The citadel and Pa Elton’s law of human capital
The story is told of how a British missionary, Pa Elton, laboured for 25 years doing good works in Nigeria––building schools and hospitals––until God convicted him in the place of quiet meditation and prayer with a surprising question: When will you start doing what I called you to do in Nigeria?
When an omniscient God asks you a question, it is certainly to draw attention to a personal short coming and help you find the best way to accomplish a mission. This question will change the direction of Pa Elton’s mission in Nigeria from doing good works to doing the good work––raising leaders with the capacity to do what he (Pa Elton) could not accomplish as an individual. It was Pa Elton who mentored the likes of Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, William Folorunso Kumuyi, General Superintendent of Deeper Life Bible Church, Late Archbishop Benson Idahosa of Church of God Mission International and Brother Emeka Nwankpa of Intercessors for Africa, to mention the notable few.
Now it is important to realize that building schools and hospitals is not in itself a bad thing; these are amenities that the Nigeria of Pa Elton’s time needed and even more so today, given our demographic structure and economic realities. It is safe to say that the combined impact of the hospitals, schools and other amenities built by the leaders Pa Elton raised (not to mention the lives they impacted) are colossal in comparison to what he could have accomplished as an individual missionary had he not heeded godly counsel and changed strategy.
It is often said that the enemy of the best is the good. In the natural progression, from the era of Pa Elton, church buildings or any place of worship grew larger due to the rapid increase in our population. It was the late sage, Obafemi Awo, who said that “the children you do not train will destroy the building you focused time and energy to build.” The major lesson from Pa Elton’s eureka moment seems to echo Awolowo’s emphasis on Universal Basic Education––the maximization of the return to human capital as the basis for building an economy that works for all citizens who cannot be oppressed or misled. This insight appears to have been lost to many leaders of faith-based organizations and politicians alike.
It is perhaps no coincidence that as Nigeria faced de-industrialization in the 90’s and capacity utilization for many factories went south, many manufacturers went out of business and the major beneficiaries of this awkward property boom were the churches, especially those within the Pentecostal fold. This progressive digression about the purpose of property became an obsession for some and they built business models around franchising––an extensive branch network around a major brand to collect and remit free will offerings to the headquarters which were further reinvested in new branches and missions at home and abroad, as well as in basic and tertiary educational institutions and hospitals.
Truth be told, these social investments by churches filled a major gap in the deficit of social amenities provided by governments at different levels. However, the allocation strategy missed Pa Elton’s insight that the reason real sector facilities were handed over to the servants of God was to provide a place to hide from the elements while raising a new species of citizens who will rebuild the ancient ruins. Instead, the strategy focussed on creating islands of prosperity for some members, which inadvertently sedated them to withdraw further from the public space administered by the government, despite God’s design for it to be the provider of amenities and services for the benefit of all so that His rain will fall on the rich, poor, believers and non-believers.
Although the stock of mega structures has dramatically increased for churches and other faith-based groups, the relevance to community life cannot be said to share the same fate. The PwC Report of 2018 projected an alarming $300-600 billion of dead capital in Nigeria, most of which in my assessment will majorly comprise commercially unviable property. This includes places of worship that are only used two times a week but cost a fortune to acquire, manage or build.
We need the good Samaritan today more than at any other time in our history. We need a good Samaritan like Pa Elton who understands how to strike the right balance between the palliative of binding the wounds of the robbed man and the institutional response of taking the man to an Inn that is in the business of taking care of the sick and providing funding to enable the Inn do its work so that the next patient can be taken care of in a vicious cycle.
While Leke Alder and his friends have done a brilliant job of cataloguing the CSR initiatives of many churches, let me focus on the recent example of a team led by a man, who many know for the profundity of his activism from the pulpit but often misunderstood by some, including members of his church. The Alder Report will help cynics realize that many churches recognize their purpose and duty to society since the covenant God entered into with Abraham, long before Pa Elton was born, had this provision; In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. God never had a design for the exclusive benefit of some families to the detriment of all others on the earth He created.
After 30 years of raising quality human capital (over 10,000 people trained and counting), The Latter Rain Assembly pastored by Tunde Bakare, maximized discontinuity by rebranding as The Citadel Global Community Church- CGCC.
It is no coincidence that initial facility of the church stands on a renovated factory building, previously owned by one among the many manufacturers who had to close shop in late 80’s as a result of the hostile operating environment of that period. Bakare can relate with this time, having closed his legal chambers and businesses to dedicate his life to the service of God and all the families of the earth as a true descendant of Abraham.
