Alhaji AbdulSemiu AbdulHammed, the Chief Imam of Ife Central Mosque, Enuwa, Ile-Ife, Osun , has appealed to food stuff sellers against hiking the prices of their foodstuffs during the forthcoming Ramadan.
AbduHameed made the appeal while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Ile-Ife ahead of the Ramadan, which begins less than two weeks’ time.
NAN reports that Ramadan is the period when Moslem faithful fast for 30 days as laid down by Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam.
The religious leader said that Prophet Mohammed made live comfortable for the masses while alive.
There was no reason for traders to make live unbearable for their neighbours, he said.
He admonished them to observe the Ramadan with the fear of Allah and guard against all forms of atrocities that could debar their prayers from being answered by Allah.
The cleric urged them to be generous to the less privileged through their charitable dispositions by giving to the needy during the period.
The imam said that it was good to give to the needy as the giver would be richly blessed by Allah in return.
Let’s have a Nigerian, not ethnic society –Isaac Idahosa
Multi-talented General Overseer of Illumination Assembly headquartered on the bourgeoning Lekki area of Lagos State, Bishop Isaac Idahosa, marked his 53rd birthday last Sunday with pomp. He calls on all to work towards creating a Nigerian society rather than an ethnicentric one in this interview with Tai Anyanwu
What is the significance of your birthday celebration?
It is a way of saying thank you to God for giving me the opportunity to see another year. Not many have the privilege to mark their birthday. 53 years is not 53 months; so the faithfulness of God endears me, motivates me, prompts and prepares me to come back to God and say thank you.
How do you feel about complaints that Christians hardly get involved in politics?
The tide is changing; Christians are getting more involved now because of the awareness and sensitization. From church to church, we are asking people to get involved in politics. If you think you are good and can change the system, you can’t change it from a distance except you get involved in the system. The involvement is tied to the awareness but if you believe that politics is for bad people then can bad people turn things around for good. The awareness is now on and difference will be felt in the 2019 elections.
You promise to visit Benue State soon, how do you want to go about it?
Very soon, as soon as we connect with the authorities, we will go there, render our prayers and kind gesture to assist the people. And I am so glad for some governors who have taken time out of their tight schedules to go and show kindness to the people. It doesn’t matter who is down, once one is down we are all down. Not minding where you come from, we must come together and ensure that Benue State stands back on her feet. Nigeria will move faster if we don’t mind who takes the credit, we must go and be our brother’s keepers.
What is your message to Nigerians as the harsh economic weather persists?
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Any good thing takes time to mature; we are on the right part though people have been clamouring for change a whole lot because their patience has been exhausted. I want them to let God and let go, hold on to the way we have been as nation. We have no other country but Nigeria. We have to support the authorities and pray for the peace of Nigeria and wisdom for those in authority. A whole lot has happened in the last few months; trauma everywhere clamouring because of hardship. We should look beyond the hardship and see what is going to happen. If there anything you must not lose, it is hope. Hope is a goal setter while faith is goal getter. If we believe in the corporate good of this country, we must disallow what disunites us and look for things that bring us together and move us forward.
What is the role of the church in nation building?
We are not just the light of the church; we are the light of the world. The Bible talks about it in the book John chapter one: ‘And the life was the light of men and the light shined in the darkness and darkness could not comprehend it.’ Now the light that shines the farthest must shine the brightest from the base. We are not just the salt of the church; we are the salt of the earth for preservation and sweetness. So the church in her proper place should bring about preservation, the prayers of preservation prayers of Nigeria and the fulfillment corporate destiny.
How do you see the nation’s progress?
So far so good, challenges notwithstanding; challenges make us and problems are attitudinal. A man who is going somewhere must have a lot of challenges here and there. They are not meant to mar him they are meant to make him depending on how one see the challenges.
What is the focus of your foundation?
We have been doing that for quite some time; we want to make it to become voice for the voiceless and assist in different capacities such as giving scholarship to pupils, ensuring that widows find their feet; and we have seen that the little light we show become a vital light for them.
