Source: Church of Nigeria News
Peter Onwubuariri, Agbarha-Otor, 13th January, 2007
Ninety Three bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) attended a week long retreat including new bishops who were consecrated after the last retreat in January 2006.
On Friday, January 12, the Most Rev Peter Akinola read the communiqué from the retreat at a press briefing with both the media and members of the house of bishops present.
Following are some transcribed excerpts from the Question and Answer session with the media.
The Church and 2007 elections
Last September we met in Port Harcourt for the Standing Committee of the Church. We invited the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Police and the Ministry of Information and National Orientation to speak to our people. The IGP was there in person, the Director General of NOA was there and Professor Maurice Iwu was also there in person. So we have been fully mobilized and we have been told what to do. So we in turn are mobilizing our members not only to pray but to be actively involved in the process. We have encouraged our members to get registered and we shall soon be setting up local committees in the various dioceses to be part of the monitoring teams. The Diocese of Enugu has this already in place and that has been commended to other dioceses.
The Anglican Church and the Niger Delta Issue
The issue of Niger Delta is not new to us. This was addressed extensively last September during the Standing Committee. Let me add that the problem of Niger Delta is a fundamental problem for this country. Many see it as a matter of injustice but then how do you address injustice. Is it by political fiat? Or is it by ensuring that the social problems are addressed step by step until the entire problems are resolved in time. So we call upon the Federal government and the oil companies to ensure that the problems of those areas are addressed equitably. We also call on our people in these areas to be patient. A problem that has evolved for so many years cannot be solved overnight. Furthermore all the agencies that are charged with the responsibility of providing the solution should not divert funds to their own private pockets. For instance, the Niger Delta Development Commission should not limit their response to buying big buses and erecting big signposts all over the place. They need to be more proactive in their thinking and in their acting
Primates February Tanzania meeting and the homosexuality issue
We are not going to Tanzania to discuss gay marriages. We are going to Tanzania because we are Primates of the Church and we have many things to talk about and to pray about. We come together primarily for fellowship as Primates, we come together to study the word of God and to think together on various matters that concerns our provinces. So the gay marriage thing is not the main agenda. It may rear its ugly head again but it is not the main agenda.
Threat of Islam and the prospect of a Muslim leader becoming the next President of Nigeria in 2007
It will not be the first time Nigeria is having a Muslim as her President. I want to remind us that the Church of God is more than 2000 years old. It has passed through thick and thin. It has passed through the worst ugly human conditions. And I want to repeat that there is nothing in this world that can stop the church from being a church. Muslim leader or no Muslim leader, God’s church will remain God’s church.
Kidnapping of foreigners and oil workers in the Niger-Delta Community
The church would like to know whether the kidnappers are invisible. Are thy not known? Who empowers them? Are they beyond the reach of the police and the State security service men? Our security agencies should be ashamed of themselves. We want to know who is sponsoring them and who is gaining from it. It is a national shame and the earlier these things are addressed, squarely and decisively, the better for us. We are calling on the world to come and invest in Nigeria and if this kind of thing continues, it is contradictory in terms. The nation must rise and put an end to this.
National ID card scheme
That is another national shame. This has been on for more than 20 years and we have pumped in millions of naira without anything to show for it. But we hear that that the Federal Executive Council is doing something to ensure that Nigerians have an authentic national identity card. This time around I pray and believe that we get it right.
Church of Nigeria Bishops and Lambeth 2008
We are part and parcel of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Lambeth Conference is called once in every ten years for all Anglicans Bishops therefore it is our conference. What we are saying in Church of Nigeria and in many other provinces in Africa is that for us to gather all over the world as many as 800 Bishops, and to build that consensus and to agree on certain things, and for some to say “well it doesn’t matter; we can continue things in our own way”. Then think of the financial implication, think of the risks involved. For 120 Bishops from Nigeria to travel to England, consider the financial implication. It will not cost any diocese in the country lest than N1million – for the delegates and other expenses-. We are talking about N120million and we are going to spend three weeks there. And then on return, there is nothing to show for it, that is what we are arguing against. So, we are part and parcel of Lambeth Conference, but we are challenging the authorities that before we come, we have to be sure that we are not coming for a Jamboree. We are coming for serious business and we have plenty of time before Lambeth to decide whether we are coming for a mere jamboree or a serious conference.
(Church of Nigeria News)