Renowed minister of God in Rivers State, Pastor Enobong Ben, says the granting of amnesty and the subsequent disarmament by the militants was the right step taken by the government and the ex-militants towards resolving the violence and arm-struggle in the oil-rich region.
He, however wondered why the federal government and its relevant agencies responsile for the implementation of the post-amnesty programme have not been pro-active for the past two months.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Weekend Tide at Eberi, headquarters of Omuma Local Government Area, Rivers State shortly after a church function last Sunday, Pastor Ben argued that full implementation of the amnesty programme especially massive employment of the teeming unemployed youths and aggressive development of infrastructure and social amenities would bring lasting peace in the regions.
Pastor Ben who hails from Omum-Unyam Community in Akwa-Ibom State and the resident Pastor incharge of The Apostolic Church, Eberi Assembly passionately appealed to the government to be pro-active in the implementation of the issues that arose from the violent agitation if the government is determined to find lasting solution to the Niger Delta question.
According to him, the violent agitation has negatively impacted on the morals of Nigerian youths and stressed the need for the government to emphasise moral studies in primary and secondary schools to cushion the effect of the recent social vices in the country.
To achieve this, the cleric therefore advocated for the handing over of all primary and secondary schools to the churches as was the situation in the early 50’s and 60’s so as to help bring up children in the fear of God.
Apparently, the man of God suggested that religious knowledge especially Christian and Islamic religions should be made compulsory like English language and mathematics in ‘O’Level examinations in the country.
On the efficacy or otherwise of the church in fighting corruption and moral decay in the society, the minister of God said that the church of God has played significant role in reducing the rate of crime in Nigeria as most souls won for Christ abandoned their evil ways.
He however, agreed that some churches have not done much to impact the basic moral principles in the younger generation because they have devoted much time and energy on preaching miracles, healings and materialism.
Consequently, Pastor Ben challenged church administrators and leaders to re-focus their strategy and attention towards teaching of moral and value principles to the youths through Sunday School activities, Bible studies and personal evangelism.
Commenting on the significant of annual harvest ceremony to Christiandom, the man of God pointed out that the celebration reminds human race especially Christians that they are like seeds planted on the earth by God and that the owner of the farm would certainly come to harvest the crops.
Quoting the book of Genesis chapter 8 verse 18 to 22, to buttress his points, Pastor Ben urged Christians to always be prepared to bear good harvest for God, their creator.
Narrating how God encountered him, the cleric told The Weekend Tide that his father was a pastor in the Qua-Iboe Church but his friends in his secondary school days influenced him to embrace the Apostolic Church in 1981 due to unity of purpose and discipline among the students who were members of the Apostolic Church.
“More importantly, my recovery from a fatal motor accident in 2004 in which God saved my life to enable me accomplish his work on earth propelled my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Saviour”, he emphasised.
Answering question on the efficacy of miracles and healings, the Akwa Ibom-born man of God acknowledge the existence of God’s miracles and healings, but vehemently disagreed with some pastors and prophets who attribute such miracles to themselves instead of God.
According to him, Jesus Christ in the book of Mark chapter 16 verse 15, commissioned his disciples to preach the gospel and win more souls, lamenting that some men of God today preach their ability t o perform miracles and heal the sick.
And again, he explained that the efficacy of miracles depends on the faith of the pastor and the person receiving the miracle, adding that God also uses faith to perform miracle.
On the challenges of Christianity, Pastor Ben maintained that except Christians exhibited the qualities of Jesus Christ anchored on love, huminity, submissive, obedience and joy among others. It is wrong for such person to claim to be a Christian.
He was emphatic that such qualities are lacking in most of the churches because of derailing from the original commission and focusing of attention on materialism and other earthly things.
The man of God, however, admonished Christians especially the churches to go back to their root of preaching repentance and salvation to the world so as to win more souls for Christ.
In the same vein, he supports the call for Christians to participate in active party politics, pointing out that when Christians rule, they would transform the society with the knowledge of the words of God which, according to him, is the beginning of wisdom.
On the recent call on President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua to resign following his ailing health, he described such calls as morally wrong, adding that what the president needs from Nigerians is fasting and prayers for quick recovery to enable him complete the seven-point agenda of his administration.