Reduce corruption, mitigate suffering, remain focused, Ohilebo tells Tinubu
The Ecclesiastical Province of Bendel Diocese of Sabongidda-Ora, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), will from Sunday, July 16 to Wednesday, July 19, 2023, hold its third session of the 10th Synod with theme, “As Moses Lifted Up The Serpent: A Call For Watchfulness” at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Oke New-Ora, Edo State. Activities line up for the four-day event include a Thanksgiving Service and fundraising for the development of the Diocese; presentation and launching of the Bishop’s charge; award ceremony, among others. In this interview with CHRIS IREKAMBA, the Diocesan Bishop, Rt. Reverend Augustine Ehijimetor Ohilebo, who is the first indigenous Bishop to be enthroned in accordance with the tradition of the Anglican Communion, shares his views on the Synod and sundry national issues
How would this Synod positively impact on your members and Nigerians as a whole?
Our focus at this yearly event is all encompassing, especially as we look forward to spiritually rejuvenating our members and Nigerians. We will look at the economy of our nation, the welfare of both members and Nigerians, our educational sector, the security situation of the nation, government’s approach to the situation of things in the nation and then give some basic recommendations on some major issues. The positive impact of the Synod on our members and Nigerians in general will be all encompassing as our aim is to point our members and Nigerians to the Ultimate Personality — Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
How did you feel being the first indigenous Bishop to be enthroned in accordance with the tradition of the Anglican Communion?
Every natural person will be very excited to serve his people. The excitement for me is mixed with some vital questions like: Will my people respect the office? This is because I am not too young for this now. Can I fit into the shoes of my predecessors who were quite more experienced and exposed than I am? What positive impact can I possibly bring to my people? But we asked God for direction and we got His approval and blessings, which was why we came up with the slogan: “With God All Things Are Possible.” So, we are grateful to God for counting us worthy even when we are not. It is a privilege and I’m excited to be the first indigenous Bishop to be enthroned in our Diocese.
Members in other dioceses have been clamouring for a similar thing. Do you agree with them?
Well, it depends on the reasons for the agitation. If a non-indigene Bishop will do better, there would be no need for the clamour. If things were working properly, there would be no point asking for an indigene. So, it all depends on the motive behind the clamour, which could be either good or bad.
You once said that you are a child of destiny. What exactly did you mean then?
It is a very long story, but the summary of it is that I was once a nobody and God saw me working and walking and brought me closer to Him. He showed me mercy and made me someone to reckon with. My family was the least to be considered for this honour, but here I am today by the mercy of God. Archbishop A. A. Agbaje of blessed memory and his wife, “My Mother” at home, Dame M. O. Agbaje discovered me. And I passed through the tutelage of Archbishop and Mrs. F. J. Imaekhai, my godsend “Parents.” I am, indeed, a child of destiny.
You came in 2017, as the third Bishop of the diocese and promised to take the Diocese to a greater height. Have you achieved this? If not, what are the challenges and how do you intend to overcome them?
We sincerely appreciate the pioneering work of the late Most Reverend A. A. Agbaje and his wife, Dame M. O. Agbaje, in this diocese. They laid a very solid foundation for this diocese. We also appreciate the complementary role of the late Rt. Rev’d J. O. Akao and his wife, Mrs Kate Akao.
As the third Bishop of the diocese and a son of the soil, there is so much I need to do and God has been leading me through. We can say to the glory of God that lots of great heights have been reached, but we need to do more. The diocese now has more Archdeaconries, which is a progress in the area of evangelism. We now have a functional DOSAB printing press, revamped pure water factory, active DOSAB bakery, land for diocesan retreat, more effective Venerable Akinluyi Memorial College, a brand new Bishop’s Court building and office complex (both are storey buildings), among other achievements.
We have achieved much, but we are looking forward to doing more. Our major challenge is finance because we are based in a rural area. However, we thank all the good people, friends and well-wishers, who have been our backbone.
If you see President Bola Tinubu face-to-face, what would you advise him to do to better the lot of Nigerians?
Firstly, I will thank God for his life and ask him to put the right people in the right places; use someone like Aigboje Aig Imoukhuede Esq, as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) because I believe he will put Nigeria on a better economy. Aside from that, I will appeal to him to introduce policies that will drastically reduce corruption at all levels of governance to its barest level and also to ameliorate the people’s sufferings.
Lastly, I will tell him to be honest and remain firm and focused at solving the nation’s problems.
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