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Helen Ukpabio: 25 Years of Liberty Gospel Church

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All roads will today lead to “City of Liberty”, the expansive retreat ground of Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries, located at Okoyong Usang Abasi community in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State. It is where Lady Apostle Helen Ukpabio, founding president of the organisation and its members will be celebrating 25 years of its existence.

The “City of Liberty”, a virgin forest in the vast Okoyong landscape, that underwent speed of light development in 2013, when it first hosted the Annual Retreat of the ministry, doubtless, will be one of the high points of the celebration. The “city” now boasts beautiful hostels for men and women, blocks for pastors and state superintendents and a temporary lodge for the president and top guest ministers – all fitted with electricity and pipe-borne water.

The ministry has also built churches and pastor lodges in most of its branches. One such structure is Palace Temple – its ultra-modern, headquarters on Ndidem Usang Iso Road, Calabar, with capacity for about 10,000 worshippers. The round-shaped structure is a tower of refuge for those seeking godly protection, and a visible edifice that adds beauty and veritable tourism value to Calabar. Today, the third of the six-day retreat – Ukpabio will present to the church members and in broader term, the Nigerian public three books on Christian life and doctrines.

They are Leadership Mandate – a 316-page extra-size book that presents wholesome teachings on biblical standards of Christian leadership and church management; Christian Foundation and Doctrines – another extra-size 209-page classic on basic elements of the Christian faith such as sin, repentance, salvation, justification and the work of the Holy Spirit and Pre-Marital Precepts for the Last Days Believers, a 117-page book that points young and single Christians to things they should know while preparing for marriage.

The books will be reviewed by Pastor Lawrence Ekwok, a lecturer in the University of Calabar and Cross River State chairman of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN. Ukpabio’s latest film, Echoes of the Ancestors, which seeks to establish the supremacy of the living God and His power to save and protect over beliefs in ancestral spirits, deities, necromancy and secret confraternities, will also be presented to the people, alongside her new song album. Pastor Obong Akpaekong, a former senior associate editor of Newswatch and publisher of Sippar magazine will review the songs and the film, which is directed by Fred Amata and boasts a rich Nollywood presence including the late Enebeli Elebuwa, Zack Orji, Bob Manuel, Yemi Blaq, Gentle Jack and members of Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries like Eyo Nkute, Vivian Anani, Moses Efret, Emmanuel Etok and Imaobong Ukpabio. Ukpabio has quite a lot to showcase in her 25 years in ministry.

She has written over 33 other books on Christian Living including 31 Bible Women Who Surprised God, The Seat of Satan Exposed, Church Growth Secrets, Children for the Barren, Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft, Modern Day Idolatry, Stepping out of Demonic Contamination and God’s Method of Prosperity. She has produced over 16 Christian films including Holy Crime, End of the Wicked, The Coven 1&2, Rapture 1&2, Magic Money, The Kids are Angry, Highway to the Grave and Hell Fire. Her song albums tagged ‘Liberty Musicals’ include Jesus na my Best Friend, A Little Walk with Jesus, My Liberty, Superlative Jesus and Papa God.

As a young student nurse, Ukpabio was under the tutelage of the late Leader Olumba Olumba Obu of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. She later found Christ and left the sect to found Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries. Since then, she has used her special gifts including discernment of spirits to minister healing and deliverance and preach Christ in many countries.

The truth in her message has, time and again, brought her into conflict with certain personalities and institutions. When her film, Infant Jesus, came out, a prominent church in the country complained that its activities were being criticised in the film.

Ukpabio fought a long-drawn battle with the National Films & Censors Board and won. The film was approved. Between 2007 and 2013, Stepping Stone Nigeria, a United Kingdombased non-governmental organisation, NGO, in tandem with another in Esit Eket, Akwa Ibom State – Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network, CRARN, campaigned to stop her from witchcraft deliverance. They claimed that she was dubbing children witch and torturing them when brought for deliverance.

The NGOs claimed they were involved in rescue of the children and providing them succour. Akwa Ibom State government set up a commission of inquiry into the matter, which discovered that the NGOs were raising false alarm and trickily whipping up public sympathy for the children while their real intention was to make money in the guise of caring for rescued children.

Government vindicated Ukpabio and her church and disbanded the NGOs. This is the subject of Ukpabio’s recent book, Akwa Ibom Child-witch Scam: The True Story. Despite some opposition to her ministry and work in some quarters, Ukpabio is cherished by millions across Africa and the globe. Her successful planting of some 250 churches in Nigeria and other countries including Cameroun, Ghana, United Kingdom, Kenya and United States of America attests to this.

