their livelihood in the region. The situation is highly unstable and will, if not properly handled, have long-term negative consequences for all Nigerians and beyond. We dare not let this happen. We welcome the good intentions behind the latest proposal to establish a specific ministry for the problems of the region but fear that this may simply add one more layer of bureaucracy and not bring about the radical change that is so urgently needed. We call on the government to make the Niger Delta Region a reference point for the seven point agenda as a way forward to ending this crisis.
GAFCON AND THE FUTURE OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION
15. ANGLICAN FUTURE. We were encouraged by the success of GAFCON – the Global Anglican Future Conference held in Jerusalem in June 2008 and the key role played by the Church of Nigeria led by the Primate of All Nigeria. We welcome and endorse the Jerusalem Declaration and believe that this demonstrates that the Anglican Communion has come of age and is now becoming a truly Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans with leadership that more truly reflects the global nature of the Communion and is no longer constrained to its colonial past.
16. CHURCH OF NIGERIA (ANGLICAN COMMUNION). As we look forward to the next 19 months as the Primate completes his term of office we embrace his call to “Wait upon the Lord” and renew our commitment to the work of discipleship, to provide a positive witness of lives and communities transformed by Jesus Christ for this great nation and the world.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. Psalm 33:12
The Most Revd. Peter J. Akinola, CON
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria