General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson kicked off an official visit to Nigeria with a meeting with Umo Bassey Eno, governor of the Akwa Ibom State, October 26. Wilson and his wife, Nancy, arrived October 25 for a 12-day visit to the West-Central Africa Division (WAD), as part of the centennial celebration of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s presence in Eastern Nigeria. The main celebration is scheduled to take place November 4 in Aba, Abia state, regional church leaders reported.
In his special address, Wilson shared the formula for effectiveness in leadership and government as doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God, as Micah 6:8 in the Bible demands. Wilson noted that every decision made by leaders in government or spiritual affairs should be grounded on justice and mercy and done in humility before God and the people.
Wilson thanked Eno “for the hospitality of your people and your commitment to be a government that truly serves the people.”
At the same time, he urged the governor to use the instrumentality of his office to encourage state institutions to provide alternative opportunities for Seventh-day Adventists and other Sabbath keepers to participate in elections, examinations, and community clean-up exercises outside of Sabbath hours. “As much as we acknowledge the commitment of your state and this nation to upholding citizens’ rights to religious freedom, I believe there is more that can be done,” Wilson said. He declared that the Sabbath issue was a matter of conscience and conviction, and as such, the rights of citizens to observe the Sabbath without hindrance or interference should be recognized and respected.
Eno welcomed Wilson along with his deputy Akon Eyakenyi; government secretary Prince Enobong Uwah; state attorney general and commissioner for justice Uko Udom; and other members of his cabinet.
Wilson acknowledged the graciousness of the governor and his cabinet in waiting after Wilson’s arrival was delayed by more than two hours because of technical problems in his flight arrangements. He also prayed God’s blessings and wisdom for the governor and his team.
In his remarks, Wilson expressed his and the church’s gratitude for the friendship and solidarity of industrialist Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who offered his private jet for use after the one provided by business magnate Deji Adeleke developed a minor technical issue. He praised God for the humility and magnanimity of both men and prayed for God’s blessings on them.
On his part, Eno thanked Wilson for dropping by with his team. “It is not all the time that the world leaders of Christian organizations come calling. We’re only about five months in office, so as world leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, your visit is very significant for us and we do not take it for granted,” Eno said.
Eno also pledged that he and his team will serve the people of Akwa Ibom with commitment, competence, and compassion, knowing that they will give account to God on the day of judgement. He indicated that the philosophy of his government, which is informed by his strong Christian background and values, is anchored on the ARISE agenda. ARISE is the acronym for Agricultural revolution, Rural development, Infrastructure maintenance and advancement, Security management, and Educational advancement.
Wilson invited Eno to the October 28 Sabbath service at the Ikot Ekpene Stadium, which was one of the activities planned for the Year-End Meetings of the West-Central Africa Division. Other visits with the authorities are planned during Wilson’s stay, which will extend through November 5.
The Wilsons were accompanied by George Egwakhe, associate treasurer of the General Conference; WAD president Robert Osei-Bonsu and his wife, executive secretary Selom Kwasi Sessou and his wife, and treasurer Markus Musa Dangana and his wife. Bassey Udoh, president of the Eastern Nigeria Union Conference, Onyebuchi Opara, executive secretary, and Emmanuel Manilla, treasurer, were also among those in attendance.
Among other activities, Wilson is attending the WAD Year-End Meetings, visiting the uplink center of the Hope Channel International-led satellite evangelism in Port Harcourt, and presiding over the worship rally and Festival of Baptisms on November 04.
The Adventist Church in Nigeria has three Union Conferences with 312,175 members worshipping in 1,378 churches and 1,577 companies. The country has more than 223 million people, the largest population in Africa.