 

 

●Akpaekong is a public affairs analyst

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Perspectives

Group lauds Army board of inquiry over report

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A pressure group of middle belt extraction, the Middle Belt Conscience Guard (MBCG) has commended the report recently released by the army board of enquiry set up to look into the allegation by Gen. TY Danjuma’s of soldiers collusion with armed militia in Taraba State.

The group said the report of the panel which exonerated the army is in tandem with the widely held position of many other groups who carried out independent assessment of the situation.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, national coordinator of MBCG, Prince Raymond Enero said to this end, Gen. TY Danjuma (rtd) should immediately re-secure his reputation by a remorseful retraction of the statements, with an apology to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Nigerian Army and the good people of Nigeria over his unjustifiable utterances.

According to him it is clear that the cause of the vilification of the Nigerian Army and the attempt to taint its reputation by some stakeholders in Taraba state stemmed from the refusal of the Commanding Officer 93 Battalion, Lt. Col. Gambari to be dragged into the complex political and ethnic mix in the state by some powerful politicians, in apparent abuse and violation of his professional duties or code of ethical conduct.

He said, “it is our firm conviction that all stakeholders in Taraba State should be cautioned against making inflammatory statements, which have the potency to undermine, jeopardize or scuttle the efforts at peace and security to bring the communal clashes to a halt, with the intervention of the Army.”

Enero said the The Probe Panel was manned by credible serving and retired Army officers; representatives of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and scores of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

He said further, “the Probe Panel did a wonderful and commendable job, as evidenced by its detailed findings, recommendations and the verdict extricating the Nigerian Army of any complicity, whether in whole or in part on any of the allegations raised by Gen. Danjuma or cohorts.

“The Panel’s report eloquently and articulately opined that there was no collusion with armed bandits by the Nigerian Army or any of its units operating in Taraba state, within the period covered by the allegations, as claimed by Gen. Danjuma (rtd). This is in tandem with the widely held position of many other groups who carried out independent assessment of the situation.”

Recall that the 10-Man Special Military Probe Panel constituted by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai was inaugurated on April 9, 2018, specifically to investigate and establish the veracity or otherwise of the allegations by the elder statesman against the Nigerian Army

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Perspectives

Olori Omobolawa: Remembering a Selfless Icon

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In a time like this, one would appreciate the reality of Bob Marley’s saying that: “Live for yourself and you will live in vain; live for others, and you will live again.” Sometimes last year December (13th Dec.2017) the world lost one of her rare gems in an unfortunate tragedy.

Birds refused to leave their nests, displaying muteness in unison and sorrow. The rivers of Osun charged at onlookers uncommonly and everyone close could see the river beds pouring out sands in grief. It was the day Olori Omobolawa Margaret Akinyemi departed this pain-filled world to the world of bliss.

Olori Omobolawa was a Rotarian, a selfless icon whose adventures in serving humanity were of great impacts on the lives of countless masses – women, children, aged and youths. Her contribution to the success of Osun Ambulance Agency cannot be over emphasis, she was accommodating to strangers and kind to kits and kin; with a generosity that competed with soothing breeze.

Her short sojourn on planet earth was purposeful and fixed on putting smiles on faces of the downtrodden and the depressed. Indeed, she exemplified the maxim that life is all about contribution not acquisition; that life is all about fulfilment not attainment.

In recognition of her noble sacrifices to make lives better for others, Rotary Club of Osogbo GRA which she was the president before her demise has decided to organize its Annual Medical Outreach in honour of the late selfless icon .

The medical outreach took place on Friday 18 May 2018 at the Alayegun Palace Ode-Omu, HRM Oba Lamidi Oke Ladowe 1 Osun State. The sole aim is to promote medical services and increase access to health for people whose happiness and well-being was the cardinal call of the late Olori Omobolawa.

The activities embedded in the medical outreach include checking of BP, eye tests and provision of free eye glasses, mental health counselling, and ear tests among others. Happily, the natives and residents of Ode-Omu have continued to troop out en masse as they know the unique saying that health is wealth. They cannot quantify their elation and appreciation.

As days go by, our memories continue to swing with thoughts about the loss of Olori Omobolawa – a priceless jewel. At times our hearts become filled with sorrow and our eyes, laden with tears. But we find solace in the fact she has indeed left indelible paths in the memories of many and remarkable feats that will continue to shine in the sands of time.

The honour by Rotary Club of Osogbo GRA today – a community she served whole-heartedly is one of the numerous manifestations that she was one of a kind. It clearly depicts that goodness outlives us all and we cannot but agree that: Olori Omobolawa lives on!

