By Olayinka Latona
TO mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany challenging the church hierarchy, The Redeemed Christian Bible College recently organised a one-day national conference to examine the relevance of the Lutherian revolt to both the Church and the nation at large.
In his keynote address tagged: ‘The Reformation of the Church and Its Lessons for the Ongoing call and Clamour for the Restructuring of Nigeria, Professor of Church History and Dean of Student Affairs, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Prof. Don Akhilomen said there are important lessons for Nigeria and Nigerians to learn from the experiences of the Church following the 16th Century Protestant Church Reformation.
Leveraging his argument on the clamour for restructuring of Nigeria, Prof. Akhilomen asked the current APC Administration to be more tolerant and embrace dialogue especially on the agitations for restructuring.
According to him, over centralisation of power only brings abuse of power which has caused anger among constituent states, stressing that in a multi-ethnic and culturally diverse country like Nigeria, a forced union, in a unitary manner has not only proven to be unhealthy but virtually unsustainable.
In his words: “According to President Muhammadu Buhari’s specch on October 1 that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable, do you force a marriage? If you force a marriage, the woman will either poison the man or the man kills the woman. In Nigeria have they asked us if we agree to come together; on what bases do we remain together; just like the unity of the Church is desirable, the unity of Nigeria is desirable but then, there must be open dialogue, the terms of our union must be negotiated. Are you saying the American state was not negotiated? It was negotiated and till today there are several amendments.”
Akhilomen, however cautioned those agitating for restructuring and secession that true progress and change can only be achieved in peace, unity and faith, explaining that the church’s historical experience clearly shows that protestation do not necessarily guarantee genuine reformation.
He said: “It is not every change that translates to progress. In the Nigerian situation, those calmouring for restructur-ing and, in the extreme case, those desiring for secession should realise that the search for Eldorado may well be a utopia as the Church’s history and the experience of South Sudan amply indicate. Also speaking, the co-convener of the event, a visiting Senior lecturer in Lagos State University, LASU, Dr. Benson Igboin said Luther’s decade calls for reflection for the modern churches lamenting that most of the issues that Luther wrote against then are still present in most modern day churches.
Explaining why the Bible College organised the event, Dr. Igboin said: “There is need for us to re-assess ourselves just like Luther did 500 years ago, to see if there was no need to reform ourselves.