It was a very good time of the year to meet the highly respected General Superintendent of the Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor William Folorunsho Kumuyi. A new year had just burst forth from the womb of time, with all its promises, possibilities, and the auguries. Generally, the predictions by the futurologists were dark and foreboding.
They were enough to send cold chills running down the spines of those who believed in such. “Many prominent Nigerians would die in 2013.” “Planes would just tumble from the sky.” “Many royal fathers will ‘kick the bucket.’’’ “A good number of governors will die.” In fact, one of the seers said only eight of the 36 governors would finish successfully in office. The land was covered by doomsday prophecies, and it was natural that Rivers State governor, and chairman, Governors Forum, Rotimi Amaechi, asked for special prayers for governors in 2013.
What would the usually sober and temperate Kumuyi say of these cocktail of negative prophecies? Would he also give his own? Why doesn’t he prophesy usually, unlike most of his peers? How does he read the state of the nation, the Boko Haram insurgency, and the threat of retaliation by some Christian leaders? And yes, private jets. That is now an issue. President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Ayo Oritsejafor, just got one. Other preachers also have.
Kumuyi is a bigger preacher, with a bigger congregation than most of the jet set. Should we then expect him to bombard us with a Bombardier, or challenge our faith with a Challenger jet soon? Okay, if he doesn’t buy it outright, what of if he’s given? Questions, questions, questions rifling through my mind, as I headed to the Deeper Life Church campground in Ayobo, in the outskirts of Lagos, to keep an appointment with the mathematician-turned-pastor, who leads one of Africa’s largest churches.
There were about six journalists from different media houses, and at exactly 9.35am, we were ushered before Pastor W. F. Kumuyi, the holiness preacher, the apostle of evangelism, a champion of full, balanced Christian living, based on the practical word of God. Were we in a big conference room? No. In fact, we were in a small anteroom, where if you turned round carelessly, you would bump into your neighbour. The six journalists, two top pastors of the church (who are also journalists, and who had facilitated the meeting), and the General Superintendent himself. He was turned out the simplest way you could ever see him.
A shirt, trousers, leather slippers, and the inevitable winsome smile. Of course, the house itself was perhaps the most modest bungalow in the vast premises of the campground. That familiar voice you hear from the pulpit. One was not a member of the church, in the strictest sense of the word. But isn’t the church, the body of Christ supposed to be one? One flock, one shepherd. So, this writer is not a stranger to the ministry of W. F. Kumuyi. In that clear, almost piercing voice, he welcomed you, thanking you that you came despite the short notice. On that day, the International Congress of the church had just closed. “At the beginning of every year, we bring together all our pastors from Nigeria and Africa.
There are few who join us from outside Africa, but they come only once in two years,” the preacher informed. Down to business. What’s his view on the state of the nation? Things can be a lot better, he agreed, and added: “We need to watch and pray, also work and pray for Nigeria.” Watch and pray, work and also pray. The Good Book says prophecies are meant to comfort and encourage God’s people, but there are so many frightening and frightful ones making the rounds in the country. Why? And why doesn’t Kumuyi prophesy like the others? “Most of those who make prophecies do so, after watching the trend of things.
They say what they feel, but to now put it as prophecy is where there’s a problem. And those who believe such things, it puts them under fear. Even if those things came from God, faith can reverse them. God sent Isaiah the prophet to Hezekiah the king, who told him to put his house in order, as he would soon die. But when Hezekiah prayed in faith, beseeching God, the prophecy was reversed. “Also, when God told Jeremiah the prophet to go to the house of the potter, God said if the nation of Israel repents, evil would not happen to them.
The same thing with Nineveh, when Jonah prophesied against the city. God later changed His mind, when the city repented. Prophecies are often conditional. If we do evil, sow evil, we get evil. Not all negative prophecies do come to pass, however, if we pray in faith.” But why doesn’t Kumuyi give prophecies? That gentle smile, and then he quotes from Scriptures: ‘He gave some apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.’ “Different gifts for different people. But here, everybody wants to stand in the office of a prophet. If God has not told me anything, and I just use my initiative to say it, God might call me to question.” The insurgent sect, Boko Haram, has been on rampage round the country. As at the last count, over 3,000 people were dead.
