A Pentecostal bishop and one of the founding members of the People;s Democratic Party of Nigeria, Bishop Oscar Ossai has sent a warning signal to church leaders saying they cannot afford to remain unconcerned about who fills political positions in Nigeria even as the election year for the country draws closer. Oscar who confessed to our reporter that he joined politics at a time that was not too ripe stated that the time has now come for Christians to embrace politics and ensure that their voices are heard more than ever before.
“The timing was not as ripe as it is today when I joined politics but now we know better. We need to rise up. We have a predominantly Christian population. We in the church should be more active in matters of politics. Most of our institutions, I mean that were started by the church were taken over by government under the guise of harmonizing these institutions but this has further brought us into a deeper mess as a country.”
Speaking on the prospect of having leaders with the fear of God in government, he said, “The ball lies in the court of our leaders. I believe we can have people who have the kind of charisma of Pastor E.A. Adeboye, W.F. Kumuyi and Bishop Oyedepo in government. The simple truth is that our leaders have to be involved more than before and pull resources together to fight the monster called corruption and bad leadership in Nigeria.”
Oscar who spoke with ChurchTimes at his Lagos residence, said Christians in Nigeria can install a godly leader only if leaders of faith pull resources and forces together. “Unfortunately every church leader is an island” he said.
Oscar said further “I believe many of the church leaders we have today have what it takes to turn this country around. Can you imagine having a person like W.F. Kumuyi in government. He may not embrace politics but a person with his kind of acumen and skill will do wonders in government.
“He started Deeper Life in a small corner at the University of Lagos and has since turned the church to a global phenomenon. Pastor E.A Adeboye was used by God to turn the Redeemed Christian Church of God to a force in the world while Bishop David Oyedepo is also doing wonders with what God has committed to his hands Bishop Mike Okonkwo and a host of other Christian leaders have made meaningful impact on the nation.
If you look at the resources at the disposal of churches and the kind of projects churches are embarking on, you will appreciate the kind of resources that God has placed at our disposal”
Giving an insight into issues concerning public affairs, he said the concept of governance and separation of power was derived from the Bible.
According to him, John Calvin was used heavily of God in Switzerland to make an impression on the government of the day. He would preach in church and the following day his message will be taken to lawmakers and they would debate his pronouncements. The idea of separation of powers was taken from Isaiah 33v22 which states that God is our king, our judge and lawgiver. These are the three arms of government.
He said further that the church had always come to the rescue of the state in popular democracies “Once the light of the gospel goes into any area of human endeavor there is revolution. It is only in the church that we have people who are self-sacrificing and who are committed to human liberation. It is just that we have not been able to harness the resources at our disposal for the common good”
Recounting his experience in politics, he said “Until you get involved you cannot understand the knitty gritty of politics. It is in politics that you see human beings in their raw form. My involvement has taught me many lessons.”
Oscar, pastor of City of Refuge Church, said his active involvement in politics during the days of the late General Sanni Abacha almost cost him his freedom as he was being trailed by Abacha’s men. “I was just doing the normal preaching and taking positions on the state and the church. I did not know that the government of the day then had sent men to monitor my activities and take note of my utterances.”
He lamented that there are churches that are filled with people but you can’t get genuine believers. And that is the reason why we are still in the mess.” Early church leaders laid their lives for the truth and taught that resistance to tyranny was a form of service to God.
He noted that though the Church had been in existence in Nigeria before the celebrated amalgamation in 1914 he asked rhetorically, where is the site of the first church in Nigeria? I went to Badagry, the first site of the church where the white missionary worshipped under a tree does not harbour a church. It is a predominantly Moslem enclave.
“And that has been the trend in many African and Asian countries Mo-rocco was predominantly Christian before the invasion of Islam. Bishop Alexandria of Egypt used to be the head of the church before Islam came with force to wipe out Christianity in Egy-pt. Asia Minor which is now modern Turkey used to be the centre of Christian activities.”
He noted further that the Christian faith is being undermined in Nigeria though the numerical strength of the church is intimidating. The problem we have is that the church is shy over the issue of state and that is why the other faith has been running roughshod on us.
While appealing to the likes of Adeboye, Oyedepo, Kumuyi he said,”The church should officially sponsor political parties that will present candidates at all levels. We want men who can die for the truth in government. Nigeria is one of the easiest countries to govern in the world. What is happening in Nigeria can’t happen in other countries and they will still have a country.
“If all the great men of God in this country are ready to stick out their necks about governance in Nigeria, the story will change. We need convicted people to get involved. By the time we start the fire will catch. Anybody who is sitting at ease in Nigeria is a dead body. The nation is under threat and things are not working.”
Bishop Oscar is the General Overseer of City of Refuge Ministries, located opposite Ogudu Police Station in Lagos.