Archbishop Ojo was the next person to Archbishop Benson Idahosa when the later was alive as the General Overseer of Church of God Mission. Now, founder and overseer of Calvary Kingdom Church, Ojo in an encounter with Church Times goes down memory lane giving an incite into some of the moves of Idahosa when he was alive. Below are excerpts
I grew up as an Ogbe boy in Benin. They are the boys around the palace in Benin. They were notorious boys and were greatly feared in the Benin environ. But I gave my life to Christ at Archbishop Benson Idahosa’s first crusade in Benin. It is only somebody who has experienced both sides that will understand when you say you experienced a change after conversion. I was religious but was smoking and drinking heavily. The kind of theology in my former church will make you want to sin so that you can have something to confess. When I became born again I discovered that if any one be in Christ he is a new creation..
I joined the church immediately when I gave my life to Christ. The early days of my salvation were fantastic. The ogbe boys, which I belonged to were tough people. We smoked all the “smokables” and do all the “doables”. My room used to be a joint. If you are not a smoker and you enter there the smoke alone will choke you. I got home after my conversion and got a chalk the following morning and wrote on the wall of my room: No smoking No drinking. Not long after that my friends came and said, Bolingo, that was my guy name and invited me to the cinema. I turned down their invitation and told them I was a new creation. They scoffed and said they gave me two weeks to change my mind but as God would have it the two weeks they gave me has not expired since that time.God used Idahosa’s messages to keep us alive in the faith today.
The man Idahosa
I don’t want to use the word that will appear as if I’m deifying him. But Idahosa to me was like a “Jesus” He was out of this world. He was so spiritual and far ahead of his generation. For instance he had some great spiritual insight. One example is me becoming a pastor. I was first ordained a deacon and later he asked me to go and pastor one of the branches of CGM. I declined initially and did everything not to go.After many years I realized what he was saying. He was so spiritual and saw what the ordinary Christian would not see. His teaching was quite different from what was in vogue then. He began the television ministry in Nigeria. We used to go to the television station to preach live on the set. Then people criticized him for using the television. Some began to call the television devil’s box. Idahosa brought drum set and guitars and they called us disco church. There is no minister in Nigeria to compare to him when he was alive. Idahosa was a bulldozer. He was a pioneer. He cleared the way. All of those who condemned him and criticized him have now eaten their words.
His passion was soul winning. Why Idahosa was better than many of our modern day prosperity preachers is that he knew where to balance things. For instance somebody gave him a jet But he turned it down. He told the person that his people would not understand. But today, pastors are buying it. It’s on record that he was given a private jet and he declined it. The people that condemned him then were doing that out of envy and jealousy. Two groups of people condemned Idahosa: The church and the press. The press did not understand. They were comparing him with others. People complained that he was being flamboyant and what was he wearing, Agbada. He did not have jeep then because jeep was not in vogue. He was riding a mercedez benz and he would always say, My God is not a poor God and people wondered what he was talking about.
I was the next to him in the ministry. I saw the court cases against him and had all the experiences. The only person that was consecrated Archbishop was Benson Idahosa. And that happened because of court injunction that he should not be consecrated a bishop. He was given an interlocutory injunction. When he was to be made a bishop some members of the church rose up against him and went to the court. They brought an injunction that he should not be made bishop. But the announcement on radio and television continued.
So on the day of the event, the people who were to consecrate him bishop consecrated him Archbishop and the news went round that Idahosa would spend his yuletide in jail for contempt of court. And he was charged to court and the judge said to him that he had run foul of the court order but he pleaded not guilty and explained that he was not consecrated Bishop but an Archbishop. That was how he became archbishop. He told the court, “You say I should not be made bishop, I was not made a bishop but an Archbishop” the judge said, case dismissed. That was the wisdom he employed. And that was why he was made an archbishop straight.
His relationship with government
He related with government of the day the way the prophet of old would do. He was always on a corrective mission to government officials and heads of state. When Abacha took over he took me and some other bishops to see him at Aso Rock ( showed pictures taken with Abacha and the bishops). We got to the state house and we sat down and he said, “Abacha I did not come to pay homage, I have come to advise you. You cannot stay here without my prayer.”
His role with the government was essentially to tell them what to do and what they have not done right. Abacha allowed him to pray for him. Bishop Ilemobo was with him that day too. Idahosa related with government on advisory capacity and he was not bought over. He told him he should not treat Nigerians with impunity. He warned him not to toy with Nigerians. That was what he went there to do. But a lot of people thought he was there to pay homage and support for Abacha.
He did not tell Abacha to leave the place for Abiola because he didn’t want to be involved in the politics. He told Abacha to realize that people were suffering and that he should think of the welfare of the masses. Nigeria is more than personal ambition. Making a case for Abiola would have been political and he did not want to be involved in the power game politics. Idahosa was Abiola’s very good friend and my friend too. He visited me when I was a pastor in Benin. When I came to Lagos I used to go to Abiola’s house because of Idahosa. When his Concord Press did a report that was not complimentary on Idahosa, myself and Idahosa stormed the press and went to say, Concord you are dead, I close you down you wont function again for this wrong reporting. After that Abiola started looking for Idahosa. Whenever he came he to Benin, I was the one who received him. There was a day he came to my house around 12 midnight with his entourage.
