Odubogun: I would like to be remembered as a bishop who brought change to Ife diocese
Bishop Oluranti Odubogun is the second Bishop of Ife, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Diocese. He retired from active service after nine years of meritorious service. The Diocese would remember him for many good things, especially his transformation of the Bishop’s Court into a befitting edifice and the erection of one of the best and biggest Cathedrals in Nigeria. Little wonder, then that his successor described his departure as a “big shoe he is stepping into.” ISAAC TAIWO had an interview with him recently.
What’s your background like?
I WAS born on March 21, 1946, got married to my heartthrob, Mrs. Folashade Omoyele Odubogun in September 2, 1972 and the marriage is blessed with two boys: Olusoga and Oladipo. I attended Kings College and Igbobi College for my Higher School Certificate. Thereafter, I proceeded to the University of Lagos, where I obtained a B.Sc. in Business Administration and afterwards a Diploma in Marketing from the British Institute of Marketing. I was in Lever Brothers Nigeria Plc., as a Senior Manager and later joined Cadbury Nigeria Plc. and rose to the post of an executive director.
How did you become a priest?
I received a clear message from the Lord on my way to Cadbury in the early 80s and distinctly heard the voice: “I need you to go and see Adetiloye.” He was then the Primate of the Church of Nigeria and Bishop of Lagos. Though I wrote it in my diary, but did nothing about it.
Prior to that, I was told that at the age of nine months, I convulsed and my mother, who was alone, took to me to the church and placed me on the altar, while weeping and praying that if God should revive me, I would become His. I later sneezed and came back to life.
However, my mother did not encourage me to become a priest, because of what she and my father, who was a priest passed through. In addition, she said the revelation of God to her about me, when I was in the womb was that of a great man, not synonymous with the life of a priest.
When I was small, I would minister to my elder sisters without understanding what I was doing. There was an occasion to seek the approval of His Grace for a development in the church and on getting to him, he said, “Since you will not understand all the signs, go tomorrow and report, for your letter is ready at the Seminary.” This, of course, was not my reason for going there. I told him the reason why I wouldn’t be able to answer the call of God immediately and he saw reason with me. When I was later ready, I went to him, but wanted to serve on part time basis, until when I was appointed the General Secretary of the Church of Nigeria and had to move to Abuja to work with the Primate, The Most Revd. Peter Jasper Akinola, the job I did for six years.
What was the experience like as the General Secretary, Church of Nigeria?
I never knew there was so much work in the Church, but it was interesting. It was the time the Primate stood his ground against homosexuals. The Church of Nigeria eventually dissociated itself from anything called homosexual.
What is your stand on female bishops?
There was a survey of all Churches in various dioceses and women themselves generally opposed it. It was discussed about two or three years ago at our general synod and the decision remains negative.
When did you become the Bishop of Ife?
The then Bishop of Ife, Rt. Revd. Gabriel Oloniyo retired, and I was considered the replacement by the House of Bishops. I was elected Bishop of the Diocese in January 2007, consecrated on March 4, 2007 and was enthroned on March 13, 2007.
On the Cathedral and Bishop’s Court… When you are called, and you know Who calls you, as well as the fact that you will render the account of your stewardship one day, you will be passionate about doing God’s work. I have done all I did to God’s glory, as He granted me the grace. So, He takes all the glory.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered as a Bishop, who through consistency and commitment brought a refreshing change to the environment of Ife Diocese. I am happy that both physically and spiritually, there are evidences of development programmes and laudable development that can be seen in every Church in the diocese, including the new Cathedral, which is the mother Church. We have impacted on the youth, trained the adults and prepared workers for the Lord’s work. We give thanks and glory to Him for all He made us achieve.