Nigeria is founded by God, INEC must conduct free, fair and credible polls, or else
WE were ushered into the sitting room of one of the most influential individuals in the world at about 11.45
a.m. on Friday for a 12.00 noon appointment. Knowing that the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye is very time conscious, we sat down hoping to relax for about 15 minutes, but four minutes later he strolled into the room throwing the delegation lead by Vanguard Editor, Mr. Mideno Bayagbon for that Thank-You Visit in a momentary confusion.
When we recovered, Daddy G.O., dressed in a butter coloured trouser with a white T-shirt an ox-blood cap, bearing the theme of the Holy Ghost Congress, ALL WILL BE WELL was seated and was thanking members of the Vanguard Media Limited instead. The visit which lasted about 32 minutes revealed to the six-member delegation that the highly respected cleric, enjoys some good jokes when not on the pulpit. He granted our Religious Affairs Editor, SAM EYOBOKA, an interview; not without a rib cracker like; “You are free to ask and I am free to refuse to answer.” Excerpts from the conversation.
Love for Vanguard
I want to really thank God for Vanguard News-papers. I am always very careful about what I say because I know that quite a lot of persons are listen-ing; if nobody else those who are my members are listening. And by the grace of God we have quite a few of them and I am sure since they heard that Vanguard is the first newspaper I read before I read others, quite a few people now will be saying there must be something in that newspaper if I read it.
The reason is that they know that there are some newspapers that I don’t touch at all, because I have seen them falsify reports. For example, one newspaper which I won’t mention, took a picture of an old Jeep—if you remember those days when they write WL for registration of vehicles bought in Ilesha in old Western Region—they coloured it up and made it look like new and said this is Pastor Adeboye’s vehicle. It would take somebody who would look at the registration number and say; ‘Ah! Ah!! A car of the days of Western Region cannot be this new.’
But then, when they asked me to say something, I said no; let’s just ignore this thing and continue with the work we are doing.
But I have found Vanguard surprisingly consistent in reporting the truth, at least, as much as possible. So, I read Vanguard; the first one I pick when I want to read newspapers. After that I pick two others and like I said I don’t want to mention their names. (General Laughter) I will gladly want our relationship to continue. If there is anything I could do for Vanguard, no matter how little, I will be more than willing to do it.
I thank God for Vanguard and I can assure you, I will keep on praying for Vanguard, and I believe that very soon the whole country will know that the hand of God is upon this newspaper. Thank you very much and give my love to the Elder Statesman, Mr. Sam Amuka, the publisher. Tell him that the man who sat next to me during the service would likely end up as a pastor (General Laughter). I am sure he will be delighted to hear that one.
I know that once in a while you hear from God. There thousands of Nigerians who are worried about the outcome of next year’s election, given recent happenings in the country. What is the mind of God concerning this nation especially as we prepare for a very crucial election?
I must say that I don’t know all the details yet. So, I can’t speak categorically about the elections. All I know now generally is that all will be well. That much I know for now. The full details concerning next year’s elections, I don’t know yet.
I thank God that the theme of this year’s Congress is ‘All will be well’. But there were some predictions recently in the Western world, saying that Nigeria may disintegrate before 2015…
Nigeria is a country founded by God. I know that one for sure because October 1, is a very special day in the calendar of God. October 1, history of the Jewish religion from where the Bible took its root tells us, is when we have the Feast of Trumpets. And at the Feast of Trumpets, many Bible scholars believe, that most likely—nobody is certain—the very time when Christ will return.
So there is a very significant importance attached to October 1. Our people, the nationalists who fought for the nation’s independence did not know what they were doing when they selected October 1, as the day of independence. There was no earthly reason why they should have chosen October 1; but you see nothing happens except God allows it. So, God chose that day for Nigeria and that is why I am confident, without any doubt that this is a country in which God Himself is highly interested. Such a country cannot just vanish from the surface of the earth.
Are you satisfied at the progress Nigeria has made since independence?
(Chuckles) Have we made any progress? Not to talk of how much progress…the other day I was telling my children of what happened when I first came to Lagos to do my Masters at the University of Lagos. I was talking of a time when you will finish praying at Ebute Metta at 2.00 a.m. and then drive to Surulere where I was living and you see people walking about in the streets, beer parlours open with people sitting out there, drinking their beer, singing and dancing…
I told them of a time when if thieves want to check whether you are asleep or not, they would knock at your door and if you say who’s there, they would run away. They couldn’t believe that. They asked if there was a time that when Nigeria was like that and I said yes. I told them of a time when they said you cannot travel abroad with more than N500 as BTA and I went to America and I changed that amount and I got $800.
They couldn’t believe that; but there was a time when one pound sterling was equivalent N1.20. They couldn’t believe that those were there. When you look at that time compared to now…God have mercy on us…when one naira that used to be $1.8 is now selling for….God have mercy on us.
