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Welby pays pastoral call in Lagos: The Church of England Newspaper, June 13, 2014 June 26, 2014

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby paid a pastoral call on President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja to “express his personal pain and condolence about the ongoing terrorism affecting parts of North Nigeria,” the Lambeth Palace press office reports. On 4 June 2014, Archbishop Welby, President Jonathan and the Primate of Nigeria, the Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, discussed the terror campaign waged by Boko Haram and “then prayed privately together,” the statement said. Along with other church and political leaders, Archbishop Welby has condemned the kidnapping of over 200 school girls by Boko Haram, calling it an “atrocious and inexcusable act.” Speaking to reporters outside the Presidential Villa, the archbishop condemned the recent terror bombings in Jos saying “I came to pray with His Excellency and express our condolence for the losses. God is faithful. In one of the letters that Paul wrote to the church, he talked about the sufferings they were going through being known throughout the world and that is certainly true here because the suffering in Nigeria is known throughout the world … And like many, I am deeply grieved by what is happening but God is faithful. He is always faithful to us and as Christians, in Jesus Christ we believe in His faithfulness and we can trust Him for the future.”

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Boko Haram violence a threat to the “Nigerian project”: The Church of England Newspaper, August 26, 2012 p 6. August 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Islam.
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The Archbishop of Nigeria has called upon the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to stop the drift towards anarchy as more Christians were killed last week by Islamist terrorists.  Attacks on churches and Christians were reported across Northern and Central Nigeria, with 19 worshipers attending a Pentecostal service in Okene in the central Kogi state murdered by gunmen.

In an interview with Punch, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said that at the “rate we are going, the country is drifting fast into anarchy and if people now capitalise on that situation, it will degenerate to dog eat dog.”

Anti-Christian violence has prompted some Christians to flee the North, while many churches report sharp decreases in worship attendance.  The Bishop of Kaduna, the Rt. Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon told his synod last week that the latest outbreak of violence had caused a 30 per cent drop in attendance.

On 6 August 2012, gunmen attacked a Bible Study held at the Deeper Life Bible Church in Okene.  Local press accounts of the attack say that the attackers shut off the generator plunging the church into darkness and then sprayed the building with machine gun fire.  Nineteen were killed in the attack, and two soldiers were killed in a firefight the following morning with the suspected gunmen.

In a communique released at the close of the 19th Kaduna Synod, the diocese warned Nigeria was sliding towards anarchy. Nigeria could soon see its own version of the Rwandan and Bosnian “ethnic cleansing” of recent years.

The Muslim militant group Boko Haram posed a threat to the “98 year old Nigerian project”  the synod warned by its “acts of bombing, shooting and other forms of destructive attack on the Nigerian state.”

First posted in The Church of England Newspaper.

Akinola warns of a Nigerian jihad from Boko Haram: The Church of England Newspaper, June 10, 2012 p 7. June 8, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Persecution, Terrorism.
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The former Primate of Nigeria has rejected claims that the Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria is driven by economic deprivation or tribal jealousies.

Speaking to a congregation that included the country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, and its political elites, Archbishop Peter Akinola lambasted the country’s parlous political state. Human sin, tribal passions and Britain’s determination to get out of Africa before it had prepared the new nation for independence had led to the present state of affairs.

“Shun all political claims that Boko Haram is not against Christianity. It is,” Archbishop Akinola said on 27 May 2012 in a sermon at the National Christian Centre in Abuja in celebration of Democracy Day.

The war has been “going on since 1966. They are committed to Jihad. You can’t stop them it is their religious obligations. They have been doing it for 36 years; they have not stopped and they won’t stop,” Archbishop Akinola said.

Recent press reports in the West have argued that the Boko Haram insurgency is not, at heart, a religious war.  On 24 May 2012 the Voice of America reported that a report by the NGO Human Rights Watch claimed that while the conflict may be along ethnic and religious lines, but the “root of the fighting is often political and economic.”