The Deeper Life Bible Church has had its share of the casualties, the most gruesome of which was the massacre at a location in Kogi State, during the usual Monday Bible Study. Should Christians now begin to retaliate and fight back? Would they be justified to do so? A pause. Some reflection. And Kumuyi says: Nigeria is a deeply religious country, with large number of Christians and Muslims. Each religion wants to grow, and make converts. But forcing people into any religion is a problem. It is a misplaced mission because it won’t happen.
Not in a lifetime. “Yes, we had a major attack on one of our churches in Kogi, but we later learnt it was political. The attackers orchestrated it to put somebody in bad light. Not everything attributed to Boko Haram is from them. But should we forgive them or retaliate? When you talk of an individual to an individual, forgiveness is easy. But if it is a group, and it is made of faceless people, who then do you forgive? If you say tit for tat, whom then do you strike? The normal Muslim is going about his daily activities, not killing anyone.
Will you then attack him? Will you raise a Christian JTF (Joint Task Force)? So, the issue is not as simple as whether to forgive, or to fight back.” At election time, can Kumuyi encourage his flock to vote for a Muslim candidate, if he is a better prospect than a Christian? Tricky question. But at 72, the man knows his onions. “A pastor should be apolitical,” he says. “He may have his preference, but should not be overtly partisan. He can enlighten his flock on the qualities of a good leader, but not decidedly partisan.” Time for the interaction was short, as the man had just finished a major international programme, and needed all the rest he could get.
But you don’t let the father of John and Jerry go, till you have raised an issue of major concern in the country. Pastors now ride in private jets, while a large section of their congregation wallow in grinding poverty. Okay, we know Kumuyi won’t buy a jet, but what if he’s given one as gift by a man doing clean business, and who has played according to all the rules of the land? A smile again, a half-laugh. And he says: “I’ll appreciate the gesture. But since I won’t be able to tell the congregation the name of the person who gave me the gift, they’ll then think I used their money to but the jet. I’ll also think: is buying a jet the best way to use this money? How many times will I use it? Most times, it will just be parked, with the high cost of parking fees.
If I feel that is not the best way for the person to spend his money, I will decline the gift, and rather advice him on what to buy. But that does not mean others must necessarily agree with me.” There were two nagging questions time did not permit one to fully explore. Kumuyi says a pastor should not be politically partisan. What then would he say of Pastor Tunde Bakare of Latter Rain Assembly, who was running mate in 2011 to Gen Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change? Did he breach the rules of his calling? Again, after the sad loss of his first wife in 2009, Kumuyi married again in 2010. How is the experience? How is the bride faring? Time, however, did not permit the questions. I hope I’ll get to meet this great preacher soon, very soon again. And for sure, he’ll not get away so easily that time.
Re: The clock chimes for Chime
Comedy of errors
Thanks for lending your loud voice to the comedy of errors going on in Enugu State. It is the silence of the majority that pains more than the brutality of the oppressor. My anger with the cabal holding Enugu hostage is that they are robbing Gov Chime of the common people’s admiration, sympathy and love. Men hardly learn from history. If we do, the case of Umaru Yar’Adua would have been enough lessons to all power mongers. Dr Ilochi Ebunu, Abuja
Public office in Africa is more like an investment to the occupant, which is expected to yield maximum benefit, caused by unnatural political borders that feast on its citizens than to feed them instead. Chimes for Chime is no exception. Izuegbu, Lagos
What will be will be
My heart goes out to Gov Chime. May God restore him to good health, so that he can continue his good work in Enugu State. And for his handlers, let them know that what will be will be. They cannot with their hands cover the moon from beaming its light on the face of the earth, nor can they hide fire in their outer garments, and expect not to be burnt. They should not love Chime less, but love Enugu State more. Let the law of the land take pre-eminence in all situations. Chief Amos Ogbonaya, LL.M
Let’s give him some time
Chime is one of the governors with good credit. Let’s give him some time to be fit and bounce back to office. I’m not from Enugu State, but I like his democratic input. I’m praying for his quick recovery. Please join me. Obinna Ukaeze, filmmaker
Don’t kill democracy
Nice piece. I sympathize with the people of Enugu State, and wish their governor a speedy recovery. However, Chime’s supporters should take the example from Kogi State governor, who proved the true condition of his health by being shown live on TV after an accident. Our politicians should practice real democracy, and not kill it. Aisha, Kaduna
It pains so much that our own Enugu State has now become a place where “nothing dey happen,” just because some people are greedy, and want to arrogate to themselves the wisdom of Solomon. Emma Mbah, Abuja, 08034474210
Winner takes it all
The way our presidents, governors and local government chairmen treat their deputies shows that office is a personal enterprise. The winner takes it all. That is what we are now witnessing in Enugu, Taraba and Cross River states. Sam, Akure
Won’t they learn?
