THE SUN Newspaper

The Federal Government has been advised to declare a day of national prayer and fasting as part of efforts to ensure that unity and peace of the nation is not threatened by series of crises and agitations taking place in different parts of the country.

Making the appeal in an interview with SATURDAY SUN, His Royal Majesty, the Osile Oke Ona, Egba, Oba Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and members of his cabinet to call out all Nigerians irrespective of religious affiliation or ethnic background to a day of national prayer and fasting.

A renowned evangelist and first class traditional ruler, Oba Tejuoso who is also a medical doctor, led the Southwest delegation to the 1994 National Conference organized by late Gen. Sani Abacha’s government. Fielding questions from TUNDE THOMAS, the respected monarch talked at length about the Abacha’s conference, the late M.K.O Abiola, Gen. Oladipo Diya’s role in Abiola’s trial and the conditional bail offered him by Abacha’s government and other national issues. He also made a shocking revelation on why he has to keep his three wives despite being a born again Christian.

What is your assessment of Nigeria at 57, would you say that Nigeria of today is the one envisioned by the nation’s founding fathers?

I will say yes and no. The dream of our founding fathers I believe was that Nigeria would be one and remain one forever. Thank God that as far as that is concerned, Nigeria is still one. But those of us presently running Nigeria whether as leaders or as followers, it is the responsibility of each and everyone of us to make sure that there is unity in Nigeria. Some people are talking about restructuring Nigeria, yes, restructuring is good, but you can only restructure a building whose foundation is still solid. The foundation of Nigeria as envisioned by the founding fathers is faulty, and the Bible says that what can a righteous do when the foundation is faulty.

The only thing you can do is to call upon God, if the foundation is faulty and you start restructuring, you are just wasting your time, money and everything. But if you call upon God to come and help He will do so. But God will not interfere in your affairs, unless you call on Him. But if we call on God and say sorry we have missed it, I believe God will then come and do it Himself. If we can do this by calling upon God, you will be surprised about what will become of Nigeria.

Nigeria in the sight of God is a precious child. God has a purpose for Nigeria. God is taking Nigeria places and if that is the plan of God, how can anybody then break Nigeria. God doesn’t want Nigeria to break, and Nigeria will not break. I know this because before I went to the national conference organized by late General Sani Abacha in 1994, God told me about six months before that I was to be called upon for a national duty.

God told me that whenever I would be called upon for this national assignment, that I would face a lot of difficulties and antagonism. But God said I should go in spite of all the opposition that I would face because He was the one sending me. So when the call came, I had no doubt in mind that that was what God was talking about. I tell you, and I mean what I’m saying, if I and other Southwest delegates didn’t go to that conference, Nigeria would have broken up.

If you remember, there was a lot of pressure and calls by some Nigerians especially in the Southwest that the Southwest should boycott that conference organised by General Abacha because many people saw Abacha as a usurper who instead of handing over power to MKO Abiola who many believed won the June 12, 1993 presidential elections held on to power after sacking the Interim National Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan.

Some insisted that Southwest should boycott that conference. Others described those of us representing the Southwest at the conference as the second team and not the best from the geopolitical zone. But to me the important thing is that the Southwest was represented at that conference.

What was the crux of the matter, a Yoruba man, late Chief MKO Abiola was expected to take over the presidency of Nigeria, but that election was annulled by the military. Going to that conference like I said earlier for me was divine. I went to that Abacha conference on divine instruction. God in His own wisdom made us realize that probably those who annulled that election would not restore MKO Abiola’s mandate.

Therefore on getting to that conference, the Southwest delegation, which I led insisted that even if the military would not restore Abiola’s mandate, we then insisted that the next president of the country must be a Yoruba man. This is why General Abdusalami Abubakar, and other military leaders that took over after Abacha’s death were forced to shop for a Yoruba man to take over in 1999.

So it was the Southwest delegation that forced that decision on the military?

Yes. We insisted that a Yoruba man should be the next president if they would not restore Abiola’s mandate. Although, I was the leader of the Southwest delegation but to me it was God that led us. The military in their own wisdom then met, and agreed. But the problem that immediately faced them was which Yoruba man can they trust, Obasanjo who was part of them then came to their mind. That was how Obasanjo was released from the prison to contest the election. That to my own mind was the greatest achievement of the Southwest delegates to that Abacha’s confab.

I strongly believe that God has a purpose for Nigeria to be one, and I believe that purpose will soon manifest. Nigeria is not going to break.

