Saturday, 7 April 2012

The WTO agreement on agriculture: its main elements and implications for Ghana.

INTRODUCTION

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established in 1995 and has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. As of January 2002, 144 countries have joined the organisation, accounting for 97 percent of world trade. The General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), the predecessor of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), succeeded largely in liberalising trade through the removal of barriers that prohibit the movement of certain commodities across borders. Until 1994 these multilateral trade rules applied predominantly to manufactured goods rather than agricultural products.

The functions of the WTO are to administer trade agreements, provide a forum for negotiations, and handle disputes that arise among member countries. The WTO aims to raise living standards, ensure full employment and increase incomes. As an integral part of the WTO Agreement, the agreement on agriculture (AoA) is meant to promote these aims.

A critical observation in the WTO agreement is the artificial maintenance of high levels of agricultural production through subsidies in the advanced countries led to the sale of agricultural surpluses on the world market at prices below their actual cost of production. This practice, known as dumping, has continued or even increased since the creation of the WTO. The ultimate consequence of dumping falls heavily on producers of similar commodities in developing countries. The poultry and rice industry in Ghana are severely choked by this practice.

Furthermore, the most powerful set of actors in favour of an Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) are the transnational commodity traders and processors. These saw in the prospect of new global rules on agriculture trade the possibility of accessing new markets, particularly in developing countries, and thus the prospect of increasing concentration of the market share they already held.
In the Uruguay Round negotiations, which led to the creation of the WTO, nations agreed in 1994 to create  among other things  multilateral trade rules for the liberalisation of agricultural goods. These rules are embodied in the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) which came into force, like the other WTO agreements, in 1995.

THE WTO AGREEMENT ON AGRICULTURE

The WTO agreement on agriculture (AoA) has three pillars; namely, market access, domestic support and export subsidies.
Market Access aims to reduce border obstacles to imports of agricultural products, such as taxes and duties – commonly known as tariffs. Furthermore, countries had to abolish restrictions on the quantity of agricultural goods entering their markets. All other barriers that were not tariffs, known as ‘non-tariff barriers’ and including health standards or packaging requirements, had to be converted into tariffs, a process known as “tariffication”. The Special Safeguard (SSG) is a tariff mechanism that provides temporary protection against sudden import surges or falls in world prices. However, only countries that underwent tariffication can apply the SSG. Many countries, particularly developing countries, did not undergo tariffication because they did not have a significant amount of non-tariff barriers.

Domestic Support is the WTO name for the subsidies given by governments to farmers for specific agricultural products, or for agricultural infrastructure and research. Developed countries are the major providers of domestic support for their farmers. The stated objective of the domestic support pillar of the AoA was to reduce the amount of money going into production of farm goods that are subsequently exported, in other words to reduce subsidies that distort the otherwise free trade of agricultural products. The amount of support is measured on the basis of an “Aggregate Measure of Support” (AMS) which is a measure that attempts to calculate all the financial factors that influence a farmer to produce a certain product.

The third pillar in the WTO agreement on agriculture export subsidies. The AoA’s approach to export subsidies is to list the export subsidies that the members of WTO have to reduce, and to ban the introduction of new subsidies. Export subsidies are considered harmful because they directly support exporters, most commonly agribusinesses or transnational commodity traders, enabling them to displace local producers; most commonly small-scale farmers in the countries to which they sell their products.

Further, subsidies in the agreement are classified into three groups depending on their trade-distorting impact and their effect on the amount of production. These are the amber box, the blue box and the green box. This classification helps determine whether or not they need to be reduced and whether action can be taken against them under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.
The amber box comprises all domestic subsidies – such as market price support which significantly distorts trade and affects the amount of production. They must be reduced, and are open to legal challenge by other WTO Members.

The blue box allows countries unlimited spending on direct payments to farmers if the payments are linked to programmes that limit the amount of production. These are open to challenge by other WTO Members, but are exempt from the obligation to be reduced.
The green box contains support that is assumed to have no effect on production. This includes payments linked to environmental programmes, pest and disease control, infrastructure development and domestic food aid. It also includes direct payments to producers if those payments are not linked to current production. Green box subsidies are not subject to the obligation to be reduced.

