Chidi Anthony, president of the Pentecostal Ministers’ Forum (PFM) and presiding bishop, Kings in Christ Power Ministries International, spoke with Seyi John Salau on his expectations for 2024, how Nigerians should approach the New Year 2024, life in prison, true success in life, among others. Excerpts:
What is your expectation for 2014?
My expectation is that Nigeria will be better. I pray seriously that we see a new Nigeria, but I do not know how it is going to happen. I do not really want to sound like a prophet of doom, but I do not see how God will do it. But, He has His own way of doing things. He said can the bread be taken from the mighty or the lawful captive delivered? He said; thus says the Lord, even the captive of the mighty shall be delivered. So, God has a way of doing things but in the eyes of man, it looks impossible. I am praying for a better Nigeria where we have steady light, good roads and infrastructures to better the lives of the citizens, to empower the youth. That is what I am praying and expecting to happen in this nation Nigeria, but I do not know how; but I know we serve a God of impossibility – there is nothing God cannot do. So, my expectation for 2024 is very high, and I know I am going to impact positively on many lives. I am praying for Nigeria and expect Nigeria to be better than it used to be.
How would you want Nigerians to approach the New Year?
Nigerians should try to cut down costs, especially their spending. Like they say; cut your coat according to your size – but according to the cloth now. I will advise Nigerians to cut down on all unnecessary expenses in 2024. Let me give you an instance; at the early stage of the fuel subsidy removal crisis; what we did was to change to gas – we use gas to power our generator. And, when the price of gas skyrocket; I calculate spending N10, 000 everyday because there is no way we can sleep with light – it has never happened before. So, I did everything possible to ensure my children have a comfortable home. But, buying N10, 000 worth of fuel every night (I calculated the money and had to cut down on my expenses and shifted to solar). Solar was expensive at the initial stage, what I did was to get a local savings (piggybank). Every day I save N10, 000 inside the piggybank so that at the end of the year, I will be able to know the amount spent on electricity. I did the plus and minus to get a clearer view of what I lost or gained within the period. So, 2024 is not a year of competition for a reasonable Nigerian. Yes, everybody should go on their track – do not say because this person has a car; then you have to get a car. You dont know his means of living, you do not know how he gets his money, and because you want to be like him – you enter into a competition (you will just kill yourself). So, my advice to people is to do what you can do and leave the rest to God. Do not compete; do not compete, do not compete. I said it three times because I know a lot of people that died in 2023, died because of competition. Just because this person had a car, built a house; most of them then went into all sorts of things just to buy a car or build a house and at the end, they died. 2024 is not the year where you say because your neighbours’ children are going to Babcock University; you also want your children to be there. You do not know how they made their money. I have come to realise in life that it is not only school that makes any child brilliant – it is a gift. Any child that wants to be brilliant will be – afterall, most of the best students we have in Nigeria are not from private universities; most of them are from states and federal universities. So, school is not the only thing that makes your child intelligent – it is not the structure. So, people need to cut down on their expenses. If the school your son or daughter is going to now makes you to burn fuel every day to take the child to school, look for a good school very close to your house and do not bother that your neighbours will start talking. Are there no other children there? To cut down on your expenses put your children in a school closer to where you live.
At the start of a New Year like this, we hear different types of prophecy from preachers: what is your take, especially when many of those prophecies fail?
This idea of everybody coming up with prophecies that will happen – my year of divine coronation, my year of total elevation – yes, all those things are good; they prophesy through faith. But, you find out that it is not the case. We have been saying it for many years and you are still where you are – things are not getting better. The only thing we need to do is, if you are doing nothing; lay your hands on something. Time has gone when manna falls from heaven and your pastor says receive (be a millionaire and you shouting amen, while you are doing nothing); it cannot happen. The Bible says whatever you lay your hands upon shall prosper. That means you need to lay your hands on something before that thing will prosper you; otherwise, nothing like prosperity. So, the year 2024 is the year that we will take precautions and cut down a lot of expenses. We should also make ourselves understand that we are not competing with anybody. Yes, they might be there before us, but we also know that the reason they are there before us is for them to witness our arrival, so that they can equally clap for us when we arrive. So, the fact that some people are there before us does not mean we will not get there. I cannot kill myself out of nothing; I will do the little I can and leave the rest for God.
But, I know God out of His infinite mercy will change this nation. But, if our leaders have the heart of flesh and not the heart of stone, they should realise that the people that put them there are dying of insecurity, of hunger and starvation. In fact, the government needs to do something to rescue the citizens from harsh situation they are in now.