But of recent, following series of crises here and there, and agitations in some parts of the country, some prophets have come out to declare that Nigeria is going to break …

Cuts in … Nigeria is not going to break. Forget all those prophets and their so-called prophecies. God doesn’t want Nigeria to break. God has not revealed to me that Nigeria is going to break. God has a purpose for Nigeria. God told me that Nigeria is going to become a world power. The time is what we don’t know but by the grace of God, it will be in our own time. There are prophets and there are prophets. But I want to say categorically that those prophets saying Nigeria would break up are not hearing from God.

Some Nigerians are believing all these prophecies about break up of Nigeria

Nigerians should remain calm. They should not be afraid. This country is not going to break up. What we need is to move closer to God. As a royal father and also a servant of the Most High, I want to assure Nigerians that Nigeria is not going to break, but we should move closer to God, do His will and not our own will.

What is happening to us today following series of agitations and crises here and there is happening because we are doing our own will and not the will of God. We are trusting in our own wisdom and not the wisdom of God. We are not allowing God to take control of our affairs. We are not putting God first in what we are doing.

In those days, when we put God first, we were progressing, but today we have neglected God, and left undone those things we are supposed to have done. Let’s get back to the beginning and that’s why I said earlier that our foundation is faulty. What has helped United States of America today? God first, then the country next, and then individuals follow. But here it is self, self, self and corruption. We are self-centred. Without seeking righteousness, it will be difficult for us to progress.

Are you saying Kabiyesi that it is spiritual restructuring that Nigeria needs first?

That’s right. We need to get our spiritual foundation right. Although I agree that we may need to call a conference to address all those issues that are leading to agitations here and there, but discussing them we have to start everything with God.

The Bible says build your house on the rock, because a house built on the rock will endure whereas the one built on sand will collapse when there is a storm. A house built on sand refers to us human beings – human beings, we are dust. But God is the rock, and that’s why anything you do with God will always endure whereas any venture undertaken with human wisdom is never reliable. We must put God first in whatever we are doing.

Are you then in support of calls by some Nigerians that the federal government should declare a national day of prayer and fasting for us to seek the face of God so that things can be alright with our nation?

I once organized a day of national fasting and prayer for Nigeria. The year before (2016) – last year was 20th year of my mother’s death. During the advertorial I placed in a national daily commemorating her death. I advised federal government that if possible that the president should call all Nigerians out irrespective of religions, to call us out for a day of fasting, prayer and praising God.

If we can repent, God will heal us and heal our land. But God wants us to repent first, and that sign of repentance through fasting and prayers has to come through a directive from the country’s leader. If we can organize a day of fasting, prayer and thanksgiving it will go a long way in appeasing God. It must be a day all of us will show remorse before God. Thank God, President Muhammadu Buhari is trying his best but he alone can’t do it. He and his cabinet can’t do it alone, they have to invite God.

Some Nigerians have described the presidential system of government which we run as being expensive, and that a return to parliamentary system of government which we practised before would help reduce cost of governance, what’s your take on that?

I also agree that presidential system of government is expensive, and it is one of the reasons why I said earlier that we may need to organize another conference to address some of these issues.

The constitutional conference of 1994 of which I was a delegate was tagged Sovereign National Conference, that was the pronouncement that was made when it was inaugurated, but unfortunately at the end of it because it didn’t go the way some people expected it to go to favour them, they jettisoned that confab’s reports and recommendations by setting up another committee and series of other confabs have been organized after. But one thing I want to say is this, Nigeria has paid dearly for jettisoning that 1994 confab organized by Abacha because some of the recommendations by the confab if implemented would have enabled us to move forward as a nation.

For instance, some of the prices we have paid for jettisoning Abacha’s confab was when late President Umar Yar’Adua died, there was almost a crisis over whether Jonathan who was the Vice President should take over or not because some people especially in the North were not happy that Jonathan, a Southerner would take over, and not allow the North represented by the late Yar’Adua to complete its four year tenure and possibly another four years to make up two terms.

Whereas we made provisions in that 1994 Abacha conference that if a northerner dies in office, another northerner should occupy his position until that term is finished, vice-versa for a Southerner. This would have helped to douse tension.

Unfortunately those who were not at the conference who did not understand the enormous work we did at the conference formed the bulk of those who drafted the 1999 Constitution, and so all those checks and balances that we made provisions for in the 1994 Conference were not included in the 1999 constitution.