Would you say you have achieved your dream in life at 53?
If I have achieved my dream I should have been raptured ooo. Nobody achieves his dream. Vision or purpose is progressive. You keep progressing, God doesn’t show you everything; he shows you step by step. And one of my keys for success is hearing the voice and word of God and obliging to doing His word. So I have not achieved it; one thing I know is forget the past and forge on forward and giving God the glory. The widest room on earth is the room for improvement. So there is room for me to achieve, there is the capacity for me to grow.
What is your greatest challenge in the ministry?
The greatest challenge is when I couldn’t believe God certain situations in my life and each time I disobeyed God I paid dearly for it. My life is galvanized by ministry, but God is involved the devil can only revolve it cannot devoure me. Ministry has been fun. Nothing is without challenges; like I did say in ministry God calls you and when you call yourself you pay your bills. If it is God’s project then it is his budget.
I was rejected by family members for accepting Christ -Prophet Moses Olagunju
Prophet Moses Ibrahim Olagunju is the founder of Christ Apostolic Church Agbara Olorun Ni Gbani with 50 branches across the country. Born into a Muslim family in Ibadan, he spoke to ESTHER BAKARE about his calling, challenges of the ministry among other sundry issues
Can you tell us about your journey into Christianity?
I became a Christian through the mercy of God. I had a friend in secondary school who preached to me that I should accept Christ and I asked him if there were many ladies in his church that I can befriend because I like girls a lot and he said yes that even his father in the Lord who is the founder of the church married 16 wives and he’s still marrying more. He asked if I will be able to marry up to that and I said I will engage in a competition with the founder over women and he said there is no problem; it is women that made me go to church but I found salvation. That was in December 21, 1983.
Which church are we talking about?
Christ Apostolic Church Agbala Itura, founded by Prophet S.K Abiara. My friend was one of the evangelists of the church that used to preach from one house to another but we met as students of Monatan Community High School in Ibadan then.
What were the challenges you faced from your parents for converting to Christianity from Islam?
There were numerous; my father was dead then, if he were to be alive it would have been tougher for me because my father did not even want to hear anything about Christianity in his family at all. But he died in 1977 and I accepted Christ in 1983. My mother and older siblings rejected me and my younger brother who also accepted Christ with me. We faced challenges to the point that there was nothing left for us. My family stopped paying our school fees to the point that we had to go and carry load/luggage for people in the market early in the morning before we could go to school. We would also go to sites and work as laborers in the afternoon just to get money for feeding and schooling, because of rejection from family members. There was financial and emotional challenges as some of our family members banned us from coming to their houses, we were sent away from home. Some of them said leave them, when they are hungry they will turn back and change their decision, some said leave them they are only going to church because of girls but we were not deterred.
What was the propelling force pushing you to move on in Christ even as a young person then?
I faced a lot of changes, what I observed was that as a Muslim, we believed Islam does not stop one from looking elsewhere for help but Jesus is different. One can approach Him for help personally without going through anybody, what Jesus detests is sin and once you do away with sin, you can approach Jesus for help and He will answer you; you don’t have to go through anybody. Despite the hardship we were facing then, we never approached any herbalist, we found peace in Christ and we were comforted, we did not have to run helter-skelter for help.
When did you receive your calling?
Around that December 21, 1983, when I accepted Christ, I was still a Secondary School student but between 1984 and 1985 as a member of CAC, before the end of 1985, I had started receiving my calling. However, I was wondering that even when I accepted Christ, the whole family rejected me, what if I now become a pastor then hell will be let loose. But with God and because Christianity in those days was backed by Holy Ghost fire baptism so much so that when one gets to the church you will know you have received something from God. You will ask for the Holy Spirit baptism, followed by the word of God through the Sunday school service, then the sermon that will teach one how to be independent in God, knowing God fully, and not prosperity messages that have flooded the church today and these really established us in those days.
How did you receive the name of the church?
