(An Extract from the Presidential Charge at the 2015 Christian Mothers Conference held at the Caroline Adefiola Adebiyi Women Conference Centre, Ipaja, Lagos by Mrs. Lydia Olukemi Odedeji, the President of Women Organisation of the Diocese of Lagos West (Anglican Communion))

In the year 2014, Nigeria celebrated the centinary of her existence as a nation. This was as a result of the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates under the leadership of the then Governor-General, Lord Fredrick Lugard. The name Nigeria was therefore given to the entity and this is the name till date. Although the amalgamation may have been done for administrative conveniences by our Colonialists, we thank God for His faithfulness, Nigeria still remains one despite her diversities and myriads of challenges. However, we strongly believe that our Nation still needs God s visitation in every sphere of our National, State and even Local Government endeavours. Let us continue to pray for her

On Monday 17th March, 2014, our former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, inaugurated a 492-man delegates, comprising eminent Jurists, outstanding Scholars, respected Diplomats, Activists, Traditional Rulers, Technocrats, Politicians, Students etc., to discuss the way forward as a nation. Agitations from various ethnic groups making up the entity Nigeria in the recent times, may have spurred our former President to convey the Conference. Although the word Sovereign was missing from the Conference, yet many saw the National Conference as the right step in the right direction. While some criticized the timing as well as removal of the word Sovereign which to the school of thought, would have given legitimacy to the outcome, others saw it as having to start from somewhere. All money, energy and time spent on the conference would amount to waste of resources if the recommendations of the conference are not published and implemented. We therefore call on the new administration under the Presidency of His Excellency, Mohammadu Buhari, to make the recommendations public in line with yearnings of Nigerians.

Nigerians were happy when we were told that privatization of our power sector would resuscitate our epileptic electricity supply. Many were eager to experience an uninterrupted supply of electricity. Based on this expectation, people were excited by the decision. However, long after the conclusion of the privatization process, the nation is still in darkness. Many cannot boast of enjoying electricity for an hour of the 24 hours that make a day. A lot of artisans e.g. Vulcanizers, Welders etc, who cannot afford generators, and even diesel fuel to power them, have become motorcycle riders to earn their living. With the necessary ban, partial or total, of commercial motorcycles on our major roads, many of these people resort to crime to earn a living.

The excuse from the former Minister of Power, Ven. Prof. Nebo, has shifted to shortage of gas, to justify the irrational supply of electricity. This, it was said, came about as a result of vandalization of our gas pipe lines by hoodlums and militants; an indication that the government could not effectively secure petrol and gas pipe lines, with the retinue of the military, police and other para-military agencies at her disposal. We are therefore beginning to feel that privatization may not be the solution after all. We hope the right step will be taken by the new government, to address this important matter. Head or tail, this conference calls for transparency, accountability and responsiveness in government s handling of this all-important sector.

We want to commend our government, both at the Federal and State levels, for their attention on our educational sector. However, there is the need to focus more than ever before on the issue of relevance of our curricula to the overall development of our nation. Despite the number of Federal, State and private tertiary institutions in the country, our yearly products, in their thousands, still swell up the already saturated labour market. This might not be unconnected with the quality of training in our schools. We place much premium on theory rather than practical, which makes the products of our institutions dependent on white collar jobs rather than self-employment. There is therefore, the need for our government to revisit our school curricula with a view to reviewing various segments, to conform with the need of our national economy, especially in the area of industrialization. It is also pertinent to re-introduce technical education to take care of the training of artisans for the much needed revitalization of the informal sector that has ever been a strong pillar of every functional economy.

We want to plead with our government, to, if possible, declare a state of emergency in the sector, to enhance more budgetary commitment. We implore the new government to ensure that our graduates are better empowered through quality education that can deliver on the nation s dire need for all-round development.

We give glory to God for His mercies upon our nation, Nigeria. We also commend all Christians for their prayers that averted many evils that had been predicted long before the election. We thank God for successful election and the smooth transition.