During the 1994 confab we made provision for rotational presidency, and this would have helped to stabilize Nigeria. We recommended that rotational presidency should start with the Southwest who were aggrieved over injustice meted out to Abiola through that annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential elections. We also made a lot of recommendations on fiscal revenue and devolution of power.

We removed a lot of things from exclusive list, and we got things moving. One of our recommendations again is that membership of National Assembly should be on a part time basis. Implementing all these would have saved a lot of cost. We also recommended a single term presidency. One term presidency of five year term would have saved us the pains of do-or-die politics, and also help us save cost.

We also recommended that 30 percent of ministers in the cabinet should be taken from the National Assembly or the Parliament, this would also help us save cost. All these duplication of political offices and appointees that is costing us a lot of money would not have arisen.

But do you believe that it is because Abacha organized the conference that made subsequent governments to jettison the confab’s reports and recommendations?

I strongly believe so. That 1994 confab organized by Abacha contained a lot of recommendations that if implemented would have helped move Nigeria forward as a nation but because of one man, Abacha, because some Nigerians despised the man they jettisoned the confab thereby throwing away the baby with the bath water, and we are all paying the price for it today.

Recently when you were outside the country on vacation, former chief security officer to late Gen. Sani Abacha, Major Al Mustapha was reported as saying that you were one of those eminent Nigerians who tried to persuade late MKO Abiola to take the conditional bail offered him by the Abacha government but some Nigerians doubted Al Mustapha’s claims, what’s the true position of things on this issue?

Those days were a bit turbulent in Nigeria’s history. Let me start by saying that it is very unfortunate that a lot of people misunderstood General Oladipo Diya who was then Gen. Sani Abacha’s second-in-command, his deputy, Diya really tried a lot for Yoruba at that time. Diya was the one that ensured that it was arranged that Abiola should be given that bail that would have secured his freedom. They chartered a plane in my name and the arrangement was that as soon as the judgment was given that Abiola would be put on the plane and that six people including myself would fly with him to his house in Ikeja, Lagos. Our mission was to get to Ikeja and return to Abuja to continue attending the constitutional conference because the constitutional conference was still going on that time. Everything was supposed to be an overnight issue.

I was about going to the church that day when Gen. Diya called me that the case would be coming up that day and that they have arranged that when they finished the case at the court that Abiola would be taken to my house to stay there and rest, and that at night, we would all fly to Lagos.

But it was when the issue of conditional bail came up that problem arose. Abiola refused to sign the conditional bail offered him. He was later told to follow them to come and see me, and sign the conditional bail in my presence. But Abiola was reported to have claimed that if he followed them to my house that I would try to convince him to sign, and he thereafter refused to follow them to see me. But to me all these things have to do with destiny. I believe that God has destined it that that was the way Abiola would go.

Everything was done to free him. Gen. Diya tried his best and I believe we should give him that credit. One of the conditions given to Abiola was that he should not travel outside the country but Abiola was the key communications man in Nigeria in those days. From his room, he could control and communicate with any part of the world.

It is unfortunate that some people just hardened him, some people hardened Abiola’s heart and from then, Abiola started listening to man instead of God, and man eventually misled him.

Is it actually true that at a point you met Abiola one-on-one?

Yes, I met Abiola. Abacha arranged for me to meet him twice. One of my meetings with Abiola took place at a police station, and the second one took place at Gen. Diya office or lodge. Thank God for His mercies, one lesson we must learn from Abiola’s death is that never trust a man but God. It was men that misled Abiola.

But some Nigerians were saying that Abiola was right in rejecting that conditional bail, that taking it would have amounted to compromising his principle …

Cuts in … Compromising which principle? Which principle are you compromising? If Abiola had been alive today, he probably would have been president of Nigeria. If he had taken that bail, I believe that if Abiola had recontested the election, he would have become president of Nigeria. If God had not destined it that that was the way Abiola would go, I bet he would have become president of Nigeria by now.

As a royal father, with very tight schedule, how do you find time to organize crusades, and carry out evangelism work?

I find time for evangelism because I love God, and if you love God, the only way to show Him that you love Him is to obey Him.

Jesus Christ says go into the world and preach the gospel. That was his last injunction to us. Anybody who now says he believes in Christ and refuses evangelism is not doing the will of God, and your own will is nothing if you are not doing the will of God.

You have to abandon your own will completely and then embrace God’s own will completely. That’s when you now become a perfect human being. Everything to do to control your world is in the Bible.

