Take a Decision On Religion, Cleric Tells Delegates

Lagos, Nigeria - Methodist Church Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace, Most Rev Dr. S. Olatunji Makinde, yesterday charged members of National Political Reforms Conference, to discuss and take a firm decision on the place and position of religion in Nigerian constitution, saying anything short of this will mean postponing the evil day.

Speaking with THISDAY at the opening ceremony of the Church's 11th Annual Synod at Hoare's Memorial Methodist Cathdral, Yaba in Lagos, Makinde noted that religion is an important issue to the continual existence of the nation.

His words: "This is one major issue that cannot be avoided. The conference must take a decisive decision on it. If the delegates run away from it, it will surely haunt us. The position of religion must be addressed in our constitution. Religion must not be classified as a 'no-go area' but a means to ensuring necessary developmental processes."

He added that religion should as a matter of fact be included in the forthcoming census. "If we indeed want a stable country, we must discuss the place of religion in our constitution and demographical data. I think what we have is a multicultural and plural society and not a secular state. Therefore, we need to identify and distinguish between religion and politics. They are not the same. And if the delegates and National Population Census (NPC) as well as Federal Government refuse to discuss and include religion in our constitution and census, we are only postponing the evil day," he explained.

On the theme of this year Synod: "Let Love Be Genuine," Makinde said love is the central message and bedrock of Christian faith and it must be shared among all and sundry.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Diocesan Bishop of Lagos Mainland, Rt Rev J. Kolawole Abimbola, said the church is appreciative of government's effort in eradicating poverty, adding that Nigeria, as a giant of Africa, needs to redouble her efforts in the area of food production "whereby there will be greater advantages for our youths on job opportunities. Therefore, agriculture as it is known to be the oldest occupation that has ever been practised by man cannot be overemphasised in eradicating poverty.

At this juncture, the church is appealing to government, since this will be greater advantages for our youths on job opportunities. To our politicians, I will like to advise that it is high time politics is played with love rather than with bitterness. This is one the ways in which this country will be united. Then tribalism and nepotism will become a thing of the past."