First, it was Yar’Adua. Now, it is Governors Chime, Suntai and Imoke. Will our leaders not learn? Who says people in power can’t be ill. The houses of assembly in the states must rise to the occasion. Nigeria is greater than any individual. Dr Victor Egwemi, 08062908766
Our social system
Interesting piece. Do we blame those who think Enugu State belongs to Chime, since the social system is based on private property? The answer is no. Amos Ejimonye, Isuikwuato, Abia State
What’s all this secrecy about Chime’s health? Sincere men of God could have included him in their prayers. But wait – who will look after the world after I’m gone? Who looked after it before you came? Morountodun Osinowo
Our best governor
Chime has remained the best governor Enugu State has had, except for the Okada issue. But whatever is the problem, I wish him well.
My prayer for him
Nobody wants the death of Gov Chime. Only God gives life. However, his health condition should be made known to those who elected him. I earnestly pray God to grant him quick recovery. James Okere, Owerri, 07035289205
No point appealing
There’s no point appealing to Chime and his handlers to know when to give up. We must amend Section 189 (1) of the Constitution to state how long a governor or president can be away for on health and other grounds, before the deputy automatically assumes full office. Dr Nwike
He’s not the last
Nigeria is cursed with leaders who only have the interest of their bank accounts and family at heart. Chime is not the first, and won’t be the last to cling to power. Whatever a man sows, he reaps. God bless Nigeria. Comrade Sam
Forget the members of the so-called Save Enugu Group. Majority of them belong to the infamous Ebeano Group, which ruled for eight years without anything to show for it. Thanks for your prayers for our governor. Uzor Angus-Okoro, Enugu
Doctrine of necessity
Enugu State House of Assembly should apply Senator David Mark’s masterstroke – Doctrine of Necessity. Jake Mbatogwu, Owerri
My special plan
Enugu is my state. I was expecting Christmas cow from my governor, and I’m not like Rita Lori that rejected her own. My plan is this: first, I will ask Pastors Adeboye or Oyedepo, or Cardinal Onaiyekan, where is my governor, please? If God hides it from them like He did to Elisha in II Kings 4:27, I will then go to Amadioha, Isimiri Ogidi, Ogun and Sango. I know they will not fail me. It’s Operation Fish Out Gov Chime. Just give me one week. Mazi Ogbonna, Abuja
The clock chimes for Chime, but not for ‘Chimeconometrics’ in his absence. Dr J. T. Akinmayowa, Uniben, 07086431658
For how long are we to live in a fool’s paradise? We politicized and bastardized our national honour and integrity in order to score cheap political goals. I pray that the story of Chime’s ailment will not end like that of Yar’Adua. Ayo Moses, Ibadan
The Enugu conundrum is pathetic and constitutes a serious embarrassment to a working governor like Chime. His handlers should have earned our highest respect if they had thrown his health line and status open. Their desperation is the exasperation of many, and its has ridiculed whatever is left in the cupboard of Chime’s integrity. Charles Otu, Abakaliki
He has right to be sick
They should let Chime die before they bury him. The guy is human, had over-performed, and just buried his mum. He has the right to be sick, or to die, if God wishes, not nattering nabobs of negativism. Dr Chuka Nwosu, Oku I of Isuochi Kingdom, 08037254371
The fault is not in Chime, but in a docile and inept state executive council, which is unable to domesticate the stipulations of Section 189 (1) of the amended constitution. The Exco can sack Chime by a vote of 2/3 majority of all members. John Mgbe, Owerri, 07056098349
What a shame!