IMPLICATIONS OF THE AGREEMENT ON AGRICULTURE (AoA) FOR GHANA

Agriculture is the predominant economic activity in Ghana, employing about 55 percent of the workforce and producing about 45 percent of the GDP. Approximately 70 percent of the rural population depends on agricultural activities as a source of income. The subsistence agriculture sector accounts for 36 percent of agricultural GDP and employs 60 percent of the total workforce. Smallholder farmers, the majority of whom are women on family operated farms, generate about 80 percent of total agricultural production in Ghana. In 2003, 49.4 percent of the female population were employed in the agricultural sector, compared to 51.7 percent of the male population (FAO, 2003). The analysis of the effects of the agreement on agriculture would therefore be largely centred on the huge subsistence agricultural sector of Ghana.

The aims of the WTO include among other things to raise living standards, ensure full employment and increase incomes. As part of the WTO Agreement, the agreement on agriculture is meant to further these aims. Critically analysing the agreement in the context of the Ghanaian economy suggests several reasons why the agreement may not accomplish such aims for Ghana.
First of all, trade liberalization in agriculture is often detrimental to local production and consumption in Ghana. The WTO agreement on agriculture calls for an industrialised and export – oriented agriculture production. However, industrialised and export-oriented production requires access to land, water, technology, infrastructure and capital which most small-scale farmers in Ghana do not have access to or cannot afford. The average farmer in Ghana would therefore not be able to take advantage of any possible opportunities offered by trade liberalisation in agriculture. Transnational commodity traders and processors, predominantly from developed countries, have the means to invest in the production, processing, transporting and trading process giving them a massive advantage over small-scale producers elsewhere.

In addition, local farmers in Ghana suffer from competition in the form of cheap imports from more efficient and highly subsidised producers, typically agribusinesses in rich countries. No matter how they are categorized under the AoA, substantial subsidy payments are still available to farmers and agribusinesses in the developed countries. These domestic and export subsidies lead to over-production with corresponding impacts on world prices and dumping. Dumping refers to the sale of products in third markets at less than the cost of production in the exporting country

 Dumping from developed countries occurs, in part, because export subsidies bridge the gap between high domestic prices and lower world prices; and direct payments bridge the gap between higher costs of production and the lower world price. It is generally accepted that currently, practically everything exported from the USA and EU involves some level of dumping. More disheartening in the agreement on agriculture is that whiles governments in developing countries including Ghana reduce their subsidies on agriculture; the developed countries continue to heavily subsidize their agriculture. Dumping has exerted devastating effects on the poultry and rice industries in Ghana. The domestic poultry which supplied 95 percent of Ghana’s poultry requirements in 1992 only provided a dismal 11 percent by 2002, a major consequence of the WTO AoA. Unconfirmed estimates currently put the domestic poultry supply at single-digit figures. A relevant question is “why should chicken, which sells for between four pounds and five pounds in the UK, sell at 1.50 pounds in Ghana, despite freight and handling charges?” Well, the ineffectiveness of the AoA to deal drastically with the dumping syndrome offers no economic hope for the Ghanaian farmer.

The high capital costs of entry into commercial food markets and the importance of infrastructure, which is nonexistent in the more marginal areas from which people will be displaced, means most of the benefits from commercial agriculture will accrue to more prosperous producers. In fact, food trade is of interest primarily to a handful of huge agribusiness companies. Only about 20 percent of food is traded internationally. Thus, giving priority to increasing international trade is no substitute for stimulating a domestically- oriented agricultural sector. Indeed, most food is produced for local consumption (90 percent in developing countries) and only a small proportion is traded internationally, which means that a solely trade-oriented approach as purported by the AoA has little relevance for Ghana. This approach is inimical to the extent that it can increase food insecurity in the country; first, because relying on imported food displaces local production (the case for rice and poultry producers); and second, there is no guarantee that food produced for export to rich countries will be accepted by them. This is based on the fact that access to developed country markets depends on producers being able to meet specific international standards. Many Ghanaian farmers do not have the capacity to meet these standards. Moreover, developed countries demand very high level and complicated food safety, packaging and other standards as a ploy to limit imports from developing countries. Since the agreement came to operation in 1995, Ghanaian agriculture producers are yet to meet such standards in order to gain access to the European and American markets.

Further, the developed countries implement escalating tariff structure which tends to impose higher import tariffs on finished goods than raw materials and intermediate goods from the developing countries. The powers of escalating tariffs tend to frustrate our local producers with regards to the production of manufactured goods for export into such countries. The fact that Ghana’s export structure has not seen any significant change since the implementation of the AoA whiles imports are doubling lends credence to the argument that the agreement is not in favour of the country.
Notwithstanding these devastating effects of the AoA on producers and the supply side of the economy, consumers stand to make some consumption gains. Dumping comes with very low prices, especially in terms of food and clothes for the Ghanaian consumer; though the quality of such goods is usually not guaranteed.

