Approaching retirement Akinola turns attention to Nigeria

In an extensive statement, Archbishop Peter Akinola reflects on the vision he set at the outset of his tenure, and the state of the church and the nation. Interestingly, he speaks little of the issues orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion that consumed his energies, and not at all of CANA. Akinola retires in March.

The statement is titled an interview but appears to be more of a transcribed monologue. Some excerpts:

On his starting vision:

There are five cardinal principles in the vision that have to do with sustainable spirituality, rural evangelism, caring for the needy, for the sick and all that, ecumenism occupying our rightful place in the Ecumenical community and of course to be self-funding, self reliant. These are the five broad areas of the vision I operated on. The assessment of what we have done and have not will be done by the Church in due course.

You will recall that I was to retire January 2009 but haven been asked to stay to the end of my primatial tenure which is March 2010, I was not going to start a new visioning process but rather I would take two aspects of the original vision we had and work more on these two areas and the two areas picked were youth of our Church and Christian Discipleship. So, at this Retreat, we are going to be looking at discipleship of the members of the church in its various ramifications.

On the Prosperity Gospel:

A large number of preachers today do not seem to see anything wrong in proclaiming what they call the gospel of prosperity and lay emphasis from the beginning to the end of their sermons, on how to make so called break through, get their miracles and getting more money and all that. I am not against earning money nor getting wealth after all, we all need money to do what we need to do both for ourselves and the Church of God. But when that becomes the focus of our message, the pivotal of our service and the centre of our lives, it is wrong.

On corruption in politics:

And concerning politicians, how many leaders in the Church do we hear in recent times telling them that what they are doing is wrong. Very few, if any. That is what I call conspiracy of silence, not just by the Pastors but all other stake holders like the media, lawyers, engineers, accountants among others.

We all see that things are going wrong and we simply keep quiet so far everybody is doing it as if silence is the right barometer to measurer such vices.

There was this topic I shared with the Bishops on what somebody called consensual validation of wrong practice. When a bad practice is continued over a period of time, it becomes the norm. and the wrong general notion is that everybody is doing it. But it is not right.

I was at Ile-Ife recently when Oni of Ife was celebrating 80th birthday. At 80, Papa was ready for service by 9.00 a.m. He sat down waiting for the others to come. They did not show up until three hours later. Therefore, the service scheduled for 10.00 a.m. did not start until 1.00 p.m. how does one interpret that kind of attitude. These are the people who do not give a damn about Nigeria. In that hall, were the Sultan of Sokoto, Emirs, Obas, Governors, foreign dignitaries from England, America, Togo, Benin Republic and these so-called political leaders, the Oni was waiting for did not show up until three hours later. What does that tell the World of who we are. If they care, would they have treated human beings that way? We were packed full in that place and heat was so much.

The Air-conditioners were powered by a generating set and that was after Nigeria claimed to have ‘spent’ over 20 billion dollars on electricity in the last seven years. The place was so hot that we felt imprisoned for three hours. If you read Nigeria situation from there, you will see the same lackadaisical attitude all over the nation. Whether there is light, food, good road, or not, Nigerian political leaders do not care nor bother. All they care for is themselves and their pockets.

It is highly embarrassing that among the population of 150 million people, how come we cannot get a few dynamic visionary young people who have the brain, the interest of their fellow Nigerians at heart and the courage to stand in the gap and do what is necessary for this country to move forward. Definitely, these set of ‘saviours’ abound but when with their brain and ability, are afraid and easily intimidated and continue to be in hiding, the vacuum will be filled by those who should not be there.

And the failure of government:

The question is this, if the governments in india, South Africa, Germany, Saudi Arabia are not patriotic enough to establish those hospitals that Nigerians patronize, where do we then go? If the citizens of America, England and those mentioned above have not utilized their own resources to develop their fatherland, which gave birth to those hospitals, regarded as miracle centres, where will Nigerians be going for treatment. Why must we all go outside for treatment when we have all it takes to be treated here?

The same problem is true of our educational system. We have all these schools all over the place, with some of them tagged: ‘international school’, truly with overseas background. We also have Federal, State and private Universities. but where are the children of our policy makers attending their own schools – overseas of course. Is that not it itself an indictment of the whole system.

On the church:

we are also in Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON),a new movement that is trying to maintain the orthodoxy of scriptures and this is worldwide. it is difficult for anyone to define Christianity today in the Anglican would without making reference to the Church of Nigeria because we are on world map.

As for the Church in general, this nation is in a mess largely because I believe that we as leaders of religion are failing God and the nation as we have abdicated our prophetic role in the society. We cry peace, peace when in actual fact we should cry war, war. We eulogize political leaders, we sing praises of people who are rich because of material gains and consequently they continue in the evil they are in without thinking of the consequences and that is why we as a nation are where we are today.

Therefore my appeal to all of us, religious leaders including myself is to reclaim our prophetic role and declare to this nation, “Thus says the Lord…” without fear or favour, without fearing whose ox is gored.

Where would Nigeria be today if this man’s energies been directed towards solving his country’s problems?

It’s all here.

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