“First Stake in Western Africa Formed,” Ensign, Aug. 1988, 76
The Aba Nigeria Stake was formed May 15, becoming the Church’s first stake in western Africa.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve presided over the conference held to create the new stake. He was assisted by Elder Robert E. Sackley of the First Quorum of the Seventy, president of the Nigeria Lagos Mission since 1986.
“On this day, for this nation, there now comes more of the gospel’s fulness,” Elder Maxwell said. He spoke of the Lord’s timing and planning, and quoted Alma 29:8: “The Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have.”
The new African stake was created only a few weeks before the tenth anniversary of the 8 June 1978 revelation that made it possible for all worthy LDS males to be ordained to the priesthood. (See OD—2.)
Elder Maxwell recalled being present in the Salt Lake Temple on that historic day “when all the General Authorities gathered to sustain the revelation and decision from President Spencer W. Kimball.
“I wept with joy that day,” he said. “The handkerchief I wiped my tears with I took home and told my wife not to wash. I put it in my book of remembrance, still bearing the marks of my tears of joy.
“On this Sunday, I have a second handkerchief that has wiped more tears of joy,” Elder Maxwell told the congregation. “I will take it home and place it in my book of remembrance next to the other handkerchief.”
Elder Sackley spoke of his great love for the people of Nigeria. He said that the greatest goal of a mission president is to see a stake formed where there had previously been a mission district.
More than 1,000 members attended the Aba conference to sustain David W. Eka as president of the new stake, Ephraim S. Etete as first counselor, and Lazarus Onitchi as second counselor. Reuben Onuoha was sustained as stake patriarch.
The Aba Nigeria Stake has six wards and three branches. The stake’s 2,300 members include approximately 300 Melchizedek Priesthood holders. The first Church members in Aba were baptized in January 1981, and the Aba District was formed on 14 May 1984.
On July 1, the Nigeria Lagos Mission will be divided and the Nigeria Aba Mission, with Arthur William Elrey as president, will be created.