REFERENCES
Abena Oduro (2003).  The Agriculture Negotiations Modalities: Implications for Ghana.
ActionAid, WTO Agreement on Agriculture, 2003.
Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana (2004).   The state of the Ghanaian Economy in 2003.
World Trade Organisation (2001).  Trade policy review Ghana.  Report by the Government.
www.actionaid.org.uk/index.asp?page_id=794

Why Ghana’s economy is not growing as fast as it should


Until this year when Ghana has been identified as the fastest growing economy (20.146 percent GDP growth by the Economy Watch) in the world largely due to the oil exploitation, the economy has not seen much improvement in its growth over the years. A major question that has eluded the nation and its political leaders over the years is as to why the country’s economy is not growing as fast as anticipated. This analysis assumes the production function of the economy as:
                        Y = f (N, K)
Where Y is the national output, N is the level of employment and K is the stock of capital assumed fixed in the short-run and variable in the long-run. From the production function, increase in output in the short-run would largely depend on an increase in labour productivity and also on the expansion in capital stock and technological improvement in the long-run.

In Ghana, labour productivity is very low, largely due to lack of skills and inadequate capital inputs. Skills which are very integral to labour productivity are acquired through education and training. Unfortunately, the standards of education have rather been deteriorating as the population of the country increases. More than 50 percent of basic school students are not able to enrol in Senior High Schools due to poor academic performance. So the nation annually produces school drop-outs virtually with no employable skills and training. They therefore lack the capacity to contribute meaningfully to the production process. Any country that does not develop its human resource and tap their skills for maximum productivity cannot experience much progress in its growth process.

The nation is endowed with abundant arable agricultural land which when fully exploited would culminate into the growth of the agricultural sector and ultimately growth in the economy at large. However, the vast agricultural land Ghana has been lying idle from time immemorial. Subsequent governments over the years succeeded largely by paying lip service to the cultivation of the idle land. The Accra plains irrigation project still remains in the political pipeline, pending to see the light of the day. The case is the same for all the other natural resource endowments on the nation. Even those that are exploited are in the firm grasps of expatriates who enrich their nations with gains from the exploitation. No economy under the sun would develop as expected when the bulk of its endowment of natural resources is lying idle and foreigners exploit the others to enrich their home countries.
Low level of consumption, i.e. insufficient demand is another explanation for the slow growth of the economy over the years. Income levels in Ghana are generally low. The PPP adjusted GDP per capita in 2010 was $2,200 compared to $8,288.818 for China. This means that the market for local production is very small, so the benefit from large scale production also eludes the nation. The problem is compounded by the insatiable taste for foreign goods by most Ghanaians, especially the higher income earners. This means that the meagre income generated in the country is handed over to foreign producers, leading to an increase in employment for their labour force as well as an expansion in their production sector to the detriment of domestic production.

Low level of investment cannot be excluded from the low growth equation of Ghana’s economy. Investment generates employment and promotes production that finally results in growth. The level of investment is highly dependent on the level of interest rates. Interest rates in Ghana continue to remain very high over the years, discouraging investment in production activities. The Bank of Ghana over few years now tries to avert the phenomenon by reducing the prime rate to 12.5 percent but that yielded no much success. The commercial banks still keep their lending rates between 25 and 30 percent. These high interest rates compared to profits margins from production offers no economic incentive for productive investment. Economic growth would therefore persist at its low levels since the level of production is low as a result of low levels of investments culminating from productively unfriendly high interest rates.

What can be done to boost the supply side of the economy.
The supply side of the economy consists of the level of employment and capital accumulation which invariably determine the output level of the economy. An improvement in the determinants of output would propel output growth and result in a boost in the supply side of the economy. The production function is given as:
                        Y = f (N, K), where N is the level of employment and K is the stock of capital assumed fixed.
Increase in labour productivity is very crucial in any attempt to boost the supply side of the economy. An increase in the productivity of labour would lead to high output level. The productivity of labour highly depends on the skills and health of the labour force as well as the efficiency of capital available to labour. The skills of the labour force is determined by their level education and training. Investment in human capital is therefore necessary for output growth. All over the world, the investment in human resource has been of tremendous boost to many economies like the United States, China, Singapore and others. A healthy and well-trained labour force would produce more than an unhealthy and untrained labour force. In that regard a well coordinated educational policy based on mutual consensus of all stakeholders in the educational sector should be implemented. Also, the quality of teaching should be pursued through quality teacher training and supervision. The National Health Insurance Policy and the Health Service of the country should also be invigorated to meet the health needs of the labour force. Infrastructural development, especially the expansion of the road networks in the country should be a major priority. That would reduce to a large extent, the heavy post harvest losses in the rural agricultural sector and as well minimise the number of productive hours wasted by urban dwellers in traffic daily. All these would culminate into a massive expansion in national output and subsequently boost the supply side of the economy.

