Pastor Itua Ighodalo is the Senior Pastor of Lagos-based Trinity House, and an accomplished chartered accountant working as a managing partner in SIAO, an accounting, auditing, and financial advisory firm. In this chat with Ebele Orakpo, he speaks on the Church’s annual Honour Nigeria Awards programme scheduled for October 6, 2013. Alluding to the Bible passage that says that three-fold cord is not easily broken, he says the Church must unite for more impact on society, adding that Trinity House has various programmes aimed at putting Church at the forefront of society. Excerpts:
What is Honour Nigeria all about?
Honour Nigeria is a programme we have once a year, usually around Nigeria’s independence time because it is part of our social responsibility efforts as the body of Christ. One of the things that we like to do in Trinity House is to bring the Church into the relevant aspects of society that it should be part of.
A lot of people think that Church and society, Church and politics or Church and leadership should be separate.
Spiritually, there can be some kind of separation of duties and attitudes and whatever, but physically, there should be interaction and association. Church is part of society and society is part of Church and Church has a distinct role to play as a moral beacon, an ethical voice, as the direction of society. So the Church must make sure it plays that role.
Could you tell us more about the Church’s other programmes?
We have come up with various programmes in Trinity House to put Church at the forefront of society.
One, we have 14 related non-government organisations (NGOs) that deal with various aspects of society. One of the NGOs takes care of the deaf, another looks at the blind, one takes care of motherless babies’ homes, one takes care of street girls and prostitutes and some take care of the weak in society. We have scholarships for indigent students and we have teacher training programmes.
Two, we have what we call a Community Impact Group where we take segments of society, look at the challenges of that segment and see how we can proffer solutions. For instance, we can take a geographical area like Ibeju-Lekki in Lagos, we do a poll/survey of the people to see what the problems are. They could be roads, water, clinics etc.
We try and provide solutions to those problems. Then we have our leadership training for leaders in society – spiritual, economic and political leaders. We call it Trinity Nigeria where we try to educate our people as to the importance of getting involved in politics and leadership, in governance and transformation, the various strategies that we need in order to have a better Nigeria.
Then we have Honour Nigeria which is like a service, praying for Nigeria, recognising Nigeria as a geographical content/political entity and then recognising a few people in society that have contributed over the years, hopefully with an unblemished record, to the wellbeing of Nigeria; to lift them up as signs, as mentors, as ethical standards and as people that the younger people can look up to because they have done outstanding things in the society.
Who and who are billed to receive the award?
This year, we are honouring about three people. One of them is Professor Grace Alele-Williams, the first woman vice-chancellor in Nigeria, for her great contribution to education, her sense of leadership, sense of duty and her fighting spirit. We are giving her the Women’s Leadership/Female role model award. In the past, we had given that award to Chief (Mrs) Opral Benson and Chief (Mrs) H.I.D Awolowo.
Segun Osoba. He was also the first Nigerian director of the Central Bank of Nigeria. So one of the things we try to do is to look for Nigerians who you don’t hear their names but who have contributed greatly to the development of Nigeria. People like Taiwo Akinkunmi who designed our national flag, the founder of Hearts of Gold Children’s Hospice, some heroes in sports etc.
All these people deserve recognition. Two years ago, we honoured a man called Muftau, who, although crippled, has done so much working with Lagos State Government in traffic control. Again, there is a man like that this year that we are going to honour but I will not disclose his name at this point in time. It will be a surprise.
What is the way forward for Nigeria?
As I said, the Church must be the moral conscience of the nation. The hand of the prophet is always on top. We must be able to challenge leadership and speak what I call Truth to leadership. We are not fighting, we are not being rebellious but we are just telling our leaders there is right and there is wrong, according to the word of God, ‘Thus says the Lord.’ We don’t hear such voices anymore.
So these are the things we are trying to bring back to society. We consider ourselves to be inter-denominational or non-denominational so that every aspect of Christianity is welcome to come and preach. We preach the five-fold gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are convinced that Nigeria has a great future, that Nigeria is one of the best countries in the world; that Nigeria has tremendous potential and that if Nigerians can shun evil, greed, and selfishness and put nation and others above themselves, this country will be transformed.
The problem with Nigeria is greed, evil, corruption and selfishness and if we can remove those things, enlighten our people and then have leadership that thinks beyond itself, that thinks for the people, then Nigeria will be transformed.