By Sam Eyoboka
Thirty years after Uma Ukpai’s Greater Lagos Crusade ignited the tiny fire that let loose the avalanche of Pentecostalism in Nigeria, leaders of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, gathered in Lagos on Thursday with eminent political leaders from different parts of the country in tow, to officially dedicate its ultra-modern national secretariat, the Bishop’s Court, behind Aswani Market in Isolo area of the metropolis.
The event marking the 30th anniversary of the Fellowship also provided an avenue for the clerics to honour Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Mama Hilda Adefarasin, five serving governors as well as some Pentecostal leaders including the national president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and his wife, Helen, for their contribution to the growth of the PFN over the past three decades.
Likened to the 10th Century B.C. movement of the Ark of God’s Covenant from the house of Obededom, the Gittite to Jerusalem, the secretariat of the 30-year old PFN is relocating to its final permanent place of abode after about 20 years sojourn at the Christian Pentecostal Mission, CPM, who played host to the Fellowship in Ajao Estate and like Obededom, has testimonies of blessings.
In his welcome address at the colourful event attended by a large crowd of stakeholders including Gov. Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, Prince Eze Madumere, deputy governor of Imo State and representatives of Lagos and Edo state governors as well as the former governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang and former field commander of ECOMOG, Lt. Gen. Joshua Nimyel Dogonrayo (rtd), the PFN president, Rev. Felix Omobude said PFN which started September 1985, had become a reference point and a beacon of hope for Pentecostals in Nigeria.
“Thirty years on, we have discharged our role in building our people and serving as an agent of national development. We have contributed to uphold the nation in prayer, engage with political leadership to further national development and we have made critical interventions to assist our people in times of crisis. Our Emergency Response and Intervention Directorate has disbursed over N17 million to victims of Boko Haram insurgency in the North, with relief materials worth millions of Naira shipped to states in the North East, in aid of internally displaced persons. As a global player, the PFN had also responded to international calls for assistance by extending support to victims of natural disasters,” he stated.
According to him, the ultra-modern Bishop Court was envisioned by the immediate past administration of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, noting that on assumption of office, “we not only expressed the determination to ensure the completion of the project, we promised that the fund raised for the project would be exclusively dedicated to the project. In spite of challenges with contracting firms, variation in costs and inflation in the economy, we have kept faith with our word to the glory of God.”
Continuing, Omobude who reminded his audience that the Fellowship was established in September 11, 1985 to promote the propagation of the gospel, announced to the large audience that PFN national executive council has received a donation of a plot of land at a location not too far the Airport in Abuja, noting “our dream is that soon, we will have another Bishop’s Court waving at, as you drive to and from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.”
At the Stakeholders summit aimed at opening its flanks to new ideas and a renewal of old ones, the PFN president, noted that their dreams are tall but their resolve to actualise them, is taller, urging members to be mindful at all times, the visions of the founding fathers and embrace peace and unity at all times.
The Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr. Udom called on Nigerians to be interested in governance through fevent prayers and exhibition of civic responsibilities, stressing that it was only prayer that had kept the nation together inspite of the challenges facing the country.
“Christians should not shy away from being part of governance, they should be interested to help government serve and function efficiently. The contributions of the people via constructive criticisms, suggestions, prayers are crucial to achieve an inclusive governance and national development, ” he said.
Also speaking, Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State who was represented by Pastor Ayotunde Shodeinde appreciated religious leaders in the country for their prayers, advice and support to the government. PFN has been a rallying point for millions of Christian faithful, contributing to national unity and cohesion.
“As a government we seek your continued support in terms of wise counsels and prayers for the success of the ongoing efforts to rebuild the nation’s economy. I believe with prayers, sincere commitment, dedication and right attitude on our part as a government and as a people, we shall overcome and our nation will rise again,” Ambode said.
In his words, Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo State who was represented by his deputy, Prince Eze Madumere said that the Imo State government would continue to contribute and support the fellowship of God.