Exploitation of natural resources is also paramount in the bid to boost the supply side of the economy. Every nation is endowed with unique natural resources for the survival and economic sustenance of its people. The share of Ghana in the natural resource base of the world is not insignificant. These range from a vast arable agricultural land to abundant mineral and water resources. There should a major investment in the agriculture through the granting of concessionary loans to farmers, irrigational schemes, subsidising domestic agriculture production and protecting domestic agriculture producers from dumping by foreign countries. The proposed Accra Plains Irrigation Project should be implemented on schedule to boost employment and productivity in the sector. The vast water resources should also be harnessed for irrigation, fish farming and other aqua culture agricultural practices. The exploitation of mineral resources has not been of much gain to the economy over the years. Much of the mineral resources of Ghana have been looted by sophisticated foreign exploiters since the colonial era. They exploit the minerals, make huge economic gains, and leave the devastated polluted land for our people to suffer the health and economic consequences.
A new mining law should be promulgated to ensure that the nation economically gains at least 70 percent from the mineral resources in the land. The country should also increase its stake in the jubilee oil fields in order to gain a higher command over the wealth from its oil endowment. All these would result in expansion in output and ultimately a boost in the sully side of the economy.
Investment in technology through innovation and research is paramount to output growth hence boost in the supply side of the economy.  Economic growth refers to the increasing capacity of the economy to satisfy the wants of goods and services of the members of society. It is enabled by increases in productivity through innovation and research which minimises the cost of production for a given amount of output. Lower costs would further increase the demand for commodities, leading to further expansion in production. The United States and Japan are country role models in research and development. Government therefore should invest funds in practical research work in the research and educational institutions. A special attention should be paid to research in the agricultural, engineering and the economic sectors. This is because the economic power of most of the world’s giant economies has always been an edge in technology, and Ghana in its attempt to expand its supply side output should not do less.

A very essential factor that determines the growth of an economy is its citizenry, i.e. the population. After all, an economy cannot exist without people. Since economies evolve with people, the population of an economy becomes a major determining factor for its success or otherwise. The country’s population engage actively in both the demand side (consumers) and the supply side (labour force) of the economy. Most of the world’s economic super powers like China, United States and others have very large population sizes; largely because a larger population provides a vast market and labour force for large scale production. Ghana should also aspire for growth in its population coupled with quality skills training, since an illiterate population is not economically active in terms of consumption and production.

In summary, boost in the supply side of the economy would emanate from improvement in the productivity (quality) of the labour force, economic exploitation of natural resources, investment in technology, and quantitative together with qualitative growth in the population. Exploitation of natural resources and investment in technology would shift the production function of the economy outwards, implying an increase in output at given level of employment as shown in the figure 1 below. An increase in the marginal productivity of labour and growth in the quantity as well as the quality of the population would lead to an increase in the level of employment leading to an increase in output.
                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                     16TH DECEMBER, 2011

GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE REVEALED




In the very beginning of all things, God Almighty created the heavens and the earth. He then made man in His own image and endowed him with glory and splendour. God gave man dominion to rule over all His creation. He however commanded man not to eat from a particular tree in the middle of the garden. Hmm, but through the deceit of the devil; God’s enemy, man disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden tree. Man then lose the glory, splendour and his authority over God’s entire creation.
How pitiful! Yes, so man had fallen flat to sin. From that day, sin, fear and death begin to rule over men. Sin increased so much that God regretted ever creating man. For this reason God by flood destroyed the whole world and wiped off every creature, except for Noah, his family and certain selected creatures. Well, but destroying the world by flood did not wipe sin off. Sin continued to reign as a king and men are his subjects (slaves). It is in these times that God showed mercy to Abraham.
So God chose Abraham and gave him a promise. The promise is that through Abraham’s seed, the whole world will be blessed. God raised the nation Israel from Abraham with a mighty hand. This nation went into slavery in Egypt where they were tortured; but God brought them out with mighty signs and wonders. He gave them the law and they were ruled by judges, prophets and kings, but people continue to be wicked and sinful. Everyone was weak, feeble and at the mercy of the wicked devil.
Yes, it is in all these that God revealed His eternal plan concerning mankind. This time, He sent His only Son, whom He loved to come and suffer the punishment for all the sins that men have committed. So Jesus was born in the form of man and He went about doing good, healing the sick and setting the captives free. He committed no sin, but the rulers of tne day arrested and maltreated Him. They beat Him severely, He cried so loud but no one came to save Him. So they continued till they killed Him on the cross and buried Him.

