Western Nigeria Union Conference headquarters, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria.

Photo courtesy of Ayo Asha.

Western Nigeria Union Conference

By Ezekiel Atolagbe Adeleye

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Ezekiel Atolagbe Adeleye

The Western Nigeria Union Conference in the West-Central Africa Division has its roots in the West Africa Mission started in 1905 and was voted into its current name and form in 2013.

The Western Nigeria Union Conference (formerly known as North-Western Nigeria Union Mission) comprises the Nigerian states of Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo. These geographical areas are allocated to the Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Kwara, Lagos Atlantic, Lagos Mainland, Ogun, Osun, and Oyo Conferences; the Ondo Mission; and the Kogi Region.1 In 2019, the Western Nigeria Union Conference had 58,614 members in 299 churches2 among a population of 59,404,958.3

The Origin of the Western Nigeria Union Conference

At the 1905 General Conference Session, Elder David C. Babcock was appointed to take charge of the work in West Africa, which he supervised from Sierra Leone. Under his leadership, the Advent message had its permanent roots in West Africa. He was directly in charge of the work in Sierra Leone and Ghana and administered to them as a single mission until 1913.4

By the end of 1913, it became increasingly necessary to divide the West Africa Mission into smaller, separate missions for easier and more effective administration. Therefore, on December 2–11, 1913, “a missionary conference” was held in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where the plans were made to establish a permanent work in Nigeria. It was recommended that the West Africa Mission be divided into three separate fields: (1) Nigeria, (2) Gold Coast (Ghana), and (2) Sierra Leone and Liberia, and that Elder Babcock and some national workers be in charge of the Nigeria Mission.5 What is now known as the Western Nigeria Union Conference began as the Nigeria Mission under the leadership of Elder Babcock.

In 1914, a few weeks after that conference, Babcock arrived in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria.6 Babcock made a trip into the interior part of Yorubaland and looked for a suitable location while others were busy in the town gathering building materials for mission houses.7

In 1917, Elder Babcock was attacked by the dreaded sleeping sickness. He received initial treatment that enabled him to perform some of his duties. In June 1917, Elder Babcock left Sao for Ipoti-Ekiti to help lay a foundation for a new church building. While he was at Ipoti-Ekiti his sickness grew worse.8 Babcock left from Oshogbo to Lagos by train. “It was in this unceremonious way that a stop was put to the work which Elder D. C. Babcock ably started in Yorubaland in 1914.”9 He was compelled to return to England with his family.

With the sudden departure of David Babcock, the mantle of leadership fell on his assistant, E. Ashton of England, who served as the acting superintendent until 1919, when Pastor William McClements of Northern Ireland succeeded him.

In 1922, the year the Adventist message got to Oke-Ila, Pastor McClements sent Isaiah A. Balogun to open a new mission station at Otun-Ekiti in Ondo State (now Ekiti State). Otun-Ekiti proved to be fertile ground; many people accepted Adventism, more so than in Sao, Erunmu, and Ipoti.10

As a result of the rapid growth of the work in the eastern part of Nigeria and that of the Otun-Ekiti districts, it was decided in 1930 to organize the country into a union mission.11 The field was then divided into four sections: the Southeastern, Southwestern, Northeastern, and Northwestern Missions.12

With the new organization, Yorubaland came under the administration of the Northwestern and Southwestern Missions until 1944, when they were merged to form the West Nigerian Mission Field. At the same time, there came a reorganization of all Adventist work in the West Coast of Africa in which McClements became the superintendent of the West African Union Mission in 1943 with his headquarters in Ghana.13

A missionary, W. G. Till, had been sent to Otun-Ekiti in 1923. Brother Till combined medical and gospel work among the Moba people—with good success.14 He worked as a nurse, a pastor, a financial controller, an accountant, and a builder. Brother Till became the director of the Northwestern Mission in 1930 and later became the president of both the Northwestern and Southwestern Missions until his transfer to the East Nigeria Mission, where he served as the secretary-treasurer from 1947 to 1951. During the last three years of his service in Nigeria, he was president of the North Nigerian Mission.15

