Dr. Bolaji Akinyemi is a gospel preacher of repute and a brilliant political analyst and activist. He takes Christian Benefits through his childhood experiences, his response to the political apathy of the Nigerian church and his suggestions for peaceful, free and fair 2023 elections in Nigeria in the below wide-range interview with Christian Benefits. Excerpts.
Sir, some people see you as an apostle of Jesus Christ, while some others see you as a political activist. So, how will you like to be introduced?
I will like to be introduced simply as a man of God doing God’s bidding. I move to wherever the Lord leads me; fashionable or unfashionable. I understand the will of God, and also that I will be accountable to Him at the end of my race on the basis of my conviction and persuasion of people doing the right things on the earth.
Can we have a look at your background and to what extent will you say your background influenced what you are doing today as a preacher and activist?
I am the first son of Alhaji Nasir Adesina Babatunde Ogunseye (N.A.B) and Dorcas Aduke Ogunseye. My father was a respected Muslim cleric while my mother was a practicing Christian. So, I grew up under the influence of both religions. I was my father’s favorite. He wanted me to attend Islamic school to be schooled in Islamic but I didn’t want that. In order to avoid my enrollment in an Islamic school I intentionally did not put my names on the school entrance examination answer sheets for two consecutive years. My father investigated why my names were missing in both examinations. All I wanted was to attend a missionary school like most of friends; wearing ties and looking smart. I didn’t fancy the dressing of Islamic school students. And as fate would have it, my father was transferred to a town in another state where there was only one secondary school, and it was a Christian school. I sat for the entrance examination into that Christian school and cleared all my papers. My father was a disciplinarian. If he had scores to settle with you, it was going to be a terrible one. Most times whenever he had issues to settle with my siblings I always advocated for them. So, I can say my advocacy and political activism started from childhood. Even after I became a born again Christian I still have the natural tendency of challenging authorities to the extent that some people tag my activism rebellion.
What then informed your studying agricultural science instead of law?
I studied agricultural science as a victim of the Nigerian system. Actually, it was one of my friends that bought for me the forms to study agricultural science at the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTEC) and I paid dearly for studying that course because the school was structured in a way that did not meet my expectations. However, I graduated as the best student in a particular course; animal production and nutrition. I never went back to horticulture and vegetable irrigation practical water provision. I picked what I wanted and simply went away and made an outstanding success of it. I am a lesson to Nigeria. I later discovered where I am today by divine direction.
When did you begin your involvement in the political affairs of Nigeria?
I began my involvement in the political affairs of Nigeria from my involvement in Ezim Giwa-Amu Prayer for the Nation group during former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration. I didn’t know God was preparing me for a bigger task in the country until the crisis over the death of President Umoru Yar’Adua when the Lord spoke through me while I was preaching for now Bishop Tayo Omoniyi in Delta state that an Ijaw man would take over the leadership of Nigeria. Three days later Dr. Goodluck Jonathan; an Ijaw man became president of Nigeria.
Despite having a prophetic revelation of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan becoming president of Nigeria why were you one of the staunch critics of his administration?
I became a staunch critic of the Jonathan administration when the president started misbehaving. The Jonathan administration led the country into her present mess. Ironically, the leadership of the Church was looking away from the mess Jonathan was leading the country. So, I came out and boldly told the Church leadership that their support for President Jonathan despite his misdeeds was unethical. I warned the Church leadership the ways things were being done under the Jonathan administration with their tacit support would lead the country into complications. They rallied support for Jonathan despite his misdeeds because he is a Christian; whereas the Christian faith practice is a personal affair. It is not a public service. People coming into public office and interpreting the office from the myopic view of their faith in a secular country as Nigeria is not ideal for balanced leadership.
Why are you also critical of the current Buhari administration despite being a card-carrying member of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
I started criticizing the APC/Buhari administration from the day Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) became the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s presidential flag bearer for the 2015 presidential election. For me Dr. Rabiu Kwakwasso, one of the APC presidential ticket contestants in 2015 was the best among the contestants. He is young, vibrant and intelligent. So people like me rooted for Kwakwasso to pick the APC presidential ticket for the 2015 presidential election. Unfortunately, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) clinched the party ticket. So, we had no choice but to believe that something good can still come out of him. My reservations about Gen Buhari (Rtd) being Nigeria’s president are what we are all experiencing today.
Nigeria is on the match again towards 2023 general elections, especially the presidential election. As a political analysis and activist, what are some the things Nigerians must do to get good government from the 2023 elections?
Even if we know the things to do to get good government from the 2023 elections, especially the presidential election, some of them cannot be done. Basically, one major thing that we must do is restructuring of the country. If we restructure the country the pressure at the centre will be reduced. Presently, too much power is concentrated at the centre, and which is unhealthy for true federalism. So, there is a need for us to loosen the hold at the centre. This will create more developmental activities and healthy competitive economy among all the tiers of government. In so doing Nigerians can have fulfillment politically, economically and socially.
What should Nigerian masses do to birth a new and better Nigeria in 2023?
The Nigerian masses should come to terms with the fact that they need a better and global president as leader of the country from 2023. The power to hire and fire a president is within the rights and might of the citizenry. Nigeria needs a global-thinking president from 2023 to lead her. Unfortunately, Nigerians have just two choices of disappointing political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from which to elect their president in 2023.
How then can Nigerians break from the strongholds of the APC and the PDP?
Nigeria needs a stronger third force to break from the strongholds of the APC and the PDP. A vibrant third force is the only hope of Nigeria’s freedom from the shackles of the APC and the PDP. I want to remain neutral on the political structure of this country so that when I speak, I speak objectively regardless of the political party in power.
You have a platform called LAGOS. Tell us the efforts of the platform towards raising a third force as a better and vibrant alternative to both the APC and the PDP
In 2020, we inaugurated the Apostolic Round Table (ART) which featured Rev. Dr. Felix Omobude, then National President of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) among other speakers. The platform was preceded by Leaders After God’s Own Spirit (LAGOS) platform. This year, on February 24 2022 we are holding another ART conference with the theme “Green shift.” The concept is a shift in leadership productivity at which we shall discuss life that borders on ideas, policies and transparency. We still have life in Nigeria. There will always be life either good or bad. All one needs is to seek transformation for the sort of life one desires.
What are some of the expectations from the 2022 ART conference?
At this year 2022 ART conference we are moving away from the norms. We want people out there to speak up. One of the speakers at the conference is a lady who is going to share with us how she picked up her life back from a terrible situation. The youth particularly will learn a lot from her experience. Gen. Pat Akem (rtd.) is another speaker at the 2022 ART conference. I listened to him on transformation and leadership and was swept off my feet. Our objective is to bring into the consciousness of Nigerians that once there is life, there is hope. Another speaker at the conference is Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa who will speak on policy. He was part of Vision 2010 that gave came up with several lofty and laudable visions that would have helped Nigeria. We want to tap from his ideas on policy at the conference. (Continues next edition)