So they killed the Son of God. But He rose on the third day with power and glory. He met His disciples and promised to send them the Holy Spirit. He also promised that He will come again to take all believers to Heaven. He commanded them to preach about Him to everyone in the world. After these, He ascended to Heaven where He is sitted at right hand of God.

It is true that the promises of God are yes and amen. On the day of Pentecost, The Lord Jesus Christ poured the Holy Spirit upon the believers in Jerusalem. He produces power and authority in believers to overcome demonic powers, sin and its consequences. The Spirit of God is still in us doing great and wonderful things in the world today. He is preparing us so that we will be like Jesus when He comes. Yes, so we patiently wait for the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; who is coming to take us from this sinful world into His glorious dwelling. Are you prepared to meet Him?

You have heard it all for yourself. So the Bible reveals the divine purpose of God concerning mankind. The conclusion of the matter is that, Jesus came to save us from all our sins. He came to heal all our diseases. He came to fill us with His Spirit. He is coming again to take us to Himself in Heaven. This is our hope as Christians and anyone who has this hope in him keeps himself pure.

Pray this short prayer and Jesus would come to live in your Heart through His Spirit: Lord Jesus, I understand that you died and resurrected for my sins. At this moment i have accepted You as my Lord and personal Saviour. Forgive all my sins and come into my heart now and forever more. Amen

GRAVEN UPON TABLETS OF HEARTS


Graven upon tablets of hearts
The Words of an eternal King
Healing wounds, full of compassion
Granting beyond understanding
Wisdom beyond reality
Now are we through them
The sons of the ever living King.

Tossed at all sides on the sea of life
Yet beyond the sacred river
Where troubles know not
And aliens the hurdles of life
There love beyond expression
Awaits them that love the Lamb

LOUIS SITSOFE HODEY, JANUARY, 2012.
This is a 69-word poem from the Spirit.

ON THE SOILS OF LIFE



On the soils of life are printed
The deeds of the living and the dead.
Walking through I saw
With admiration and despair,
The footprints of Prudence and Folly.
Who through persistence
And diligence in action,
Have printed marks indelible.

Going beyond the shores
Like a journey without return,
They wondered amidst bright and pale flowers.
Knowing that destiny
Like the gathering of clouds,
Has collected enough moisture;
And the rains are inevitable.
In the bank of their thoughts
Are the reserves and the returns
Of their toil on the soils of life.

LOUIS SITSOFE HODEY, AUGUST 2011.

THE POWER OF RESURRECTION

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Phil. 3: 10).

The power of resurrection is the power of the Holy Ghost that raised Jesus from the dead. That power in us means that we no longer live for dead works of sin. It means that our bodies are counted dead and our spirits are alive unto God. It means that our spirits have gained mastery and dominion over the flesh through the working of the Holy Spirit in us. According to Romans 8: 11, “...If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who lives in you.” The power of resurrection is meant to be entrenched in our inner being. “I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” (Eph. 3: 16).

The fellowship we share in the suffering of the Lord is our identity with Him in a sinful world, where all things contradict His divine will and purpose. Obeying the rule of Christ against the dictates of the world is our suffering with him. Great men like Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego together with the other heroes and apostles of the faith exhibited beyond conviction, the fellowship of sharing in His suffering. They stood ready even to die for the name of Christ.

Becoming like Christ in His death is to crucify the flesh and its lustful desires. Jesus in His death had His body destroyed to the extent that He could not even be recognized physically. (1 Cor. 9: 27). We must subject our bodies to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit must take pre-eminence over the body. (Gal. 5:16, 24; Rom. 8:6).

At the end of our lives, we must fully pour out every virtue in us to the benefit of others. Jesus completely poured out everything in Him at His death.We as His followers must not do less.

