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Helen Ukpabio in victory song

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There was much joy in the six-day 2017 Annual Retreat of Liberty Gospel Church, which ended in Okoyong Usang Abasi, near Calabar, on December 27. It was an expression of what God did for the people in the camp and for Lady Apostle Helen Ukpabio, president of the church and its members in the past 25 years.

The Silver Jubilee of the church was being marked at the retreat. Dominic Udoh, from Abama village in Obot Akara Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, and a Lagos resident, who lost his sight in January 2016, recovered it at the event. A gardener and father of three, Udoh was financially broke, his wife had left him and one of his daughters died during the short period. But luck smiled on him when his elder sister’s children invited him to the retreat. On his fourth day there, he joined the anniversary march past. As he was marching along, his eyes opened.

Comfort Mba of the headquarters church, Calabar, said on September 20, her daughter mistakenly poured petrol into a stove, boiled water and prepared garri. It was only when she put the pot of soup on the stove that it was discovered that the liquid content in the stove was petrol.

A member from 8 Miles branch, Calabar, said armed robbers attacked the vehicle she was travelling into Benue State. They ordered the passengers to come down. She threw her money inside the vehicle and prayed God to blind their eyes. The robbers did not see the money.

A sick woman went to a branch of Liberty Gospel Church and the pastor said there was someone in church with breast cancer but God had healed her. Just then, the pain on the woman’s cancerous breast stopped. She rushed to the toilet to check and found that her decayed breasts had been replaced and her nipples were new.

A young woman with a terrible heart problem and history of demonic attack arrived church when Ukpabio was teaching. A light shone on her and she fell down unconscious. When she woke up, her sickness was gone. All the people testifying said Helen Ukpabio’s God did it for them.

A young undergraduate of University of Uyo lost his brilliant brains, began failing his examinations and lost all hope in life. He met with Ukpabio and started attending her special teachings in church and his sharp brains returned. He passed his exams again, invented a machine and won international award. Also at the retreat, Mfonido, Ukpabio’s son, who narrowly escaped drowning in a lake in Malaysia, where he was rounding off his undergraduate studies in 2016 and later made a commitment to Christ, told the gathering of his decision to serve God as full time pastor. Ukpabio and other church leaders also narrated how they weathered the storm during the period. Liberty Gospel Church, which began in her living room at No. 46 Murray Street, Calabar, on August 16, 1992, has grown into 250 branches in Nigeria and beyond.

It has a teaching ministry, a school of deliverance, is vibrant on TV evangelism, film, music and books ministries. The church fought battles with Olumba Olumba Obu and his Brotherhood of the Cross and Star in its younger years and won. Ukpabio was a member the sect before her encounter with Christ during a crusade by Rev. Omobajesu in Uyo in 1982. Opposition to her film project was also subdued. Her first film, End of the Wicked, and book, The Kingdom of Satan Exposed, irked Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. Obu’s son, Rowland, now Olumba Olumba Obu, sued Liberty Gospel Church in 1997 and also obstructed its crusades.

National Film and Video Censors Board took her to court (2002 -2007) over her film, Rapture. “In all these, God gave us flawless victory”, Ukpabio said. She recorded notable victories in church planting. She was shot and arrested in Oron and Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State, Ugep in Cross River State and Aba in Abia States, when she went for crusade. In Eket, Akwa Ibom State, the chief declared that Itauma, the deity of the land, did not want her church there. Some people said that she was still operating under Olumba. Others said she was using diabolical power. Yet many said she should not head a church being a woman.

“We overcame all that” she said. Between 2007 and 2013, humanist movements in Britain, South Africa, United States, parts of Europe, Africa and Australia, joined the UK-based Stepping Stones Nigeria and Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), in Esit Eket to accuse Ukpabio of branding some children in Akwa Ibom State as witches and beating, maiming and torturing them in the process of deliverance. Akwa Ibom State government set up a commission of inquiry into the matter, which found it to be false.