The last expatriate who served as mission president, from 1956 to 1960, was Pastor G. M. Ellstrom. He persuaded his committee to elect Pastor Joseph Adeyemo Adeogun as his vice president for the mission. That was done, and he tutored Adeogun for about one year (1960). By 1961, Pastor Joseph A. Adeogun was elected the mission president; the first national to be president at the headquarters in Oke Bola, Ibadan. He worked until 1968, when he retired from active service.16 Pastor D. K. Omoleye was the second national to be president. He began his tenure in 1969 and led for about two years. Pastor Johnson A. Adeniji began his leadership in 1972 and labored until 1981, and then Pastor David O. Babalola began his presidency in April 1981 and worked until November 1990. The status of the West Nigeria Mission was changed to that of a conference in June 1989. Pastor J. A. Ola took over from Pastor Babalola and led until 1995, when he handed the mantle of leadership of the West Nigeria Conference to Pastor Onaolapo Ajibade.

Nigeria Union Mission

The Nigeria Union Mission (NUM) was organized in 1972.17 A piece of land that had been purchased from the family of Alhaji Abdul Waheed Elias on October 8, 1957,18 became the location of the headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nigeria when the Nigeria Union Mission began in January 1973. Before that time, the headquarters for the Church in the whole of West Africa had been in Accra, Ghana.19

The first president of the Nigeria Union Mission was S. Gustavsson, while the secretary was P. R. Lindstron in 1973.20 By September 1977, Th. Kristenson became the president of NUM.21 After Th. Kristenson came Pastor Helge S. Andersen, who served as president of NUM, and Pastor Caleb O. Adeogun was the secretary from 1979 to June 1984. By June 1984, Pastor Caleb O. Adeogun was elected as the president of the Nigeria Union Mission (the first national to hold the post), Pastor L. Tambaya Daniel was the secretary, and Elder M. Olukaipe served as treasurer.22

Pastor Caleb O. Adeogun was elected as secretary of the Africa-India Ocean Division (AID) before the end of 1990; thus, Pastor L. Tambaya Daniel served as acting president for NUM while Pastor David O. Babalola acted as secretary, both for the months of November and December 1990.23 Pastor L. Tambaya Daniel and Pastor David O. Babalola served as substantive president and secretary of NUM respectively from December 1990 to 1995 while Elder Michael A. Bello was the treasurer.24 On November 14–15, 1995, at the AID year-end meeting in Abidjan, Pastor Joseph A. Ola was elected as president of the Nigeria Union Mission, Pastor Silvanus N. Chiomah as secretary, and Elder Michael A. Bellow as treasurer.25

Under the leadership of Pastor Joseph A. Ola, the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Annual Council voted on October 10, 2004, to approve the reorganization of the Nigeria Union Mission into two union missions. Consequent to this action, the Nigeria Union Mission at a constituency meeting held December 1–4, 2004, at Adventist Secondary Technical College (ASTEC) in Owerrinta, Abia State, took action to dissolve the Nigeria Union Mission and reorganize into two union missions as voted by the General Conference as follows: (1) The Eastern Nigeria Union Mission, consisting of Anambra-Imo Conference, East Central Conference, East Nigeria Conference, Rivers Conference, and South East Conference; and (2) the North-Western Nigeria Union Mission, consisting of Edo-Delta Conference, North East Nigeria Conference, North West Nigeria Conference, South West Nigeria Conference, and West Nigeria Conference, to take effect from December 18, 2004.26 The officers elected for the North-Western Nigeria Union Mission were Pastor Joseph Adebisi Ola (president), Pastor Okei Ernest Okonkwo (secretary), and Elder Marcus Musa Dangana (treasurer).27