The CGCC formerly known as The Latter Rain Assembly developed its acquired property into a relatively modern facility that housed the following facilities; a main auditorium, offices, Health Clinic, Bookshop, Sunday School and Event Halls. After 30 years in the same facility with a membership in the thousands, the church took an inspired decision to create a Platform for the youthful and rapidly growing membership to put to practice the core purpose of the Ministry- in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
The Citadel is a platform inspired by the vision of Tunde Bakare in the moment of meditation before His maker and Lord. Like every vision by a missionary, it went through an arduous process to become reality. First, land had to be acquired to situate the vision. From the contribution of members, and the goodwill Bakare enjoys, the land was acquired. But there was a major problem. The title to the land was under lien by a Bank under receivership. It took about 5 years to resolve this legal hiccup. Next was the painful process of elaborating this vision in architectural sketches through several iterations before passing through LASGs’ arduous approval process under Governor Fashola. This process took almost 5 years, simply because Bakare insisted that it pass must through the normal process without any political favours. This period enabled the church to do sinking fund to finance the building project.
Finally, in May of 2017, the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the Citadel was celebrated – it is now at an advanced stage of construction and is billed for a grand opening soon (2020).
The Citadel as described by Pastor Bakare is a Vertical City with horizontal proportions, a new phenomenon in church architecture with the following distinct but synchronous ecologies;
A state of the art 5,200-seater auditorium, a much bigger capacity than current location of the CGCC
24-hour prayer centre & telephone counselling ministry as well as family life centre open to all for pre & post marital counselling
Health care open to members and the public for free
40 class rooms for the use of the creche, nursery and primary schools
Ample facilities for the school of government; business & leadership academy; school of parenting; finishing school; skills acquisition centre, free public e-library and bookshop open to members of the public who register
Event centres serviced by an industrial kitchen and restaurant, commercial outlets for retail, offices and banks, media studio with advanced editing suites and sound stages
3-level 600+ Car park, Waste Management and Energy Amenities
To ensure the sustainability of The Citadel, the governance architecture is like the river that parts into four major heads;
1) The Church: CGCC,
2) The corporation: the commercial arm for wealth creation,
3) The schools: the human capital development arm &,
4) The foundation: for corporate social responsibility- social intervention.
The Citadel offers an ecosystem that seeks to empower everyday people to attain their full potentials by facilitating the integration of work, play and learning. It seeks to empower the next generation of leaders who will go into the mountains of culture to solve problems in politics, economy, media and entertainment, education, religion and social development. It is the only Branch of the CGCC, a Ministry which has overtime supported its members to set-up other ministries across the world with no franchising agreement to remit tithes and offerings but rather as sons who have matured to the point of marriage and need space to lead their families but who can visit home anytime for fellowship, supports and encouragements.
It is for this vision of an innovative and viable platform for societal transformation that Pastor Bakare along with community leaders and members have committed themselves to work, seeking by magnificent but righteous exertions in the marketplace and at personal inconvenience to finance its development. Bakare has placed personal guarantees and his family estate as collateral to raise loans from Banks to augment the sinking fund from free-will offering of members over the last decade so that the Citadel Platform can be completed in time, to cost and quality.
One would therefore expect him to respond with justifiable anger when some members take advantage of the culture of radical truth and radical transparency he has cultivated within the governance processes of the church to cast aspersions on the motive for or financing of the Citadel and why such a colossal amount cannot be used to build a world class hospital – for which they cannot explain how it will be managed after commissioning. We can only imagine the pain Jesus felt listening to Judas zealously criticize the woman who poured a whole Alabaster box of perfume on his master when he said that the perfume could have been sold and the money used to take care of the poor, despite his personal weakness as a treasurer who struggled with accountability.
Personal ‘beef’ against a critic is not the way of Pastor Tunde Bakare I have come to know for almost two decades, rather, he sees it as the personal sacrifice required of a vicar of Christ ,to remind the community of faith and a nation seeking direction, how the wisdom of Pa Elton and the empathy of the good Samaritan need to find institutional and practical expressions so that the promise God made to Abraham can be demonstrated in a way all can relate with. The Citadel is a prototype showing how to deliver benefits to the families of the earth that reside in Nigeria comprised of people of different religious, ethnic and political persuasion.
It is the same personal sacrifice and the maximization of discontinuities demonstrated in The Citadel that inspired Bakare’s partnership with President Buhari to rescue Nigeria in 2011 and still guides his participation in the public space as a citizen and nation-builder till date.
•Nadah is a management consultant and system designer.