Apostle Hayford Ikponmwonsa Alile, 72 , hails from the Ogbedoyo family which gave birth to Alile and the Obasekis in Benin Kingdom.
He is the Spiritual Leader of St. Joseph’s Chosen Church of God (International), the Church he has been overseeing for 21 years. Before his apostleship, he served in many capacities in Nigeria including Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN as well as international communities.
He is our ICON in this edition of Past Perfect. He takes us round his life as well as his passion to serve God. Enjoy
My background in Rutgers Graduate School of Management contributed to my success story. Our success story was annouced to the Federal Government of America. And we got what was called Presidential Mention Award.
After a while, I was invited to work as consultant at Centre for Management Development which was established to do a similar work to what I did at New Jersey. The work was between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the UNDP. It was an interesting endeavour.
The task was a tough one because I had to train some so-called captians on the job. My duty was to train people to be independent and not depending on the expatriate companies.
So, it was a tough assignment and just about that time, the issue of indigenization of Nigerian businesses came up and about 90 percent of successful businesses in Nigeria were owned by foreigners.
At that time, Obasanjo’s regime made it easy for us to have indigenous companies owned by Nigerians. A law, known as the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decree was established and the Nigerian Enterprises were divided into three categories.
The first category provided for Nigerians to own 100 percent equity. Category B allowed 60 percent of the equity of the capital to be controlled by Nigerians while the foreigners held on to 40 percent and category C allowed 40 percent to be sold to Nigerians while foreigners controlled 60 percent.
So, our duty was to excite Nigerians to acquire some of these companies. And the tools we were using were training and workshop for Nigerians enterprenuers and some of the brochures were printed in Yoruba, English, Hausa and Igbo. The programme was spread across the country.
We also set up an Association of Management Consultants as well as Institute of Individual Consultants which became my responsibility. All these efforts were to compete with the foreign investors.
We were given assignments to recruit and train young graduates for a year so as to become change agents. The centre ran for three years but unfortunately, Nigerian bureaucracy destroyed it.
I also trained some Nigerian Bankers but the Manchester Business School hijacked the programme in order to train other Africans. If only we had continued that programme, Nigeria would have been a better country.
I was called to the Lagos Stock Exchange as a change agent by Late Chief Samuel Asabia. He interviewed me and after five minutes, he said, “You are the man we have been looking for”.
And that was how I became Executive Director of the then Lagos Stock Exchange in 1978. It became an interesting firm for Nigerians and the name was changed to Nigerian Stock Exchange. Many companies were listed on that platform but they were owned by foreigners. So, it became imperative to have what is second tier market.
The listing requirement for the companies to be on that platform was not stringent compared to what was obtainable on the NSE. And so, about 34 Nigerian small companies were listed on the second tier securities market where they have access to equity fund for expansion and modernisation. Eight of those companies became very successful and graduated to the first tier market.
Another challenge was that the NSE was not digitalised and so, it was very difficult to operate. As well, lack of finances disrupted the system. But we were determined not to allow Nigerian bureaucracy kill our dreams. We had what was called Automated Trading System which was used to fast-track trade.
We also set up the Central Securities Clearing System, CSCS, which caused a rapid change. We were also determined to minimize corruption and make the market as transparent as possible.
In addition to the CSCS, there was Data Management Centre, DMC, which means data can be digitalised, stored and retrievable at anytime.
That centre is the biggest in West Africa. It was used to gather data from any part of Africa. And in case of fire incident, there is something called back-ups both in Nigeria and outside the country.
I was in the NSE for 24 years. I left the Stock Exchange in 1999 and one of the things that appealed to me was to be a servant of God. My parents were attending a church called St. Joseph Chosen Church of God.
I started my education at Ahmaydiya school where I was taught some Arabic doctrines after which I crossed to Holy Cross Primary in Benin City and there, I hooked on to the Catholic faith.
Out of 34 students, I was the second to the smallest in the school. But, I was given responsibilities and there was no a time that I got second position in the class throughout my stay in school except the time I had yellow fever and I took the third position.
After our final examination, I was retained to teach at the school. When the results were released, I was the fifth in the nation. In those days, best first ten students were given State Scholarship and I was enlisted.
As a young man, the first challenge I had was when my mother took ill for 10 years. She was bedridden for two years and so, the children were bathing her on the bed. We ran out of money for medical services.
My father didn’t have money to pay my school fees. I sat for Common Entrance twice and I passed but there was no money to go to school. My mother then advised my father to allow me go to school. So, he borrowed money and used his three years salaries as collateral. Later, I went to Loyola College.
The most painful experience of my life was when my father couldn’t pay my school fees and I was unable to graduate with my mates. Everything I became in life was prophesied to me in the church in 1956 and the prophesy came 21 years after. And so, I am an instrument of God.
My father sold his Rubber and Cocoa Plantation to native doctors but there was nothing positive. But a man of God who was also the founder of St. Joseph Chosen Church in Sapele prayed for my mother and she was healed. That miracle converted my parents to the church. And my mother became a prophetess.
We were in Benin City but the pastor was somewhere in Sapele. He told us how God revealed to a vision of a dying woman in Benin City. He mentioned her name as Hannah and that was my mother’s name.
The pastor rode on a bicycle on a distance of 41 kilometres. He prayed and about 6pm, my mother was healed.
After my undergraduate studies, I became an elder in the church. But I was ordained as an Apostle in 1991. The church came in existence in 1947. Today, it has about 160 branches including seven in Italy, two in the United States, one in South Africa, Liberia and two in France. It consists of family of Christians who believe in divine healing.
My eight children were gave birth to in the church maternity without any medication. And I have been living for 54 years without using any medication. My parents were very poor but they survived.
I met my wife first at the University of Ibadan. But, when it was time for us to get married, the prophesy came and everything went as it was foretold. My mother also prophesied the number of children I was going to have.
She said, the first five children would be girls and the sixth child would be a boy and other two more. And it came to pass. It was after we had the eighth child that I remembered the prophesy.