I wonder what Nigerian politicians gain in lying. In civilized climes, those lies will make them political lepers, but here, no. As for Chime, he is on three years leave, having served for five years, and we Nigerians are gullible to believe that. What a shame! Rev Dr C. C. Anyanwu, Nnewi
Enugu is one of the premier states in Nigeria, with high profile intellectuals that can’t be blindfolded. Gov Chime should quit if he is incapacitated to perform his duty, and his deputy should be sworn in accordingly. Sunday Chuna, Akpajo, Rivers State
Not in our character
Leaders in this part of the world don’t know how to quit when it’s obvious the odds are against them. It’s not really in our character to let go. Power is sweet. However, I wish Gov Chime well. Ladesope Ladelokun, Mowe, Ogun State
Let us pray
Yes, if Chime dies, Enugu will continue. But let him recover to complete his mandate. Let the people organize prayers for him, as anybody can be sick. The sick leader too should relinquish power once he realizes his inability to continue.
Pastor Livy Onyenegecha, Observers of Good Governance and Performance Initiative, Mbaise
That Gov Chime is sick or holidaying abroad can’t be the only concern of the good people of Enugu State. Their greatest worry is the absurdity of aborting the tenets of the constitution by the lawmakers. The House of Assembly should act at once for the survival of democracy and good governance in Enugu State. Oramah G. S. 0806894561
Invite Chime’s wife
It is sad that Nigerian leaders are rather unusual when there is threat against their positions, which is transient, as life itself. Chime’s performance has been rated as exemplary when compared with his peers. He should not subject such achievements to those avoidable tirades over his health condition. The Enugu State House of Assembly could invite his wife to give his correct health situation. Lai Ashadele, Lagos
It’s no crime
Where did Enugu electorate go wrong to have elected Chime? Is it a crime for the people to know his whereabouts? Time will tell.
Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, Abia
You can’t hide the truth
You’ve spoken the minds of all the Wawas. No matter how long you hide the truth, one day, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set us, and Enugu State free. My only prayer is for Gov Chime to come back alive. Dave Nwankwo, JP, Port Harcourt
Throw in the towel
I wish the Governor of Enugu quick and complete recovery. Nigeria as a nation cannot but continue to spring surprises. It is common sense that the governor should have thrown in the towel to face his health. But there is good news that Nigeria may not be only nation that is good at this game, Venezuela is also in this mess presently, but with a little difference in that the whole nation is aware of what is happening to their president and when. Keep writing, one day your writings will be analyzed and commented upon. Dr Olayinka Oladosu, [email protected]
The honorable thing
Of course, the honorable and proper thing for Chime to do is to throw in the towel as you rightly pointed out, so that Enugu State will not remain in its ‘arrested development’ state for longer than necessary. But is anyone expecting Chime to resign just because he is ill? Such a thing can happen only ‘over his dead body.’ (Pun not intended please) meaning it is death and only death that can do him and that governor’s seat part. When Enugu people themselves are tired of the slow pace of development in their state, they will know how to march to their House of Assembly and demand that their acting governor be installed as governor pronto. Ayobami Oluwatunmobi, Ikorodu, [email protected]
If only they know
Gov Chime is only a human being and can fall ill. Did they think that if they let the masses know about the state of his health they will declare him incapable and maybe seek for his impeachment? Enugu needs to move forward, being the heart of Southeast. Gov Chime is loved by his people, and they are willing to pray for his quick recovery if only they were told the truth. Iyke Kinsley, Ilorin, [email protected]
Blame not the constitution
It’s so amazing how we allow history to repeat itself here. But history repeats itself only for those who fail to learn from the lessons. Blame not the constitution for unresolved vacuum created by the absentee governors but the political class who lack the political will to apply the provisions of the law and uphold the constitution of the land. The 1999 federal constitution, as amended, is not lacking in adequate laws and procedures for meeting the present challenges of governance in many states in Nigeria. For instance, as you rightly stated in your essay, section 189(1) makes ample provisions for seamless transmission of power in the event of incapacity of the governor to discharge the functions of his office. Section 191(1) of the same constitution equally makes provisions for the deputy governor to take over power where the office of the governor becomes vacant by reason of impeachment, permanent incapacity etc or for any other reason in accordance with the provisions of section 188 and 189 of the constitution. Even the so-called lacuna in relation to silence of the constitution on the time limit within which an absentee governor would be made to forfeit his seat with or without a formal communication to the state assembly of his absence, if he fails to return, could be resolved under section 188(11) of the constitution which views such prolonged absence with its attendant debilitating harm to the state and its citizens, as gross misconduct and therefore an impeachable offence. A constitution, no matter how well articulated and no matter the calibre of its drafters, remains no more value or consequence than the piece of paper upon which it is printed, unless it is allowed to govern and dictate the affairs of state, no matter whose ox is gored. Let the political class in the affected states be man enough to give vent to the above express provisions of the law and constitution they have sworn to protect and uphold and save the soul of our nascent democracy now, or pay dearly for it through a violent revolution that would consume them first. God bless you for the great job. Frank Agbedo Esq, Legal Practitioner, Lagos, [email protected]
There are many ways to communicate: body language, hand signs, speech, pictures, and finally the most annoying: silence!