It’s not by human wisdom; when I accepted Christ and was led to my spiritual father, Prophet S.K Abiara, he had two schools then; Foundation and Theology School, I attended the Foundation School as being led by the Holy Spirit. I only suffered hardship for three months because I found favour in the sight of Papa Abiara and his wife, I was later transferred to CAC Agbala Itura, Lagos branch where I spent one year and was transferred back to Ibadan as his Personal Assistant. I thought that was the end of my ministry because nothing could separate me from Papa Abiara but God said no. One year to my completion of the Seminary School, the Lord gave me the name of my ministry as CAC Agbara Olorun Ni Gbani.
Sir, you have also spent quite some time in Christ Apostolic Church, what is your take on the song by Evangelist Niyi Adedokun’s hit track during the crisis that ravaged the church in the 80s titled “Oyin So Adun nu” (Honey Has Lost Its Taste and Become Worthless)?
Christ Apostolic Church has not lost its glory in any way. There is only leadership crisis in the church and I want you to look at churches that have faced such crisis and have gone into extinction today. The inspiration of the gospel singer was born out of a negative zeal; it’s likened to someone adding to a small problem. He is like a wrong mediator, making mountain out of a molehill. CAC exists all over the world because the church has the power to confront the kingdom of darkness. It is true that when a leader dies, the church might go into extinction but not so in CAC because God is raising new and powerful leaders.
What makes your calling unique, is it because you are from a Muslim background?
It is the Holy Spirit, I don’t have the wisdom or knowledge or righteousness but once the Holy Spirit comes, the Bible says I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.
What are the challenges you faced since you started the church?
Let me first of all say immediately I accepted Christ, I lost my first child and that was my first fire experience for me to accept the work of ministry and lose a child within one year. Secondly, I faced poverty; I used to trek a long distance from my house to the church which started in a room and parlour apartment. When the ministry started growing, I was labeled a child kidnapper.
The first day the church was launched, a child got lost. The first time, the parents tore my clothes but the child was later found. The second time, the parents said I could not do such a thing but their family members who came from Mushin rejected the claim and said how old am I that my church is growing so fast that they are even hearing of me on the television stations. But because when people come they hear the truth, I was not given a prosperity message to preach. I preach hard truth to people but the grace of God is making them to prosper.
Thank God the child was later found at Seme border. The police asked me to charge them to court so they can pay me for defamation but I said no because I did not fight for myself but God fought for me and the child was found not by my power. The other challenge was my church in Abuja was demolished. That time, it was on a plot of land but today, the church is now on an acre of land. The fourth challenge was that I was kidnapped; one of my boys who was teaching Sunday School had gone to borrow a huge amount of money and was asked to kidnap me so as to sign that I was owing them N800, 000 or I would get killed. God saw me through that and from 7am that I was taken away, I was released around 11pm.
What is your take on succession plan which has made some churches go into extinction today after the demise of the founder?
What I would like to say is that we must be faithful to the one who sent us and also to the nation because we pastors are the ones that can save this country. But if we refuse to say the truth because of our pockets then the country will continue to fall. If we are saying the truth and we have few members, God does not need multitude before He can work. The truth we heard then moved our lives forward; I went to the church to look for women but the truth I heard then gave me salvation and I am still standing till today. Many pastors are still in that trap of not preaching true message to their members. Prosperity message has eroded salvation message and that is why there is so much corruption in the country because if people hear the true word of God which pierces the heart asunder, then they will change for the better but there is no more truth in the church. Those stealing our money are not enjoying themselves because they take the money abroad; the children they use such money to train will become hooligans in future.
What is your advice to Nigerians ahead of 2019?
My advice is that we should avoid war because the coming generation cannot bear what this present generation is enduring. Once war breaks out in this country, Nigeria will not get itself for more than 40 years. Nigerians should not expect sudden change; it is a country that has already been built but has almost collapsed and needs to be rebuilt so it will take time. When this present administration was coming into power, I told the people close to me that Nigerians will suffer hardship for five years before things can be normalized; that many would lose their jobs, but people are clamouring for prosperity now. Those spoiling this country have gained the upper hand. The cabals are the ones buying guns for herdsmen, those behind corruption in this country are the ones sponsoring the killings because they don’t want Buhari to come back for second term as they are afraid of being jailed.