The administration of Pastor Joseph A. Ola lasted till he retired in 2010. At that point, Pastor Oyeleke A. Owolabi took over the leadership mantle. Pastor Okei Ernest Okonkwo served as secretary while Elder Markus M. Dangana was the treasurer. As of 2010, when Pastor Oyeleke Alabi Owolabi started as the president of the North-Western Nigeria Union Mission, there were five conferences: North West Nigeria Conference, North East Nigeria Conference, Edo-Delta Nigeria Conference, South West Nigeria Conference, and West Nigeria Conference.28 The administration of Pastor Oyeleke Alabi Owolabi reorganized the five existing conferences in the North-Western Nigeria Union Mission into 14 smaller units:29 Lagos Mainland Conference, Lagos Atlantic Conference, Ogun Conference, Ekiti Conference, Kwara Conference, Edo Conference, Delta Conference, Osun Conference, Oyo Conference, Ondo Mission, Kogi Region, North East Nigeria Conference, North Central Nigeria Conference, and North West Nigeria Conference. This reorganization prepared the ground to reorganize the union mission into two bodies. Their initial plan was to have two union missions (Northern Nigeria Union Mission and Western Nigeria Union Mission).30 However, God blessed their vision, and union conference status was granted instead of union mission status.

On September 5–8, 2013, at the third constituency session the North-Western Nigeria Union Mission held at Akure, Ondo State, the union mission was reorganized into two union conferences, the Western Nigeria Union Conference and the Northern Nigeria Union Conference, while the North-Western Nigeria Union Mission was dissolved.31

The Western Nigeria Union Conference took off on January 1, 2014, with the following officers: Pastor Oyeleke Alabi Owolabi (president), Ezekiel Atolagbe Adeleye (secretary), and Amos Omon Ibhiedu (treasurer).32 As of 2019, these officers are still in place. At its inception, the union comprised the following entities: the Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Kwara, Lagos Atlantic, Lagos Mainland, Ogun, Osun, and Oyo Conferences; the Ondo Mission; and the Kogi Region, which were located in the Nigerian states of Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo.33

Impact of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Western Part of Nigeria

The Church has impacted the citizens of Nigeria spiritually, socially, educationally, economically, and in physical wellness through the following medical and educational institutions, owned and operated by the church in Western Nigeria Union Conference:

  • Babcock University in Ilishan Remo, Ogun State

  • Seventh-day Adventist School of Nursing, Ile Ife, Osun State

  • 11 secondary schools

  • 29 nursery/primary schools

  • Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State

  • Seventh-day Adventist Hospital, Ile Ife, Osun State

  • Three medical centers

The headquarters of the Western Nigeria Union Conference is located at 524 Ikorodu Road, Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria.34

Sources

Adeniji, Johnson A., to His Excellency, the Military Governor of the Western State, Brigadier Oluwole Rotimi, Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Ibadan, April 8, 1975.

Babalola, David O. On Becoming a Conference: The Story of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Yorubaland: 1914–2002. Ibadan, Nigeria: OSB Design, 2002.

Babalola, David O. Sweet Memories of Our Pioneers, Somolu, Lagos: Emaphine Reprographics, 2001.

“Culture of Nigeria.” Interview with Jonas Iyaji at the Nigeria Consulate. Accessed June 26, 2008. http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext/landow/post/misc/postov.html.

Dudley, Bill J. An Introduction to Nigerian Government and Politics. Hong Kong: Macmillan, 1982.

Elaigwu, J. Isawa, and Erim O. Erim, eds. Foundations of Nigerian Federalism: Pre-Colonial Antecedents, Abuja, Nigeria: National Council on Intergovernmental Relations, 1996.

Minutes of the Nigeria Union Mission Executive Committee. January 11, 1973, September 19–20, 1977, June 25, 1984, November 13, 1990. Western Nigeria Union Conference archives, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria.

Minutes of the Western Nigeria Union Conference Executive Committee, January 11–13, 2019. Action 19-006. Western Nigeria Union Conference archives, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria.

“Nigeria: History, Geography, Government, and Culture.” Accessed October 7, 2008. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107847.html.

“Nigeria People 2008.” CIA World Factbook. Accessed July 3, 2009. http://www.theodora.com/wfbcurrent/nigeria/nigeria_people.html.