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Perspectives

APC: What goes round comes round

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About this same time three years ago, the shoes were on the other feet. The party in power then, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was often on the end of some highly sustained brutal and often acidic attacks from then opposition party – the All Progressives Congress (APC). APC’s attacks, which were often borderline outright propaganda, pointed to the many flaws they saw in the PDP.

It coined some of the insolent phrases of the time when APC dubbed the President Goodluck Jonathan a kindergarten president and his PDP government “clueless”.

In retrospect, let me quickly cite some of the examples of the attacks reeled out by the APC. For instance when the idea of postponing the 2015 general elections was being considered, the then APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Lai Mohammed fired: “The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is calling for the postponement of the general elections because it is not prepared for it”.

He went on to add that the government had four years to prepare for the elections and that the date of the election was given about a year earlier. Speaking as a guest on a Lagos-based television station, Mohammed questioned what the Federal Government had done to help in the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and ensuring that every registered Nigerian got his PVC to enable him participate in the elections.

Incidentally, although there are yet to be calls for a postponement of the February 2019 polls, the same PVC which the APC saw as a big issue then is still very much an issue now, three years down the line, with millions of Nigerians yet to receive theirs. Now fast forward to the present day and with the shoes on the other feet.

APC is the party in power and subsequently is the one open to the barbs being thrown at them by the party they bad-mouthed in 2015, the PDP And just like the APC did to them back in the day, the PDP is using every opportunity to blast the government in power.

Although, sadly in my view the PDP is not as good at getting their message across like the APC was then, it still appears that they are doing enough to lambast the ruling party with an official of the party urging them to be “constructive in their criticism to remain relevant”.

The National Vice-Chairman (South- South) of the APC, Hilliard Eta, who said this in January, was reacting to the PDP’s criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari’s New Year Day message to Nigerians.

The PDP had in their statement described the President’s speech as “depressing, annoying” and lacking in substance. Etta, however, expressed displeasure that the opposition PDP had so far failed to play the role of a constructive critic of government but had instead reduced itself to an attack dog of every government’s pronouncement.

The verbal jostling between the two is clearly heating up the closer we get to next year’s elections. Only a few weeks ago, the PDP even went as far taking their “fight” to the international stage when they wrote the United Nations to warn of the “threat to democracy” under the present dispensation.

In a petition to the UN against President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, told the world body that the Nigerian President has a predetermined plan to use federal agencies like the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the army and the Police to ‘truncate’ Nigeria’s democracy.

The PDP, in the letter, dated April 30, 2018, accused Buhari of violating the Nigerian constitution and persecuting members of the opposition, as well as attacking journalists and “well-meaning” Nigerians who hold different opinions from Buhari’s party, the APC. The British, German, French, Chinese, the U.S, and the Russian embassies in Nigeria, as well as the European Union secretariat in Abuja, were copied in the letter.

The PDP also said the Federal Government was behind the spate of violent killings between herdsmen and farmers in different parts of the country. Of course this brought an immediate response from the APC, which through the Presidency, said the letter written by Secondus, accusing Buhari of several allegations, confirmed the opposition party “as a bad loser, desperate for another chance after they were kicked out for failing the nation and its people.”

The statement, which was signed by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said in the letter “which is no less preposterous and comical, the opposition accused the Nigerian government of ‘destroying Nigeria’s democracy.’”

Very strong words from both parties as they raise the stakes in their quest to achieve their goals in 2019 – which for APC is to retain the keys to Aso Rock, while for PDP it is for them to reclaim the keys to the same office they lost in 2015.

But like I’ve pointed out in some of my previous write ups, while the two parties are jostling to capture the votes of the electorate next February, the very same electorate they are wooing have not really benefited from either party. For the average man in the country his situation now is even scarier than when PDP was in power.

In the current media war, neither party has come out to say concretely what they will do to improve the lot of the average Nigerian. Gloom that has been the fate of the so-called “common man” over the years – they get fed up of the government in power, it goes and replaced by another one; and yet by the time the new government leaves they are still living in abject poverty.

APC road to power on the back of their “change” mantra but I’m not sure there are many Nigerians who expected the change to be like this. Millions are still unemployed, infrastructure is poor, power supply has only marginally improved, while the citizens are yet to benefit from the economy the government claimed has improved.

The bottom line is that unless a miracle happens, the honest truth is that under the current crop of politicians, be it APC or PDP or whichever other party gets the keys to Aso Rock, nothing much will change for the citizens.

At the end of the day it is ‘they’ first and the rest of us second. If not, why is it that despite the hue and cry over the huge salaries and allowances being earned by the National Assembly members they have not deemed it fit to say they will reduce it in order to free up funds for the citizens?

They won’t do it because they know that at the end of the day we will still troop out in our millions to vote for them next year.

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