The NGOs were disbanded while Ukpabio and her church were exonerated. During the retreat, Ukpabio launched three new books – Leadership Mandate – a book on biblical standards for Christians; Christian Foundation and Doctrines and Pre-Marital Precepts for Last Days Believers – a book for single Christians planning for marriage. She also released a new film – Echoes of the Ancestors and a musical album – Saintly Praise 1. Lawrence Ekwok, a lecturer at the University of Calabar reviewed the books while Obong Akpaekong, a former senior associate editor of Newswatch and publisher of Sippar magazine, reviewed the film and musical albums. Ukpabio also used the occasion to pray for and release Tony Ukam, one of his pastors and a lawyer, who is now the visioner of The Advocates Church in Calabar.

The two guest speakers at the event – N.E. Moses, bishop of Overcomes Church World Outreach, Lagos and Sylvanus Tommy, president of Wonderland Ministries, Calabar, were full of praise for Ukpabio, her pastors and members. Moses, who described Ukpabio as song composer, writer, film producer, actress and evangelist, said despite the years she had put in the vineyard of God, she was still looking young, strong and full of inspiration and commended the members for being in the camp despite the fuel scarcity.

Tommy admonished them to continue in holiness and avoid on-going perverted teaching on grace Ukpabio taught the people and ministered deliverance to many. She said: “You have opportunity to petition heaven. Your case must be heard. I see the spirit of the Lord hovering over the camp and a new chapter opening in your life.” Her dance when the choir sang, “God fought the battles, I won”, was infectious. The husband, Elijah, described her as very hard working and thanked God for His grace upon her life.

 

●Akpaekong, a public affairs analyst, writes from PortHarcourt

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Perspectives

Temptation (Part 2)

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A part-time Christian cannot defeat a full time demon. Devil, the originator of temptation is going to and fro, looking for whom he may devour.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1st Peter 5:8 NIV).

This is a 24/7 job. Unfortunately, the potential prey that the devil seeks, only seems to remember God on Sundays. As a matter of fact, many so-called Christians today only go to church on Sundays to respect the Sunday; not to respect the God of the Sunday. These are part-time Christians. There is no way such people can overcome temptation that comes from a full time smooth operator called Devil.
The devil uses human beings to operate his temptations. But why should I be this instrument of operation?

A prostitute (corporate, raw or classy) is looking for someone with whom fornication can be committed. Why should that person be me?
The devil wants to scatter a family with unnecessary quarrels, resulting from ego contest and pride. Why should my family be a victim?
Someone wants to seduce a married person to commit adultery. Why should I fall victim to such effort?

An innocent, ignorant, teenage virgin exposes her nakedness to a guy unconsciously and the devil begins to manipulate the guy, selling the idea of deflowering the girl. Why should this guy serve as the devil’s agent?
Your housemaid or wife’s sister is deliberately making efforts to seduce you into adultery. Why should you stand up to work for the devil instead of disorganizing his plans?

A person of the opposite sex is in trouble and needs your help. The devil says: “Take advantage of the person and have a carnal knowledge of the person.” Why should you yield to such destiny-destroying advice?
Don’t ever deliberately make yourself a source of temptation to someone. When you post a nude photo of your naked body or that of someone on the internet, you are a terrible enemy of God.
“Jesus said to his disciples: Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come” (Luke 17:1 NIV).

“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck” (Mark 9:42 NIV)
“I urge you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Romans 16:17 NIV).
To overcome temptation therefore, “Pray without ceasing” (2nd Thessalonians 5:17).

Prayer may however, not yield any results if it comes from someone who enjoys sin. This is because the prayer of the sinner is an abomination unto God (Proverbs 28:9). You must “give no place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27).
Put God and holiness above every decision under pressure. If your fiancée says you cannot get married until you guys commit fornication, tell the person that holiness unto God is more important to you than the marriage.
Avoid avoidable danger zones. Do not mingle with prostitutes, drunks and hemp smokers and tell me you are being tempted. You are actually jumping into temptation intentionally to obtain a free visa to hell fire.
Avoid immoral utterances and conversations. Avoid immoral videos and telephone communications.