His down moments
I cannot describe Idahosa outside his church life. There are things in the church that Idahosa was not happy about. He was not happy if a pastor of a church was not doing well. If he gets to a place and sees that the church is not decent, he would be upset. He wanted to see people that were live what they preached. I remember in 1974 he traveled and we attended a camp at a school in Benin. It was organised by adherents of Franklin Hall Ministries and it was called in the those days Open Eye Ministry. There was a belief that Christians don’t die and that you did not need to close your eyes while praying. So we imbibed those doctrines. When Idahosa came back from his trip and he came to church to preach, he said, Let us pray and we all did not close our eyes. Everybody opened there eyes and he asked me what was going on I told him Open Eye Ministry sir. He said I should make sure all eyes were closed. I had to start going round and urging people to close their eyes. He was so sad that we were easily carried away. He could get broken down if he saw people deviating. He had a clear cut understanding of where he was going and what he was doing.
Why I left Church of God Mission
I never thought of starting a church when Idahosa was alive and even after he had died. That was why I remained with mama Idahosa. But as God would have it, I guess the church did not want me. I said to somebody that there is a difference between break away and a drive away. We were in a meeting after papa died. The meeting took place in 2009 and mama came to Lagos. I had accepted her leadership and was ready to work with her. I went to her to tell her that I was ready to work with her and she said, let’s see what they will say, and I said who are the they.
There were people in the church who saw me as a threat. They thought she would not be comfortable with me around. We were in that meeting and one of the elders who was a major in the army then stood up and said he wanted to air his views and that he would be speaking the mind of 60 to 70 percent of them. You could see them nodding their heads. He stood up and said, “Mama I want to say that you can’t succeed unless Bishop Ojo leaves. He is too much for you. If he does not want to go then you will have to go. Two of you cannot be in the CGM. After that meeting, there was nothing that I did that mattered. It was viewed with suspicion. That was how I had to leave. I managed three years after that until it became difficult for me to cope. I left in May 2002 and started my ministry in June 2002.
I can’t say Idahosa went to be with the Lord too early. History has a way of stabilizing things. The very Sunday after he died, I preached at the faith arena and preached on Psalm 40 and I said in that sermon that he had finished his work. I couldn’t have said that then and say something different. I believed he did all that God wanted him to do irrespective of the age that he died. He didn’t go home too early. If you fulfil your assignment there would not be anything left to do. Everything he needed to do he had done. From 72 to 2008 was about 36 years and the magnitude of the work he left behind is mind blowing. Most of the ministries you see now are offshoot of Idahosa. When you are considering the work that God used him to do, you don’t limit it to CGM. The work of Ayo, Oyedepo, Omobude are offshoot of CGM. I believe to some extent RCCG too because many of the pastors of RCCG today were in CGM. I started ministry 10 years ago and by God’s grace we have 11 branches. My ministry is an offshoot of CGM. Mama Idahosa came here and said CKC is an extension of CGM. I concurred. Idahosa’s footprints are all over the globe.
Why some people no longer see him as their spiritual father
You must understand natural things and the way people behave. Naturally if somebody’s father dies he has right to adopt another father. I know that the spiritual father of Bishop David Oyedepo is Benson Idahosa. Papa Adeboye is his adopted. May be after Idahosa died he adopted pastor Enoch Adeboye as his father which is alright. I think one is free to adopt a father. But for some people like me, Idahosa remains my father, I don’t have need to adopt another father. Idahosa fathered me well.
What I learnt from him
I picked vibrancy, courage and boldness. Where the University is in Benin and where his house is, I experienced two incidents. Where the house of the president is was the shrine of the Benin Dynasty resided. Three of us went there to destroy the shrine. You need to be bold to step on the shrine of the BeninKingdom. He would hit it and I would also hit it. I was just following his instruction. The next day we came we see bees, reptiles and all kinds of . There was no reaction from the BeninKingdom because they respected him but they couldn’t have because he had bought the land.
The original name of the university was ChristianFaithUniversity. One chief claimed that the land belonged to him after it had been bought and the man brought bulldozer and was destroying the structure. He came to the place and warned him. The man did not listen he still brought bulldozer and the next thing idahosa confronted him and warned him vehemently to stay away. Few weeks later the man passed on. You need to be bold to confront a Benin Chief. Where the Hospital his, the owner was a lawyer. Papa called him and said please I want you to sell this land for me before you die so that you can eat out of the money. The man said, over my dead body. And papa said, Okay you have said it. The man died two weeks and the children of the man sold the land.
When Muritala Mohammed promogated a decree to bring Miracle Centre down in 1976 he told me he should not dare it. Muritala had said the place was too close to the airport and was too tall and Idahosa said the rubber trees were taller than the roof of the church. When he would not listen died that same year through the assasins bullet before every carrying out his threat. If was after he died that we knew he was young..
I think the greatest miracles that God used him for was the transformation of lives. I saw a lot of miracles in his crusades, the dead, blind and lame getting healing. The greatest miracle was the transformed lives. And more especially was my own salvation through him. In Benin before my conversion if I say stop there you don’t stop there are people who will be ready to beat you up.
My area of calling
I’m a pastor to the core. God gave to the church the gift of pasturing. He gave prophets, evangelists apostles and teachers. A pastor nurtures and brings healing and deliverance to people. I came to full time ministry in 1979. The experience has been so rewarding because from the onset I never knew I had a calling. I did not become a pastor because I attended a BibleSchool or went to the university and led students fellowship. I became a pastor because there was a call of God on my life. I have a ministry in Liberia