Can you recall the beginning of your journey into evangelism?

I became a born-again on 5th August 1992. I was already a king by then. I received the altar call when Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the G.O of Redeemed Christian Church of God was preaching at Saint Peter’s Church, Ake in Abeokuta when the then Alake, Oba Oyebade Lipede was celebrating the 20th anniversary of his coronation.

It was Pastor Adeboye that even reminded me a year or two later that he was surprised that when he made an altar call that day that I was the only king who gave his life to Christ. That’s why I remember that day vividly, and since then I have been fully immersed in Christ with members of my family. Since 25 years ago, I have been fully involved in evangelism. God has been my strength. It is God who has been doing it for me. Anything I do is not me, but it is Christ in me that is doing it. Without Christ, I can’t do anything.

Can you recall any occasion, or has there been any occasion when your faith has brought you in conflict with traditionalists in your domain?

There have been countless occasions but Christ has always prevailed. The work of evangelism is not a tea affair – it is a serious business but when Christ is in you, you will always prevail. I remember my encounter with Obatala worshippers. When God gave me divine revelation and instruction that I should destroy all forms of idolatory shrines in my domain.

I was given divine instruction to start in my own compound, Karunwi compound at Ago-Oko in Abeokuta. The instruction was that the Obatala idol, which is dreaded, feared and worshipped by many people should be destroyed in full public glare.

When I told chiefs and others about the divine instruction, many were afraid, some even told me to my face that anybody that messes up with Obatala idol would not live for up to seven days. But I was not afraid, I was determined to do the will of God, and not the will of man.

With Jesus Christ in me, and in the full glare of members of the public and my chiefs, I went to Obatala shrine and destroyed it. Many were afraid, many were even weeping saying that I have attracted the wrath of the gods to myself by destroying Obatala’s shrine. But when Christ is in you, you can do all things. To God be all the glory, I destroyed Obatala’s shrine, and seven days after I was still alive, and that incident took place on 19th February 2005, and up till today, I’m still alive preaching the gospel.

My evangelical outreach, Oba Karunwi III Evangelical Movement (OKTEM) has been moving round the country from time to time to win souls for Christ. We also organize the annual Kings Day of Praise where traditional rulers from different parts of the country are assembled to give praises to God 24 hours of the day on a particular day for that purpose in October of every year.

But some people have been asking the question, how does Kabyiyesi reconcile being an evangelist with also being a polygamist, that this is in conflict with the gospel work …

Cuts in … Polygamy? First and foremost, polygamy is in the Bible. If there was no polygamy in the Bible, the apostles would not say for you to become a Bishop you must only have one wife. There were so many people in the church who had more than one wife, and that’s why the apostles said that anybody contesting for the office of Bishop must not have more than one wife.

Again let me ask you this, where is King David now? Is he in hell or heaven? He is in heaven. Was he not a polygamist or not? What about Abraham, the father of faith, was he a polygamist or not? I don’t believe that God ever said don’t be a polygamist in the Bible.

Take my own position, these three women with me who are my wives, I had them before I became king. As at that time, I was not born-again. I became born-again in 1992, the three of them as at 1992 had bore children for me. So if now I have accepted Christ into my life and said I want to be a monogamist, and that they should go away, what about the children, am I showing them love that way?

The Bible says whosoever send his wife away will make such a woman to commit adultery and that would amount to sin before God, and I would be held responsible for that. Then talking about restitution, which some people talk about, how do you restitute, should I send my wife and children away? So in all these things one must apply wisdom and reality.

But the most important thing is that if you are a polygamist before accepting Christ, the key thing is that for you to make sure you don’t marry more wives because you have given your life to Christ.

Then secondly, you have admitted Christ into your life, the three wives should also admit Christ into their lives, and which they have done in my own case, I don’t believe there is any problem, I go to crusades with my three wives, we evangelise and preach Christ together. My three wives, children and myself are all immersed in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is in us, and we are all in Christ. We are not leading our own lives again but leading the life of Jesus Christ. We have all become Jesus family. We are now a family fortified by Jesus Christ.

How do you manage competition that is usually associated with a polygamous family setting?

Since we are all in Christ, there is no competition, or unhealthy rivalry. Everybody is happy. If there is any competition at all, it is competition among us on the gospel of Jesus Christ, I mean who will outclass or outshine the other in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In a family where Christ reigns supreme like mine, there is no grumbling, discontentment or sorrow, we are always happy in Christ Jesus. Christ is our role model.


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