BY MOSES AKAIGWE
Rising speedily from a comparatively modest position of Deputy Governor to become the President in circumstances even his worst critics would admit were not under his control, makes Dr Goodluck Jonathan a very lucky man indeed. But, there are people who believe he would be stretching his luck rather too far should he decide to contest again in 2015. One of them is Rev. Isaac Chibuike Ugboaja, founder and General Overseer of Christian Life Gospel Assembly, a church located in the Oke-Afa area of Isolo, Lagos. Speaking during his 50th birthday, and in what was his first major press interview in his 30 years on the pulpit, Ugboaja warned that unless the President obtains Gen Olusegun Obasanjo’s blessing, he would be wasting his time vying for a second term in the next elections.
“Without Obasanjo, Jonathan cannot continue in office in 2015. If he tries it, he will have himself to blame,” the cleric prophesied. He also commented on the ostentatious lifestyle of some church leaders and the performance of some of the state governors.
How does it feel attaining the golden age?
It feels so wonderful, because you have a wealth of experience. When you look back at the time of your youth and look at the wisdom that goes with your present age, then you will be able to compare and contrast and see whether you are mature or not. It is the age you attain and you see yourself being restrained from taking unnecessary actions. One is more able to control himself, control his family, control his life and feel more for people, feel for your family and feel for the ministry. You no longer behave like a boy. It is a mature age.
It is about 30 years now since you opted to work for God and about 25 years on the pulpit. How did the journey to being the General Overseer of Christian Life Gospel Assembly, begin?
My beginning was very joyful and powerful. It was an experience that was from above, because some of the remarkable things God was using me to do, in my quiet moment, I would ask myself if I was actually the one doing all the miraculous work. It got to a point when I sought the counsel of the elders, and the answer I got was that it was the work of God. That early time, I joyfully received Christ. I gave all that I had; my life, my time, to God and God.
Where exactly did it start?
I was born-again in the Assemblies of God, but that was not deliverance to me. Not long after, I backslid at that early age, but I was finally saved in the Foursquare Gospel Church. There I was delivered from the attack of the enemies. Holy Ghost filled me in Foursquare and began to use me right from there.
What message do you have for the nation?
What we need in this country is earnest prayer – prayer that can turn things around, because there is nothing prayer cannot do. It is prayer that can bring sanity and change the bad eggs among those ruling the country.
But, Nigeria has always been a prayerful nation. Apart from the numerous religious denominations, there is even a prayer organization headed by a former Head-of-State. Does it mean we have not been praying enough?
I don’t believe that we are doing enough. Everyone is on his own. If we are carrying the cross of Jesus Christ, we should not mind who is listening to what we say. We should just come out and say the truth, so that the nation will be rebuilt. I find insincerity in the lives of many of our so-called pastors. These are the people that are in a position to tell people in government the truth, but because they are in one way or another connected to them, they (the men of God) are unable to tell them the truth. And here lies part of the problem of our country – that is the real problem of the country. If you tell them the truth, they will imbibe it. The people in government do fear God, because sometimes, they are afraid of where they are heading to. But the problem is that nobody is courageous enough to honestly tell them they are doing the wrong thing. What happens most of the time is that instead of rebuking them, people are hailing them, ‘Your Excellency! Your Excellency!’
I see in President Goodluck Jonathan a lot of humility. Kneeling down before Baba Adeboye (Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Church of God) is an act of humility you cannot find in any president anywhere in the world. If such a humble man is rebuked by elders, he will listen. There is no adviser or minister that can refine the government. It is the pastors, genuine religious leaders that are in a position to change them.
What you are saying is that religious leaders who have the ears of those in government, don’t tell them the truth?
They are not felling them the truth at all. Most of them are fending for their purses. They are only satisfying themselves. There is no president or governor that does not want to do good, but the people close by keep telling them, ‘don’t mind this people’, ‘you are doing well’. Meanwhile, the voices of the ordinary people keep going up to heaven to be heard by God as the leaders keep on making mistakes.
So, you agree with those who criticize men of God in the country for abandoning their primary duty of preparing their flocks for heaven and dwelling more on prosperity?
Prosperity is not salvation. It is not a certificate to heaven. A righteous man must prosper, if it is God’s word, but those that are carried by the wind of this prosperity are not going to heaven. I am not judging, but it is clear that people have lost focus of the truth by this emphasis on prosperity. Prosperity is the mark of a righteous man. It is what God uses to bless a righteous man; it is not what you get by trick. It is not what you buy for you don’t get it by manipulation. God gives a righteous man wealth. It is the power from above. He does not have to struggle for it.
Instances of ostentatious lifestyle usually cited by critics are men of God competing with businessmen for the choicest cars and the recent acquisition a private jet by the president of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor .
Papa Oritsejafor is not my mentor, but I love his way of life. He is worth more than a private jet, but I do not support the idea of buying it. He has suffered and laboured so much for the ministry. He has paid his dues. He does not mince words. He is a man I know that God is using, but what I don’t like is buying a private jet; and I want to add that I am not rebuking him. It is purely my personal opinion. If he has given the money used in buying the jet to the charity or use it to empower those militants in Warri and Sapele areas towards engaging them in useful ventures, it would have been better. That money could have saved more than 100 souls on the Lord’s side. It could have repaired kilometres of vital roads. My suggestion is that the big fathers (in the work of God) should help the government and the people. The bible says, ‘Be you the example’. If the government is not doing well, you show them what to do by repairing the roads, you change the lives of the people by opening industries and giving work to the jobless, rather than using multi-millions of naira to buy a jet.
But his explanation was that it was a gift.
If it was a gift, he should have rejected it or better still, sold the gift and invested the money in a way that would benefit the poor.
Corruption has been identified as a major problem affecting every aspect of the nation’s life. What is the way out?
Is there anybody that is not corrupt in Nigeria? What will heal Nigeria is the truth. That is where to start. And that truth will have to come through the first generation of military leaders in the country that are still alive, like Gen. Yakubu Gowon. It has to start from him. I don’t know how he has been praying for the nation… Let me open up: I am not speaking from experience. I am saying what the Holy Ghost ministered to me. I have been to the mountain and other places, asking God what the solution is. The way out is that those who caused our early political elders pain, killed them and shed their blood, should kneel down and confess their sins, because those elders that brought this country independence were either killed or humiliated by the Gowons and the Obasanjos, and the rest of them. They need to make an open confession, tender an open apology, for the blood they shed and call upon God for forgiveness.
I am talking about the elders who rescued the country from the colonial master, who were either humiliated or killed, like the Tafawa Balewas, the Azikiwes, the Awolowos, the Akintolas, and the Ahmadu Bellos. If no apology is offered at this time that both Gowon and Obasanjo are still alive, nobody can heal this country. This is the truth the ministers of God close to them should be telling them.
Let us look ahead to 2015. Though President Goodluck Jonathan has not declared his intention, people have been reading his body language and concluding that he is very likely to run for the post again. From the spiritual and prophetic point of view, should he run?
President Jonathan should not try it at all. He should not. Let the preachers and prophets around him tell him the truth, if they are really hearing from God. He is a man made leader of Nigeria by another man in order to humiliate political opponents. Unfortunately, it is only the same Obasanjo that can make him president again. Let him go back to Obasanjo; if God and Obasanlo tell him to continue, then let him continue. I am not a prayer contractor and I do not seek politicians. I do not run after them. What made Obaanjo to install him (first as vice president and later as president) must have gone out of his heart by now, because from what I am seeing, it seems Obasanjo has regretted his political actions then. If a son listens to his father, he will live long. I keep on enquiring from God about those people, and what I hear is that most of our leaders are not sincere. If a godfather elevates them to positions they could not have attained on their own, the first person they undermine is the very person that promoted them. That is why many of them cannot make it.
For clarity, are you saying that without Obasanjo’s endorsement, Jonathan cannot contest and win the presidency in 2015?
Without Obasanjo, Jonathan cannot continue in office in 2015. If he tries it, he will have himself to blame. Quote me!
He rose from being deputy governor of Bayelsa State to become the president. What if God has destined him to retain the position in 2015, whether Obasanjo says yes or no?
I will not embarrass God, because God is all in all. But what I am telling you, as a man of God that always hears from God is that it was not his time, it was not his turn to be president. He was installed by man. A kingmaker put him there. It was not God that put him there. God has somebody else that He wants to put there to rule, and that person is coming.
I said only Obasanjo could help Jonathan remain President in 2015. I am only saying it the way it should be said. I am telling you what I am seeing.
How would you rate the governors?
No responsible governor will neglect the people that voted him into office. I have always given example with what is happening in Lagos. I do not belong to or support any party, but the performance of Governor Babatunde Fashola in this state is highly commendable. I have x-rayed him from different angles, and I think he is a man who has dedicated his tenure to the service of the people. He is a man that loves peace and hates evil. I do not think that Fashola belongs to the group they say only go to Abuja to collect allocations and squander. He uses the resources available to him to make Lagosians happy. There are numerous examples to cite: Look at how he transformed Oshodi; look at Tejuosho market; think of the many dirty places, including the eyesore under the bridges, which he has beautified; and what about the massive construction work on-going on he Badagary expressway.
Another governor after my heart is Rochas Okorocha of Imo. He is more of a young elder to the people of Imo than a governor. He has many people-oriented projects in the state
Is it correct to conclude that you are interested in Okorocha because you are from Imo?
I am not from Imo. I am from Abia.
That leads me to your governor, Theodore Orji. He seems to be one of the most criticised governors…
If he is my governor, I do not know. This is a man who rode on another man’s back to power, by coming straight from prison to become the governor. The former governor, Dr. Orji Kalu, must have had good intentions when he was helping him to get to the seat of power in Umuahia, but it has turned out to be a big mistake, and I pray that he (Kalu) will see the need to correct that mistake sooner or later. I see him as an honest and courageous man who will not hesitate to admit that making Theodore Orji governor is a mistake that has to be corrected in his lifetime.