NIGERIA’S ONLY PATH TO PROGRESS IS RESTRUCTURING – OSITELU

•As Tabieorar prophet unfolds revelations ahead of festival

By Our Reporter

Nigeria’s sky will get blue again and it will be very soon.  That is the word from God, according to Most Rev. Rufus Okikiola Ositelu, the Primate of the Church of the Lord (Prayer Fellowship) Worldwide.

In fact, the leader of the popular prophetic and evangelical congregation of 8.6 million worshippers, with about 5,000 branches worldwide and headquarters at Ogere in Ogun State, predicted the country’s exit from the throes and pangs of the current economic recession by next year, which, he said, the Lord had declared would be a “Year of Thanksgiving” for Nigerians. According to him, the impact of the easing in the dire economic situation would even start to be felt as from the end of this year.

Besides, the renowned cleric said God had also decided to restore Nigeria to its old position as the most glorious nation in the black continent, with rapid and vast socio-economic development to be visibly felt in the first three years.

The caveat, however, is that the leadership must hearken to the yearnings of the citizenry for fundamental political reforms, specifically, restructuring/fiscal federalism. To turn deaf ears to their expressed will is to sentence the country and its people to a worse fate than currently being experienced, with serious tension and pandemonium, Ositelu warned.

These are part of the yearly predictions to be unveiled at the annual Tabieorar Festival on Mount Tabieorar, near the old toll gate, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ogere, on Tuesday. The yearly religious event, simultaneously taking place in Ghana, Togo, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, United Kingdom, United States, Luxemburg, Australia and other parts of the globe, is to pray for the nation, world peace and often featured testimonies of healing and miracles by throngs of worshippers, since instituted by the church founder, the late Prophet Josiah Ositelu more than five decades ago.

Some of the church’s past prophecies that hit target included the predicted military overthrow of the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari1983 for which the then Primate Adeleke Adejobi was arrested and questioned by security agents, as well as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America, predicted a year before by Ositelu himself, two written copies and warning of which was delivered and acknowledged by the US Embassy in Lagos for the first time.

A scion of the legendary founder., the former Germany-based computer expert spoke on how he assumed leadership of the white garment church, the seeming fading popularity and influence of its kindred in face of the rise of new generation Pentecostal churches, displacement of evangelism by commercialism and sundry issues when Saturday Sun met him midweek at Ogere, where he is observing a 13-day spiritual retreat with the church leaders to climax in the festival celebration on Tuesday.

Sir, you have two Ph.Ds, trained as a Computer Scientist and now you find yourself at the head of a big religious movement. For what purpose exactly would you say you were born into this world?

Retrospectively, I will say I was actually born to do the work of God. All the time while I was in Europe, Germany in particular, working as a Computer specialist I attended churches, even when there was no branch of our church in Germany then. Interestingly, I had always been appointed the assistant pastor of any church that I attended. They always appointed me the assistant pastor and when the pastor was not at home, I would be the one to conduct service. So, it was more or less my hobby then, while I was working as a Computer specialist.  But, see what God has done now!

What the Germans did was that all Africans, they grouped us together and then gave us a pastor, a Presbyterian pastor from either Tanzania, Ghana, or any two countries where they have partners. They give them three years contract, which is renewable by another three years, but after six years they have to go back.

So when these pastors come, all Africans, whether you are Catholic, Anglican, Methodist or Aladura, we worshipped together in the same chapel. It is these pastors, who are actually of Presbyterian background that would single me out and say you are going to be my assistant, just in case I have to attend meetings one day, or when I am on holidays.

So, how did you assume the leadership of the Church of the Lord?

I must also say that in 1991, without any obvious reason I started also reading Theology at the University of Hagen in Germany. I just wanted to deepen my knowledge of the scriptures, because I was still a computer guru then. So, by the grace of God, I also have a Ph.D in Religious Studies. Back to your question, I think it was my late brother, the one you knew, that became late in April 1998. According to our (church) constitution, if the late primate did not proclaim anybody as his successor, (the Tabieorar you said you attended the former primate, Adejobi proclaimed him, my brother, as his successor, as my father also proclaimed Adejobi before he died as his successor), there is a second part of the constitution which says if nobody was proclaimed before the demise of the incumbent, what will happen is all the prelates, (prelates in Church of the Lord are Archbishops and Bishops) will assemble on this mount, fasting and praying, asking the Lord. They will inquire of the Lord who the next primate should be and whatever the Lord tells them, they will write it down and on the seventh day, members of the Board of Trustees will collect their envelopes from them and it’s the Board of Trustees now that will open them and proclaim whoever’s name that is there.

