Pastor Remmy Hazzan is a Zonal Pastor in RCCG. He is also one of the promoters of Believers in Politics. He is a former Deputy Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly. He is currently the spokesman of Dapo Abiodun, the gubernatorial candidate of All Progressive Congress in Ogun State. He spoke with Dipo Alaje on his life and political adventure. Below are excerpts:
I was born in the ancient city of Kaduna. I grew up in a typical northern environment. The feelings was that of a mixed one. We were living in the midst of people with different cultural backgrounds. Reconciling the differences between what was at home and what was obtainable outside home was a struggle.
But we had to tilt towards what obtained in our immediate environment instead of what the home-front was offering. In the house, we were speaking Hausa as the first language. It turned out that my parents were no longer comfortable and felt they did not want to lose us to an alien culture. My father then decided to bring us back home in the late 70’s.
It was at home that we now had both our Primary and Secondary education which reconnected me back to my original culture and we could now speak our language, understand our people and recognise who we were.
But after my Secondary school, I went back to the north again to continue my education at Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa.
I was born by a Christian mother to a Muslim father. My late father was a very devoted Muslim and my mummy a dedicated Christian of the CAC extraction. She is a praying mother. In those days, she never for once enforced her own line of faith on us. She believed that we belong to our Father. She felt that when we grow up we should be able to make a choice on how to serve God.
My mother largely influenced my becoming a Christian. Even though she never told me about Christ. It was a decision I had to make on my own at a latter part of my life.
At a stage my father wanted my mum to join him in his faith. He felt as a reputable cleric in our town it was like a disgrace for his wife to be seen going to church. But my mum did not concede to this request. She stood with Christ and was seriously persecuted.
Of my father’s seven wives, she was the only Christian and also the only one that was not from Ijebu. My father was an Ijebu man and so were all his other wives except my mum. She is from Ekiti. Invariably, everything counted against her. The persecution brought out the resilience in her and she made up her mind that we would be successful in life.
My salvation story
While I was in school at the federal Polytechnic in Nasarawa. There were instances that people tried to preach to me. Growing up as a child, I was a fanatical Muslim because we were attending the Arabic school and conventional school simultaneously. The orientation I got from the Arabic school was a fanatical one which I developed. When people tried to convert me at the early stage of my life, I saw them as unbelievers and refused to listen to anybody.
I stayed briefly with my mum’s younger brother who was a Christian and attended church occasionally because that was the order. I was going to church basically to find fault in the Christian faith and resisted any attempt to have me converted. I started researching the Bible with the hope of finding fault in it.
When I went to Yaba College of Technology, a number of friends preached to me but I did not yielding to their pressure and sermons.
But all that changed when I went for my Youth Service in Bayelsa State. One day, I was drinking my beer and a young man came to seat with me, drinking Coke. He then started witnessing Christ to me. But in my usual manner I started criticizing the scriptures. But this guy took his time to explain things repeatedly
That night, while I was on my bed, the whole message he preached was replayed in my memory. At that stage my heart was arrested. After the orientation camp, I became very thirsty for Christ.
Even though the guy that converted me did not tell me which church to join, I decided to start attending RCCG. On my first day in church, I discovered that the man who preached to me was the assistant pastor. He eventually started encouraging me in the Lord. Within a year, I became house fellowship teacher, Sunday school teacher and ultimately became the assistant pastor. When he eventually left for politics, I was elevated to become the parish pastor. All these happened in less than 2 years. My thirst for Christ was unquenchable.
I went through the School of Disciples and Bible College. Latter got ordained as a deacon. Not long after this, a circular came that all pastor in charge of Area that were not Assistant Pastor should be recommended for ordination as Assistant Pastor. So I became an Assistant Pastor within 4 years of joining RCCG. Since then it has been forward looking.
I have been Pastor in Charge of Zone for almost 10 years now.
Getting married to a Christian also helped me tremendously.
Beginning of my political journey
It started during my secondary school days. The then principal encouraged student that wanted to become the speaker of students’ representative council to campaign for votes amongst fellow students.
The election was always done during third term of form 4 and the tenure would run for the whole duration of form 5 which was then the final class in the old education system of secondary school.
I was my class representative in form 3, but when I got to the 3rd term of my 4th class I had to campaign to the school during the assembly. It was the first time I had to face the whole school. It was a tough nut to crack. But I finally found my voice. The confidence gained that day, made me determined to get to the highest level in politics.
