Ban of open grazing still a wish until constitution ratifies it-cleric
For 20 years, Pastor Adesoji Ajayi has served as the President of the Christ Apostolic Mission Church (CAMC). In this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL, he relayed the journey so far; the challenges, the victories and the future of the mission. The cleric talked on national issues as well including restructuring, constitutional reforms among others. Excerpts:
You have been president of the church for 20 years, how has the journey been leading this great congregation?
It has been progressing. Once God is with you, you will succeed in spite of all the problems here and there; political and economic turbulence. The church is waxing stronger. Last year in particular we felt we won’t have anything to celebrate, but it turned out to be one of the best years of the church. Once God is beside you, failure is not an option. He said gather my people, I want to make a covenant of prosperity with them. To the glory of God, the covenant thing has been fully manifested in the life of the members and that is the cause to thank God for. We have many other branches. If we had wanted to establish mushroom branches, we would have had over a thousand parishes but what we do is to have parishes that can be seen to be modern parishes. That is what we have been doing in the past twenty years.
What can you say are the challenges?
We do not run after the things of the world, when we know that satan is watching, we would not allow the whiles of the devil to catch up with us. We have the challenges of poverty, of how do we do it among the members. Frankly speaking the church is endemic with poor people, that was how we met it but thank God we are overcoming the challenges. And with regard to the future we rely on God and we have always been having successful stories and God is our banner. God gets all the glory. Even during the COVID-19 last year, the church was growing, we didn’t encounter difficulty in any of our parishes, the church kept growing, though we couldn’t open for over a year; March 2000 to about August, yet we are waxing stronger, we give the glory to God.
Talking about COVID-19, can you say the church in Nigeria is adequate as a solution provider in terms of material support and ministering healing to the people?
The power of healing belongs to God and if God doesn’t give you healing there is nothing you can do. So many healing claims are not real, when we look at COVID-19, my view of it differs from majority of pastors. You would ask why and why? You would say it originated from Wuan, but man generally is far from God, he has deviated from God. I see it as a punishment and we are still far away from God. 50 percent of humanity would think they know God. They don’t know God at all. 50 percent are atheists and 45 percent would think they know God and worship Him even among Christians. You can find them more among Christians, we pretend to be serving God, we are not. You would ask a man what brings people to God? Our Lord Jesus Christ fed 5,000 persons, then the following day they rushed down again, they said sir these people were here yesterday, they are here again. He said don’t mind them, they are here because of what they got yesterday. 45 percent of humanity think they serve God, it is only five percent that worship God, even within the five percent framework, there are still the doubting Thomases. The most difficult thing in life is to know God except your mind is open. No one can know God except his mind is opened. The Lord is my witness, when the Lord said He wanted to make a covenant of prosperity with us, a lot didn’t believe God, we forget God is not man who thinks the way we do and acts the way we do. A man was traveling along the express and he saw people gathered. He asked the Lord what are these people doing and He told him they would think they are worshiping me, but fewer than five percent know God. You must know who God is. So when you see a very large crowd, just don’t see it as a crowd of those who know God. Those who need babies, jobs, and the rest of them you will find them and you will think they know God. You will find God in very small denominations I’m sorry to say this because those who are looking for miracles are those you won’t find in small places. They would think they can’t find miracles in small places. Many of us who call ourselves men of God are men of the devil, a lot of us have the devil, they must have gone to one baba and get something to use. We have never solicited for fund. It is a very big offence to dupe people in the name of God. So COVID-19 like I was saying, we did enquire and the Lord said the whole world has deviated from Him and even China where it started from, they don’t even know God but that is not what we are saying, the Lord is still waiting for man to come back, man has deviated from the ways of God. In the UK you will find churches without people, it’s the old people who are waiting for death that you find in churches, you can’t find young people there what would that go there. So on COVID-19, not until we go back to God, even if it ends today we should still be expecting something else. I was watching a program, it is called air crash investigations. An air crash was averted by the whiskers, they didn’t thank God, they were thanking the pilot. I just looked at them and said these people are not serious. Who made the pilot to avert it if not God? So take it, COVID-19 is a punishment from God, the whole world is affected, take it or leave it and it would have been better if the whole world had gone back to God. Those who think they know it the most are suffering it the most. Go to US, go to China, Russia, India with their talisman power and drugs, go to Italy France, let the world go back to God. That is just it.