As done in Vatican?

Yes, more or less like the conclave of the Catholic. It is something similar, except that their own is three days and our own is seven days. In the case of my late brother, he did not proclaim anybody. So, when the Board of Trustees came, that was in August during this Tabieorar season, they opened their envelopes and they found my name. It was the only name, there was no other name, and on Tabieorar the new Archbishop proclaimed me as the new primate, that was August, 1998.

Have you come back from Germany then?

No! You see the God we serve in this church is a wonderful God. It so happened that, that very year, I had made up my mind that it had been a long time I attended Tabieorar last, I wanted to be present at that Tabieorar. Already, I’d bought my flight-ticket earlier enough, so that I would not be put in a rush when it would be time for my return to Nigeria. So, when they took the decision here, I was not aware. They asked one of the bishops in our church, who was also the secretary, to contact me. So, I asked why it was so, but he said he, himself didn’t know, but that they just wanted me back. He told me they were planning to purchase a ticket for me and I told him that they should not bother, because I already got one, and that I was also planning to attend Tabieorar that year. That was how I came back. Even when I arrived and was going about, nobody told me anything. I didn’t know until it was proclaimed on that day, the Tabieorar day.

Do you have any inclination you would be in this position someday, growing up?

To be candid, I didn’t have any inclination at all. One thing I truly know is that I was inquisitive. If you see some of the old pictures of Baba anywhere, I was always with or around him, even when the Europeans came also to interview him from Europe, because they already heard that God was using somebody mightily in Nigeria. They came from Sweden, from Norway, Germany, England and other places. There was this other man, Reverend Turner; he appeared in one of these pictures you see because he stayed in our house with his wife during his research. Every Sunday, he was always going to church with my father, together with his wife and I also accompanied them, like you would see in most pictures. Also, another picture that was making the round is when Papa died. During the burial, I remember somebody brought the newspapers, it was Daily Times to me and said look at you. Then, all of the children, everybody were at the back. Only the first son, my own elder brother, and the first daughter were in front, the only little boy that was also in front was me.  Even my senior siblings were behind us. So, somebody brought the pictures and said… you know, they were reading meanings to it.

Your father of blessed memory was a highly gifted spiritual man, a visionary with healing and prophetic prowess that were the hallmarks of this church at inception. Are there still manifestations of these in the church?

Yes! The seat pillars, which we call tenets, make the church ecumenical in outlook, Pentecostal in power, prophetic in ministry, evangelical  in mission, so it was founded on prophetic and healing mandates and gifts, like you have rightly said and these still exist till date.  On Tabieorar day, if you are opportune to come, you will see people giving testimonies of diverse things God has done, naturally, with healing and the prophecies  given to them, which come to pass.

Since you took the mantle of leadership, how has the church fared?

To God be the glory, God has really been working because He is the owner of the church. Physically, God has been adding to us, the church is growing and it is now existing in many countries where it never existed before. I am glad that you have been at Mount Tabieorar, you see there is so much development to the glory of God. So, as  I said, we are increasing in all ramifications to be candid; physically, spiritually and by the grace of God we have three major spiritual programmes annually. It is not only Tabieorar that we have now, we have Resurrection in April, Tabieorar in August, and we have Breakthrough in December. You will see that it is every four months. It is not the plan of man, but of the doing of the Lord, because it comes through spiritual inspiration.

What is Tabieorar?

Tabieorar itself is a programme God instituted through the founder for human beings to receive blessings from above. It is a covenantal place and a covenantal programme. The most important thing is that when you enter into a covenant with God, whatever maybe your need or request, there is nothing too big for God. Just tell God that if you do this and that for me, the following year I will come to redeem my vow… that is why you see people come in thousands every year to redeem their vows, even non-members! All Christians from every denomination come, then Muslims come, even traditionalists. They still believe in this Tabieorar. We have somebody that we know, a babalawo (herbalist) that comes to Mount Tabieorar to pray, he is still a herbalist, but he believes that any prayer he says on this mount is fulfilled for him. I want to say that even Pentecostals church pastors, many of them! They sometimes come in groups or batches every year to pray and make vow to God.

