When God promises something, it will not be a one-day wonder – Ajayi
Pastor Adesoji Ajayi, has been the president of Christ Apostolic Mission Church, Lagos for 20 years. In this interview with SEYI JOHN SALAU, he speaks on the challenges of the last 20years and why restructuring Nigeria will not be easy. Excerpts:
We have been asking for restructuring for some time now; how do we go about it?
He who pays the piper dictates the tune. Buhari is a Muslim, senate president is a Muslim, speaker house of reps, deputy speaker are Muslims, 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 want it. Go to Abuja and see what oil money is being used to do; when Saro-Wiwa and AsariDokubo and co. went to Abuja and saw what the oil money was being used for, they spoke up. Restructuring is not going to be easy.
In the face of poverty, banditry and kidnapping; do you think we can avoid violent change?
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.
Restructuring is a cardinal point that Nigerians are clamouring for, but there are opposition, even the Senate president said it will destroy the country; didyou 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.
Can Nigeria survive without restructuring?
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 Rivers State is saying they are not part of the core Igbo nation, but politically they were fighting together in 1967 up to Benin.
Let’s come back to the church: you have been president of the church for 20 years; how has the journey been leading this 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 would not 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.
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-yearhousemanship. 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.
Finally, what is the succession plan for the ministry?
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 insisted 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 am 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.