Subsequently, every school that I went, I got myself involved in the politics of the student Union.
In Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa, I was the Secretary of the student Union. When I went for my HND in Yaba College of Technology, I was the Speaker during my HND 1. By the time I got to my final year, I became the Secretary of the Student Union government. This was unprecedented because they had unscripted rule that any student that did not do his Ordinary National Diploma in Yaba School of Technology can become a leader of the Student Union. That again gave me a break into mainstream politics.
When I went for my Youth Service in Bayelsa State, I became the first non-indigene to be an executive member of Bayelsa State Association of Senior Civil Servants. I was almost becoming a member of the Nigeria Labour Congress but I left the state for mainstream politics. Politics for me was more of an early consciousness in life. When I became a born again Christian, I realized that politics was scriptural, because the Bible says when the righteous rule, the people rejoice
How I became Deputy Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly?
My becoming the Deputy Speaker was made possible by God. It was not in my plan at all when I became a member of the state house of Assembly.
When the Ogun State Assembly was to be inaugurated in 2007, we were 14 new members and the remaining 12 were returning members.
Meanwhile, the tradition was to reserve Principal position for returning members. Somehow I envisaged a conspiracy and approached the governor. I told him that the new members should be encouraged by allowing at least one of them emerge the Deputy Speaker while a returning member becomes the Speaker. My reason was basically to have an all-inclusive House of Assembly at the leadership level. I felt this would avoid agitation which in my opinion was dangerous for any democracy.
The Governor saw logic in my reasoning but somehow tactical rejected the suggestion. At the end of the day, the two people that emerged Speaker and Deputy were both returning members.
However, in less than a year of their emergence, the gang up to get them removed began to gain traction.
At the final stage of their removal, the plotters conscripted me into the plan and offered me the position of Deputy Speaker. I never lobbied for it.
For me, I think it was a practical and scriptural example that you cannot light a candle and put it under the bushels…..
A return ticket on another party’s platform
I think what I did basically was to ensure that I was connected to the people politically.
One of the things I did was to ensure that leaders emerged out of my followers even when some of them did not have the requirements.
Each time I had opportunity to nominate people into positions, I picked my followers. Some became counselors by election, others emerged as party executives at the local government level. A few of them got appointment at state level. This became a pattern that everybody that was around me had a sense of leadership…
Eventually when I had disagreement with the government of the day and was prevented from seeking a return to office, the people were there for me.
I felt there was a need to make a point by testing the strength of my leadership on another platform. I ended up with the then Action Congress of Nigeria and eventually got a return ticket back to the State House of Assembly.
I think what helped me was the Grace of God to stay connected to my constituency. I eventually won that election by a landslide.
Test of faith
Test of faith came to me in several ways. It came in the form of inducement to pervert justice and due process. It came in the aspect of compromising my faith in terms of relating with the opposite sex. It also came from people that want you to look the other way when circumventing due process.
But like my late father who was a Muslim would always say, when it is bitter in the mouth, then it is sweet in the belly and when it is sweet in the mouth you can be sure that it is injurious to the belly. Therefore, I believe that anything that is sweet is a reminder that destiny is being injured. The word of God has been my guide. My prayers and that of my family also saw me through. In the final analysis, there was a level of Goodwill that came my way, which I believe that no amount of money could have given me.
Why I am rooting for Prince Dapo Abiodun
I remember the word of Bishop David Oyedepo. He said the worst nominal Christian that is elected into office is better than the anybody who does not know God. Amongst the front runners today in Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun is the only Christian. He is not just a nominal Christian but a practicing one.
He is a constant and consistent worshipper in one of the RCCG Province in Victoria Island, Lagos that is under the leadership of Pastor Ben Akabueze, the Director General of Budget office at the Federal Level in Abuja.
This means that there is a reporting line that can be used to whip him into line if anything that is injurious to the body of Christ is being done in his administration as a Governor.
When there is no reporting line or mechanism to correct leaders when they are deviating, then we would have a DARK WORLD experience in leadership.
Prince Dapo Abiodun has also been abundantly blessed in his private endeavor and we are of the opinion that such blessings can be replicated in the public office.
He also dignifies church leadership and I believe that this virtue can be used to protect the Church interest and the interest of the larger society.
He also keeps to his words. Even though there may be other options for people as the election approach I am convinced that with all the things that have been highlighted, Prince Dapo Abiodun remains the best choice for the body of Christ.