By Bose Adebayo
FOUR years ago, the popular televangelist and Senior Pastor of Fountain of Life Church, Bimbo Odukoya died at the prime age of 45 when a Sosoliso Airlines Flight 1145 she boarded in Abuja crashed in Port Harcourt. The air crash also claimed the lives of 75 pupils, among others. That was on December 10, 2005.
Over the years, many innocent lives have been lost in similar tragic circumstances, necessitating public outcry against the worsening state of air safety in the country. Governmentâ€™s efforts at stemming the ugly trend have since been receivingÂ the support of some corporate and non-governmental organisations who have taken it upon themselves to play the watchdog over the aviation industry, while devising different strategies to achieve effective and lasting results.
For the African Foundation for Peace and Love Initiatives, such efforts are not enough without sustained prayers to the Almighty for his divine intervention. It was against this backdrop that it recently organised a prayer programme that drew school children,Â clerics and aviation staff at the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA headquarters in Lagos.
The NAMA staff were also joined by their colleagues from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA to pray for safety in the aviation sector.
In his message, President and CEO of the Foundation, Dr. Titus Oyeyemi said the occasion was symbolic in that it was the last one in the first decade of this millennium and urged those present to be a guiding light to the pupils. â€œThis day is symbolic in the sense that the prayer we are doing today will be the last of its series in the first decade of this millennium, that is, year 2010. What exactly have these prayers meant to you ? Are they just mere exertions devoid of any tangible promise?
Have you thought of using the occasion of the presence of these children for a reflection of your past, present and future? Have you ever used any of the occasions of the prayers to make any significant request, commitment or decision? Do these prayers make any meaning to you?â€ he queried.
Oyeyemi who dwelt on the importance of pupils at the occasion likened children to precious stones. â€œThe Lord has said these children are the treasures and precious stones with which he will rebuild the ruins of Nigeria.Â What then will you do to participate and cooperate with God in making these children those precious stones God had ordained them to be ? Do you believe that the Lord can turn these children?â€ he asked.
He chargedÂ members of the National Assembly to donate their December salaries and bonuses in support of the education of young Nigerians.
In a chat with Vanguard Metro, DGM (Planning Research and Statistics) Igwebuike Dennigwe said the forum was necessary for the aviation industry at this point in time. â€œIt was a forum to ask God to prosper the aviation sector for all round safety.
Prayers of children are always effective because God values them so much. It is an opportunity to use them for a point of contact so that the nation would experience safety,â€ he explained.
Assistant Coordinator of NAMA Fellowship, Pastor Lucky Ebegbune warned Nigerians against speaking evil of President Yarâ€™Adua on account of his ill-health. â€œMany people have been praying for the President to die, this is not good enough.
The Bible wants us to pray for our leaders and not to condemn them. God wants somebody who could stand in the gap. At this moment, Nigeria needs prayer and our duty is to lift the nation into Godâ€™s hands. We do not need to panic at the Presidentâ€™s ill-health; he has a deputy who could fill in for him.Â His absence should not be a thing of joy but something that should create a sober reflection,â€ he warned.
Continuing he said, there was chaos in the nation simply because the wicked have taken over the affairs of the nation.
Some of the pupils expressed satisfaction at the occasion. â€œWe are happy to pray for our country and we are sure God has answered our prayers. We were happy when our teachers told us about it,â€ said nine-year-old Abram Alade and five-year-old Grace Yakubu.