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Economic Hardship: Nigeria needs leaders with the fear of God, says Bishop Ogunedo

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Rt Rev Chamberlain Chinedum Ogunedo, the current bishop of the Diocese of Mbaise, Anglican Communion was consecrated Bishop on 21 February 2010, but ascended to the Episcopal throne of Mbaise at his enthronement on Sunday 28th of February, 2010. His fourteen years reign has witnessed monumental spiritual growth and infrastructural development of the Diocese and the Mbaise clan. As the Diocese prepares for its 2024 Synod, the lord bishop speaks to SABINUS ELEMBA on the activities of the church, national issues and other matters. Excerpts:

Your Lordship, your Diocese, the Diocese of Mbaise (Anglican Communion) will on May 23rd to 26th 2024 hold its 2024 Annual Synod at Immanuel Anglican Church Amumara. What is the significance of Synod in the Anglican Church?

Synod, is the annual convocation of the House of Bishop, House of the Clergy and House of the Laity to take decision on matters affecting the Church and Society. It is the highest governing and legislative body of the Church. The Bishop of the Diocese is the President of the Synod. The life of a synod is three years. Every session of the synod has a theme. Note: The Church is synodically governed and episcopally led. Constitutionally, the quorum for Synod includes: – The Bishop of the Diocese representing the House of Bishop – The Clergy of the Diocese representing the House of the Clergy – The Lay Delegates representing the house of Laity. The three vital Pillars/dimensions of the Synod we have are: Holy Communion, Participation and Mission. Thus, the significance of this year’s Synod is to make the faithful be in communion with God and actively participate in building the body of Christ as well as the secular society.

Read also: Hardship persists in Nigeria despite Naira rebound

What is the Theme of this Year’s Synod and why was it Chosen?

The theme of this year’s Synod is: “The Perils of Over Confidence” (1Cor 10:12) and it is apt. It was chosen to remind us that it pays to depend on God because there’s success in working with God. When you become over confident, you tend to take great risk that may pull you down since the capacity to overcome is not in you. Hence there’s danger of failure when you are overconfident. The resultant effect of overconfidence is failure. At this year’s Synod, we shall launch a N100 million Diocesan Project support fund which will be used for the improvement of our existing projects and development of new investments. It is our conviction that with the right atmosphere, professionals under God would have opportunity to apply their talents for the overall growth of the Diocese. Special attention would be given to agriculture. Yes, agriculture can give Nigeria the desired succour in food security. Other areas include Health, Schools, Energy etc. Thus, the launching of the N100 Million project is to galvanize the functionality of our projects and establish other ones which have been identified and approved by the Diocesan Board. Please be part of this epoch-making event.

What areas of significance would this year’s Synod highlight?

Absolute trust in God. Total dependence in the power of God and sensitive to His wills and not depending on self-confidence or self-aggrandizement

Sir, can you highlight some of the key achievements of the Mbaise Diocese under your leadership? Both in spiritual and infrastructural development.

