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Adeboye, others light up Yenagoa as Dickson unveils Ecumenical Centre
By Tope Adeboboye
In the beginning, it was a marshy wetland domiciled by reptiles and other semi-aquatic creatures. And you couldn’t blame the beasts. This particular space in the Igbogene area of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, was their natural habitat.
Well, that was then. In the past five years, that locale has witnessed a string of steady, yet extraordinary transformations.
Today, the reptiles have vanished, and a resplendent edifice now stands in the former abode of serpents and alligators. A brand new building dedicated to the cause of Christ has been dedicated on the very wasteland that once harboured scary species of wetland mammals in the heartland of the Ijaw nation.
On Tuesday, October 31, 2017, Yenagoa played host to an impressive array of eminent personalities, as many groups and individuals came to the Bayelsa State capital to witness the dedication of the new Ecumenical Centre, a magnificent 10,000-person capacity building constructed by the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson.
Among the dignitaries were Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (who was represented by the Chaplain of Aso Villa Chapel, Rev. Seyi Joseph); General Overseer, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E.A. Adeboye; Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), South-South Zone, Goddowell Avwomakpa; former CAN president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor; president, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Rev. Felix Omobude, and a host of others.
The event presented a veritable opportunity for the Vice President to reflect on factors that have always prevented Nigeria from attaining its rightful position among the world’s leading economies.
While praising Governor Dickson for completing the construction at a most economically-challenging period, Osinbajo, who spoke through his representative, lamented that corruption, tribalism, religion and other parochial tendencies were responsible for Nigeria’s political and economic woes.
“It is my view that the Nigerian elite – political, business and religious – regardless of faith and ethnicity, think alike, and are driven by largely similar motivations. The elite are usually self-centred, selfish and unprepared to make the sacrifices, either in service or self-restraint, that leaders of successful communities must make.
“Playing the religious or ethnic card when necessary so as to get the masses in line is the grossly cynical default of our elite. However, when you look at any list of alleged perpetrators of a heinous case of corruption, all tribes, ethnicities and religions are well represented.
“In other words, high level corruption knows no religion or ethnicity. The conspirators include Christians and Muslims from all the geo-political zones. They are in government, legislature, judiciary and the press. They are united, protect each other, fight for each other and are prepared to go down together. They are one tribe, indivisible, regardless of diversity. It is this tribe that confuses the arguments for change in society.
‘‘By 2050, Nigeria will be the fourth largest nation in the world and we can, like China, become one of the 10 most successful economies in the world by that date. This is our best moment because we have shown that, despite the lowest earnings from oil in the past 15 years and in 2016, we can still build and be involved in capital projects. It is by the grace of God and commitment to build. We have shown that, as difficult and painful as recession might be, we have the capacity to come out and begin the building of an economy that emphasises productivity.”
The Ecumenical Centre is equipped with two libraries and a retreat centre. A hotel to accommodate dignitaries during church programmes will also be part of the facility. The centre, it was learnt, is to be managed independently by a board specially instituted for that purpose.
At the dedication on Tuesday, Osinbajo, Dickson and Adeboye all expressed satisfaction with the quality of work done on the facility and hoped that the project would draw many to the kingdom of God.
The reporter learnt that the construction of the facility was one of the pledges made by Dickson to the people of the state while campaigning to be governor. Following his inauguration in 2012, the governor expressed the determination to lure the people back to God. He declared November 2 of each year as a day of thanksgiving throughout the state and ensured the declaration was passed into law by the state legislature. The date was also declared a public holiday. In early November 2012, he performed the foundation-laying ceremony of the Ecumenical Centre.
At the time, Dickson had told the people that the decision to build the centre was inspired by his administration’s desire to dedicate the state to God.
“As the governor of Bayelsa State, I have every reason to thank God. During our electioneering, we put God first in everything that we did and we were able to record a political feat that is unprecedented in the history of our dear state. In spite of the threat and the reign of terror then, no life was lost, while God has given us victory over all the litigations instituted against this administration,” Dickson had noted in 2012.
Since then, construction had been progressing steadily at the facility until it was completed. The dedication of the facility was performed by Pastor Adeboye and Pastor Oritsejafor, in company with Governor Dickson.
In his remarks at the event, the governor, who led the praise and worship session, expressed gratitude to God for making the facility a reality. He informed the guests that the place would serve as an interdenominational building for all Christians.
“We feel we should acknowledge the supremacy of God, not just in our individual lives but in our government and, most importantly, in the lives of our people and our state. With this building, you have a symbol that will remind you always of God’s eternal goodness to our people,” he said.
While describing the Ecumenical Centre as one of the legacy projects of his administration, Dickson stated that the edifice was in fulfilment of his vow to God to build a befitting place of worship where people of the state would gather for Bayelsa’s annual thanksgiving service and other religious activities. The governor told the guests that his government built the centre even in a recession to thank God for all the good things He had been doing for the state and the Ijaw nation. He said only a prudent government like the Restoration Government could have delivered on such an iconic project and solicited more support from the people of the state.
He also quoted from the scriptures to illustrate how leaders built befitting temples for God, even as he insisted that all the glory for the construction of the Ecumenical Centre should go to the Almighty.
“We are only mortals and instruments effecting God’s will on earth. We thank God we are the instruments God used in making the centre a reality. But we cannot take the glory. All glory goes to God. I consider myself privileged and honoured to have conceived and built the Ecumenical Centre and seen it to fruition,” he said.
Pastor Adeboye, who took his message from Psalm 122, praised Dickson for building a house for God.
His words: “This is definitely a magnificent building and we thank God for it. What makes a house important is not the building. What distinguishes one house from the other is the owner.
When a rich man builds a house, all he can call the house is a mansion. A smaller house built by a king is a palace.
“There is only one house in the whole world where the joy of everybody can be full. Those in the building will never know sorrow again. The power of healing is in the house.”
The cleric also thanked God for blessing the governor and his wife, Rachael, with quadruplets.
The building was consequently dedicated to God. And as Pastor Adeboye made the altar call, hundreds of people trooped to the altar and gave their lives to Christ.