With insecurity still rife, unemployment at its peak, economic downturn and a continues devaluation of the Nigerian currency, the need to get leadership right has become a subject of discussion. This and many more formed the crux of the discussion during a four-day national leadership training conference for Christian Women Fellowship of the United Church of Christ, Fountain of Peace. Gideon Arinze writes
The Christian Women Fellowship of the United Church of Christ (Fountain of Peace), just concluded its four-day National Leadership Training Conference.
The conference, which started on Thursday, July 21, had “Make a full proof of your ministry” as its theme. It featured leadership trainings for the women, free medical outreach, launch of a book ‘the king’s business and your vision’ written by the National President of the CWF of the UCC and wife of the general overseer of the church, Christy Egbo and prayer sessions.
Goal to Train Women Leaders
In her address, Egbo said the theme would not have come at a better time than now when leaders face enormous challenges ranging from societal decadence, economic downturn including security and environmental challenges.
“While these challenges have eroded our minds and attentions, we must now rise victoriously as leaders and make a full proof of our ministry “she said. “It is hoped that we will learn practical ways to obtain and security victories in every area of our endeavors and calling”.
She explained that the goal was to train women leaders that will stand the text of time and discover their place as women in the house of God and in the society at large.
“As leaders of various congregations, we need to always train them and build their spiritual and leadership capacity to improve on what they know already,”. “It is hoped that the women will return to their churches and put into practice all that they have learnt from the conference for us to have an improved society,”.
Encouraging Political Participation
As the general election season draws near, Christian leaders across the country have been speaking to their congregation on the need to actively take part in the process. The UCC is not left out.
General Overseer of the UCC, bishop Ezennaya Egbo used the occasion of the conference to encourage his congregation to not see politics as a dirty game but as a process of bringing in leaders who will deliver true dividends of democracy.
“I encourage my members to get involved because we had leaders in the bible, including Daniel, Esther and others,”. “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice but when the wicked are in, the people mourn”.
He said that he has spoken to his congregation severally on the need to not only get their Permanent Voters Cards but also come out to vote when the elections begin.
“We have had the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC use our church space as a registration centre,” he said. “The process encouraged most of our members to register and have their PVCs ahead of the election”.
He said that INEC’s commitment to ensure that the electoral process is transparent through electronic transmission of results is a step in the right direction which should encourage the people to be actively involved.
“We must look at the individuals we want to bring in, beyond the party they belong, “he said. “We don’t want a recycling of the old brigades who do not have anything to offer us as a nation”.
He maintained that while its important to talk about competence, political parties ought to ensure that there is balance in their choices in terms of religion giving that Nigeria is a multi-religious nation.
“We need people who can turn our nation into a production economy, we have become a nation of consumers where everything is imported. What is left to be imported is air. Our currency has become weak and the economy is suffering.”
Women and Politics
Egbo noted that the country must learn to give women a chance to actively take part in the decision-making process in the country, He however noted that while he advocates for women to be allowed to lead, their participation must be predicated on capacity.
“Women have the capacity to manage and pay attention to detail,” he said. “In the church, we give them the opportunity to express their gifts and we have had them do well. They deserve to be given the chance to lead”.
He noted that the women must come out and be ready to lead as you cannot solve a problem by running away from it. He added that as a church, they are always ready to support women who express desire in politics.
Civil, Political and Citizens Rights of Women
Among the discussions that took centre stage was the need for women to know their political, civil and citizen rights. Chairperson, Women Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria, WOWICAN, Enugu State Chapter, Mrs. Ngozi Avah who spoke to the women on the subject matter said they must understand that these rights are enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which protects them from all forms of infringement.
She however regretted that while the constitution guarantees such rights, certain social cultural and religious barriers, including economic barriers, gender-based violence, poverty and lack of access to education and limited confidence in political participation undermine their ability to contribute to the development process of the nation.
“It is the right of the woman to participate in the civil and political life of her country, “she said. “Sadly, we even discriminate against ourselves as women. “Many of us would rather vote for a man during an election than vote for a woman because of the perception that women cannot do the job”.
She explained that there is rising cases of gender-based violence perpetrated against women because of the culture of silence by women who do not believe they can get justice when they speak up.
“When a woman decides to report a case of violence to the police for instance, the police will refuse to investigate the matter, even the society will laugh at her, “she said.
She said that the government must provide an enabling environment for women to participate actively in political activities and that the legislatures must also enact laws that will punish perpetrators of violence against women.
Women and Security
The conference also had the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Enugu State police Command, DSP Daniel Ndukwe speak to the women on the need to be security conscious as security has become everyone’s business.
He said that the women must do their best to support the police as much as they can in providing useful information. He also shared the command’s control/ emergency numbers with the women; 08032003702. 08086671202.
The UCC is a Pentecostal church in concept and practice, with a vision to preach the Gospel of Christ. Apart from Nigeria, the church has expanded its tentacles to the United States of America, South Africa, Japan. Egbo said that the vision is to go global.
He explained that although the church has recorded huge successes in terms of drawing souls to God and helping the needy In the society, it has had its fair share of challenges over the years.
“Whatever affects the society also affects the church, “he said. “We have had financial challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic which changed our method of fellowship as a church”.
Speaking further, he said “We did not have the kind of physical association we used to have when the pandemic raged,”. “Everything was virtual because we had to protect our health. But now, we are getting back again”.
Honour for Awardees
The conference came to a climax on Sunday, July 24 with thanksgiving by the women and presentation of awards of merits to men, women and youths who have distinguished themselves in the service to God.
Among the awardees was the General Manager, Commercial of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Joy Umeh; mother of the General Overseer, Roseline Egbo; Ijeoma Adaku, bishop Egbo, Achilike Onyekwele among others.
Receiving the award, Umeh thanked the church for finding her worthy and for making efforts to grow the kingdom of God. She pledged to support the church as it continues to work towards uplifting the kingdom of God.
Government must provide an enabling environment for women to participate actively in political activities and the legislature must also enact laws that will punish perpetrators of violence against women