More than 20 years ago, what is the position today?
It is Jesus. If you had known the church more than 20 years ago, you would have been rolling on the ground thanking God for us. What we used to celebrate as the best of our parishes can now be Seen as the least. This is not how we used to be before. Our headquarters here used to be full of bush, dust, dogs, etc. I’m talking of this same place back then. When God promises you something, it will not be a one day wonder or one day miracle. It can be likened to God promising a couple that their child will be a medical doctor. It won’t be a one day wonder, he will be in primary school, secondary school, university, he would go through his one year housemanship. If he wants to specialise, he will still study. So within ten years our children too would have grown so that is it, redeemed and other big churches didn’t grow over night, so God said I the Lord wanted to make a covenant of prosperity with them, He said ‘but tell them I will collect tithe and offering’ and those who obeyed are enjoying it now.
The Federal Government once instructed leaders of NGOs and religious organisations that 20 years would be the tenure for their leaders. Though that law seems to have been left out, but What is the succession plan?
When the founder of this mission wanted to have a successor, they were to vote and everybody was set before the Holy Spirit hijacked the process. The whole thing has become a good story, I was chosen. Then the journalists asked him, Baba this man is 50 and you said they are to retire at 20. He told them the retirement age is 70 but it doesn’t affect these two people and when I was going to be 70, I started preparing the constitution. We wanted something that can be presentable to the mission and to the Corporate Affairs Commissions. Then somebody called us back, he said he had a vision where he heard the founder saying the succession plan does not affect these two people. He said they should work until they can work no more. I said it is not possible. He was swearing that that was what he saw. I called them and said let us fast, I want to set up a constitutional committee. We were still there when another man stood up that he has the tape where Baba said these two people appointed by the Holy Spirit should work till they can no longer work. Then I got to London in 2018, my pastor in London said daddy some people said you are retiring at 70, you cannot retire at 70. I have the tape where the founder said you can work till you can no longer work again. He played it, we all heard it. I had wanted to go, I was willing. I know at 70 I had to rest but since God said no, if I say no and He kills me, what do I do? Just like Moses, I sent you on assignment you said send another person. In Exodus 4, God wanted to kill Moses. So I said who I’m I? So we are fashioning a committee to interview prospective pastors, and another committee will look into them then they will draw out three, another committee will look into the three to bring out the person. In many denominations there is no succession plan. The committee has already started working when someone said he saw baba. Like I said once you have plans backed up by the constitution recognised by the government there will be no problem.
I know that you were one of the people that believed God wanted President Buhari to be in the leadership position of the country, what has happened?
The vision was released and again, when the whole thing went haywire, I enquired of the Lord. And the Lord said not all prophecies are meant to come to pass. If the Lord says you will live for 1,000 years and your lifestyle doesn’t go in line with that, the prophecy will not come to pass. Is Buhari a good person? The majority men of God would say yes, going by his antecedents and pedigree, but by the way the Fulani hegemony hijacked things and at the end of the day this is not the Buhari we used to know. The military is one united entity, whether you are Hausa or Igbo or Yoruba the military does not entertain that. When he was ruling this country then, it was like that but now along the line he faltered. How did that happen? A few months after he got to power, he started arresting those in a section of the country. The governors of the south west then were picked up? What had Jakande that was about the best in the whole of Africa got to do with being arrested? What had Bisi Onabanjo got to do with corruption? What had Ajasin of all people that suggested corruption? The idea was to silence those people. Ajasin all though built Owo high school, he didn’t build any house except the one he built before we were born, he didn’t build any house. Ambrose Ali, Bisi Onabanjo, Bola Ige were arrested. So they corrupted this man and the people knew he was no longer the Buhari they used to know but on his own, but per say on his personal record he is a good person but today sorry to say Buhari has become a fundamentalist, he is not the Buhari we used to know.
