A delegation of Seventh-day Adventist leaders paid a courtesy visit to Nigeria’s Abia State governor, Alex Chioma Otti, on November 1. Otti, a Seventh-day Adventist and a former member of the General Conference Executive Committee (GCEXCOM), welcomed the Adventist leaders from the General Conference and from the West-Central Africa Division and its unions to his personal residence.
General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson, associate treasurer George Egwakhe, and union presidents from the 22-country church region, are among the leaders visiting Abia State after holding the 2023 Year-End Meetings in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, October 29-31. The leaders are now taking part in the centennial celebrations of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s presence in Eastern Nigeria.
Following local customs, the first few minutes of the November 1 visit included traditional greetings in the Igbo language. Retired Adventist pastor Gideon C. Nwogwugwu, the first union president when the region was formed in 2004, also presented a special message in the Igbo language, in keeping with local customs that such a message be conveyed by a senior leader.
Otti was delighted to welcome the delegation of Adventist leaders. “You are most welcome here. You are in my home, now,” he said.
Wilson thanked the governor for finding time to meet with the Adventist leaders at his personal residence and said he was certain God would help Otti in his position of influence. “God will bless you to help people physically, mentally, and spiritually,” Wilson said.
He also reminded the governor that though his position is a civil one and has political underpinnings, as a “brother in Christ,” he should never forget that God calls him to also be a spiritual leader. “We are all part of the Seventh-day Adventist worldwide family, called to share the wonderful truths of Jesus,” Wilson said. “And God will help you, because as Nahum 1:7 says, ‘He knows those who trust in Him.’”
Otti assured Adventist leaders that his administration is making great efforts to improve the lives of the population. “We touch people that need help, be it in the area of education, health, or others,” Otti said. “Those things have an impact on people.”
He then connected that mandate with the demands of the gospel. “Someone’s sick, you heal them; someone’s hungry, you feed them; that [is] the evangelistic mandate,” Otti said.
Otti also shared that he leads a foundation focused on supporting students who can’t afford an education. “Every year, we provide scholarships for 30 to 40 people,” he said. “It is our own modest way of evangelism.”
The Abia State governor discussed some of the challenges he faces in his position. “We have problems in health, education, and infrastructure,” Otti said. He explained that resources are limited, so managing them properly is key. “This is one of the most difficult times to be in leadership,” he acknowledged. “But we have committed ourselves to do everything we can to help the majority of the people.” He added, “As Proverbs in the Bible says, ‘When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice.’ We want people to rejoice.”
Wilson prayed for the governor, his family, and his administration, and thanked him once more for his time and commitment to be a faithful follower of Jesus. “My prayer is that God will continue to bless you,” Wilson said. “I pray that the Lord may fulfill His purpose in you.”