OUR HEAVENLY CALLING



Fellow colleague and partaker in our common faith and heavenly calling; let us with one heart bless the name of our Redeemer forever. The mystery of the call to which we have responded and its mandate is very essential and much more now as the day draws closer and deceit hovers round our heads. We have been washed and justified from our former empty ways of life so that we can approach the Living God who lives in holiness. He has called us to become unto Him a peculiar people, qualified to carry out His mandate here on earth. God bless you as you journey through the Scriptures with me on this topic.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)
This is the unique call we have received as believers to inherit the Kingdom of God. That is the hope in which we stand. This is what the Scripture declares concerning those who through obedience and humility heeded to the call of the Master: “…you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the first born whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus Christ the mediator of a new covenant and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Heb. 12: 22 – 24)

The Lord is calling all men from His holy hill; but “who may ascend the holy hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart….” (Ps. 24: 3 – 4). As we respond to the call of the Lord, we are cleansed by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (2 Thes. 2: 13). He has washed us with His blood and declared us “sinless”. Therefore as those who are cleansed, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:22). Having believed the gospel of truth, we have been sealed with the Spirit of God. He draws us closer to God and keeps us in fellowship with the Lord in truth and holiness.
Indeed, the reference point of our lives is Calvary, where Christ died in order to bring us into His glorious dwelling. His precious blood still speaks on our behalf. According to Scripture, we are not bought with perishable things like silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish and defect (1 Pet. 1: 18 -19). 

Our calling into the Kingdom of God is not without a mandate. The Lord has called us to live in holiness and to reveal his manifold wisdom to the world through the manifestation of His power. The God who called us dwells in holiness, and he demands that those who come to Him also live in holiness (1 Pet. 1: 15 -16). It is an undeniable fact that the righteous requirements of God’s laws are far above human ability. No man can fulfill those requirements by his own will. For that very reason, God, who is rich in love and mercy has decided to come and live inside us through His Holy Spirit in order to fulfill the righteous requirements of His law in us. Yes, he has come to dwell in us, helping us to obey His law. This has made it possible for the Spirit-filled believer to live out God’s standards with ease. To live in holiness, we must draw closer to the cross daily and follow the voice of the Spirit. This is a worthy admonishing: “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Cor. 7: 1).

The mandate of our call is not limited to the call to holiness, but extends to exercising spiritual authority granted us by the Holy Spirit. We are called to reveal the virtues and the power of God to the entire universe. We have come to a triumphant King. The Bible records this about Him, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Col. 2:15). We share in this victory won by Christ on the cross. We also possess the authority to wage war against the spiritual forces of evil and overcome (2 Cor. 10: 3-5). This mandate to display the supremacy of Christ comes from the throne room of God, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Majesty, highly exalted and crowned “King of kings and Lord of lords.” The whole world is under bondage, and many are held captive to sin and desperation. Indeed, many eyes are blinded; many hearts are broken. They are crying for deliverance. We must wage war for their liberty.
We can flourish in the exercise of spiritual authority through a steadfast fellowship with the Spirit in fasting and prayers, and in daily devotion to the study of God’s word. The Lord has left a lasting example for us in that regard. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1: 35). In these days, the devil is obstructing many believers from engaging in fasting and prayers, as well as fervent fellowship with the Word. His ultimate purpose is to render believers powerless and weaken the Christian front. May the body of Christ stand to the task and resist him at all cost. Let us all watch and pray, as the Lord admonishes, so that we do not fall into temptation.

As we come to Christ, He gracefully anoints us with His Holy Spirit for a divine mandate to reach out to the world. This has been the mission statement:  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and a recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4: 18-19). The Lord has made a covenant declaration regarding those He has called saying; “I the Lord have called you into righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and make you a covenant for the people and a light for the gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon, those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42: 6-7). This is an urgent call. The enemy is desperately winning the world to himself through music, delusion and other deceitful schemes. Our Master is looking for vessels to inhabit in order to reveal His glory to this wretched dying world. Will you respond to him today? Are you on the Lord’s side? Blessed is the one who responds to this clarion call! Join the army of the Lord and let’s win the hearts of men for Him. He is coming soon with His reward for all who are labouring for Him. Let us hoist the flag of victory. May we never watch His royal banner suffer lost. Victory, oh great victory awaits the army of the Lord!

May the Spirit of the Living God anoint you with power to carry out the mandate of your call, so that after you have done all things, you would inherit what has been promised. Remember your call is an eternal call; yes a call to glory. Grace and peace be with you. Amen.

LOUIS SITSOFE HODEY