“We have ignored the truth. Boko Haram must be seen in the right context. It is a continuation of the past,” the archbishop said.

“Boko Haram means Jews and Christians are abomination. They have been unleashing terror since 1966 and they have a mandate. This problem is not peculiar to Nigeria, many other stakeholders are disenchanted but waiting for their time. They want to eliminate infidels which includes you Mr. President,” the archbishop said to the congregation, which included Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan.

Archbishop Akinola warned the country’s leaders gathered for the Democracy Day service that Nigeria had lost its way.  “We are still disunited.  Leaders are interested in their own, no national identity. We are blood thirty and bloodletting society with no regards for sanctity of life. Nigeria is at war against itself. Selfish politicians are doing all things on basis of political exigency.”

Nigeria’s former colonial master had done the country no favours by its hasty grant of independence, the archbishop said.  “A word of truth about our past amalgamation, there was no consent from the South and North. It was done for political and economic gains of the colonials. Our leaders failed to gather the authentic representatives of Nigerians to seek the kind of independent Nigeria they want.”

“This would have led to a new Nigeria,” the archbishop said according to accounts of his speech published in the Nigeria press.

“The euphoria of independence was consequently short-lived,” he said and the “political atmospheres” were now “full of acrimony. There is tribal war. The country has been fragmented with inhibitions to progress.”

The general election of first republic was based on a “faulty census leading to blood-letting that led to the [Biafran Civil War],” he said, as national unity cannot be maintained by “military fiat.”

The 1970s and 1980s in Nigeria were “characterised by unrest, military rule, coup, and armed robbery.” The year 1999 saw the “return of democracy,” but since that time “rather than dealing with the causes, successive governments have been hiding from the truth putting new wine in old bottle.”

“Insecurity has been with us. About 30 crises so far has occurred in the country leading to religious and ethnic cleansing. In 1980 another religious riot with Christians killing took place. In all cases, we have failed to address the causes,” the archbishop warned.

Nigeria’s structural problems were also coupled with the moral failings of its people. “Corruption, the hydra-headed monster, has taken over the soul of Nigeria,” Archbishop Akinola said.

“Officials are stealing us blind,” he said, and they scavenge the country’s “carcass” for their own ends.  Government anti-corruption campaigns were “selective” and short lived. The police and judiciary did not have “clean hands” while the country’s universities had become diploma mills giving honours and “questionable titles” to the powerful.  All of this “will continue because government pays lip service to the fight against corruption,” the archbishop said.

In his address to the gathering, President Jonathan disputed the predictions of further chaos made by Archbishop Akinola. “Even though people are predicting the disintegration of Nigeria, let me assure you that Nigeria will not disintegrate. Though we have these challenges, but we will succeed,” he said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop Okoh urges Nigerians to keep the faith in the face of terror: Anglican Ink, June 4, 2012 June 4, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of Nigeria, Terrorism.
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Archbishop Nicholas Okoh

A lone suicide bomber killed at least 15 people last Sunday in a terrorist attack on a church in Nigeria’s Bauchi state. On 3 June 2012 a terrorist drove into the compound of the Harvest Field of Christ Church, Yelwa, Bauchi State, detonating a car bomb as worshipers began leaving the morning service.

While no group has so far taken responsibility for the attack, police believe the attack was the work of Boko Haram, the radical Islamist sect whose name in Hausa means “Western education is sacrilege.” At least 500 people have been killed in mass terror attacks in Northern Nigeria so far this year – church leaders in Nigeria report the death toll is much higher as sectarian murders in the countryside are seldom reported in the media.

…..

“This synod called the whole of the country not to lose faith.  Because of the bombing and insecurity people were beginning to lose faith in God as if God is not able to protect them,” the archbishop said to the 2nd Session of the 8th Synod of the Diocese of Abuja meeting at St. James’ Church Asokoro, Abuja.

