…as Adventists mark 100 years anniversary
Governor Alex Otti of Abia State has said that his administration was interested in promoting education, which in his experience and conviction, presents the surest path to overcoming the burden of poverty and the bondages that come with ignorance.
Otti made the assertion Saturday in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, at the commemoration of the 100 years (Centenary) anniversary of the official establishment of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) in the Eastern region of Nigeria, comprising Nine States in the present South-East/South-South Zones, excluding Edo and Delta States.
He said that his administration would explore proper channels of partnership where the government can work with the Church and other interested organisations to expand the frontiers of learning for millions of young ones, whose future, he is passionate about.
Governor Otti, who is a member of the Church, said that his government would be keen to partner with the Church in other social service areas, particularly health and poverty alleviation, especially for women in rural communities.
In line with the above, he promised that his doors would always be open to engage with the leaders of the Church and those of other faith from time to time on areas of shared interests, as they work in unity to serve God’s children in love, and without discrimination for reasons of faith and religious beliefs.
He said that he was greatly inspired by the legacies and footprints the SDA has left in several communities in Nigeria and in Eastern region over the past hundred years, noting that he is even more optimistic that the years ahead holds much more bountiful promises for the faithful and all, who are connected to the Church.
“We are therefore, invited to approach the future with courage, optimistic that the task ahead will be far more challenging and would require everything we can muster. Our confidence, however, should come from the knowledge that the same God, who supported and guided our fathers will not abandon us.
“Our gathering today presents us a unique opportunity to once again reconsider our priorities, especially in the light of the theme of this centennial celebration, ‘Almost Home.’ It is our duty as Adventists to be conscious of the time we are living in and always be mindful of eternity because the earth, with all its attractions and glory, is not our home.
“As the early Adventists realised, the best way of preparing ourselves for eternity is by making the most of the gifts and resources available to us to improve the lots of others, working steadfastly to advance the Kingdom of God, through our works and how we apply what we have been given in thanksgiving and service, especially to the poor.
“As the Governor of the great State, elected by God’s children of all denominations and spiritual leanings, Otti said that he is always conscious of the fact that he is nothing, but a steward, who must discharge the functions of the office in fairness to all people, applying the resources available to him to fight the menace of poverty and material wretchedness, sad realities that have weakened the faith of many.”
Abia State Governor expressed appreciation to God Almighty for His immense blessings on the great institution, particularly within the Eastern Nigeria, across the country and all over the world.
“We are particularly grateful that it has pleased Our Father in Heaven to sustain and grow the seed planted by the faithful labour of David Babcock, John Jacob and in particular, Jesse Clifford, who brought the faith to this great city and worked hard to spread it across nearby towns and communities.
“The works of several leaders, who laboured diligently in the last 100 years to grow this divine institution and strengthen the faith of God’s people in Eastern Nigeria, from Abua in the present day Rivers State, to all the major towns and communities within this region deserve our collective appreciation.
“L. Edmonds, is also worthy of our honour on a day like this for his diligence and devotion in driving the spread of the Adventist faith, following the departure of Clifford. The church grew rapidly under the leadership of Edmonds for the simple reason that he never allowed the torch of the Gospel passed down to him to grow dim.
“Commendations are also due to our indigenous pioneer leaders, especially B. I. Tikili, a man of many firsts, the first convert to the faith, first ordained African minister in this part of the country and later, first indigenous pastor in charge of Aba District; P. E. Onwere, R. O. Wosu, and A. E. Ukaumunna, also demonstrated great leadership and administrative skills in shouldering the responsibility for the growth of the faith in Umuocha, Umuobiakwa and Umuakpara Districts respectively in the very early days.
“We honour the work of God through these outstanding individuals because it is proper to do so and to challenge those of us who now carry the torch of the Adventist faith that the journey of the next hundred years has already begun.
“It is also appropriate at this point to appreciate the immense contributions of hundreds of thousands of ordinary men and women, the faithful individuals and groups, who contributed most generously through unwavering sacrifices in time, treasures and talents to drive the growth of the faith across our various communities.
“The most enduring work of this great institution, to which my late father, Lazarus Weze Otti, a Pastor, gave much of his adult life, is centred on selfless service to one another and to the larger human community, and an unflinching commitment to the teaching, preaching and living in accordance with the unchanging Word of God.
“I consider it a great privilege to have been raised to live the faith in my family and professional endeavours, carrying on with the principles and values that I imbibed watching and listening to my father at home and from the pew, learning from several other men of God in big and small congregations, and at important events and gatherings like this,” he said.