#Interview

Ooni, Naomi, perfect combination – Rev Oladapo

Interview November 7.JPGRev John Ayo Oladapo is the Ondo State Chairman Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.  In this interview with MARY AGIDI, he spoke extensively on issues relating to the development of the nation, how religious leaders can contribute to politics and good governance in Nigeria, the roles of the electorate in choosing right leaders come 2019 general elections.

Excerpt.

Is it right for Christians to be involved in politics?

Christians should be involved in politics because politics deals with the process of distributing the resources of the nation for the good of the people and it’s the affairs of ruling the people.  Christians are part of the citizens of the nation and therefore there’s nothing bad in them being part of the politics of where they belong and being governed.

Are you saying it’s scriptural for born-again Christians to be partisan?

It is scriptural, it is encouraging for christians to go into politics because the Bible says we are the salt of the world and if we are the salt of the world we should therefore be part of the government of the day. We have examples in the Bible, the likes of Joseph, he was a good example of a Prime Minister in Egypt , we have the case of Daniel who was a committed christian and in governance, so christians are the ones who ought to rule because they possess the light, they are the light of the world. They are to go there and ensure that they shine in the darkness of the world, Christians in the past have paid lip service to governance and politics and that is why they are now coming on board, people felt that it is not meant for cristians.  Is it unbelievers, the pagans, sadists that politics is meant for? No.  Born-again christians are to be in politics, they are to vye for offices and be part of the government.

How do you think a born-again christian who cannot share money succeed in the face of money politics in Nigeria where christian electorate prefer to sell their votes for money?

We are praying that we will get to a level where there will not be godfatherism in politics, where there will not be monetisation of the electoral processes, where there will not be fetish practices in election. It is disheartening to hear that people are motgaging their conscience by selling their votes. What we are hearing now is people doling out millions of naira before they can be elected. Christians who are just coming up and have not been in politics cannot just appear overnight and have their way, they have to be part of the processes, not to go and be doling out money or sell their conscience.

What should be the roles of religious leaders in politics and good governance?

Religious leaders have the responsibility of educating the people as regards their rights, what is expected of them, how they should behave. It is equally the duty of religious leaders to encourage their members to be of good behaviour in wherever they find themselves being in politics or whatsoever. Importantly in politics, it is expected that religious leaders will encourage their members to be law abiding, following the rules and regulations that govern politics. It is equally part of the duties of the religious leaders to ensure that civic education is taught in church, people should know their civic responsibilities, they are to encourage their members to shun politics of bitterness, to play politics according to the rules of the game.

In governance, it’s expected that Christian leaders are to encourage their members to be faithful , dedicated, and committed to the course of which they have been employed to serve. And for those in elective positions, they should display good characters that christians are known for in that offices and make sure their lives will not tarnish the image of Christ that they represent.

Have religious leaders contributed enough to the development of the nation in terms of giving adequate advice to our political leaders?

Majority of our early fathers who brought about religion and politics to this nation were christians. And right from that period till now, religious leaders have been encouraging , educating their members of what are expected of them. They have done their best.  However, there are still rooms for improvement, we can still do more. We cannot say we have done enough and have no reason to do again, we will continue to do until the best we anticipate come.

Some christians, during working hours are seen abandoning their duty posts to mountains for prayers. What is your reaction to this?

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 says there are times for everything under the Sun, time to sleep, time to work, time to pray not until when you get to a mountain top before we can pray. I can pray at my leisure time in office, even without disturbing my neighbor in the office. It is between me and God.  Not until I get to mountain before my prayers would be answered, not until when I abandon my place of work that my prayers would be answered, I cannot subscribe to people who are in the habit of leaving their places of work to go to mountains or church programmes during the office hours , when they are supposed to be in the office.  It is not morally justifiable for anyone to abandon his/her place of work for programmes.

Some Nigerian churches are very rich, is there not a way they can help to reduce unemployment in the country?

Churches are creating employment. We have those that have schools, industries, farms where people are working.  We have gotten to an era where we need to educate ourselves that white collar jobs are nowhere again. One of the things that churches are doing now is to orientate our members that they should be employers of labour, rather than to be running after white collar jobs, because gradually robots are replacing human beings, now doing what men are supposed to do. The reality should be dawning on us that job is nowhere, it is actually in most cases not the fault of the government. People should think of what to do with their hands and this is what churches have been doing. It is the small scale industries that drive the economy, churches have been encouraging this, organising seminars, however we can still do more.

We have so many universities in Nigeria established by churches, and the congregation contributed  to set them up. However, majority of these people cannot afford enrolling their children and wards in these institutions due to the high fees, is it supposed to be so?

What do you mean by high fees?

I meant some of these universities collect N400,000, N500,000 and above, while majority of the church members cannot afford such.

How much is being paid in Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko? Akungba pays over a N100,000 and yet receives subvention from the government. What else do you want the church to do? There have never been a free education anywhere ,even since the beginning of education.  The white people that brought education here that was termed to be free, some people paid for it somewhere else. Do you know how many lecturers are in each department and faculty? Those members who claimed that the school fees are high or higher than the expected, have children in private primary and other secondary schools where they pay N400,000. Hypocrites are the people saying such. These members have children in nursery and primary schools where they pay N50,000 per term, and multiply by three terms making N150,000 per session. A secondary school here in Akure pays over N100,000 per term.  That is over N300,000 per session, even some federal government schools now are paying as higher as N100,000 and you want a higher institution of research to pay less?

Sir, there should be a difference between a university owned by an individual and that of the church because church is meant to provide succour to the congregation

Where do you expect the church to get the money to run the institution to come from? Do you know that every member of that church has a rebate.  Do your research, all what I have been telling people all this while without being biased is that these mission schools are not too expensive, people who are saying that are enemies of the church and it’s these enemies of the church that brought up this argument in a way to spite the church. In BOWEN University now if you are a member of the church, you pay a certain percentage and if you also belong to the group of clergy, there is another percentage for you.

On the forthcoming general elections, what is your advice for INEC, the political leaders, and the electorate?

INEC should be sincere, INEC should not cause trouble for this nation, we have been seeing INEC tending to work towards favouring certain political party, people are watching. INEC should not push people to the wall that there will be revolution in the nation. INEC should count the votes and ensure that there is no manipulation, nobody should call from any quarter to declare an election inconclusive or to change figures. We have not verify but we are hearing that some people are collecting PVCs but we are doing our findings on it, and when we are through we will speak to the Press about it. We have deployed people out to investigate for us. You journalists too should go and do your findings and don’t hide your report.

To the politicians, they should not induce people, they should tell people the programmes they have for us and what they want to achieve base on their previous and present records, so that people can judge.

And to the electorate, we should examine who and who can really deliver, and vote for them and not to sell our votes.

 Recently a Prophetess got married to a traditional ruler and the issue generated a lot of criticism that it is not biblical.  What is your take on this?

I will answer your question with a question. Is it not possible for a traditional ruler to be a Christian? If it’s possible and a prophetess is married to a traditional ruler, that is royalty to kingship. It is a perfect combination, if the Prophetess is a Prophetess indeed, and if Ooni is indeed a human being, I don’t see any reason why they should not marry, since we know that marriage is about love.

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