Lutheran church in Nigeria Archbishop visits Delta State governor

Archbishop Musa Panti Filibus and Delta State Governor holding together Tshirt for awareness on Irregular migration. Photo by Christiana Oche

Lutheran church in Nigeria Archbishop visits Delta State governor

Ensures Symbols of Hope will continue partnering with government to end irregular migration

Last week, during a visit to the Government House in Asaba Delta State South-South Nigeria, the Archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) and President of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the Most Rev Dr Panti Filibus Musa said the work of ending irregular migration and human trafficking can best be done by faith-based organizations.

While acknowledging the government effort to curtail irregular migration and human trafficking, the archbishop called for further investigation into those who benefit from such criminal activities in Nigeria.

On an invitation from the Delta State Governor Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, Archbishop Musa said the Symbols of Hope (SoH) program will continue partnering with governments to ensure young returnees and potential migrants are supported.

“As a church there are limits to what we can offer, but we believe that the prophetic voice of the Church is vital in stamping out all vices in society,” he said.

SoH is a global initiative by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a faith-based organization, that enables member churches to respond effectively to the challenges surrounding irregular migration. The program has been operational in Nigeria and Ethiopia since 2017, and Zimbabwe has recently come on board as a third target country.

“We are in Delta State today to support, and compliment what your government is already doing in ensuring that young people are well guided regarding decisions on migration within and outside the country and to support the care given to those returned migrants by the government. I emphasize that the church is here to compliment the efforts of your government.”

Archbishop said the church enjoys some level of trust from the people and that can be leveraged to push much needed advocacy.

“As a faith-based organization and church, we believe that the level of trust and confidence people have in us will be resourceful in stopping irregular migration and human trafficking.”

He explained that the church is adopting a targeted approach where beneficiaries of the SoH program are identified and supported, “Our methodology of empowerment is a targeted approach. Working in collaboration with government agencies and other non-governmental organizations, we identify specific persons who have taken initiatives and have shown a commitment to self-reliance.”

“The program does not give cash but provides some short-time training and help them acquire instruments or equipment that they need to boost their trade and businesses.”

The archbishop informed the governor that 20 returned migrants have been identified and have received support while nearly 30 potential migrants have been assisted to start a meaningful life in order to support themselves and their families. Seventy percent of those supported are women who are the most vulnerable group in irregular migration.

These 20 people will receive trade equipment including carpentry tools, sewing machines, hair dressing equipment, grinding machines, cooking gas retail shop equipment, refrigerators and power generating sets.

Archbishop Musa called on the government to “make room for FBOs” to allow for active involvement in the crisis. The government provides an enabling environment toward solutions, while the church provides spiritual counselling and psycho-social support.

“I also call on civil societies, non-governmental organizations, and agencies to join hands with the government to address this issue,” Archbishop Musa said.

Governor Senator Dr Okowa thanked the archbishop for coming to Delta State and expressed his appreciation for the work the church is doing in Nigeria through the Symbols of Hope program.

In a similar development, the archbishop and his delegation visited the traditional ruler of the Asaba Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Prof. Joseph Chike Dozie. At the palace Archbishop Musa told the leader of the Symbols of Hope program and called on the king to partner with the Lutheran church in the fight against irregular migration.

King Dozie praised the LCCN and the LWF for venturing into an area that needs urgent attention. He said, “human trafficking and irregular migration are monumental dangers that eat into the fabric of our nation.”

 “One is not too old to learn, today I have learned a lot about the Lutheran church and their work in Asaba, therefore, I call on other faith-based organizations and governments to join hands and work together,” King Dozie said.


By Felix Samari/ALCINET