By Emmanuel Oyemomi
Going down the memory lane, as far as Nigeria is concerned, I don’t think we have a solid plan. What we have has been legacy and what impact theological education has brought into the nation. Some great institutions that are renowned for this – Harvard, Oxford, etc. – has become the cream of the world. History made us know they started as seminaries but these institutions later metamorphosed into other areas of education.
J. C. Pool, the first Principal of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso was offered a licence for a charted university by the then Nigerian President, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, which was rejected. The same seminary later became the first degree awarding institution in Nigeria.
As far as Nigeria and Africa are concerned, writing and education are not our heritage, treasures not documented. And whatever education is in Nigeria as a heritage is the aftermath of theological education. All the schools that government took over started as mission schools and government did not maintain the legacy of the mission schools. When you talk of academic integrity and soundness, we find them among the mission schools across the country. They are functional.
Government keyed into education and made it a political matter to fight religion. This was done through legislating against the schools. History was also doctored out of the curriculum. Several subjects have been removed as well.
The nation has lost its bearing in terms of education with consistent strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which affect the future of the students. We are yet to get our bearing in education. Chief Obafemi Awolowo ensured education became a natural priority to benefit the citizens, but the reverse is the case today. It is worrisome that we have no value for education as the state of the system is lamentable.
The impact of theological education is however multifaceted. Theological education gave birth to several churches. It also gave birth to proliferation of schools. Primary school in the 1950s was virtually free education.
If children were very intelligent, the missionaries gave scholarship to children. Africa had no value for Western education. Those who had primary education up to Standard 6 then compared with today’s graduates. The missionaries hired such Standard 6 graduates and so many lives have been uplifted. Missionaries hired them for several jobs in the public.
The world started with theology education. This has significance in the Bible – six years for synagogue education where they were taught in the study of the Law. Then there was the Rabbinic and vocational training. as stated in the scriptures. Theology education must be given a space to shape leaders. We need to watch the track records of our leaders. Our leaders even boast that our votes mean nothing to them. We have a corps of leaders who have no track records and all they do is to manipulate the system and the people.
Theological education has been ostracised. In the last few years, a war has been waged against theology education. It is a threat/war against the source of peace, which is God.
Theology education, which is a study about God, can have great impact on our leaders. It is education that gives a transformation to be godly. In theology education, you are taught how you must have concern for fellow humans. Theological education indicates that God is indivisible; most people with sound theological education act right.
Theological education can train people who will use and lead the people. Theological education has produced leaders for the country who function in various places. Theological education has helped people to be versatile, but they are being massacred due to selfishness, nepotism and tribalism. God authenticates theological education as we will all return to Him.
The impact of Baptist College of Theology, Lagos has been enormous. The goal is to produce Godliness, character formation and spiritual formation for Christian ministry. The College also provides sound spirituality to mould lives. It has continued to raise giants for the Lord. We have provided for a lot of people around the world, including Nigeria. We have our graduates in all states in Nigeria. Some of our products have become prominent persons within the denominations and also in government. Several others have been trained and they are using their God-given training to help government and be supportive. This shows that the training we provide is first class.
BCT Lagos is accredited by the Association for Christian Education in Africa. In Nigeria. It has also been a campus for Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso. We secured full accreditation, and it is the first college to stand on its own. We also have partnership with several global bodies. We strategically focuses on programmes that train people to know more about God. The College has 3,600 impartation. We have trained over 1,500 graduates since inception. Our calendar of activities is stable and is not disrupted in any way. We graduated 72 students this year to join the workforce to make impact. We have also planted almost 20 churches since inception.
Some of our graduands in the public/private sectors develop skills for others and equip them. We also train the working class who, after graduation, go on to advance the Kingdom of God and contribute to the nation’s growth. Our graduates are the salt of the earth. We also have our trained Pastors working with the Federal Government and contributing their quota. The College turns 25 this year and we are showcasing it through several activities.
Professor Oyemomi is the Rector, Baptist College of Theology, Lagos