What is your advice to couples on domestic violence?
I married my wife when I was a Muslim and we both suffered hardship together when I accepted Christ. Couples should learn to endure with each other, forbearing and long suffering are also important factors. All church founders are guilty of the rot in this country because if people come to the church and hear the truth about the Holy Spirit, such couples will manage themselves till death do them part. Couples cannot do without disagreements but they will have to manage themselves. Today there is too much dancing in the church, no time for the word of God. Men of God are afraid of their secrets being leaked, the word of God has lost its value in so many churches and churches that are preaching the truth are not getting members.
Bringing back NIREC will help peace building process –Bamgbola
Apostle Alexander Bamgbola is the Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). In this interview with Mojeed Alabi, he speaks on the need to revive the defunct Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), rising violence in the country and the need for religious leaders and families to preach peace at all times. Excerpts…
What specific roles should religious leaders play towards achieving lasting peace in Nigeria?
Just like every one of us, there are lots of roles to be played by religious leaders in Nigeria to achieve sustainable peace and harmony in the country. So many things are flying in the air, but unfortunately, these are issues that could be addressed at family levels if we are truly concerned about the survival of this nation.
Let me tell you what this country is missing, and which this dialogue called by the Ufuk Dialogue Foundation, is trying to achieve; it is the absence of fora for people of different faiths to come together to share their feelings and exchange ideas. For instance, the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), which is constitutional and was set up to bring about peace in our land, and which served a very good purpose for many years, has been abandoned at the national level.
When it was functional, the Sultan of Sokoto as the Head of the Islamic Council of Nigeria and the President of CAN and other top members of the two major religions would sit down and talk about issues of concern. Today, that very useful institution no longer functions again, especially at the national level. As far as we know, it is only in Lagos State that it is functioning and we thank God and the governors of Lagos State, beginning with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and the incumbent Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode for sustaining this initiative. In fact, Governor Ambode has really expanded the body and it is dutifully working to solve issues in Lagos State; these are issues that could snowball into big problems. That is why you hardly hear of religious crisis in Lagos. I will advise other states and the Federal Government to learn this from Lagos. Lagos is a state of tolerance, and I will like to see this culture exported to other parts of the country. Those who pass through Lagos should learn this and take it to their states.
Beyond religious crisis is a major challenge of general insecurity. How did we get here?
It is very unfortunate and it is so sad that we should find ourselves at this level. There is insecurity everywhere, so it is a spirit that is moving all over the world. We just have to continue to pray to God to take that spirit away from our nation. Ordinarily, Nigerians are people of peace and the people who are not giving us peace in Nigeria, substantially are non-Nigerians. Yes, we have problems in other parts; in Niger-Delta for instance you have some agitators but you see dialogue taking place. But when these people started coming in since the days of Meitatsine to Boko Haram, they are non-Nigerians. These herdsmen are non-Nigerians. I can talk to Nigerians and I say let’s sit down and talk about peace in Nigeria, they would listen, but when you have people who are not from here, those who don’t share anything in common with you; that is, strangers, foreigners from other lands, they have no interest in this country. They can be called herdsmen moving cattle all over the places but they are not Nigerians. An average Nigeria will sit down, think about their families –children, husbands, wives, grandmothers and extended families, and even think about the survival of their environment. But these men who, in the name of herdsmen, bring in ammunition, are not Nigerians.
So you blame our porous borders for this?
Of course! There is no border. Nigeria is for all, it is free for all. Nobody opens its border open to foreigners of all kinds and expect to have peace. It is just not possible, everywhere you face, you see smugglers, illegal migrants and refugees of all sorts. It is terrible.
How do we get out of the woods?
Let there be properly policed borders every nation has its borders. Look at what President Donald Trump is doing in America, he is protecting the American soil. Our government must learn this from President Trump by protecting our border. It is not Big Brother Nigeria when you open your doors to thieves, brigands, and armed bandits. The President must be ready to take very difficult decision.
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