People were also “beginning to lose faith in the entity called Nigeria,” he said. “Individuals also are beginning to lose faith — losing courage in themselves, they feel that everything is collapsing.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Bloody Sunday in Nigeria: The Church of England Newspaper, May 13, 2012 p 7. May 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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At least 20 people were killed in two attacks on churches by the militant Islamist terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria on Sunday, while Islamist extremists have been blamed for a Sunday morning attack on a church in Nairobi that has left one dead.

Four people were shot to death during a church service in the northeast town of Maiduguri. “Boko Haram who were six in number came in a Volkswagen Golf car and shot the pastor and three others while they were about to administer the Holy Communion to worshipers,” Maiduguri police spokesman Samuel Tizhe told Reuters.

The attack in Maiduguri in the northeastern Borno state – the home of Boko Haram – followed an attack earlier in the day in Kano.  The Nigerian Red Cross reports sixteen people were dead following an attack by gunmen at a worship service held in a lecture hall at the city’s Bayero University.

Sunday’s shootings are the latest in a series of attacks that police blame on Boko Haram – a militant Muslim group that seeks to impose Sharia law on Nigeria and to expel or convert the country’s Christians.  On Easter Sunday, 36 people were killed when a suspected Boko Haram militant detonated a car bomb inside a church compound in Kaduna, while on Christmas Day 37 people were killed in church bombings.

Kano has been the scene of sporadic fighting between Boko Haram and the security services.  In January the sect killed 186 people in an attack on churches and government offices in Kano.  Last week suicide car bombers attacked the offices of the pro-government newspaper This Day in Abuja and in Kaduna killing four.

In Kenya, in Nairobi, a grenade was thrown in Church linked to the congregation ‘God’s House of Miracles’ just before the start of services. At least one person died and more than ten people were injured, Kenyan press reports said.  While no group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, police suspect the militant Islamist group Somali Shabaab in this latest attack.

In a sermon delivered before the attacks on 22 April, the Bishop of Owo, the Rt. Rev. James Oladunjoye urged President Goodluck Jonathan to use the army to restore order.  Boko Haram was like a cobra, the bishop said.  Stroking its head to appease it would not work, as the snake would soon bite.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop rejects corruption charges: The Church of England Newspaper, April 22, 2012 p 5. April 26, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Corruption, Politics.
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The Primate of the Church of Nigeria has denounced as “satanic” the calls for the impeachment of the President of Nigeria after an Italian construction firm refurbished a church in the president’s home town.

Speaking to reporters last week, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said the claim put forward by the opposition ACN party that there was an element of corruption in the refurbishment of a church was nonsense.

“The call for the impeachment of the president over the renovation of the church in his town is satanic and it is capable of causing religious bigotry which we don’t want. The ACN should apologise and retract the statement. We call on the National Assembly to disregard the call,” the archbishop said.

The ACN was wasting its time by pursuing a political vendetta against the president.  The Muslim-dominated party’s actions would serve only to flame religious tensions and did nothing to address the major issues facing the nation, he argued.

Speaking to reporters in Abuja after Easter services, the Archbishop said:

“It is not an issue, that church, I can renovate it myself, it was already built and the renovation of church can be done by either [the Italian construction company] or anybody.  People are looking for problem where there is none. The President doesn’t have to have a friend to renovate that church, since if anybody volunteered to do it, those people will receive blessing from God.”

“Those who are pointing to the renovation of the church, let them search their midst, there are logs in their eyes, not the speck in somebody’s eye,” the archbishop said.

In a statement published in the country’s major newspapers, the Italian construction firm noted that they had rebuilt the church as part of a The company said its act “of Corporate Social Responsibility is an established practice in our Mother country (Italy) and Italian firms in Nigeria have engaged in this practice rendering free construction, medical and advisory services as well as providing scholarships to various communities within Nigeria” since 2005.

It had refurbished the church in response to a “request by the Otuoke Community.”

It had not been “induced to do this act neither where we compensated for it by the Federal Government,” it said, adding that it had not been “awarded any major contracts under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan rather nearly all the projects being executed by the Company are from the previous administrations which are ongoing.”