“Evil communication corrupts good manners” (1st Corinthians 15:33).
Don’t make jokes about sex with obviously ungodly people. Don’t even take them as best of friends. They will pollute your heart and push you into the river of sin through temptation.
Above all, you must allow Jesus Christ to take over your heart and possess it. It is his grace that can help you to overcome temptations.
Jesus said: “…without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord but out of a pure heart” (2nd Timothy 2:22 NIV).
Are you going through spiritual temptation? Maybe you attend church or mosque regularly. Yet, your dream life is in crisis. In fact, you hardly sleep because of spiritual attacks. You even suspect your spouse because of the role your spouse played in the dream as someone that is after your life and peace. Has your child or spouse suddenly begun to exhibit some totally strange behaviour such as canvassing or communicating with invisible people? These are forms of spiritual attack, and deliverance is possible.

Does your family suddenly record a bad news shortly after a positive miracle like wedding, safe child delivery, exam success, etc? Have you suddenly developed hatred for a member of your family for no just cause and even has the urge to harm the person? Do you sometimes have the urge to spiritually manipulate and kill someone or even yourself? This is the spirit of death. It has been sent by the devil to destroy you.

The first step towards deliverance from these and many other spiritual temptations is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and personal saviour. Then, you can enjoy authority over Satan, who Jesus has already conquered on the cross of Calvary. You can enjoy the benefits of the authority Jesus gave in Luke 10:19 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Until you yield totally to Jesus, this scripture will remain mere text to you.
Do you think you have a spirit husband or wife? See possible solutions in the book, MAKING YOUR MARRIAGE WORK by Albinus Chiedu. Your marriage shall be a miracle and a testimony in Jesus name! Amen!.

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Perspectives

Can an ANC scenario ever occur in Nigeria?

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On Wednesday a momentous event happened in the nascent democracy in South Africa when her president, Mr. Jacob Zuma was ousted from the Union Buildings in Pretoria, not because the opposition won the popular vote in an election, but because his own party – the African National Congress (ANC) decided it was time for him to go.

Founded on January 9, 1912 in Bloemfontein as the South African Native National Congress, ANC’s primary mission was to give voting rights to black and mixed race Africans and from the 1940s, it added the mission to end Apartheid. The party was finally fed up with the antics of the its leader who had been repeatedly dogged by allegations of corruption, allowing the wealthy, Indian-born Gupta family secure juicy contracts leaving with the African continent’s most industrialised economy in dire straits.
Incidentally, what happened to Zuma during the week was reminiscent of how he in 2007 engineered the exit of Thabo Mbeki, the man who took over from the highly revered Nelson Mandela, who only served one term after the ANC won the first multi-party election at the end of Apartheid in 1994.

The very suave and elitist Mbeki was not really a grassroots politician, but was favoured by Mandela to succeed him. And it was his lack of grassroots support that Zuma capitalised on to supplant him as party leader in 2007.
But it appears that Zuma, a former member of the ANC’s military wing in the days of apartheid, who had led the country for more than a third of its time after Apartheid, was just unable to remove himself from his grassroots upbringing to becoming a proper statesman which finally caught up with him during the week.

Initially, the 75-year-old was very reluctant to bow to the supremacy of the party, insisting that he would only bow out on his own terms in “three to six months,” despite the fact that the ANC had hinted that he should go immediately so as to end the saga which was adversely affecting the party.

Before Zuma finally threw in the towel on Wednesday, his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa had since replaced him as party leader on December 18 last year in a clear sign that the party was fed up with him.
The ANC National Executive Committee had met over the weekend and deliberated on how to handle Zuma’s ouster. It then announced its decision to recall Zuma on Tuesday and gave him until the end of Wednesday to resign.

In keeping the heat on their embattled President, the ANC Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu then announced a parliamentary motion of no-confidence for Thursday, with Ramaphosa sworn in as President as soon as possible after that.
It was after the ANC National Executive Committee meeting that Ramaphosa then drove to the President’s house to formally tell him that the party wanted him to resign.
Apparently Zuma finally saw the writing on the wall and late on Wednesday he eventually brought his long rule to an end when he told the rainbow nation: “No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as President of the Republic with immediate effect.”

