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Nigeria needs a lot of re-positioning we agree, reshaping too, yes and when opportunities like this come bringing me people who know exactly what to do, I grab the it with full force.

So, in this interview with Pastor Emeka Timothy Obioha (which we may have to continue for obvious reasons), the man of God talked about divergent issues, touching on almost everything concerning Nigeria, the church, etc. and here are the EXCERPTS.
Let’s meet you, who is Pastor Emeka Timothy Obioha………?

I am a believer, a preacher of the Gospel of Christ and also a humanitarian, who has spent some years teaching and setting up systems to rehabilitate drug addicts, Prisoners and homeless people. Someone who has studied, worked in multinationals companies and travelled wide to partner with foreign investors for Nation building. But most importantly, shown the Christian body the importance for the church to shine “as lights” to the basic needs of their community which God has mandated them to savour, as “salt to the Earth”.

In recent times, religion and tribe or ethnicity has been used to cause a lot divisions amongst us as Nigerians so much so that at some point in the country, during election periods, what religion you and I practiced became an issue for debate.
Do you as a clergyman think that religion should ever be an issue in Nigeria?

In my candid opinion as a preacher, I would like to take my bearing from scriptures that emphasises the need for us to understand who we truly are and the role we need to play in the world. We are supposed to be ambassadors of peace in our Nation, through exemplary lifestyle. Matthew 5: 14 & 16 says “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your works and glorify your Father in heaven”. If God is Love, then there’s no glory in Hatred. God sees us as one in Christ.
The preaching coming out of the pulpit these days seemed completely WATERED DOWN as a lot of our men of God now crave for more material things and worldly possessions which have gradually enveloped some of them who preach exactly what their congregations want to hear. Is it possible to return the pulpit to its original state?

Motive is the key word here. God expects each one of us to be disciplined and hardworking (including the pastors), in order to propagate the Gospel of Christ. He (God) doesn’t expect the pastors to lord, collect tithe and offerings for personal gain or even manipulate the congregation by ripping them off their resources slyly. Tithing is an entire subject for another day which I have preached about in the past, which believers ought not to pay as Christians. Anyway, the funds should be raised primarily for a specific task, such as taking care of the widows, needy, homeless individuals within the local assembly. Visiting and paying the bills of incapacitated patients in the hospital, or visiting prison inmates and caring for their needs while sharing the Glorious Gospel with them. In the Words of Christ in Matthew 25: 41-43, it says “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me”. The Standard is to make wealth and share it evenly among the Assembly of saints. The Early saints as we can see in the book of Acts, organised themselves in that manner. Paul as a leading example of the Apostles in the Bible, made money from his tent-making business and ploughed back its proceeds to his community. There are lots of examples in the Bible to buttress this point. Zechariah 1:17 comments ‘’Thus says the Lord of hosts; “My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; The Lord will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem”. The true owners of the church are the people. She should be governed by the Elders who in turn control the preachers. It is wrong to be called a founding pastor or even own a church. Christ found the Church with His Own Blood. When the people understand their role as owners of the church, then the ones who claim to be the founding fathers should be regulated by the elders to teach the Truth. Harmony will be achieved and Greed will fly away, for Truth to prevail. The answer to your question is yes! the Pulpit can return to its original form.

Some pastors has had causes to in the past encouraged members of their congregations to defend themselves through whichever means against killings by people of other religion. Would you give same injunction to members of your congregation if faced with such challenge?

What Christ taught us as believers is to hate the corrupt system of this world, which mitigates our Christian values or beliefs. He encourages us to preach the gospel to the dying world. Unfortunately, some lazy Christians are residing in their comfort zones and the refusal to carry out that command, has created the ripple effect that is so glaring on our faces today. Tell me Precious, if you kill all the people with other religious views or belief, then who are we going to win over to Christ? Here’s what I would tell my congregation in the Words of Christ from Matthew 5:43-45 which reads “You have heard that was said, You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”.

There seem to be a lot of division amongst pastors and church leaders with each claiming superiority over another and sometimes, being political with their support for candidates of political parties.
Shouldn’t this be against the word of God in anyway? Should pastors be political at all, especially going public with such opinions?