Silence annoys the people, it makes them feel inferior but idolizes the person who kept silent. Chime’s silence may be for security reasons; but such reason is not enough to keep the state you were elected to govern incommunicado. If he had told his people that he was sick, they would have sympathized with him. We thank God he even handed over to his deputy, so we can say half bread is better than none.
This political Tom and Jerry attitude is because of the way we play politics in Nigeria. We know how and what it takes to be a governor in Nigeria; the huge money involved in vote buying; therefore owning up to sickness and incapacitation means a loss of investment, which could be a big blow to all the investors involved. Rev. Monye J Gold, The Mass Movement for Responsible Leadership, [email protected]
Learn from Mandela, others
I think these embarrassing things are happening because most public officers are in office to serve themselves; not the public. If not, the major sacrifice a public officer, who genuinely wants to serve, does is his private life. Public officers should learn from people like Hugo Chavez, Nelson Mandela and Hillary Clinton.
Prof Kotos Abubakar, Yola, [email protected]
Africans can never say never to perpetuating themselves in power. I wonder why Enugu State has to face a standstill because one man is sick. It is human to fall ill like you have rightly pointed out but that doesn’t bring the world of others to an end. Damissah Dennis O. Ikeja, [email protected]
They’re at it again
For the so-called Save Enugu Group (SEG), I am yet to know the Enugu they want to be saved. Is it the one that had been actually and rightly working since May 29, 2007 till date, or the one that never worked, which Chimaroke Nnamani ruined and destroyed for eight maximum years? Is it not ironical that the same people who served prominently or who closely aligned with that despotic regime then, are today crying wolf under a very peaceful and progressive regime, which they have even acknowledged in their tantrums. These elements are at it again. They’re making all manner of conjectures about the state of health of Sullivan and trumping up unfounded issues to give credence to their actions. Some claim he’s suffering leukemia, some say liver problem, some kidney, some allege AIDS, and this week, they took it to heart problem, giving themselves out as wishing him evil and wanting him dead, so that they will return to government through the deputy governor who is said to be politically ever indebted to their dreaded Chimaroke. If Sullivan Chime is sick really, is it better to deride him or to pray for him to recover quickly, so that he will return and continue his good work, which they also acknowledged? On the other hand, he is entitled to his annual vacation, which is 30 working days. And if he’s having accumulated leave of five years – 2007 to 2012 – which is a total of 150 days, it means he has not completed the vacation and therefore would supposedly resurface at the end of the days. After all, was it not a lawyer that said that a president could rule his domain from any part of the world? And in Enugu anyway, the government’s wheel of progress is moving on steadily. For instance, construction works are going on well; some that were hitherto abandoned have been completed in Chime’s absence (Ibiam and Anyaegbunam streets in Uwani Enugu), while some new ones were started and the Sullivan Chime-installed pipe borne water has started running in his absence. Since government is in progress, doing quality work in health sector, education, public infrastructure provision, etc, why these noise about Chime’s absence, if not to heat up the system again and make the happy state uncomfortable and unhappy for the innocent inhabitants because another electioneering period is approaching? They should let us continue to have our security, harmony and tranquility, which the Sullivan administration has been giving us since May 29, 2007.
Abuchi Anueyiagu, 08033205799, [email protected]