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The Christian and national development

Church in Lagos Church in Lagos

BY BECKY OLORUNPOMI

Despite the downpour on Saturday, June 15, 2024, the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, hosted guests and dignitaries from different walks of life to the Inaugural Daniel Taiwo Odukoya lecture. The key speaker for the day, Pastor Ben Akabueze delivered a stirring inaugural lecture that resonated deeply with an audience eager to explore the intersection of faith, governance, and public service. 

The event, organised in honour of the late Senior Pastor of The Fountain of Life Church, Daniel Taiwo Odukoya who died in August 2023 at age 67, marked a significant milestone in celebrating his life, legacy, and unwavering commitment to integrating Christian values into public life.

Themed ‘Strengthening the Christian Voice in Government and Public Office’, Pastor Akabueze’s address was more than a call to action; it was a passionate plea for Christians to embrace their role as ambassadors of Christ in every sphere of influence, particularly within the realm of governance. Drawing from his extensive experience as the director-general of the Budget Office of the Federation and former special adviser to the president on national planning, Akabueze underscored the pivotal role Christians play in shaping policies that reflect values of integrity, justice, and compassion. 

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In his opening remarks, Pastor Akabueze emphasised that the Christian faith should not be relegated to private worship but must manifest visibly in public service. Quoting Matthew 5:14-16, he likened Christians to “salt and light,” asserting that their influence should permeate society for the common good. His message resonated with a diverse audience that included politicians, religious leaders, and community advocates, all eager to explore how faith can inform governance in a pluralistic society.

“Our faith is not merely a private matter; it informs our values, our actions, and our commitments to the common good. Like salt and light, the impact of our faith must be evident,” Akabueze stated.

The lecture delved into historical, biblical, and contemporary examples of Christians who navigated challenging political landscapes with unwavering faith and moral courage. From St. Augustine and William Wilberforce to modern-day leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and President Jimmy Carter, as well as corporate bodies like the Christian Voice, UK, Christian Voice, USA, Christian Association of Nigeria and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Akabueze illustrated how these figures exemplified principles of justice, equality, and accountability in their respective roles. He said, “From the early Christian martyrs who spoke truth to power, to contemporary leaders who advocate for justice and equality, the Christian voice has played a pivotal role in shaping our world.”

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The RCCG pastor added: “Strengthening the Christian voice in government and public office, involves deliberate efforts of articulating beliefs, engaging in meaningful dialogues and contributing constructively to the public discourse.”

Addressing the complexities and challenges faced by Christians in public office, such as secularism, balancing faith and public duty, perceptional misunderstandings, ideological divides and polarisation, engaging in civil discourse, balancing advocacy and unity, personal integrity and ethical dilemmas, maintaining personal faith, public perception and scrutiny, religious freedom and rights, Akabueze articulated strategies for navigating these hurdles while maintaining personal integrity and fidelity to Christian values. He highlighted the importance of alliances, dialogue, continuous learning, integrity and compassion in all dealing, setting powerful examples, broadening the scope of evangelism, and seeking God’s guidance through prayers as essential tools for effective governance in today’s diverse and pluralistic societies.

He advocated that the Christian voice in governance and public office should be galvanised around principles such as the Golden rule from Matthew 7:12, common good, stewardship and accountability, promoting social justice and equity, equality and non-discrimination, restorative justice, fostering communism and solidarity and a transformative voice.

The event also featured a warm welcoming address from Pastor Toluwani Odukoya, the first child of Pastor Taiwo Odukoya, and Associate Senior Pastor of the church, who emphasised the lecture’s significance in continuing her father’s legacy of leadership and ethical stewardship.

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Additionally, former Vice-President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, echoed Akabueze’s sentiments, stressing the transformative impact of integrity and diligence in public service, as guided by biblical principles.

In conclusion, Pastor Ben Akabueze’s inaugural Daniel Taiwo Odukoya lecture stands as a clarion call for Christians to actively engage in governance and public service with a renewed sense of purpose and ethical commitment. It serves as a beacon of hope and guidance for future leaders, urging them to uphold values of justice, integrity, and compassion in every decision and action.

 As the legacy of Pastor Taiwo Odukoya continues to inspire generations, events like these reinforce the enduring influence of faith-driven leadership in shaping a better, more equitable society.

The inaugural lecture did not only honour a remarkable leader, but it also ignited a fervent dialogue on the role of faith in governance, leaving attendees inspired and challenged to make a positive impact in their respective spheres of influence.

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Olorunponmi writes from Lagos 

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