Publisher of Ovation Magazine, Mr. Dele Momodu conducted a live video interview with Pastor Itua Ighodalo founder of Lagos-based Trinity House on July 8, 2020.
Find below an excerpt from the one-hour interview specifically on his relationship with Lamido Sanusi as transcribed by Wilson Adekumola
Now the issue of unity is the one that really concerns me. When you were in school, I heard you were a classmate with a former Emir of Kano, what was unity like then, was there this type of discrimination of the north/south divide at that time?
The former Emir of Kano and I went to King’s College, a fantastic school established by the British in 1909 to build leaders, people who wanted to go into the civil service, people that wanted to go into military or be leaders of Nigeria just like the King’s College in Hilton, Britain.
Hilton is a public school in Britain and it has produced between 8 and 20 prime ministers in Britain. That is the school Ayida, Ojukwu, the Apatas and others went to.
In the North, they established Barewa College to do something similar and it has produced a lot of leaders in the North. King’s College was formed as the first unity school.
They would take the best twelve in common entrance throughout the federation and the best three from every State to come into King’s College.
So, we had people from all over the States. They were typically perhaps the best brains of that class. The best three from every State and the best 12 from the federation were offered admission.
By the time you come to King’s College, you know you are competing against the best set of students in the country. There are different levels of development. You may find somebody who is best in his State may not be as good as other best 12.
Ideally, within a year you catch up because they have the intellect just that the developmental tools are not available. You did not know where anybody came from. You just knew you were young boys on the same campus trying to make good of life.
Saraki. Ojora, Gambari the present chief of staff to Buhari, Babagana Moguno, and others who had one time held or still hold strategic positions in Nigeria were also in King’s College. We had a bunch of brilliants boys. Chike Obi also passed through King’s College.
The rule in King’s College is that you don’t fail. You may be the son of a rich man or a poor man, it does not matter. We were all equal. You competed in social activities, you competed in sports, you competed in academics and you competed in your own capacity. But the beauty of it all is that we were all brothers.
Anywhere we see ourselves we say esprit de corps. There was no racial or any type of discrimination. There was a mutual understanding. When it was time for fasting, we fast when it was time for church, we did church together. Sanusi Lamido was in the choir with me.
It was after I came back to Nigeria, I realized that some people were Hausas; some were Igbos, some were Yorubas, and so on. It was not an issue in those days when we were at King’s College.
We were just boys trying to become leaders in Nigeria. We are good friends till today and we all respect each other till today. So, when some people said I went to pray with Lamido Sanusi I only went to see my brother who was coming from a traumatic experience to show him I love him and I care for him.
Lamido Sanusi and I share common understanding
That was what I went to do. No political undertone to it at all. They don’t know the story. They don’t know history. Lamido and I share a common understanding. Our wives were friends. We went on holiday together. We did a lot of things together. It is not the story that started today.
This is what our leaders were trying to do at that time. Creating a Nigeria where there is unity, a common bond, common understanding to lift Nigeria up and make Nigeria what it really should be.
That is why we want to detribalize Nigeria and let people know Nigeria is greater than ordinary States or different tribes. We want them to know that Nigeria is worth living for and worth dying for. The first thing we need to do is to reorientate and rethink the average Nigerian. The second thing we need to do is to build our values on the family by family basis.
The reason I am what I am to large extent is because of what my parents taught me as the first basis. Whose son, are you? I was taught what is right and wrong. They told me I must be a good person. We must go back to that family values because it is the family that produces the society and it is the society that produces the leaders.
What you see as a failure in leadership is actually a failure in family values. People that don’t fear God, people that are greedy, people that are selfish cannot make good leaders. They came into power for the sake of power and not power for the sake of people. Jesus said those who want to be leaders must be ministers and the word minister means servant.
A leader is a servant, to serve the people and make sure they prosper, to make sure that the people do well in all facets of society. A leader is to make sure the followers are protected not to lord over them. We want to reorientate and educate people to bring back values to our families.
I have told my friends to let us lead a vanguard, a champion, a course to reorientate and educate every single Nigerian so that they can think for themselves. Don’t let us just educate them but also give them the education that will make them productive in the future.
Let us take education to where it is needed so that every man will look after himself but not be a liability to the society and allow Nigerians to fulfil their God-given purpose.
With all your academic laurels why did you settle for evangelism?
That is a very good question. I actually did not settle for evangelism as it was. I just have an aspiration to do the best in what I could do. Like I told you, I am a chartered accountant but along the line, I ran into storms of life as most people do and I began to search inside of myself that there is a better meaning to life than all these I am doing.
Like my late mother of blessed memory told me. She said to me, young man what you need is Jesus. She came to me on my 31st birthday, spent two to three days praying with me and I realized there are some efficacies in prayer. The prayer was really working for me.
So, the next week she brought pastor, Rev, Popoola based in Ibadan. He spoke to me. I asked some hard questions and he gave me the answers.
Then, I gave my life to Christ. I later joined Redeem Christian Church Of God, Freedom Parish that was being pastored by my friend, Pastor Tony Rapu.
I know what Tony and I did before he became born again. I saw that it was good worshiping in Freedom Parish. I began to chase after God.
I did not plan to be a pastor. I only wanted to serve God and allow Him to use me so that I could fulfil my purpose. Along the line, an opportunity to pastor came I find myself pastoring first of all in a church in Demark, then later Christ Church, Gbagada, Lagos before we eventually started Trinity House.
I later find out that Pastoring is my calling. Being an accountant, I was initially pastoring companies. Turning companies around, teaching them how to do the right things. Now I am a pastor for people so that they can fulfil their potentials and live a good life according to the dictate of almighty.
Pastoral work is like the leadership we have talked about, what should be the attributes of a good pastor or what should a good pastor be like?
The first attribute is that he must fear God. A good pastor must fear his God because the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge, it is the foundation for wisdom. Secondly, he must understand God, what God wants from you, the rules of God, the direction of God, how to work with God, how to serve God. Pastor’s work, is to take from God and give to people. Thirdly, he must understand and love people.
The Bible says love your God and your neighbour. You must love your people and loving your people means you must come to their level, listening to them, having time for them, understand their pains, and understand their problems, encouraging them, turning things around for them, and so on.
You must be principled. You must have things that you have been directed to do by God. You must be ready to admit your mistake.
You must be ready to tell the people that it is God that is working through you. A good pastor must have time for his family because his family is his first church.
He must be a prayerful person because prayer is a means of communicating with God. You must also be a hardworking person and ready to serve. So those are fundamental characteristics of a good pastor.
If God has given him the ability to preach well, it is an additional attribute. But a good pastor must be a good teacher because there is a difference between a preacher and a teacher.
So, the pastor also has the gift of motivating people that is an addition as well. But a good evangelist must know how to preach and motivate people to follow God.
A good pastor must be trustworthy; he must be truthful and dependable. He must be there for people and lead by example.
Well, there have been too many controversies over prosperity, so much emphasis on prosperity, how do we deal with this in the church today?
Why that came about is because of the needs and yearnings of people, People have been so impoverished over time by the society they found themselves in, so they need a beam of hope, beams of encouragement. So, before they knew it, they moved into prosperity gospel. There is nothing wrong with being rich or wealthy but we must not think being rich is everything.
A good pastor too must preach balance message, holiness, righteousness, the fear of God, simplicity, humility and ability to fulfil purpose. That is what is really important than being wealthy. If you fulfil your purpose you have everything you want in life.