By SAM EYOBOKA
BISHOP Taiwo Akinola is the President/founding pastor-general of Rhema Christian Church & Tower International, with headquarters in Otta, Ogun State, Nigeria and branches worldwide. The bishop who turned 54 on Friday, got born-again and found a new life in Christ on April 4, 1977 and has since been engaging grace to make full proof of his ministry to the greater glory of God.
An authoritative bible teacher, Bishop Akinola has authored many inspiring titles in Christian literature, some of which have become recommended texts in some Bible Schools in Nigeria and parts of Europe. In this interview, he spoke on insecurity in the country and more. Excerpts:
Sir, do you agree that some of the societal decays are also prevalent in the Nigerian Church?
Let it be said loudly, there are people committed to God, and devoted to the ideals of the Bible in this country, but it’s very unfortunate that some of these loud mouthed people who are contractors who appear to be louder than those who are genuine. It’s not perculiar to Nigerian churches. Its everywhere in the world. And it’s not perculiar to church either. It’s applicable to everything human and the Body of Christ is a human organization.
Will you say that the Church has responded adequately to the nation’s security situation?
Unless we are calling for anarchy, the only thing expected from the church will be prayers. We can’t be carrying cutlasses and cudgels. What else do we do? There’s no day you don’t read about one church leader saying something against the security situation or the other. Like every service in this church, we pray for security situation.
The people that are constitutionally saddled with the responsibility for keeping the peace and maintaining harmony in the land, is the government. They should be the ones to do more. Anything to the contrary will amount to calling for anarchy. If every Nigerian becomes a carrier of guns and cutlasses and whatever, that will no longer be the Nigeria of our prayer.
When the government appears not to be responding to protect churches and Christians in the North, what is the Church supposed to do?
Generally, you don’t open your eyes and allow everything to enter. You do everything you can to block them. We cannot now arm our members saying when they hear gunshots, they should begin to shoot. May it never come to that in Jesus name. Its only when people are pushed to the wall that they are obligated to defend themselves.
Self defence is part of the law of life. Why do you run away from rail line when the train is coming? It’s to defend not only your limbs, but also the integrity of your devotion. They say when you pursue a goat to the wall, it turns back to attack. It has never gotten to that and I pray it will never get to that.
But we expect the government to do what a government should do. Somebody will say why don’t you cast out the demons behind Boko Haram? It is much more than that. A human spirit is involved, it’s not just demon. So the people are strong willed, strong headed, rebellious people. I believe with faith that there’s nothing God cannot do.
Do you also agree that what is happening is a religious war?
I don’t agree. Incidentally, the hierarchy of Islamic clerics are not in support of these people. I have heard the Sultan of Sokoto speaking against them loudly. I believe. It’s better to believe it’s not a religious war because a religious war is not a war that can be won easily.
Of course the people are evil minded but I think they also want to drag Nigeria into a religious war. Look at it again, are they not killing themselves? We have seen occasions when they attempted to bomb some mosques. Whatever it is, it is not crystal clear. I would rather think that it is more political than religious.
What should Southern Christians do to support their counterparts in the north who are constantly target of the violence?
Again, prayer support. And also a kind of moral boosting. They should know that we are feeling what they are feeling. Those of us who know people there, let’s call them and encourage them. We can encourage them, we can pray for them, we can show that we identify with their plight, but nothing more.
We can’t raise an army to go and join them otherwise it becomes a free-for-all and we lose all in that bid. I am yet to see a country that goes to a religious war and comes out unscathed. So we should be patient, believing God. This thing cannot continue. One way or the other, God will use one thing or the other, either explosion or implosion to end the siege. God said the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
In one breadth you want Christians to be patient and at another you said President Goodluck Jonathan should bare his teeth…?
(Laughs)… Well, I am saying the country should be patient in the sense that we cannot afford to go to war because we will all be the losers. They say a war does not ever have a joyous offspring. Nigerian public should be patient; but the government should show that it is stronger in will, in determination. That’s part of the orientation I’m talking about.
Sometimes I don’t know what we expect government to do; should we say Jonathan should be the one to carry a gun? No! He can mobilize, as the commander in chief. So patience for the populace, baring of teeth for the government. Israel will not accommodate it like that.
America, considered to be the father of democracy, will not take it either. They will surround them up and flush them out. We may have to develop our intelligence system or whatever, put all the things that needs to be put in place, for our security operatives to work effectively. We must get the job done, but not by anarchy, because there’s no where we will run to.
What’s your assessment of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in the last two years?
Sincerely, he has tried to do one thing he said he would do; that is what they call rule of law. People see him as a weakling. Even the international media portray him as a weakling. Having acknowledged that himself, he should let his detractors know that he knows who he is.
Like I said, a commander in chief is not an honorary award. It’s a position of honour and dignity which comes with all latent power to enforce not only rule of law but ensure peace in the country. He needs to wear a bolder outlook, be more decisive, take proactive actions to ensure security. Everybody gives it to him, he has done some more about rule of law, but he needs to show more strength.
He had employed Dr. Doyin Okupe obviously to tackle his critics and Okupe had began to do a great work though people are calling for his sack. Just because they feel that Okupe is speaking some facts to defend the government. I believe that people should not just criticize without offering alternatives or solutions. When something is good, you say it’s good; but in Nigeria, anything that rises up, must be brought down just because you are in the opposition.
Is there a future for this country?
Oh, a glorious future. In no time, the evils we are seeing will clear off. God will intervene because I am certain God loves this country. No country prays like Nigeria. China doesn’t pray, and things are not working. Let’s not forget, when a people pray God will intervene. Israelites were in Egypt for 430 years, but when God bailed them out, it was very very clear. Their salaries of 430 years was paid to them in one day.
I believe Nigeria will be one of the nations that will be a standard of joy. I believe very strongly that people will be hustling for Nigerian visa. I know God will need just one man who is pragmatic enough, who is focused, who will not give a damn, who will just do what is right no matter what the opposition’s cry. The opposition that is crying, they want to be there. When they get there, they will probably do worse.