Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Friday said the state government would partner with the Lutheran Church of Christ and other faith-based organisations in the fight against irregular migration and human trafficking.
Okowa gave the pledge when he received the Archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria and President of the Lutheran World Federation, Archbishop Musa Panti and his delegation at Government House, Asaba.
He said that the Church was a worthy partner in fight against the scourge as it was in a position to preach the gospel and change the mindset of the young ones in the society.
He commended the Lutheran Church for its Symbols of Hope Project in Nigeria which had been dedicated to creating awareness against illegal migration and human trafficking in the country.
He said that the voice of the church is more likely to be better heard than the voice of the government in such issues, because the church has the capacity to be able to school the heart far better than the government will do.
According to him, the people are more likely going to trust the voice of the church even more than that of the government.
“We are in very troubled times in our nation and it requires the church to play its role of praying and ensuring that through our prayers and relationship with God to impact on our nation and i believe that it is the easiest route to achieving peace in this nation.
“The voices of our elders and leaders in the church has a lot to do in trying to calm nerves that have been challenged.
“Its very exciting for me because when the church goes beyond its natural role of preaching the gospel to begin to give hope to the people, it gives hope to humanity .
“Sometimes it is not just enough to preach the gospel but in impacting lives in several other ways will continue to attract people to the church of God.
“We are glad that you are giving hope to our young ones by your effort in addressing the scourge of illegal migration and human trafficking in this country. Its quite a major problem and Delta is fully involved in this fight.
“By coming down here to help encourage youths to stop and to help assist those who have returned back to our country from their sojourn elsewhere outside the country actually gives hope to us and we are glad about it.
“Am glad to learn that beyond the fact that you have talked to them to enable them know that there is hope in Christ, you are also impacting on them by training and empowering twenty of the returnees in this state.
“It gives us a lot of joy and and I truly thank you for this and I hope that this impact will encourage us in even government to do more in that direction,” Okowa said.
On the state of the country, Okowa said there was a lot of bitternes, hate and anger in the land because there is hunger, unemployment, uncertainty and a lot of insecurity.
“I believe that the words you have spoken concerning those of us in governance is right, because we need to do more and ensure that we reach out more to our people, we need ensure that we put processes in place that will continue to give hope our people.
It is quite challenging at the moment, we may have gotten certain things wrong but when do realise that we have gotten certain things wrong then we need to begin to reright the wrong and believe that starting from the Federal government to the state governments.
“For government to be impactful on the people there is the need to ensure there is fairness, justice, equity and as Nigerians that we all see ourselves as one.
“We must give hope to every part of Nigeria and we must ensure that there is inclusiveness in governance and we must ensure that in whatever we are doing we do it in the best interest of this country.
“I believe that as we continue to tow the path of justice and fairness, we will begin to rebuild the hope in our people and the commitment with our people to governance process.
“This is important because if we are in government and the people lose trust in us it will be a greater problem for us in the governance process and so we must continue to preach peace and to find ways to partner together to be able to get out of this situation that we have found ourselves,” the governor stated.
Earlier, Archbishop Panti said the Lutheran Church was founded in 1913 and established Symbols of Hope Nigeria project to contribute towards addressing illegal migration and human trafficking in Nigeria.
He added that activities of the NGO include creating awareness and advocacy against irregular migration and human trafficking, providing psycho-social support to victims and provision of medical care for returned migrants with illness and infections.
He said they were in the state to support the government in reintegrating returnees particularly in addressing issues of stigma and shame.
He said “We are aware of the work that your government is doing to curtail irregular migration and human trafficking and we are also aware of your giant strides in ensuring security in Delta.
“As a faith-based institution, we are proud to identify with your work on these issues and we are in Delta to support and compliment what your government is doing in ensuring that young people are well guided regarding decisions on migration within and outside the country.
“The church will be empowering twenty returnee indigenes of Delta with items worth millions of naira including carpentry tools; sewing machines; hair dressing equipment; grinding machines; cooking gas retail shop equipment; refrigerators, power generating sets among other.
“It is our hope that this little initiative will assist the beneficiaries regain self confidence and work towards dignified lives,” he stated.