9th May, 2011
At the Multipurpose Hall, Eko FM, Ikeja, Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, scores of gospel preachers, pastors and other clergymen were seen praying for peace and tranquility in the state. They had one common goal and vision, which is to ensure that the turbulence in some states of the federation does not move Lagos. The prayer session is usually a quarterly event.
The man behind it is the Special Assistant to the Governor of Lagos on Christian Religious Matters, Dr. Sam Ogedengbe. This kind of prayer and mobilizing the Christian community to support the administration of Fashola in the last four years is one of the key to the success of Governor Babatunde Fashola in office.
Not a few have been jolted about how Governor Babatunde Fashola has succeeded in transforming the state and taking it to greater heights in less than four years. The achievements of his administration in the area of infrastructure development, free and qualitative education, provision of good medical care and security of lives and property, among others is yet to be equaled by many states in the country. This has earned him accolades and several awards from both within and outside the country.
Aside these, the state has enjoyed peace and tranquility since his assumption of office, in spite the different tribes and ethnic groups that reside in the state, with different religious affiliations and different style of worship.
The secret behind these achievements is nothing but the entrusting of his administration to Almighty God for direction. The governor has always committed his government to the Lord, which provided him the wisdom with which to direct the affairs of the state in the right path. The fear of God seems to be his first law.
It is on record in the history of the state, that Fashola was the first governor to have appointed aides on religious matters. He has at least two Special Assistants on Christian Religious Matters and Personal Assistant, ditto for the Islamic Religion.
As the Bible says, our war is not of the carnal, but spiritual against evils and principalities of the world in places of dark. This corroborates claims in some quarters that most public office holders with reasonable manifestos, turn around to loot the treasury, having allowed themselves to be misguided and misled by evil and principalities of the world.
One will wonder if the governor, with the enormity of the workload of managing the affairs of over nine million residents has the time to really be in the presence of the Lord. But the task and responsibilities lies on the shoulder of Dr. Ogedengbe.
Since assumption of office, Ogedengbe has continued to coordinate the affairs of Christians in the state to ensure that they continually sought the face and grace of the Lord for peace, progress, prosperity and good governance.
Ogedengbe, also the President, All Christians Leaders and Ministers Forum (ACLMF) had introduced a quarterly prayer session, bringing together renowned men of God to pray and fast for the good of the state; this has in no small measure brought about the peace and tranquility being enjoyed in the state.
From available records, this would be the first time that Christians are getting adequate representation and their voice made to count in the affairs of the state government through advice and suggestions. In fact, the governor physically honours events and programmes of Christians in the state.
The annual thanksgiving service held every January by the governor has in no small way brought about peace and tranquility in the state. This is coordinated by the office of the Special Assistant on Christian Religious Matters. The event is held annually right in government house.
This occasion is always graced by renowned men of God such as Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeem Christian Church of God (RCCG); Dr. Olukoya of Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministry (MFM); Dr. David Oyedepo of Winners Chapel; Dr. Fakeye, C&S Movement (Ayo Ni O) and a host of others.
It is also of importance to mention the efforts of Dr. Ogedengbe to quell the brouhaha generated by the invocation of a section of the law which empowers government to demand taxes from religious houses. This almost heated up the polity in Lagos, with most of the church leaders threatening to head for the court over the issue for interpretation. Coupled with the wisdom of God, Ogedengbe was able to douse the tension with several seminars, dialogue and enlightenment campaigns.
Ogedegbe has also played a very critical role in ensuring that peaceful co-habitation by practitioners of all religious sects in the state, ensuring religious tolerance among them. This is done through regular interactive meetings, seminars and workshops held for religious leaders and their followers on the need to eschew preaching and messages that are capable of throwing the state into turmoil.
In order to ensure that the just concluded general elections remained peaceful in the state, Dr. Ogedengbe through the All Christian Leaders/ Ministers Forum held several prayer sessions for all the candidates in the state, where they prayed against political violence, death and chaos.
At one of the events which had in attendance prominent men of God, among them National Secretary, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Pastor Wale Adefarasin, Bishop Lanre Obembe and Rev. Mary Ezekiel, Dr. Sam Ogedengbe, in his key note address said the ACLMF as a group of Christian leaders recognised and believed that every society deserved the leadership it gets and that every leader is as good as the followership.
He added that it is in this light that the association for over a decade had been consistent in the reawakening of the political consciousness of Christians, especially on the need to participate in party politics and exercise their civic responsibility to change Nigeria for good and Godâ€™s glorious kingdom.
A cleric, Deacon Kayode Olopade said the achievements of the Fasholaâ€™s administration showed that the governor is one who allowed God to take charge, adding that it is only a person led by God that could record such a great landmark within a short time.
He stated that Fashola relied on the fear of God to achieve success in office within a short period, adding that Fashola would continued to perform greatly as long as he set the words of the Lord before him.