Bishop Uduak Effiong is the prelate of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church West African District, Calabar. He says Nigeria needs to sit down, discuss and determine the direction and future of this country. He spoke with LENS correspondent during the Cross River 24th Annual Conference themed ‘Freedom Church, the movement empowered by the Holy Spirit in our flock’.
Fielding question from LENS on the import of the day’s Sermon to Nigerian Leaders, He said ”I brought an example of those serving and charged our members, our ministers to go out there and serve as an exemplary leader. We look at Jesus as our best example, the model teacher, the servant leader of our time because men are valuable but Jesus is the same today and tomorrow.
“Most of the things He did were the historic miracle recorded in the Book of Matthew 14:15-21. It was the miracle of the feeding of 5,000 men. If you see a successful man you must account for the principle for his success. In that account, we saw how Jesus got to feed 5,000 people and that represents the serving of the flock. We ask ourselves what principle he applied.
“We must account for that success that was so historic that Jesus was a man of compassion. He was compassionate; He looked after the people in the wilderness, He realized that they were hungry when his disciples found that the multiples be sent away He said No, give them food.
‘So, leaders must be those that are compassionate, leaders must look at the people and know what their problems are, what their challenges are, working at their environment and know their challenges.
“As a leader, you should be able to find solutions to their problems and not excuses. Jesus did not look for excuses that the place was a desert or they do not have enough money. Our leaders in Nigeria should be able to find solutions to our problems and not excuses.
“We realized that Jesus was resourceful. He asked the right people the right question. He asked Peter and Philip who were indigenes of the area to find food from somebody in the place. Of course, Philip, Andrew, and Simon were able to locate a man who had 5 loaves of bread and two fishes.
“That man did something very great. He did not hide the food. He surrendered the five loaves of bread and the two fishes which were one of the important factors that led to that miracle. Let us have leaders that will be willing to surrender their little for all. Let us have leaders that will ask the right question and the right people to solve the need and challenges in this country.
“We insisted that the solution to our problem is not too far from us. They are within our neighborhood. They are within our home and around us. We do not need to borrow; we should plan on what we have and how to produce it, and manage our resources.
“Jesus was a man of organization. He told his disciples to sit down in company with a specific number of 100 or 50. That made it possible for the distribution of food peacefully. Our nation needs to know how many we are, adequate and correct data of our population by ward, Local Government by States and by Nation.
“When we know how many we are and the demography it will be possible for us to plan to meet the needs of the different localities. That is why it was possible for the Bible to record the number of people that were present in the occasion.
“Our leaders must ensure that we are organized. Our State must be organized, we cannot continue like this. Lack of organization gives room for embezzlement, corruption, of our resources, and misrepresentation of facts.
“Jesus was not only compassionate, resourcefully, fully organized but also thankful. He did not subtract from the resources he received from the people but declared it openly and transparently and gave thanks to God.
“We want leaders who must lead like Jesus, He was inclusive. Everybody was included, women, children without discrimination of gender. Right now the women feel they are not properly represented, the youth not properly in government, children educational programme, collapsed, rural people, suffering because no access road for easy commerce and everybody feel sad because he is not carried along.
“We have six geo-political zones the constitution allows for inclusiveness and federal character. The president must ensure that the security organization demonstrates this inclusiveness. Non-adherent to this is responsible for the crisis here and there in Nigeria today. When God wanted to send Moses to the land of Cannan He sent men from every tribe to spy the land, not from one particular tribe big or small. I thank God for the message today.
And responding to cue on the takeaway for his ministers and what lesson is there to learn from the EndSars protest, he said “The charge I gave them is to live a life of charity and purity. To live an exemplary life and for them to succeed they must keep to the ethics. They have been properly equipped and can be sure they will work for the freedom of God to be glorified.
“The existence of this country has been seriously threatened in the past. The young people during the End-Sars protest to exercise their freedom, Government in one way or the other wanted to stop them and of course, that restriction resulted in whatever crises we had. The incident is a pointer that we need to sit down to reorganize this country. In the past 5 years, I have insisted and advised Nigeria that we need to be restructuring the concept of restructure.
“This country is not balanced. We need to discuss it so that the country can move forward. The North and the South are not balanced. The National Assembly is not a balanced forum. They will continue to have crises since it is not balanced. The politicians that have been benefiting from this imbalance are the ones that perpetuates unease in the nation.
“Secondly, I have called on the church in Nigeria to mobilize and register for 2023. 2023 is at the corner Right -now online registration is ongoing and this is how we can exercise our political franchise, vote to determine the direction of the future of this country. The day for election should not be for the tarry night, it should be a day to be engaged in any exercise, it should be a day Christians should go out a vote in their numbers.
On the contribution of the church to human development and humanity over the years, he said “you noticed that before I gave the benediction, I called out four university students who are receiving the final stretch of their scholarship money which has run for the past three years. We take them four years at a time. We gave them the envelope of N20, 000 each today.
I also read out a list of 15 university students who received a bursary of N5,000 each. We do that every year. I gave N100,000 to support youth development during the annual conference and skill empowerment. This year again we gave N50,000 to ten young people for their next year’s JAMB examination. We have been doing this year in and year out. We plead to do this as it pleases the Lord. You can see the multiplier effect. When it comes to youth development, youth empowerment it is our priority. We call ourselves the Freedom Church.
Our church was founded in 1796 in New York City because we are the voiceless. The voice of the downtrodden. We speak with boldness. We must also do what is right.