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If I had continued in my old ways, I’m not sure I will live up to 70 — Archbishop Ojo

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The Presiding Bishop of Calvary Kingdom Church International, Badagry Expressway Cele Nica, Lagos, Archbishop Joseph Imariabe Ojo, celebrated his 70th birthday, penultimate Saturday. At the celebration, he spoke with journalists on his journey in ministry and some relevant issues concerning Nigeria. KEHINDE OLATUNJI reports

How does it feel to be 70?
I Have not attained this age before. This is the age somebody would sit down and look back and see the areas where one made positive decisions and consider other areas where one can make improvements. To God’s glory, I have made some positive decisions in my life, but my best was the day I gave my life to Christ in 1972. Before giving my life to Christ and submitting to His Lordship, I was a very tough person. If I had continued that way, I am not sure I would have lived to reach 70. And even if I had been alive, by God’s mercy, I would have not been in the Lord, not to talk of being a minister of the gospel. That decision to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour was a turning point in my life.

What is your advice to upcoming ministers?
It is so sad that today in Nigeria, there are people who go into the ministry for selfish reasons. Some people just venture into pastoral work because they have nothing to lay their hands on, due to the bad economic situation.

   
But my advice to those genuinely called and just coming up is that, they should stay by their calling. They may not make a breakthrough at the initial stage because it takes time. Anything that is natural and involves God needs to grow and mature. So, it is in stages. I urge them to be patient with God and remain in their calling and allow God to do what He wants to do with their lives.

How would you compare your growing up days and now? Has the country fared well?
The governments we have had since after the First Republic have not been able to manage the country well. Things were better when we were youths. I pity today’s youths. For example, Archbishop Benson Idahosa, my late mentor, was 26 years old when he built his first house. I built my first house when I was 36. But there are very many 36-year-old men today that cannot even pay the rent for a bedroom flat because there are no jobs. The economic situation is not helping them to create something for themselves. Today’s youths are just to be pitied.

The government has not created jobs or expanded schools. Thank God for private schools, which have helped to expand opportunities for education. The quality of education then cannot be compared with what we have now. Today, some university graduates cannot express themselves or even know how to write application letters. I am saddened that the situation is so bad that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation advertised on its website for few vacancies and 26 million people applied on the online platform. The level of unemployment is so staggering that it has become something else.

Some Nigerians bring shame to the country outside, where they engage in criminal activities. What is your advice to them?
There is an adage that says if masquerades don’t dance at home, they will not go outside. If they were well cultured in their country, they will not go to another man’s land and misbehave. When leaving Nigeria to travel to South Africa or even Saudi Arabia, they just have to understand that wherever they are, if they allow God to direct them, they will not fall into the traps that the law enforcement agencies of those countries have set up. In all these places, they are also thinking about the welfare of their citizens; they think Nigerians have come to snatch the jobs for their people. So, there is need for Nigerians to be well behaved and well cultured wherever they find themselves.

President Muhammadu Buhari will soon be sworn-in for his second term, what are your expectations?
I just want everybody to have hope that the Buhari that is coming for second term will be the real Buhari. I’m not referring to the Sudanese man. The Buhari in the first term didn’t lead the country with his mind. I may be wrong, but there are cabals that have taken over the country’s leadership, and they are dictating to him what to do. So, the country has not fared well. The effect has been that the people are suffering. So, if he turns a new leaf, it would be better for the country.

I believe Buhari is a good person, but there are bad people around him. There is no apology for saying this. These people are wicked. They are there because of the money they have stolen and want to steal. That is why they want to be protected.


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Joseph Imariabe Ojo
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