The Bible states emphatically that our duty as Believers is to take prayers very importantly for our Nation. Praying for those in Authority and for the peace of the Land. While among the saints, there are those (The Preachers) given the Grace to counsel Political Leaders and give them moral guidance where necessary. Both duties are done in the Secret. The only time such activity gains public attention are exceptional cases where the politicians steps out of line against the Will of God and receives punishment, (that is if they refuse to retrace their steps). Other than that, Pastors should focus on the Assignment given to them by God and that involves giving moral and godly assistance to all political leaders without bias.

The Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is an ordained minister of the gospel, who contested and won election with a Muslim President. Going by happenings in recent times, do you think the relationship between he and the president had been cordial enough?

I respect the courage of the Vice President to run for office, considering his title as a preacher and the local assembly that he currently belongs to. King David in the Bible operated in office as both a King and Priest. It doesn’t matter if the President is a Muslim or not. Joseph ruled in Egypt as both a foreigner and a Jew, in the midst of non-believers. Yet he upheld the Laws and the Will of God.

Has Prof. Yemi Osinbajo lived up to expectation as a Christian occupying a political position of authority IN NIGERIA?

The Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has an advantage, both as a Lawyer and a Preacher. What matters right now is to get the Job done. And in my opinion, he is trying so hard to do just that. Considering the political atmosphere and dynamic nature of her (Nigeria) culture and people, I believe he has what it takes to assume such position, because God permitted him to reach that goal, in the first place.

Should Christians, I mean pastors participate in politics in the first place, talk-more contesting and winning them?

I mentioned earlier about notable characters in the Bible, these are men after God’s own heart who were involved in politics. Anyone who teaches contrary to this and goes around to take donations, offerings or even tithes from politicians is a hypocrite. God can nominate, elect or instruct for a pastor to assume such position as He wills.

You are a Nigerian I suppose from the Igbo extraction right? What is you take on this recent clamour by a section of Igbos for Biafran state to be decleared? Are you in support of such call?

Precious this question looks like a hard one. But I will attempt to answer it as simple and direct as you be, on your own blog. Anyway, there’s an Igbo adage that goes thus “If one person cooks for a group, they eat all the food, but if a group cooks for one person, he will not eat all the food.  (One person cannot do what a group of people can do.) There’s beauty in diversity. We all need each other to survive. I urge the Federal Government to calm these tensions through dialogue and reasoning. A crucial meeting for negotiations should be set up immediately, not only in the affected region but all over the Nation. My advice to the Biafra agitators is that this major upheavals to the Nigerian state or aggressions and exasperations should be checked and such grievances should be channeled through appropriate quarters to curb the loss of lives and properties. However I will demand that all the governors of the states in the region, should be held accountable for all the misappropriation of public funds that has impoverished their people. We know how much revenue that is generated within and or accrued to each state from the Federal purse, every month. Judging by facts on ground, only little has been done in those areas in terms of infrastructures and creation of enabling environment for the economy to strive. I have personally worked with a lot of foreign investment groups to rebuild the renowned Ariaria International market for commercial benefits to that region and we’ve met stiff measures and condition that turned us away….Greed and Corruption within. So let’s work on our internal problems first as South-East, before we go Public.
Our President, Muhammadu Buhari has been sick and away for some weeks now. What would you as a pastor say to him, bearing in mind that the bible instructed us to pray for those in authority which a lot of us out of hatred, don’t do these days?

By God’s Grace, I have personal and corporately prayed for our President’s recovery. I would advise that he should resign for the Will of God to be complete. His state of health and age cannot carry the burden and demands of the Nigerian economy. He has an assistant who is capable to take over.

Nigeria is going through a phase of economic recession at the moment as a country and there seem to be no solution in sight yet. All we hear had all been projections and suggestions. What do you tell your congregation to do about the situation on ground?

Change starts within and Change begins with you. Nation building is everyone’s responsibility. So let’s begin afresh with the resources available to each one. Let’s shun corruption and embrace honesty at every level. Let’s dream of a wealthy future and a vibrant economy. And with hard work and dedication, we will break through some day, having God on our side.

Finally, as a Christian Leader, what do you see as solutions to the various religious tomoil across all parts of the country today?

Dialogue, Understanding and Love for Humanity is the Key. I will end it this way, with the Words of Christ in Matthew 7: 12. “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”.

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