So, what’s so special about Tabieorar?

God has been performing miracles of different kinds, but two or three years ago, one lady who is married to a church member of ours, while she attended Redeemed Christian Church of God, had challenges of child bearing. They live together in Ibadan, two to three years ago into the marriage, no issue. She was not even pregnant not to talk of losing the pregnancy… Eventually, she came and she was blessed with the fruit of the womb. About two or three years ago, she came with the baby to give testimony to God and also redeemed her vows. The miracles have been uncountable. But let me tell you something very distinct, which has more to do with prophecy. At Mount Tabieorar in 1983, the late Papa Adejobi told everybody that the military would take over government from Shagari and the SSS, or whatever they are called by that time, said he should defend himself and he was arrested. They started to question him, asking about his military friends and whom he was planning coup with, in order to take over the government. He said he had no friends in the military, that he only voiced a revelation. So, after the questions and everything, they saw that he was persistent in his statement, so they released him. And as we had it, by December 1983, Shagari was toppled.

Before that, Papa Ositelu himself sent a written message he had already told everybody to Papa Awolowo: “You were born a leader, but there are certain things that you must do. You have to come to Ogere to pray and fast. Only then, thereafter, you can become the political leader of Nigeria.” Awolowo was a Christian, but He took it as a joke and said: “What colour of angel showed you this?” And we all know the result today, he never became the prime minister. When he died, they said he was the best president Nigeria never had and that remark remains a fact till today. He was acknowledged as the best in Nigeria at least in his own time, not only in Nigeria, but also overseas.

We all know what happened on September 11, 2001 in New York. A year before that on this Mount Tabieorar, God showed me that a terrible situation was going to happen in the U.S. We wrote it down, and you know Tabieorar revelation is in printed format. We sent two copies to the American Embassy in Lagos then, and they acknowledged it, for the first time, because the ones we had been sending, they never acknowledged. But this particular one was acknowledged, with a letter which is in our archives… and see what happened! We are not happy that it happened, but the word of God must be fulfilled, if you are a prophet of God, when you prophesy, your prophecy must come into fulfillment.

But Tabieorar seems to have given way to more popular Pentecostal retreats such as the RCCG’s Holy Ghost festival

What happened is very simple. Any religious camp or festival in Nigeria copied Tabieorar, because most of all these Pentecostal churches were not in existence in the 70s and 80s. But the difference is very simple, we are very authentic. We don’t mix anything to it and we don’t try to package it to become fanciful or to impress people as some do. We rather impress God than impress people and that’s why we have been growing. So, that’s the difference! And the bible says it is not necessarily where people are so plenty that the Spirit of God is. If you look at examples, which are very symbolic of churches in the world, in Revelation 2 vs 23, there are seven churches. It’s only one God approved of the seven, and it’s one with a small congregation, all others, he condemned and declared, “Go repent”, “go and amend your ways.”

Another thing is, some of the new generation churches tend to look down on white-garment churches in terms of their liturgical practices, the use of candle, oil, water, incence, etc in worship and prayers. Your take on this?

My take on it is very simple. It is lack of spiritual knowledge. I know one of them very well, a very humble man. In a book he wrote and published around early 2000s he condemned all these things- holy water, candle, oil. But today, all these things are being sold in his church camp, which is one of the biggest in Nigeria. They sell handkerchief, oil and many other things, which we give freely, because freely it was given.

So, why are you camping here? Praying and fasting for Nigeria, praying for peace to reign in the world and God to change the situation of this country. And during that prayer God revealed some things to me, which is going to be printed in that book. And I can tell you this right now, God says that He is doing something new, but the people of Nigeria did not perceive it, that He is going to change the fortune of Nigeria, if the leaders listen to the people and their will.

Precisely what do you mean by that?