His hands were tired, Buhari’s hands got tied, if Buhari says he is not going to do the bidding of the political leaders, he may be impeached. It is either you impeach him or you tolerate him. If I know that something will affect the fortunes of the mission and it is not spiritual I will say no, my spiritual leader said, okay go ahead. In politics it is not so, they would tell you what to do. They negotiate things, in appointment there was nothing he could do. He was not the person have failed in all. ministers you picked that cannot declare their assets and they insisted they would not declare. So Buhari has some very powerful forces that he could not control, but by and large, without politics, there are some programs on ground like the rail thing, I never believed my eyes can see train again and billions of dollars have been spent, see the roads, they were death traps but Nigerians, fail in one thing then Buhari cannot be said to be a devil when it comes to that aspect. In security, constitutionally he is the chief security officer of the country, it is very wrong, how can Buhari look into everything? The governors who are earning security votes, millions every month should be in charge of their states. When he fails Buhari has failed, what is happening in Kaduna is it his fault. The problem Buhari had was caused by the PDP. It was 16 solid years of waste. Now the constitutions ratified approved N30,000 minimum wage, 50 percent of the states cannot pay, is it Buhari’s fault? We are on the keg of gun powder waiting to explode. 774 local government areas, 774 chairmen, assistants, cars, drivers etc, it is only Lagos and Ogun States because of the IGR that can pay. Lagos doesn’t need Abuja attention, what they earn in Lagos is more than what all other southwest is earning. Their budget is almost a quarter of federal budget. Good or bad, the government takes the blame. The fundamentalists hijacked the Buhari government. What has bonded them together is more than what can divide them, the religion and the language. The two religions in the south west is almost 50/50, we had those two things that can divide us, so it is not easy. It is either religion divides us or the language. Those of us here it is either we are sentimental about religion or the language.
We have been asking for restructuring and it seems blocked what is happening, how do we go about it?
He who pays the piper dictates the tune. Buhari is a Muslim, Senate president is a Muslim, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker is a Muslim, do you think Buhari will wake up one day and say he wants to do it? The constitution needs to be revisited, do you think the National Assembly would want it? They will talk with their constituencies. I have told you the Buhari we used to know in 84/85 is not the Buhari of today, then he would only talk with his Supreme Military Council, about 24 of them and that is law. The one Jonathan did, people did not take it to be legal because the National Assembly did not ratify it, even after National Assembly says go ahead, for it to be done, we need 24 of the 36 states to approve it, even in the north they have 19 states who may not give a go ahead, they only need five more from the south to make the 24. The south can’t get that figure easily. Buhari cannot do it and it will be an exercise in futility for him. It will not favour those who didn’t want it. Go to Abuja and see what oil money is being used to do, when Saro-Wiwa and Asari Dokubo and co went to Abuja and saw what the money of the oil was being used for, they spoke up. Restructuring is not going to be easy.
If we avoid peaceful change, don’t you think violent change can be attempted in the face of poverty, banditry and kidnapping…
It is not easy to do violent change, we should be mindful of the cost, human cost, financial cost, material waste, violence cannot achieve anything. Hitler tried it and over 24 million people were killed, it is not easy to call for violent change. Ojukwu tried, it, where two elephants fight the grass will suffer, the innocent will suffer, wait till there is an election, express your view at the ballot box, see what is happening in the east, the rich is not affected, it is the poor innocent people suffering it. Nigerian politics is a complex one. There are people who don’t want anybody match their records, Buhari was a military leaders, it is a different thing now. The people who don’t want their records matched are still very powerful, Buhari cannot touch them. Touch them and see the wrath of their followers, the situation is complex, we pray the military doesn’t come in, it will be a curse it will be retrogression. And who are at the top of the military? Even if they take over will they do the bidding of the people, so let’s wait for the election. They will not do what the people want? The Igbos don’t have anything militarily, despite what Ojukwu piled up, he couldn’t, not even now, it will not be an easy thing so let us wait for the election, peaceful change.