However, even though he agreed to step down he still insisted that he was not in agreement with the position of his party.
“Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC. As I leave I will continue to serve the people of South Africa as well as the ANC, the organisation I have served… all of my life.”
Again showing the maturity of the South Africans when it comes to politics, the party that engineered his ouster rather than gloat was still very magnanimous in victory saying: “Mr Zuma’s resignation provided certainty to the people of South Africa”.
ANC Deputy Secretary General, Jessie Duarte told reporters: “President Zuma remains a principled member of the ANC. The ANC wants to salute the outstanding contribution he has made.”

In reality the events that lead to Zuma’s ouster had actually begun after the 2016 municipal elections when the ANC not only saw its share of the votes alarmingly dip by 6.2% obtaining 53.91 per cent of the votes nationally, a fall from the 62.93 per cent achieved in 2011, but more worryingly the ANC losing its outright majority in four of the country’s eight metropolitan municipalities for the first time since 1994.

It was clear to the party that it was the unpopularity of their flag bearer, Zuma that had affected them adversely and prompted them to act before the next national election in 2019.
Sadly such a scenario is unlikely to happen here in Nigeria. I cannot see a party going against its own executive in the interest of the masses that voted them into power to improve their lot.
Our history is littered with instances of party leaders (in name only) being ousted at the whims and caprices of the President, who is supposed to be a party loyalist.

For instance one recalls what happened to the current Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, who when he was Chairman of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) criticised then President Olusegun Obasanjo over his handling of the crisis in Anambra State, when a sitting governor, Dr. Chris Nigige was ‘kidnapped’ and nothing was done to the abductors because they were allegedly close to the President.

Of course we all know what then happened to him – he was unceremoniously sacked in 2005, four years after replacing Chief Barnabas Gemade, because he had the temerity to dare the president.
In fact we have had so many party chairmen that it’s virtually impossible to remember all of them.

Who in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has the liver to tell President Muhammadu Buhari what the people actually think of him and his government, which promised so much but has failed to deliver on many of those promises?
The reality is that any other party in the same position as the APC would also do the same thing with the party leaders preferring to hold on to their offices rather than tell their elected officials the gospel truth.
It is this “paddy paddy” approach to things that means millions of Nigerians can only dream of having an ANC scenario play out in the so-called “Giant of Africa” whether the government is delivering or not!

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Perspectives

Captain Hosa: The marks of a marathoner

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By mere counting of the fingertips,‘ Captain Hosa’, as he is fondly called by all and sundry, is unarguably one of the very few Nigerians, who have contributed mostly to the overall development of the country and its people, particularly of Edo, his home-state. Behold, he was an accomplished commercial flight captain and now a multi-corporate billionaire, with unusual disposition to caregiving and public spiritedness.

A creative mind with diverse useful parts, he is a keen curator, cultural enthusiast, pan-Africanist and a great inspirer of the young and the old. He is a household name. Therefore, it would not be mistaken that as a mark of recognition for his benevolence to the human cause, the enriching tower of learning, the University of Benin, Benin City, has again singled him out for honour, in a public symposium dedicated to his 60th Birthday Celebration. Holding in the institution and assembling all manners of people from the various backgrounds, it is titled “Youth Migration: Consequences and General Realities.

Some years ago, the same educational institution awarded him a meritorious honorary doctorate degree. Born as Idahosa Wells Okunbo, to Pa Robert Amos Okunbo, a clergyman, teacher, writer and community leader from the Benin kingdom,Idahosa owns his huge successes in life to the discipline he received from his late father, and mother, who is still alive. Aise agbon ri oba odowa n’ okhua ake rie rhe (meaning in Benin that king is not made on earth than he is so ordained from the great beyond). Aptly to the sequential Edo astral narratives and nomenclatural requisite, “Idahosa”, a name Captain Hosa was given at birth means “heeding to God’s voice personal destiny”.