He is telling us that the present leadership, if I am to say, should take fiscal federalism and restructuring seriously. If it is done, Nigerians, within two to three years, will see dramatic changes in this country, which they never thought are possible, if the leaders  do that, they will experience a change for the better. And God went further to say, let me give you in one sentence, that He is going to restore the glory that was with Nigeria in the 60s, when Nigeria was first in Africa. God says if the government will introduce restructuring and fiscal federalism, Nigeria will become, again, the most glorious country in Africa. The consequences of turning deaf ear will be grave and the economic situation of the country will get worse and there will be pandemonium all over the country. There are many other revelations for the world, revelation for Nigeria, for individual countries, for ECOWAS, and so on and so forth.

(Cuts in) Do share them with us, sir

Let me share the one for the United Nations. God is warning the UN to make sure that they don’t allow any powerful country to mistreat a smaller country, because of their military power and money. First, that they should do everything towards peace, they should pursue peace rigorously to avoid a third world war. It will be different from the Second World War.  It would just be among two and about four or five countries, but, with very devastating result. Many would die. It is a resounding warning to the United Nations to be impartial and to pursue the way of peace.

Okay, how soon are we getting out of economic recession?

Well, by the grace of God 2018, according to the vision God has given to us, 2018 speaks of thanksgiving, we will, even start experiencing it towards the end of 2017, but by 2018, by the grace of God we will be getting out of recession.

There’s tension in the land due to escalating hate speeches, intolerance, ethnic agitations in recent times. Ambassador Emeka Anyaokwu, last week warned that Nigeria was sleep-walking into disaster. Do you agree with him and do you see threatening war in Nigeria as being feared?

Oh sure! Hate speeches is another dangerous phenomenon currently causing disaffection in the country, how does one explain the clamour by the Northern youths for the Igbo to quit the North by October 1, 2017? Drumming up songs of disunity does not augur well for any nation. We have to imbibe the culture of religious tolerance, eschew tribalism, nepotism, and emphasize the factors that unite us, rather than those that divide us. Unity in diversity should be used as a source of great strength for Nigeria. God is love, He is one Supreme Lord, yet He manifests himself in diverse ways in the affairs of men. So, the decision by Federal Government to send the Executive bill to the National Assembly containing its laws and punishment for hate speech is a welcome development. It is something that, you must deal with quickly, so that it would not degenerate into another thing entirely. The church does not exist in a vacuum and therefore has a duty to speak out at times like this.

Some people believe the churches could be more relevant to their teeming population and national development by setting up large scale farms and factories to provide jobs to the army of unemployed youths and graduates, rather than grandiose projects such as establishment of universities funded with members’ monetary contributions but, to which they cannot afford to send their children. Your view?

The government alone cannot satisfy the needs as far as education is concerned. We can see that of the number of people wanting to study in higher institutions, maybe eight million school leavers, government can only absorb eight thousand. So, the private entities, missions are needed to assist the government in education. It should be something of partnership. Not the way it is done in Nigeria, anyway. Having said that, we have some institutions, some churches mission that also established universities and whose fees are relatively low, compared to the ones of government, because some of these state universities are asking for almost N100,000, N120,000, depending on your faculty. We also want to establish a university to assist the masses that do not have the chance to enter government university. But then, when it is established, the fees will be as those in the federal universities.

Having said that, the missions can also within their financial capacity help the youths particularly in farming. Maybe one of the problems is because they are doing many things, you know many missions have hospitals and the youths are engaged in it. There are the nurses, doctors, gate men and all the rest of it.

They have schools, we also have schools, we engage the youths, women. We thank God that we are able to pull some through our engagement.  Engaging them in farming will seem easier for government than private people or missions, government can appropriate land for the greater good of the society. There is a law to that effect, as long as what they want to do will benefit the masses, there is a law that government can take your land. But missions cannot just take anybody’s land.

If you want to do industrial farming you need large expanse of farmland. So, I think that is the challenges most of the missions are having, and I know some missions that are already engaging in small -scale farming. Actually, that is not a solution, what we need is large industrial farming and I think if the government could partner with the missions, we would get there sooner than later.

Let’s get back to you, how has bearing the burden of the office been?

Well, God has been doing it, because it is not by choice, but God’s will that I am here today.  During the valedictory service of the Aladura Seminary Institute for the seminarians, I gave a testimony, I was just exhorting them that your mission is not about money, it’s about the calling. If it were, I used myself as example, I won’t come back to be the primate, because this primateship and Nigeria.

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