For the benefit of our readers, can you recount how you started your ministerial journey?
My encounter with Jesus started in the prison, I was a very bad person before I became born again. I was arrested, it was when I was sleeping in the prison that I had a dream, I saw myself preaching in the National Stadium Lagos. When I woke up I was surprised at the dream because I do not go to church. I was the capon of my mafia family; I also belonged to a secret cult. I had a coffin, which was in my bedroom, and you cannot sleep in my bedroom because the coffin makes a lot of noise at midnight. I was really a terror in Aba and anybody that sees me quivers. I was terrible and hotter than fire. It was because of us that Bakassi came to Aba, I terrorised Aba, which was in the 90s’ between 93 and 94. I collect returns from churches, you cannot hold a church programme in Aba without settling me, otherwise the programme will not hold. I was like a lord in Aba. I was physically and spiritually fortified, nobody dares me, except you want to die. I was very brutal and callous and I was dreaded like a plague. I went to the pastor in the prison because in the prison you have a ‘presido’, and you also have a pastor, I told him the dream, and he told me that I have a call, he started preaching to me and my stony heart started melting. It was during the discussion that the wardens came to call my name – I followed them when I got outside, I saw a young man I do not know before came to bail me.
That was a miracle indeed: how can someone you don’t know bail you; how did it happen?
I was arrested and taken to Benue State and I was told that only someone that has landed property in Benue can bail me. I was surprised when I saw the young man and I was told to thank him for coming to bail me. When he was going with me I asked how he got to know me, he told me that he saw me the day I was shedding tears and something told him that he should not allow that young man to die, that was why he had to bring the documents to bail me. That man that saved my life – I have never seen him again till date. I wish I could see him again.
You are the president of Pentecostal Ministers’ Forum (PMF); what is the forum about?
I don’t need to tell you, Nigeria is in a mess. I am not afraid of anything that can happen because if I die for Christ, I live for Christ. I need to be straightforward and I need to be truthful. Nigeria is in a mess. Economically we are in a mess. So, the reason for this Pentecostal Ministers’ Forum is that I found out that the only solution to the problem that Nigeria is going through today is the intervention of God. Men have failed God. People have tried. The general elections have come and gone, if it was something anybody can do by his own will power, the past president could have done that. But they have tried their best but their best was not good enough. So, the only thing that can bring peace, sanity and progress in this nation is the intervention of God. God gave me the vision to organise the ministers together: to pray for the nation and to look into the security in the nation. So, we decided to visit the state command, the area commands, the DPOs, the CPs, and the IG. We do go there to encourage them, to pray for them and for God’s wisdom upon them and that God should give them direction more and that they should not die in active service. We do that because they are involved in the act to reduce crime in the nation. So, it is our duty as priests to support them. Like the last time we went to AIG Zone 2, we awarded him, prayed for him and encouraged him as part of the little we can do. We also moved to commands to see the CP. We are doing these things in order to encourage them to reduce crime. You and I know that in the last seven years, the crime rate in Lagos was about 87 percent but today it is gradually reducing. It is because we have gallant men that have vowed to do their best to reduce crime in the state and we are trying to encourage them and give them awards.
Apart from reducing crime in the state, what benefit does the group offer the public?
Most of us are general overseers, we have something to protect. I own a school called Born Great Academy. In the meeting we agreed that we should have a school in a place where the average man can be able to train their children or wards. You and I know that we pentecostals claim to be born again, we say the Orthodox are not born again but we know that it is the Orthodox churches that are building the motherless babies homes, the missionary schools and any school being built by them are affordable. We can train our kids comfortably. But take a look at the pentecostal churches that own schools, even the pastors that helped in building the school cannot train their kids in the school. So, we came together and said no, we have to change the mentality. I have a school and every year I give about 10 to 15 students’ scholarships and I sold the vision to other members of the forum – that even if you do not have a school, you should at least pick the kids of widows there and train them, to give their lives meaning. At least to make them look like other children. Every year I take a few kids, not only my kids abroad so that they can equally experience what other kids that come from comfortable homes are experiencing. There is also what we call ‘Feed The Poor.’ We normally go to fast foods, we pay to prepare meals. Then, on that day, we move in convoy, look for beggars on the street and feed them. Sometimes we see hawkers selling pure water; we give them some money to start other businesses. Success is not how happy you are, it is how happy you make others. If you are happy alone, that is not success. When you make others happy, I call it success.