3rd Session Of The 30th Synod Of The Diocese Of Lagos, Church Of Nigeria Anglican Communion
May 4, 2009 - I wish to congratulate Your Eminence and members of the congregation for the convocation of yet another synod.
Indeed, how time flies because it seems only like yesterday that I was privileged to be with you at the last synod. Truly there is a time for everything.
I must restate that Synods, as meetings convened to discuss matters which affect the church are very important events.
When we realize that the Church is a congregation of people in business, parents, husbands, wives with children and families and so on, a meeting such as the Synod to discuss matters affecting them must be of immense value to the State.
Synods will expectedly discuss issues that affect the business of the Church, their congregation in business especially in these tough economic times, the education of their children, the salaries of their members who are workers, the development of values that will make society free from unacceptable practices like child abuse, same sex marriages, prostitution, crime and corruption, education, healthcare and so much more.
These are. the reasons why democracy evolved as a representative Government and they reinforce why I pay attention to Synods.
The truth as I remarked last year is that in spite of all efforts, it has become increasingly difficult to separate the State and religion.
Although our country like most countries across the world is secular, religion still plays a role in the affairs of the State.
Who can think of any elected leader in recent times who has not had to swear an oath of allegiance on the basis of his faith, whether on the Bible or Quran.
If there was ever any more argument about the inter-relation of the State and religion, I think that act provides enough evidence.
My little research about the origins of the Oath of Office and its significance has revealed profound results which suggest that modern democracy and the protection of citizens' rights have their early roots in the administration of this oath by an act of separation, which later re-united the State and religion.
At the height of the glory of the Roman Empire, the Emperor, Constantine, moved the capital from Rome to Byzantium and named the place Constantinople as a new city and capital he wanted to leave as a legacy.
In a manner, not too dissimilar from our hasty move from Lagos to Abuja, history has it that "He sent his minions across the empire to bring art for the 'new Rome'.
"Such was the pillage that it was described as 'the most disgraceful and extensive theft of art in all history...committed for the purpose of decorating (Constantinople) ".
In this rushed movements and separation from Rome, one person was left behind. The Bishop of Rome. That office was first held by Peter, the Senior Apostle of Christ.
Indeed things proceeded well until about fifty years after Constantine moved capital when one of his successors, Theodosius, committed mass murder.
There was no restraint on his immense powers and the only resistance that came was from the Archbishop of Milan, a priest named Ambrose who refused to give the Emperor Holy Communion.
Of course the Emperor protested this decision and cited the adultery and murder committed by King David in the bible as his defence, saying that he had only committed murder.
The Archbishop was quick to reply that the Emperor most imitate King David in his repentance; and this to everybody's surprise saw the Emperor, "the most powerful man in the world, periodically dressed like a beggar (as David had in the biblical tale) and stood outside the Cathedral at Milan to ask for forgiveness of the Archbishop.
However, it was not until 800 AD when Pope Leo III was forced to crown the Frankish ruler Charlemagne as Roman Emperor '"that the tradition of investiture began, to give legitimacy and blessing to a new King.
History and Governments have since moved on, kingdoms and empires have given way to republics and democracies and investiture have moved from the Church to the Judiciary, the third arm of Government, although the Judiciary has not left the Church.
I am therefore here in an official capacity to share thoughts with you in your meeting as to how our Government can make it better.
Today is the 706th day that we assumed office with a promise to Lagosians of a Brighter and Rewarding future.
Our promises have been covenants, which we have discharged without excuses and happily Lagosians have kept faith with us by performing their civic responsibilities of paying taxes and obeying the law.
In so doing, I believe we have all been better for it. The Lagos economy is heading north while the global economy has been heading south. The Lagos economy is creating jobs when other economies are shedding jobs. Lagos is getting rid of crime and becoming safer.
The credit must go to Almighty God, and our people particularly religious leaders, including his Eminence who have not only supported but have actively participated by their intervention at periods of crises in a strategic partnership of multi-faith consultation with other religion.
I must here place on public record the gratitude of our Government for your support for our tax initiatives and intervention during the teachers' strike.
Our doors continue to remain open, to receive your suggestions, criticisms and alternatives in our efforts to make it better.
We recognise always that we have no monopoly of knowledge, and we remain therefore always receptive of new ideas and flexible to change.
With your support and contributions, the Lagos and Nigeria of our desire is indeed within our reach.
I thank you for the invitation extended to me and wish you very fruitful deliberations.
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Governor of Lagos State