Nigerians should give Tinubu more time to fix Nigeria —Adegbite

Nigerians should give Tinubu more time to fix Nigeria —Adegbite

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Right Reverend Stephen Adegbite is the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) and Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lagos State chapter. He speaks with SEYI SOKOYA on the way out of the current challenges the country is facing and the recent developments regarding the 2024 Christian pilgrimage.

SOME Nigerians have pointed fingers at some religious leaders for being part of Nigeria’s problem. What is your view about this?

There are two types of ministers, there are ministers who called themselves and there are ministers that God called. If God called you, you would not be a problem to your nation and your church. But if you call yourself, definitely you want to satisfy your belly and that is the type of minister that will be involved in  activities that are injurious to the existence of our nation and the church. I would say that everyone should fear God and remember that one day, you must give account of your stewardship. It is only the blessings of God that will last, anything that is not from God, we must know that we should not encourage such. We must not live in affluence at the detriment of other people.


Some are also of the view that some faith leaders do not speak truth to power because they are on the government’s payroll.Do you agree with this?

That is not correct. Some of the people saying this have romanced government and officials secretly and they believe nobody knows what they have done. But you know that you can deceive me and I can deceive God, but none of us can deceive God. On the last day, we are going to take stock of our lives and the people you think will be in heaven may not be there because of what they have done on earth. God is a righteous judge and He is the only one that knows the heart of men and will judge accordingly.


There are reports that President Bola Tinubu is surrounded by self-centered people. What is your take on this?

That is not correct. The president is not new in that arena, he knows the kind of people he is working with and they know the kind of person they are working with. Anyone that is not doing well will be shown the way out. You saw what happened to the case of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs. That is to show that if you are not doing well, you will be forced to leave.


There is  hardship in the country to the extent that food trucks are being intercepted in some parts of the country and their contents carted away by the people. What do you think is the solution?

There is no doubt things are tough for people, that is why we encourage churches and well-meaning Nigerians to offer help and be our brothers’ keepers. I do that and will continue to do so as long as I’m alive.. Whatever we have is not ours but entrusted in our care and when we die, we do not even know what will happen to whatever we have. Let me say that what is happening in Nigeria is not limited to the country, there is a global economic recession. We must admit that if you switch on your television you will see reports of Japan, China, America, England,. We know the prices of goods and services now. I slept in a hotel in New York. I paid $250 without complimentary breakfast.

We are not the worst off in this present quagmire. Nigeria is facing reality and we cannot continue to live a borrowed life. It is what we have that we must spend and that is what the president is trying to do. Yes, we see the pains the people are going through and we identify with them but we must exercise patience with Tinubu to fix the nation. It is very easy to destroy but rebuilding is not an easy task. Let us give the president more time and soon, we will come out of the woods and Nigeria will smile again. Let us use the period of Lent to pray for God to hearken to our cries and heal our land.


 What is happening regarding the 2024 Christian Pilgrimage?

We are going to start operations by the end of April. We are going to make procurement and there will be room for people to make applications and there will be interviews for those we will select to work with us. Pilgrimage this season will be given a facelift and we will start two pilgrimage exercises. The first will be the Easter pilgrimage and that will be at the end of April. The main pilgrimage will be held from November to February and this will be the pattern of pilgrimage moving forward. Pilgrimage is not a jamboree, it is a spiritual journey and spiritual programmes and activities will be involved.


Is NCPC considering Israel at this time or is there any alternative?

Israel is open now, so we can begin to go back. For anyone embarking on a pilgrimage, the intention is to visit Jerusalem and other places in Israel. Wherever we go, we must be close to Jerusalem which is the prayer and admiration of people. We can go to Greece and some places we can discover, but Jerusalem remains number one. That is why when you come back, we give you JP, meaning Jerusalem Pilgrim. Recently, it was alleged that the president approved N24 billion to offset the liabilities of 2023 Hajj carriers, resulting from foreign exchange rate variations and some people viewed that the government does not have business doing such and questioned the significance when the nation is still struggling with other “pressing challenges”.


How do you see this?

I am yet to authenticate the N24 billion that people mentioned but for anyone to say the government has no business to be involved in the pilgrimage, this is not correct because this is not the first time that the government will be doing such. It is part of the government’s social responsibility and of course, the church is to assist people. Some people do not have dreams of going to Jerusalem in their lives, but if they are given support, they will not go there to curse Nigeria, they will go there to pray for the country. The first thing we need is prayer, it is a prayer that changes things. If the government sponsors people to the holy land, it is a blessing. From time immemorial, people have been going on pilgrimage and the government has been supporting them, not only in Nigeria.

Again, pilgrimage is a spiritual journey and it has lots of benefits. I am a living testimony. Anytime you go to Jerusalem, you will witness and experience something remarkable. Let me share with you my first time visiting the Holy Land. I was paired with an old man in a room and on a Wednesday morning, the man said to me that we should go for breakfast and I said, ‘no’ that I usually wait upon God that particular day of the week. The man said he had a burden that he had to go for surgery but he said when he comes back, he will go for the surgery. So, we prayed and when he came back to Nigeria, we went back to the hospital and he was told that there was no need for surgery and that the problem had disappeared. He invited me for the thanksgiving and celebration.

When the man’s daughter was getting married, he insisted that I must be the one to preach. So, why would I not go back to Jerusalem and pray? Anyone who has gone on a pilgrimage will know what they have to benefit and I can say that anywhere, I am a living testimony. Whoever does not know the meaning or does not want to accept that miracles happen, even in the Holy Land and everywhere, is on his own. But for us, we know there is power in going to Jerusalem and we will continue to experience it. Also, when you go on such a journey, it strengthens your faith. You will know that what you read in the scripture are not fables, but are real things that happened at some point in time in the history of mankind.


A Nigerian preacher said there was no prayer she offered whenever she visited Jerusalem that was not answered. The question some asked was do you have to go on pilgrimage for all your prayers to be answered?

No, God answers prayers everywhere but what we are saying is if God has blessed the land and commanded that people should observe pilgrimage, we should obey God. We should visit where Jesus was born, where he grew up as a young man, where he died, and where he was resurrected. Israel is surrounded by 14 countries that are enemies and they still survive. The land is located in a desert, but what they have can feed everybody and still have a surplus. They even export.. So, that is a blessed land, and when God has blessed something, you cannot curse it. There are church leaders in the country who respond to their non-membership of CAN with the wave of hands and there are individuals, even Christians, who still describe the association with derogatory words. Why do you think it is this way? Is it that they think the relevance or dignity of the body is in doubt? When people do not have their way, they can say anything.

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