North-Western Nigeria Union. Report of the 2nd Quinquennial Constituency, December 15–18, 2010.

North-Western Nigeria Union Mission. Report of the 3rd Constituency Session and the Inaugural Session of the Western Nigeria Union Conference, September 5–8, 2013.

Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. 2019 Annual Statistical Report: Advance Release of Membership Statistics by Division for 2018. http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2019A.pdf.

Olomojobi, Zac. O., to K. A. Junaid, Permanent Secretary (T), Ministry of Transportation, The Secretariat, Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja, Lagos. February 25, 2005.

Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nigeria. Report of the Seventh Re-organization Session. Adventist Secondary Technical College (ASTEC), Owerrinta, Abia State, December 1–4, 2004.

Seventh-day Adventist Church Yearbook. Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press, 2014 and 2017.

Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook. Accessed December 3, 2020.https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=13492.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Hagerstown, Maryland: Review and Herald Publishing, 1997.

Western Nigeria Union Conference. 2014–2018 Executive Reports (President). Western Nigeria Union Conference archives, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria.

Western Nigeria Union Conference. 4th Quarter 2018 Statistical Report submitted to WAD. Western Nigeria Union Conference archives, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria.

Notes

  1. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Western Nigeria Union Conference,” accessed December 3, 2020, https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=13492.

  2. Ibid.

  3. Population as of June 30, 2019 (Ibid.).

  4. David O. Babalola, On Becoming a Conference: The Story of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Yorubaland: 1914–2002 (Ibadan, Nigeria: OSB Design, 2002), 16.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Ibid., 40.

  9. Ibid.

  10. Ibid., 47.

  11. Ibid., 49.

  12. Ibid.

  13. Ibid.

  14. Ibid.

  15. Ibid.

  16. David O. Babalola, Sweet Memories of Our Pioneers (Somolu, Lagos: Emaphine Reprographics, 2001), 135, 138.

  17. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Silver Spring, Md.: Office of Archives and Statistics, 1997), 47.

  18. Zac. O. Olomojobi to K. A. Junaid, Permanent Secretary (T), Ministry of Transportation, the Secretariat, Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja, Lagos, February 25, 2005.

  19. Johnson A. Adeniji to His Excellency, the Military Governor of the Western State, Brigadier Oluwole Rotimi, Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Ibadan April 8, 1975.

  20. Minutes of the Nigeria Union Mission Executive Committee, January 11, 1973, 5.

  21. Minutes of the Nigeria Union Mission Executive Committee, September 19–20, 1977, 47.

  22. Minutes of the Nigeria Union Mission Executive Committee, June 25, 1984, 19.

  23. Minutes of the Nigeria Union Mission Executive Committee, November 13, 1990, 33.

  24. Minutes of the Nigeria Union Mission Executive Committee, January 8, 1991, 1–2.

  25. Minutes of the Nigeria Union Mission Executive Committee, December 5, 1995, 60.

  26. Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nigeria, Report of the Seventh Re-organization Session (Adventist Secondary Technical College, Owerrinta, Abia State, December 1–4, 2004), 15.

  27. Ibid., 24.

  28. Western Nigeria Union Conference, 2014–2018 Executive Reports (President), 6.

  29. North-Western Nigeria Union, Report of the 2nd Quinquennial Constituency (December 15–18, 2010), 12.

  30. Ibid.

  31. North-Western Nigeria Union Mission, Report of the 3rd Constituency Session and The Inaugural Session of the Western Nigeria Union Conference (September 5–8, 2013), 12.

  32. Ibid., 27.

  33. “Western Nigeria Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press, 2014), 458.

  34. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Western Nigeria Union Conference.”

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Adeleye, Ezekiel Atolagbe. "Western Nigeria Union Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed September 23, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3C2M.

Adeleye, Ezekiel Atolagbe. "Western Nigeria Union Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access September 23, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3C2M.

Adeleye, Ezekiel Atolagbe (2021, April 28). Western Nigeria Union Conference. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved September 23, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=3C2M.