THE eighth indigenous General Secretary of the Bible Society of Nigeria (BSN), Rev. Dare Ajiboye, in this interview with OLAYINLA LATONA, recounts his experience at the Society founded on February 8, 1966 through the pioneering efforts of late Dr. Francis Ezeogo Akanu Ibiam, the first indigenous Governor of the defunct Eastern Region. Before 1966, According to him, the Society was under the supervision of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) which had operated in Nigeria as far back as 1807 and the Bible House in Apapa served as a distribution centre to other neighbouring West African countries. “Since then, we have been translating the word of God into several Nigerian languages. We have translated it into 24 Nigerian languages and we are trusting God to add the 25th one this year. We distribute not less than 300,000 copies of the Bible in a year,” he said, stressing that BSN has been in the vanguard of securing Nigerian culture and languages through its activities. He also spoke on some national issues. Excerpts…
Qualities of BSN general secretary
To head an organization like BSN, one needs the help of Holy Spirit. One needs to be rooted in the word of God, in addition to the ability to manage business. One must also know how to balance discipline with the word of God. As general secretary of BSN, one must have sound leadership competent which means one must be sound in both spiritual and professional knowledge, vast in leadership, interpersonal and social skills. Attitude to money, women, luxury, and home must be impeccable because one have to be good examples to homes.
My past leadership experience only help me because they are not as challenging as the present position. I have to think about how to pay the salaries of over 200 staffs with the meager resources that we have and also motivate them. Marrying spiritual with business is not an easy task.
Challenge as BSN boss
Funding is my greatest challenge, followed by piracy. If I have fund, I will wipe out piracy because I will render them irrelevant.
How will you do that?
Once the fund is available, I can afford to sell a Bible at an extremely cheaper price which the pirates cannot cope with. If I have funding from churches and individuals, I can even give out the Bibles free of charge and there will not be room for marketers to pirate the Bible because the market will not be there for them. The company still exists because we are not out for profit making.
Other businesses of BSN
We have a guest house for retreat and recreation. Christians visit the guest house because we do not allow immorality and it is not expensive even though the quality is high. It is also meant for the use of our executives to reduce unnecessary expenses for hotels when we have meetings.
We do not have our own printing press because we do not have the fund. Last year I have to travel to China to inquire about the cost acquiring a small machine that can print two million copies of Bibles in a year and the cost is put at over N2.9 billion.
Role of BSN in nation building
Nigeria is one of the poorest countries in the world. If Nigerians cannot enjoy basic amenities in accordance with United Nations standards, then there is no development. If you look at our country critically, we cannot say there is development. In our little way, we are contributing to securing our culture. Somebody said the death of a language is a death of a culture. Most languages are dead today because they were not documented and when the younger generations come they have nothing to refer to. BSN has successfully translated the bible into 24 Nigerian languages and published them. We are working on other languages. By so doing, we are securing these languages and the culture of our country.
In translating and publishing Bibles, we employ over 200 personnel who we pay salaries. We help such employees to earn income which will in turn help the growth of our economy. We have welfare packages for our staff and encourage them to build their own houses through our co-oporative scheme. We also contribute to their educational growth. By so doing, we are contributing to the gross domestic product of our country.
Plans and projections for 2016
By the grace of God, we are coming out with another Bible this year. We are also trusting God for the official dedication of our regional office in Ibadan, housing a modern translation center, a very big warehouse and an accommodation centre.
What do you think is responsible for high rate of corruption despite the fact that Nigeria is very religious country?
Being called Gabriel, James, Matthew does not make one a Christian. What makes one a Christian is an encounter with Christ. If you check the lives of our politicians what do you find? That a politician can mindlessly kill his opponent during primary election. The Bible makes us to understand that in the last days, perilous times shall abound, people will be lovers of themselves. Those stealing money are doing it for self aggrandizement and their families. It is not strange seeing Christians looting treasuries. But without the churches, the situation could have been worse.
Are you worried over prophecies that never come to pass?
I am deeply concerned because some preachers are out to serve their own bellies. By such terrifying prophecies, they know that some gullible politicians will run to them for prayers to avert such calamities. When nothing happens, such politicians will believe that God has answered the prophetic prayers and will readily come with thanksgiving envelopes. Nigerians should study these prophecies and any prophecy that is not inline with the word of God should not be regarded. How will a prophet say; ‘Nigeria will perish’ and he did not give a solution. God is not that wicked. God will not give a prophecy without putting a clause which is always the way of escape.
Advice to church leaders and Nigerians
Leadership is very important. Our religious leaders should not soil their hands in corrupt acts. They should show good examples to their followers, just like Jesus Christ did. If a member whose salary is not more than N1 million a month brings a tithe of N5 million in a month, his pastor should ask questions. Religious leaders should be alive to their responsibilities, and live their lives in accordance with biblical standards.
Are you afraid to pastor a church?
God has not called me. If He calls me, I don’t have a choice than to obey. Pastoring a church or being a general overseer is challenging. You must be accountable to every of your member. God will ask you questions about those whom you pastor.
BSN 50th anniversary
We are celebrating the goodness of God, as an organization that has passed through so many generations and in an environment like ours in Nigeria. It is not a joke. For an organization that depends on donations…it was not easy. The grace of God has sustained us and that is why we have to celebrate the goodness and mercy of God.