On 14th April, 2014, the public learnt that about 219 females of Chibok Secondary School, in Borno State, were abducted from their hostel by the Boko Haram insurgents wrecking havoc in the North-Eastern part of the country. The news was greeted with diverse reactions, not only from Nigeria, but across the globe. Members of various Human Rights groups, the religious organisations, student bodies, Labour Unions, as well as members of the Diplomatic Corps, all came out to condemn the act. They called on the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to ensure that the students were rescued. The fomer President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, at different fora, promised that the students would be rescued, and that his government was on top of the situation. However, by April, 2015, when it was a year that the abduction took place, the students were still in captivity.

As we continue to console the parents and guardians of these abducted girls, we call on the new President, Mohammadu Buhari, to make not only the rescue of these innocent girls one of the top priority assignments of his government, but the nation s security at large.

The mantle of leadership has fallen on the new Governor of our Centre of Excellence and Aquatic Splendour, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, courtesy of the result of 2015 general election. We are all aware that our former Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, had served out his two terms of four years each and this had to vacate the governor s seat. The eight years of his administration witnessed an unprecedented development in Lagos State. Without mincing words, it recorded an all-round development across all sectors such as security, road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance, light rail development, primary health care, youth empowerment, electricity generation, housing for all, provision of drinkable water, agriculture and aquaculture, education and tourism etc. Lagosians will therefore remain grateful to God, who made the election of Mr. Fashola, SAN, possible, and to the Governor who did not disappoint the Lagos electorate in the discharge of his duties while his tenure lasted.

Suffice it to say that the development so far witnessed in this country today, may be said to be as a result of the foresight of this former Governor of Lagos State. Many State Governors, at one time or the other, visited Lagos to learn from the giant strides being taken, and went back to replicate same in their different States. This therefore created a multiplier effect, and today, many States have moved from the status quo of embarking on white elephant projects to real infrastructural development and urban renewal.

We must give kudos to our indefatigable former Governor and his team, for giving their best to develop the State. As they have left the office, it is our prayer that God will continue to strengthen them and bless their future endeavours. We have no doubt in our minds that higher national assignments are waiting for our former visionary and unassuming Governor, whom we are sure, will not disappoint the nation when the time comes.

The Gubernatorial election of 11th April, 2015 in Lagos State produced Mr. Akinwumi Ambode as our new Governor. Lagosians have very high expectations of the new administration that was inaugurated few months ago. If the last administration could change the face of Lagos as a government in the opposition, then the new one, which by all standards, belongs to the party at the centre, will definitely not have any excuse not to perform.

We know that Lagosians are expecting that more road networks especially in hidden and up-coming settlements and communities, well equipped hospitals, housing, job creation, completion of the light rail, the Badagry road expansion, security, transportation, especially improving on the BRT project to mention just a few, should capture the attention of the new Governor.

We pray that God who assisted our former Governor and his team will be there also for the new government.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in the United States have evolved over time and vary on a state-by-state basis. As of June 26, 2015, all states in America license and recognize marriages between same-sex couples on account of the so-called landmark judgment that made this obscenity a human right in America. The implication of this is that gay right has become inviolable in that leading country of our world. Thank God, however, that it is not a global law and is as such not binding on Nigeria. The Nigerian Christian Community must however be on guard against its infiltration into our nation and church. It is alien to us as a people, it is not biblical and it is evil. We must therefore resist it. We must note that though our brothers in the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) compromised their faith on this issue, there are still many Christians across different denominations in the USA who are doggedly resolved not to bow to this evil. This conference therefore calls on the Church of God in Nigeria to quickly start responding to this development through sermons, seminars, Bible Studies etc, so that our children and youth, and even adult members do not take the evil of gay right in the USA as globally acceptable phenomenon and be lured into it in the name of vogue. We Christian mothers have a major role to play here. We therefore can no longer sit on the fence in this matter that poses obvious threat to the foundation and sustainability of human existence.

We wish to appreciate all the delegates and everyone who has listened to this address. The good Lord will grant all of us the grace to be content with what we have and walk in the consciousness of our theme this year, that a man s life does not consist of the things he possesses. Take heed and beware of covetousness. God bless you and your generation.

Thank you for listening.

Mrs Lydia Olukemi Odedeji
President, Women Organisation
Diocese of Lagos West (Anglican Communion)

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