A CONFERENCE BY THE CHILDREN WITH THE PRESIDENT, DR. JOSHUA UHIARA, ON THE CHILDREN’S DAY (MAY 24TH, 2015)
The President responding to the question of the FIRST CHILD on the issue of how parents overly send their children to carry out certain domestic activities that take up all their time says (with a sigh of relief):
PRESIDENT: …With a lot of trepidation inside, a lot of fear…
[The congregation roared with laughter]
PRESIDENT: Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. Erm…this is one of them. [Muffled laughter]
PRESIDENT: Parents, you are being reported to me.
[Laughter of amusement from parents; the children nodding with a holy glee]
PRESIDENT: And they are expecting me (the children) to address the matter. I am being placed on a hot seat.
[The congregation laughs]
PRESIDENT: I do not want to lose the parents, I do not want to lose the children, at the same time.
[Applause from both parents and children]
PRESIDENT: [Laughing hysterically] so, we must find a middle way. Children, it is necessary that now that you do not pay the house rent, you do not pay for electricity, you do not pay for food, you ought to contribute to the well-being of the family. So, the only way you can contribute since you do not have money, you don’t have any employment, is to do some house chores. Do them gladly.
[Parents cheer, clapping with an air of victory]
[The children stealthily bent their heads in disappointment]
PRESIDENT: Parents, on the other hand…
[The congregation paused as they watched the president in his new air of Ambivalence]
PRESIDENT: You need to be considerate, because it is in your best interest also if the child does well academically, if the child grows up to be spiritually strong. Therefore, when you give them chores to do, you make room for them to have time for themselves to study the Bible, to pray and to do their homework. So you have to take all these things into account.
[All the faces of the children lit up with relief, their teeth glistening with an aura of victory. Some of the faces of the parents had something on them, something more akin to guilt than to defeat: a feeling]
PRESIDENT: Sometimes if the child has an exam, you ‘may’ excuse him or her and do the chore yourself, so that the child would get a good grade.
[Straight and direct, not mincing his words; the children applauding in agreement, some parents drawn into agreeing, some with faces puckered into grimace]
PRESIDENT: and I think if we give our take we will do well.
[Applause: A rapturous agreement]
SECOND CHILD: My question is, what is that thing that causes the children not to understand when they read?
PRESIDENT: What is it that would cause the child not to understand when he or she studies or reads? We are familiar with the term ‘read’ in Nigeria. In the United States you study. The first time I went there, and they asked me what I came for, I said I came to ‘read’…something something something. They said, ‘read’? You have come to ‘study’. Well. What is it that causes children not to understand when they study?
A number of factors! And this question actually should have gone to the President Emeritus (Dr. Felix Obiora). That is his area. [The Emeritus smiles]
PRESIDENT: The main thing there is distraction, we are in a technological age, and because of that children have so many distractions. Some of you children have cell phones. And there are things on those cell phones that distract you. And some of those things on the cell phone that distract you… it is not just the calls, it is not just the texts. And I want to say, and I want to say it loudly and seriously and strongly to the parents to watch what your children have on their cell phones. There are a number of children, even in this church and outside of this church, who watch pornographic films on their phones. That is a very serious distraction, and in fact, it is much more than that. It is addicting. I know of a child brought up in a Christian family, who I believe is also a Christian, but he is now addicted to pornography. He has finished university, got a job; he has lost his job because of his addiction. Now he is jobless, and he is living at home, eating food, having no jobs, and has dropped out of church. We are still trying to bring him back. Pornography! It is very, very addictive. That’s one of the things that district children. Another thing is music.
In other words, let me… since we don’t have time. You have to exercise self- control. When my children were growing up I used to tell them: if you do not study and prefer to watch television, a time will come in the future when televisions more superior to this one that I have now will be produced, and you will not be able to afford it because you lost your time watching television, and you have not done well in school, and you do not have a good job to provide for this new television. So please, children, exercise self-control. Spend your time to study, not only your…urrm…books for your classes in school: but also study the bible. That will serve you better in the future. Thank you.
PRESIDENT: Finally, what more?
FIRST CHILD: Another question… it is about things that we experience in the school. Things like, our seniors maltreating us. Sir, what is your opinion of that?
PRESIDENT: What students experience in school.
[Looking towards the pastors’ and their wives position, he spoke to Mrs. Pearl, the
Principal of the Master’s Vessel Classical Academy]
PRESIDENT: Sister Pearl, this question is for you. [Congregation laughs]
PRESIDENT: I want to believe that this does not happen at Classical. And that is bullying. What is my opinion? This is very simple. There is nobody who will sanction that, even an unbeliever. In fact, at Classical, we have zero tolerance for maltreating a junior student. At Classical now, our policy is that will hand you expulsion. If you are asking for my opinion… it is a no no – it is bad. And for senior students, don’t ever do that. And junior students, if anybody maltreats you, go straight to the authority and report that person. We cannot tolerate it. Thank you. [Applause]
FIRST CHILD: Sir, erm… before we summarize everything about the conference, big daddy, we urge you to encourage our teachers in every aspect. Thank you.
PRESIDENT: Before we end this conference… I… with what that she is saying… I had it in my mind to really thank the teachers. We can never thank you enough. The vice president of the children and the youth were wondering why the same group of people have been in that position for so many years. Simply put, it is because so many people run away from that responsibility, because it is not easy. It is not easy. And so for those of you who have the courage and the love to do this work, we want to say that we appreciate you, and we want to thank you. And before I take my seat, Courage and Co, [Looking at Courage Olileanya, the SECOND CHILD, who gave a special number]
PRESIDENT:… We thank God that today you are coming into the adult church. You must be leading praise and worship in this place.
[A thunderous Amen from the congregation]
PRESIDENT: That is the kind of voice we have been looking for. Thank you.