Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr Ndueso Ekwere has urged the well to-do people in the state come to the aid of the church which appears adversely affected economically by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with Daily Sun as a follow-up to the guidelines for the reopening on churches recently released by CAN, Dr Ekwere said since nearly 99.9% of Akwa Ibom people are Christians who belong to different churches, it has become imperative that they contribute their quota to the sustenance of their places of worship just as they do to their personal businesses.
Ekwere who admitted not knowing the number of churches in the state due not only to their large number but also the high frequency of establishing new ones, explained that it would not be completely right to expect government to provide palliatives that would sustain all the churches in the state whereas all the rich people who are doing well in business or occupying enviable positions in government are members of the ailing churches.
“Most of the people you see in government belong to churches. All these rich people, no apologies, they build big mansions for women everywhere and build their own separately. One person doesn’t care building 50.
“We have heard of one minister in this country that have had more than 50 houses, whether in the country or outside. Someone has 30 different cars. It doesn’t really mean anything to him.
Most of these people can also sink into the wealth of the churches to help provide palliatives to members. The little God gives me from nowhere, I even make sure at least, one person is affected at a time like this. So for a start, it is also good to look inward.
“Members should be able to come together and collect what they have and then provide for the less privileged members.”
He said he had equally raised the issue with government as an institution, that the easiest way to provide for the poor is through the church; but lamented over the high number of churches and clergymen in the state, “because a lot of people rise up and become ministers, build and name their church overnight like our governor always says.
“Before you know it, I have a call; I’m a bishop in January; by June I’m and an archbishop; by December I’m a prelate and carry one big cap and by the time government say they want to provide anything for a congregation that is large that is a church, a one–man church with whatever name will also come up; and it has become difficult provide for those people.
“So the number of churches in Akwa Ibom raises difficulties in helping the people the way we should think. It may not be possible for government to take care of all church because even as I sit, I must confess to you, I cannot vividly say, Akwa Ibom State has so-so number of churches because even before I finish mentioning that, another one shall have sprung up,” Dr Ekwere said.