By Apostle Lawrence Achudume

Paying visit to the home of Prelate Emeritus of the Methodist Church has always been a delight; something I look forward to with much expectation of what new lesson I will learn. He always has something to teach about life, the Church, God, the Hebrews, leadership, stories of his life and experiences with people.

He was vast in knowledge and well-learned – he was indeed a learned fellow – a man of deep knowledge and understanding; well-schooled and widely travelled.

I was with him a week before his demise. Two days after my visit, he called me to come back quickly that he was unwell, I knew like he has always said: “Lawrence, I am in the departure lounge, seat down let me teach you…”

 My visit yesterday to his home in Uyo was not exciting; the one time CAN President, President of Methodist Church Nigeria and overseas, President of World Council of Churches, etc., was not at home anymore. The voice that normally welcomes me with, “Lawrence, why are you late?” That shrill resonating baritone voice was not heard. He has travelled never to return to the earth again.

 I knew Dr. Sunday Mbang when I was a student in the University in his days as CAN President. He was a voice; a rebel with a cause! He fought the military of the then maximum ruler Gen. Abacha, admonished General Abdulsalami Abubakar who then head of State after the sudden death of Abacha, not to stay more than a year in office but must hand over to civilians.

He told me how the Head of State, General Sani Abacha had arranged and sent the then Lagos State Governor, Buba Marwa, to bring him to Abuja and how he requested he handed over power to civil rule without dancing to General Abacha’s whims and caprices. He shook the military regime and emboldened the civilian and the Church.

Mbang was a voice, a loud voice! He was feared by those who do evil, loved by the oppressed masses he fought for. He was a patriotic Nigerian and a lover of the Church.

Prelate Mbang will always talk about his best friend, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and how their relationship blossomed because of their love for Nigeria.

Till he departed this world last week, he was writing books on the book of Psalms. Oh, who will complete the manuscripts and publish the books?

Sunday Mbang was a true Nigerian, detribalized patriot. No ethnic bias in his thoughts. He retired and was persuaded with many promises to stay back in Lagos but he chose to return to a quiet life in his home State, Akwa Ibom.

An excellent conversationalist; he was a journalist’s delight. I remember a headline years ago on a newspaper (I can’t remember which of the tabloid now) but it read: “SUNDAY BANG” and people rushed to buy copies.

Then, anytime we saw headlines on Sunday Mbang, we will head to our club – FRA (Free Readers Association).

Should I write about his relationship with the former Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Muhammadu Maccido, a co-chair on NIREC, whom he described as his good friend and a man of like mind? Both worked hard to keep inter-religious conflicts at the barest minimum and used their influence to diffuse tension whenever and wherever it was rearing its ugly head.

We need more Nigerians like Sunday Mbang who talks Nigeria not tribe, not ethnic groups. We need a true Nigerian like Mbang who talks excellence in leadership and discriminate on the basis of a region or religion; a true leader who talks Church not denominations.

Mbang was highly blessed but lived a simple life. My visit to his house yesterday was not to be schooled by this maverick patriarch but to sign the condolence register. I was received by the Chief mourner, Sir Ini Mbang, his siblings and the Prelate’s Chaplain.

Oh death! I couldn’t go into his room or library like before because the hero, a dogged warrior, the lion himself has departed this world. Many who knew him will miss him. By him, I have learned life’s lessons many have not learned. The lesson is that after all the noise and all your achievements comes death.

Good night Papa Sunday Mbang, your voice will continue to be heard. You departed peacefully. You told your son to take you home, leave you in bed; that you don’t want any disturbance because you wanted to rest. And you are still resting.

Rest on a true believer in Christ, a true Nigerian. Dr Sunday Mbang CON, Good night sir!

Quest News 24

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