Restructuring is a cardinal point of the campaign but they are changing things, even the senate president said it will destroy the country didn’t you see element of betrayal?
You have the will power to change your mind, do you want Nigerian politicians to say what will not favour them, you want them to do everything they say? It is easier said than done, you want to win the votes of the people it is easier said than done, it is like a man wooing a lady, if you marry me you will get a Lincoln navigator, but after getting her, he would say do you want to kill me? That is the case of the Nigerian politicians they would say yes when they mean no.
Don’t you think the fears of the north about restructuring is misplaced?
They are politicians, they have sat down, it is not a misplaced thing. They know if they restructure, things would go the other way round, the oil, they have tried all they could, wasted billions of dollars without getting oil, you think they will favour it? Buhari’s hands are tied. Military man would say let this be and it is an order, it is not easy as a politician. This is not US or UK, in US, one voice, over 400million people, it is English those countries speak, but not so in Nigeria where we speak many languages. The north has a lot to lose if they allow restructuring and they know. We are not even practicing true federalism.
Can Nigeria survive is restructuring wont sail through and we are stuck with a president you said has been hijacked, wont Nigeria disintegrate that is the fear many are having?
Hard time don’t last, if we persevere we will survive but eventually, willingly this nation would tear into three or four. The problem the east is having now is that River State is saying they are not part of the core Igbo nation, but politically they were fighting together in 1967 up to Benin.
The southern governors met in Asaba and banned open grazing and asked for a national dialogue what is your take on this?
Whether the southern governors want it or not, the constitution still must ratify it. It is still a wishful thinking. The National Assembly is still the representatives of the people. I can assure you the National Assembly will never rule against open grazing, they are more than us, the north has 19 states. There is nothing anybody can do about it for now.
You are a church leader and a father in the Lord to a lot of people, what is the Lord saying about all these, or are we going to continue like this, is it a punishment from the Lord and when is it going to last?
We caused it. Are we closer to God? They are closer to God than we do. A typical northerner will call on God for five times a day, you can see it on their foreheads. And it is only those who call upon God that He answers.
But same people calling on God have been accused of killing people for God just because they are not of same religion with them. Or are Christians and muslims really serving same God?
What a minority people do cannot be taken to be what the majority believe, the minority of the Muslims is the ones saying these things you are mentioning and not the majority. The majority of the Muslims do not believe in what the minority misrepresenting them are doing.
…but why are the majority not correcting these so called minority misrepresenting them?
You want them to come out and be killed? That is just it and we all know Islam itself has its roots in violence in a way. The Bible tells us what Ishmael was born and Abraham told Hagar to take the child away that the son of the slave woman will not be heir with her son and Abraham danced to the tune. An Angel of the Lord met them in the wilderness and told her I have seen your travails and your torment, this boy is also the son of Abraham and I will make him great and make of him 12 nations. Even the promise of 12 nations came before the son of Abraham’s own promise, our father Abraham caused it. There is nobody that Satan cannot tempt. He tempted Abraham. God said Ishmael will be a trouble maker and heaven and earth will pass away but not a jot of the word of God will go away unfulfilled and it is happening today. May God forgive us when we say the God of the Muslim is different. Or are we saying the armed robbers who bear Christian names, from Christian homes are not from the same God? In every religion there is the good the bad and the ugly. So we serve the same God but satan has hijacked God from the lives of some people. We Christians must be careful. What some Christians are practicing is worse than what some of these people are doing. May God forgive us all.