Church of Nigeria caught up in political bribery scandal: The Church of England Newspaper, April 13, 2012 p 6. April 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Corruption, Politics.
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The Church of Nigeria has been dragged into the corruption scandal that has pitted President Goodluck Jonathan and his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) against the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). On 2 April 2012 the ACN accused the president of corruption for allegedly soliciting a bribe from a foreign contractor, the Italian construction company Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria Ltd.  (CGC) The alleged bribe was the gift of St Stephen’s Anglican Church built by the contractor in the president’s home town.

In a statement given to the press on 4 April 2012, presidential spokesman Reuben Abati stated that “a contractor who has worked and continues to work in Bayelsa State and other parts of Nigeria thought it fit, in fulfillment of its corporate social responsibility, to facilitate the renovation of the small church in the President’s home town of Otuoke.”

Mr. Abati said that the president however had never solicited or received a church as “bribe” from any contractor and that the building belonged to the Church of Nigeria, not the president. He added that the Anglican Bishop of Ogbia Diocese, Rt. Rev. James Oruwori, had also commended President Jonathan and his family “for building a house of prayer for the Lord”.

The ACN’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, responded that the president had been convicted out the mouth of his spokesman.

“Since the statements did not deny that the church in question was constructed or ‘renovated’ by a foreign construction firm taking contracts from the government and that the church is situated in the President’s community, and since they did not refute the statement credited to the President himself that he solicited and received the ‘gift’, then we are compelled to renew our call on the National Assembly to urgently launch impeachment proceedings against the President,” the ACN spokesman said.

“Shouldn’t the President see the obvious conflict of interest in a church where he worships being gratuitously renovated by a government contractor?” the ACN spokesman said.

But in an advertisement printed in the Nigeria press this week, the Italian construction firm said the renovation of the church was part of the corporation’s policy of being a good corporate citizen.

The company said its act “of Corporate Social Responsibility is an established practice in our Mother country (Italy) and Italian firms in Nigeria have engaged in this practice rendering free construction, medical and advisory services as well as providing scholarships to various communities within Nigeria” since 2005.

It had refurbished the church in response to a “request by the Otuoke Community.”  CGC “was not induced to do this act neither where we compensated for it by the Federal Government,” it said, adding that it had not been “awarded any major contracts under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan rather nearly all the projects being executed by the Company are from the previous administrations which are ongoing.”

“President Goodluck Jonathan did not solicit any gifts” from CGC, nor was “any gift received by President Goodluck Jonathan or on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan” from CGC, it said.

CGC “did not build a new church at Otuoke for President Jonathan or any other person. The fact of the matter is that the Company, as well as friends and well wishers of the community, were contacted during the burial of the late Pa Jonathan by the members of the community and parishioners of Otuoke to renovate the already existing church. To this end (GCG) responded to this request based on its strong Corporate Social Responsibility culture,” the company said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Govt backs down in face of Nigeria’s general strike: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2012 p 6. January 25, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Development/Economics/Govt Finances.
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Bishop Peter Adebiyi

First printed in the Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Lagos has called upon the President of Nigeria to convene an all-party, all-ethnic congress to negotiate the future of the West African nation in the wake of a week-long general strike that followed the government’s lifting of price controls on fuel.

On 16 January 2012 President Goodluck Jonathan capitulated to union demands and partially restored the state-subsidy on fuel.  The week of civil strike saw the military deployed in the streets of Lagos and most major cities.

President Jonathan conceded that the “government appreciates that the implementation of the deregulation policy would cause initial hardships” and agreed to subsidize the price of fuel.

Under a deal brokered with union leaders, the price of gasoline in Nigeria will drop from £.60 per litre to £.39, or from $3.50 to $2.27 per gallon.  Before the government lifted price controls fuel prices averaged £.29 per litre or $1.70 gallon.