The key achievement is spirituality: All the faithful are now sensitive to their relationship with God. To keep themselves afloat with spirituality, they pay special attention to prayer cells, spirit filled seminars, Bible Studies, Retreats, Workshops, Mission and Evangelism. Infrastructurally, the Diocese is thankful to God for a monumental Central place of worship (Cathedral) at the seat of the Diocese here in Ife Community. The building of the Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Angles at Ife – Ezinihitte Mbaise is an eloquent testimony that God is on our side. There is an Ultra-modern Secretariat also at Ife. Others include; Diocesan Mission Hospital at Ife which is bequeathed to the Diocese by Mr. Michael Anokwuru in Memory of his parents, Diocesan Specialist Hospital and Maternity at Obohia, Ahiazu Mbaise, Eye Clinic/Agric Settlement at Akpodim Rehabilitation Centre, the Diocesan Printing Press at Nnarambia Ahiara is a multi-million Naira Project. That is not all. We have also built DOMAC Hostel which gives accommodation to our students (girls only) at the Imo State University, IMSU, another hostel accommodation at Federal University of Technology FUTO, Owerri, a liquefied petroleum gas plant in view at Chokoneze Ezinihitte Mbaise, the Computer Learning Centre at Akpodim Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) is operational at present. The Diocese has also provided shelter (bedroom flats) to indigents of the Anglican Extraction, acquired lands at various strategic places in the Diocese and beyond for future projects development. An example is a yet to be developed plot of land at Nekede, near Owrri. We have also provided educational scholarship grants to some of our youths in the University and Tertiary institutions, soft loans to the indigents, continuous sponsorship of our youths to Joshua Generation International Youth Conference in Abuja, updating of our Schools (e.g. Ife Grammar School, Amumara Secondary School, Mary Sumner Juniorate Okpofe, Immanuel Nursery and Primary School Aboh Urban e.t.c) to the current trend in Educational System. Recently, we secured a Coaster Bus for the School and many other achievements too numerous to mention.

Of all the things you mentioned above which ones do you consider most important

The most important achievements are, Central place of worship, that is, the Cathedral, the Farm Projects, Health facilities and the schools.

Your lordship, Mbaise is a rural clan, yet your tenure has witnessed monumental infrastructural development across the Diocese. How were you able to achieve all you earlier listed in view of the current economic challenges in country.

Read also: Tinubu can’t tackle insecurity without checking economic challenges, hardship – Owokoniran

There’s power in unity. The Diocese is a one united family and the unity of purpose has given us the reason for our growth. The Bishop’s Fellowship is a think tank that gave us a sigh of relief. Here, sons and daughters of Mbaise have actively participated in the achievement so far recorded. The Elder’s forum is another vessel of our success. Here, some elders give elderly advice for the growth of the Diocese.

You recently celebrated 60th birthday. At this age what would you say are the things life has thought you growing up and now? And what advice do you have for those yet to reach the age of 60?

At my age of 60, I can testify the goodness of God on me, my family and the family of God at large – the Church. God does not abandon his people. I’m very optimistic that God truly help those that believe in Him. For those under the age of 60, my advice to you is to trust the faithfulness of God and work hard, for there’s integrity in hard work. Do not be overconfident on your family background, your tribe, your academic records/Credentials or possession but be confident that under God, your hard work and labour of love would not go unrewarded.

Upon assumption of office as Bishop, you must have had a vision for the Diocese. Would you say the vision has been achieved?

Yes, my vision on assumption of office as a Bishop has been achived to the glory of God. Today, Mbaise Diocese is a family that is dynamic all over the world. Torch gives light, hence our Synod Torch has given illumination to our people to see themselves as one family.

Sir, Nigeria is currently passing through a turbulent economic period and as a Shepherd you must be feeling the hardship of your flock in this country. What advice do you have for the government?

The current hardship in our country is been felt not just by the flock, if I may use your word, but even the Shepherd too. We all buy from the same market, enter same vehicle and so on. So we all feel the pain, the anguish and the suffering. For me, the current economic hardship is not insurmountable. It only needs good leadership -Leaders with the fear of God. Leaders that would know that whatever action they take or fail to take while in office will be used to judge them because this God we serve does not sleep. He sees everything everybody does. Therefore, let me use this opportunity to remind the Government that, it is very important to ensure the unity of our people as a nation. Nigeria is a Country which God has blessed with resources and when these resources are properly managed, the Nation would definitely go out of the current inflation and the hunger bewitching it.

Finally, what would you tell those coming for this year’s Synod as the take away?

To all the Synod delegates, guests and special guests, friends and well-wishers, we appeal to you to put your trust in God and do not believe in your possessions to achieve heaven. Use whatever position you find yourself to serve and bless others and your reward shall be great. Make peace with God today and it shall be well with you in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, Amen.