Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor combines the presidency of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) with that of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN).
The General Overseer of Word of Life Bible Church, with headquarters in Warri, Delta State, he is married to Helen and they are blessed children. One of the most popular and respected ministers of the Word in Nigeria, the graduate of Nigeria Baptist Seminary, Ogbomosho, Oyo State and Morris Cerrullo School of Ministry, San Diego, California, USA gave his life to Christ in 1972.
Daily spreading the messages of hope, salvation and prayer, the Officer of The Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) is a prolific writer and preacher, philosopher and philanthropist. He has visited over 73 countries and via his crusades, tape, books and teachings would have reached over two million souls.
He granted us audience recently…
How do you see Nigeria at 50?
It would have been difficult to say why celebrate 50 when you look at where we are now compared with where we should be. But all the same when you look at Nigeria and you see a nation that have survived a major civil war and survived religious crisis in the North in a way have survived the Niger Delta problems which I believe is on its way to been resolved, I will say there is hope, there is something to look forward to.
What would you is Nigeria’s greatest challenge?
Nigeria’s greatest challenge in my opinion will fall into two major categories. One, corruption. It’s the major or the greatest challenge in this country. Two, tribalism. If we can and I think we can handle these two factors, there is no limit to what Nigeria will become and I see Nigeria overcoming them.
What will you say is the greatest thing God has done for Nigeria?
In spite of all these different challenges there is still a nation called Nigeria. I think for me, that is the greatest thing because for the first time we have had a civilian rule for 11 years. So, I think that is the greatest achievement for now.
As a minister of God, how often do you pray for Nigeria?
Everyday of my life and in my church, every Sunday.
Each time you pray, what do you ask God to do for Nigeria?
I ask God to give us leaders who are leaders, not users. Men and women who love this nation and will give themselves because when we have good leadership, some of the things I have mentioned will vanish.
At the moment you combine the leadership of CAN and PFN, how do you juggle both?
First of all, PFN is a small arm of CAN. PFN belongs to a bloc, there are five blocs, and PFN is not even one bloc on its own. We have what is called CPFN and PFN, they make up one bloc. You have the Roman Catholic and then the CCN, then you have the OAIC, and then the ECWA. So, PFN is just one portion but very, very important part of CAN. I think it’s the grace of God. We all need grace and I heed more everyday to be able to do it. I am doing it because my colleagues want me to do it, that is it.
Combining these two assignments don’t they affect the running of your church, The Word of Life Bible Church?
Just as in any other thing in life, if you are doing more than one thing, you will have to learn how to position yourself, how to plan and how to utilize the time God has given you. We are trying to do that and it is working for us.
Is there any probability of you relinquishing one of the post because story has it that there are dissenting voices of those who want you to leave PFN and concentrate on CAN?
Actually, there are no dissenting voices, those are just the usual things you will see, I wish the one or two people behind that wouldn’t have done that. For example, in July, we had a meeting, a national advisory council meeting in Ibadan just few weeks after I became president of CAN and in that meeting, I announced that I will want to relinquish my position as PFN president not because it is constitutionally wrong, there is nothing in our constitution that says I shouldn’t lead both. After all, so many of my predecessors in CAN had held much more. For example, the former prelate of the Methodist Church, Sunday Mbang, when he was the president of CAN, he was also the president of the Methodist Council Worldwide. So, in that place, I announced that I want to leave one but we held another meeting few days ago where it was unanimously agreed that I should continue.
What is the secret of success?
One, God because if you depend on Him, He gives you what it takes to succeed. It’s your connection with God that is genuine success. There are things that look like success but it may not last.
What is the biggest mistake that most men of God make?
When you are getting big and you are thinking it’s you, then you begin to depend more on yourself and less on your God. When you do that, that is the biggest mistake because it is going to turn around and bite you because at a point, you will realize it’s not you, you need God more than you think and then when you think that way you begin to look down on people. You begin to think you are almighty.
So, what must one do to make it in the ministry?
You should be a Christian, unfortunately there are people who claim they are Christian but in true sense they are not. You should know your calling, what did God call you to do? You must imbibe the spirit of integrity, if you don’t do it today, your character will bring you down tomorrow. So, integrity is vital, that’s why you see people rise and fall because of that issue of integrity. And then you must be prepared for the problems of life, you must never think as you go on in the ministry everything will be smooth. If it’s going well, you should pray well.
What is the greatest thing God has done for you?
The greatest thing God has done for me is to sustain me to be what I am today, to be what I was yesterday. I think it’s all God and to see how God can bring somebody from nothing and bring him to where I am today.
What hasn’t God done for you?
Nothing. He has done everything even beyond my imagination.
What should we expect from you as the CAN president?
We will work hard to unite the body, to make it stronger, Christians are one body and we will make it a priority. We will do our best to work on either totally eliminating or reducing to the barest minimum religious crisis especially in the North and to work with the government in that area and the Niger Delta area. To find ways to begin to hold politicians accountable because Nigeria cannot continue like this. If it continues like this, then a point will come, it won’t exist again. There has to be a stage where there are people who can hold politicians accountable for their promises, positions for whatever is committed into their hands accountability is vital for the progress and stability of any nation. These are some of those things we want to work on.
Wouldn’t that be dabbling into politics?
That is very strange. First of all, I am a Nigerian, does it mean that because I am the CAN president then my wife won’t go to the market to buy food? Does it mean I won’t drive on the same road like anyone else? Does it mean I will not live in this world? So, I have to participate in the lives of those who govern us it not I am in trouble. We are not dabbling into politics, we are only participating in the governance of the nation that we are involved in. Don’t forget that those who rule us are either Christian or Muslim, so they are either my member or members of the Sultan’s organization. I should be able to hold them accountable just as the Sultan will hold his people accountable and together we will hold them accountable, when that happens we will have a better Nigeria.
What is your hope for Nigeria?
The message is that never give up, in fact, the Bible that I preach said whatever you hope for if it can be constant and consistent eventually it will come to pass. The Nigeria of our dream is not far. It is within reach, we are getting closer, we will never give up. We will get there.
- THIS INTERVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2010