Where did we get it wrong?
I think the problem we had was the issue of discipline. We lack discipline. The leaders, for lack of discipline, allowed certain things to go wrong. They brought in the army who said they wanted to correct things, believing that they have the discipline necessary but the army tasted power and they found that it is easier to get rich as a politician than being a soldier. And things began to degene-rate.
You were reported to have declared war on the twin evil of kidnapping and hostage taking by seeking to organize a one million-man march against the menace. What will you say, Sir, is the progress of that initiative?
At a point, kidnappers were practically taking over our country and we can’t fold our hands and allow that. If you cannot send your children to school because you are not sure they will not be kidnapped on the way. What kind of country would that be? But I thank God that the petition is producing result. There have been positive reactions to…I mean the JTF suddenly woke up; because we sent the petition to all governors in addition to the president. I am happy for the reactions we are getting thus far. I am praying that it will continue.
What do you say to Nigerians as we prepare for the elections?
I have said that before and I am going to say again during the Con-gress, because some-body said you cannot complain about some-thing you permit. If we do not vote and then somebody comes to power because we did not vote, we have no right to complain that this fellow is in power. Because the question will be; where were you when he was being elected. Not only must we register, not only must we vote; we must defend our vote. We must let INEC know in advance that this time around; if anything goes wrong; if the election is not well handled, we will react. I am talking about the Church, at least, but I know that there are a few people outside the Church who will support our reaction.
What is your dream for Nigeria?
My dream for Nigeria is based on what I think God has revealed to me that one day the whole world would know that God is a Nigerian. That wherever you go and they know that you are a Nigerian people would want to come and touch you, because they believe that by touching you they receive a miracle.
What’s your message to Nigerian politicians?
I think the politicians should know that they are approaching a year of destiny. They must not take Nigerians for granted in the year that is coming, because the people are not going to allow themselves to be trampled on in defeat by a few people. So, they should approach the year carefully and with the fear of God.
There are so many churches in the country and yet high profile crime has not abated….
First of all, let us thank the churches in Nigeria. There are people who are praying for Nigeria. Let us thank God, because if there are no people praying for Nigeria and God is not answering, there will be no Nigeria now; because there are several things we have gone through that are far far worse than what happened in Rwanda, and some other places and we came out of it, with very little wounds.
We have wound, but very little wounds. Many churches in Nigeria, yes, but not much impact because when corruption was entrenched in high places, the people down here felt, well, you better get whatever you can get whichever way you can…unfortunately some people felt that the best way to wealth must be through the establish-ment of churches. So, you find that somebody who should be a Sunday School teacher breaking away and becoming a general overseer.
But like I said and as I have always told people; every time you see counterfeit, it means there must be an original somewhere. You will never find N2,000 note because there is no original. So, while there many counterfeit church-es, you will still find a few original ones that are determined to lead peo-ple in the way of righteousness, holiness, and would want to point people to God. You will always find some.
There are people in the Redeemed Christian Church of God who are supposed to be Sunday School teacher but are area pastors and zonal pastors…
I think you are judging the Redeemed Christian Church of God too harsh-ly. Every organization that is growing rapidly has growth problems. A child doesn’t feel serious pains until it is about to develop teeth. Maybe minor pains during circumstition and after that life goes on smooth-ly, but when growth gets to a stage where he has to produce teeth, then there must be some very serious pains—headache and so forth.
When you consider the number of pastors in the Redeemed Christian Church of God today and you consider the number of bad eggs that are in and you find the percentage, you will still thank God for the church. Like I said before, if Jesus Christ, our Lord prayed all night, selected 12 disciples and out of the number there is one Judas Iscariot that means ratio of one to six.
And you consider the RCCG with more than 100,000 ministers, God have been very helpful to us. I admit that we are not perfect, but we are not stopping, we are grow-ing, we are working and things will keep on improving. Talking about some people who become area pastors and so on, I remember that during the Nigerian Civil War, when a captain dies his comm-ander would immediately pick on any fellow and say; you are captain, lead on.
They call it field rank. When the war is over, the commander will bring that fellow back and give the necessary training that will qualify him to be a captain. Once they give him that field rank, they won’t want to withdraw it. They would allow him to learn on the job. If we are to wait until every-body is qualified before we give them assign-ment, I think our growth will be stunted.
What is the goal of the Redeemed Church of God?
Our number one goal is to make it to Heaven. Number two is to take as many people with us possible. Those are the two major ones. The rest are the supporting ones.
What are your expecta-tions for Nigerians and other nationals who will attend this year’s Holy Ghost Congress?
Oh! I think I can tell you categorically that this is the going to be the greatest congress we have had thus far. Again, I don’t know all the details because the Holy Spirit moves whichever directions He wants to move, but I think this is one Congress nobody wants to forget. I know that one for sure.