The International Monetary Fund and the country’s economic advisers had pressed the government to eliminate the fuel subsidy.  While Nigeria is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest oil producer, the country’s four refineries are incapable of meeting consumer demand.

Approximately 85 per cent of Nigeria’s refined petroleum must be imported from abroad, with the federal government spending an estimated £4.5 billion to subsidize fuel purchases.

Successive Nigerian governments have kept diesel prices low as most small businesses and many private homes rely on generators to provide electricity as the national power grid is antiquated and unreliable.  For the vast majority of Nigerians subsidized fuel prices were one of the few benefits they received from the country’s oil wealth.

Church and union leaders had urged the government not to life the fuel subsidies, and when the government refused to compromise a national strike was staged that led to mass protests, riots and outbreaks of communal violence across the country.

The Bishop of Lagos West, the Rt. Rev. Peter Adebiyi said it made no sense for President Jonathan to send the army into the streets of Lagos in response to the strike.

Lagos State had “recorded an unprecedented number of votes during the last presidential elections [for President Jonathan], despite the fact that the state is being governed by one of the opposition parties.  It is instructive that from the pattern of voting in other elections, the people of Lagos State voted the President as a person and not the political party he represents”

The bishop was amazed that the candidate “Lagosians voted massively for, turned around to militarize the state in the face of simple and peaceful demonstration against government policies that affected citizens of Nigeria.  Are we at a war,” the bishop asked.

“It is rather shameful and unbelievable seeing military personnel brandishing guns and armour tanks in the early hours of Monday 16th of January, 2012 as if we are at a way”, the bishop said, whereas “simple dialogue and sense of reasoning would have prevailed instead of the military option.”

Christians and Muslims, Yoruba and Hausa were united in opposing the fuel increases, the bishop said.  “Going by the overwhelming presences of dignitaries that attended the rallies in Lagos against the removal of fuel subsidy, despite their differences in party and religion affiliations, attests to the fact that government must always do what pleases the people,” he said.

Bishop Adebiyi called upon the government go convene an all-party Sovereign National Conference “where different ethnic groups in the country will come together in a round table and decide how they should be governed.” For as it stands now, Nigeria is not working, the bishop said.

Church leaders divide over term limits for president of Nigeria: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 12, 2011 p 6. August 15, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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Archbishop Joseph Adetiloye

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in Nigeria have objected to plans to create term limits for the country’s president and state governors, saying allowing only a single six-year term would make the government less responsive to the needs and opinions of the electorate.

In an interview with the Leadership newspaper, the former Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Joseph Abiodun Adetiloye urged President Goodluck Jonathan to drop plans to amend the country’s constitution.

Last month President Jonathan asked MPs to amend the constitution so that future presidents and governors serve a single, six-year term. Aides to the president said the proposal would allow the government to focus on governing the country, and would avoid the violence that surrounds the country’s presidential campaigns.

A statement from the President’s Office published by AFP said: “If the proposed amendment is accepted by the National Assembly, the president assures that he will not in any way be a beneficiary.

Archbishop Adetiloye stated there should be an incentive for political leaders to honour the party political platforms they adopted before elections. Politicians should “fear” the electorate, and have an incentive to govern according to the pledges they made when they ran for office, he said.

Being accountable to the electorate will force political parties to “pile pressure of such elected official to deliver.”

“We thank God now that we are having fairly credible election, so with a renewable tenure, all the political parties we realise that the only way they can dominate a state or the country is by performing well for them to win future elections,” Archbishop Adetiloye said last week.

However, the former Bishop of Akure, the Rt Rev Emmanuel Gbonigi told the Vanguard newspaper that he backed term limits as it would allow politicians to focus on governing rather than campaigning. When a governor is elected, he spends the first six months in office to “settle down,” governs for “another two and half years” and then begins to “strategise for a second term” during his last year in office.

“But if it is six-year single term, he would use one year to settle down and appoint political officers and the next five years to work knowing that there is no second term,” Bishop Gbonigi said.