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Thank You Bishop …, There Is Hope For Nigeria

"I am not a member of your Church, but I was welcomed and the youth also show me love.  I learnt many things like knowing who I am, why I am here on earth and setting goals for myself...Thank you Bishop" says Tony Ebahon; while Sunday Olufemi, also another non-member wrote, "Dear Bishop, … I gained many things like knowing how to behave well and how to respect others ... Pray for me that everything I face in life will be successful ...Thank you Bishop."

These extracts were taking from letters received from two of about 50 youth who participated in the 13th March, 2010 Youth Conference organized by leaders of Ogba Ward, a congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lagos, Nigeria.

The leader of Ogba congregation, Bishop Richard Ikpegbu, set the tone for Conference saying, “The country depends and hopes on you for a better future and prospects, and we can’t afford to let you slip off before the future comes.  We need you to be strong and of good courage as you make choices now which will determine your future."

Elder & Sister Wardsworth, the couple missionaries in charge of the Church’s Perpetual Education Fund (PEF), explain the vast opportunities made available to the recipients of the fund, when and how the youth can access it.  They recount the sorry state of thousands of graduates in Nigeria who cannot get jobs and provide for themselves because they have education but no skills. They further explained that the primary purpose of PEF is to provide opportunity for skill acquisition by the youth in tertiary institutions that lead to self reliance and self employment among others.

Speaking to the youth, Mr. M. A. Adejumo, a representative of the Lagos State Government from the Ministry of Education reiterated the efforts of the Government in seeing the youth of Lagos State have a High School Certificate.  He said that Government is able to do this by giving free education to all who attend Government High Schools. He advised them that the major way to stay off negative peer pressure is to be courageous to say no when invited to do what is not right. He could not hide his joy when he heard that the Church operates the PEF program for its members.  He encouraged the youth present to avail themselves the opportunities available in the Government’s free tuition Skills Acquisition Centers where the goals of the PEF and the government can be harnessed.

The Ogba Ward young men president, Biodun Bakare, explained to the youth the “Dangers of negative peer pressure”.  He told them to be courageous in staying off drugs, bad media, pornography and cultism that is rampant in Nigeria institutions. He warned them of the “spiritual damage” these vices can inflict on their spirits and encouraged them to always endeavor to choose the right.

President Okechukwu Imo of the Lagos Nigeria Stake (a group of congregations, similar to a diocese), in his closing remarks to the youths, said, “the church needs you, your parents needs you, Nigeria needs you, and you can’t afford not to be there when the call comes.”
He continued, “Without you being strong and courageous now and take the challenges before you, when opportunities like serving a Mission comes, you won’t be there to take it up; when the country beckons on you to take up positions to rescue her, you won’t be there, simply because you failed to be strong and courageous in making decisions in your youth.”
He pleaded with them “the Lord can’t afford to place this Kingdom on shoulders of men and women who has not been proven worthy, so be strong and of good courage, for the Lord will be with you wherever you go.  My friends; be strong!”

Earlier in the day, the youth, about 50 in number including some 15 non-members, carried out a service project at a nearby Police Area Command Office in Ogba.  They helped cut grasses, cleared blocked drainages and swept offices.  The Police Officers in that station were so thrilled and surprised to see young men and women offering services free and even happy doing it.  The representative of the Area Commander, a Superintendent of Police, Mr. Jonathan, commented that if “the youth grow like this and from this stage of their life, there is hope for Nigeria.”

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