In Edo tradition, it is mostly a case of “Tell me your name and I would tell you whom you are”. Remarkably, there are two great men and indigenes of Edo, the ‘Heartbeat State’ of the Nigerian nation, who answers‘Idahosa’, amascot of a name. There was Arch Bishop Benson Idahosa, a fiery clergy plenipotentiary, who, from his pioneering Church of God Mission, located in Benin City, the state capital, amazingly throttled the velocity of Pentecostalism and televangelism movements from Africa, to inspire Christianity, the world over. Also trendy is‘Idahosa’ Okunbo, a very resourcefulbusinessman and caregiver, who is a cheerful caregiver and endearing champion of the rich and the poor, across the globe.

Nonetheless, ‘Idahosa’is first name to the latter, whilst it was a surname to the former. In recognition of his tireless efforts in contributing to the wellbeing of his Edo society, in particular, the revered Oba (first monarch) of Benin, Ewuare II, often eulogizes the efforts of Captain Hosa, at that.

And since his coronation as the 40th Oba of Benin, about a year ago, the debonair former pilot and community leader has left no person in doubt that he is one of the few, who have fully joined the bandwagon of the Oba, to reinvent the Benin and Edo people, even beyond the enviable worldwide placement, which the unique reign of Oba Ewuare I, the Great (Ogidigan) experienced.

Agha ze ode ba ode, ode nede a yae gualo (when foraging for new ways, old ways should not be abandoned) Like Oba Ewuare I of the epic past of the Benin kingdom and empire, the present Oba is already combining native intelligence with his thorough training, erudite and worldwide exposures. Of course, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II, is a well-trained economist and administrator of the flawless Brit-ish and American schooling and tradition, who is also a humanist and an accomplished diplomat.

After a brief and momentous work with the United Nations, he variously served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Angola and Sweden; Norway, Denmark and Finland; Italy, Albania and others. Still dwelling on the cosmic naturalism of the Edo people, the inestimable contributions to society and philanthropy of Idahosa Okunbo was alwaysrecognized by the immediate past Oba of Benin. It was no wonder, therefore thatthe great monarch gave him an uncommon honour ‘with the divinely Benin coral beads’ (called “ivie’ in Edo language). Remarkably, that Captain Hosa’s daughter and first child had for long been named “Ivie” at birth, somewhat foretold this great honour divinely lined for him, many years ahead.

Likewise, “Ivie” his beloved daughter got wedded into the famous Olu of Warri’sclassic royalty, throughsome momentous and colourful ceremonies that attracted the world.Out of the lot of the mind’s revoir, the wise and well-meaning leaders would only speak scantily, for the discerning minds to interpret.

Naturally, Captain Hosa, in spite of his enormous wealth and fame, is such an unassuming and quiet personality, who chose to be anonymous and so could get lost in the crowd. He is a striking personality who selects his words, which are really few. In one of his rare moments of passive and induced interviews with the press (he is media shy), said so thus in very few words; “People say that I have conquered the air and the sea and just conquering the land…”.

This is only apt and a symbolic reference to the diverse areas of robust flight career and business venturesover which he is generally acknowledged as having been immensely successful. His closed nurturing to be honest, humble and to aim to the sky, also found fulfillment when at a record mere age of 21 years of age, he initially graduated from aviation school.

He immediately improved further and started a successful career of a commercial pilot, flying higher altitudes. Having flown over a log 7,000 hours, most of which were at jet times, Captain Hosa has this time around cashed in on his higher flight altitudes to attain more heights in the hemisphere of corporate, social and political leadership.

In the entrepreneurial world, he is like the goldfish that has no hidden place, just as his creativity and successes earn him the apt sobriquet of the “Man with the Midas touch’. Despite his ever expanding business empire, with many subsidiaries, Captain Hosa is still relentless expanding on the limits. With many businesses he has established and several others in which he is a joint-owner, in his home-state of Edo, Nigeria and outside the country, he has truly dominated the air, sea and landed businesses.

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