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Nigerians Need More Factories, Less Worship Places, –Archbishop Antonza

President Supernatural Love Ministries/Spirit Life Power Yola, Archbishop Calvin Antonza II, speaks with CHINYERE ABIAZIEM on the myriads of challenges the nation is facing and possible ways of conquest, asserting that Nigeria will be more productive if the number of factories outnumbers the number of worship centres planted across the nation

How will you describe the Nigerian state, as the economy, security and politics seem to be in turbulence?

To be frank, Nigeria is in a dire position and we all know that it has never been this bad in our country. People are not only suffering but we have reached a state of hopelessness. Recently, we saw a video of a young man burning his certificates, this is very disturbing and dangerous.

People are most dangerous when they reach a state of hopelessness, where they have nothing to lose, they can engage in any atrocity you can mention. Also, we have had more cases of suicidal tendencies and attempts than we have had in the past. These summarise the present situation of our country.

5As the present situation bites hard, a lot of individuals Christians inclusive, can hardly feed their families, what can be done and what role should the church play?

Firstly, pray. We must always pray for God to show us the way out. But before that, we must pray and repent of our way of doing things. There is definitely something wrong with the Nigerian church and its approach towards God and the society. That is why we need to pray and repent. Repentance means a change of heart; a change of attitude, a change of the way you do things, I am not talking about religion, I am talking about real relationship with God.

The proof of your good relationship with God is that you will dominate and bring solutions to lives issues, you will not be the problem. Secondly, we must act. Faith without works is dead. One of the major challenges of Nigerian society is our curriculum. It glorifies certificates, with no corresponding practical skills. We must look into this, but what I am saying here is that work is what will take us out of poverty. Poverty does not respect prayers.

What it responds to is smart work to produce, distribute and transfer goods and services. Everyone must seek to be in the food and services chain. That is what will take us out of this quagmire. The Bible calls the church the light of the world. So, the major role of the church is to shine its light to the world. The easiest thing to do is to give people palliatives, which is not bad in itself, but this must not be the main intervention.

Don’t just give me fish, teach me to fish. So, the church must play its role of being the light that will shine in the darkness. We must teach our members how to develop themselves and acquire skills that will make them productive in society. This must start however by the imbibing of godly values.

Most men of God, prophets, apostles were observed to have taken sides, prophesied who will win elections, at the end of the day, the prophecies appeared not to come to pass. What is your take on this?

I do not believe that clergy should take sides in politics. Every Christian has the right to be politically active and can join any party of his or her choice, after all, they can’t serve without following the process. However, I do not believe the church leadership should engage itself in partisan politics. This is the mistake the early church made, and if we repeat history, we will suffer the consequences. It is because we do not operate a monotheistic society, we cannot determine who governs us from the pulpit.

The system of governance is through the ballot box, not the pulpit. The job of the church leaders is to influence those who will go through the ballot so that they will be god fearing in their hearts. It is this lack of understanding that caused many people to prophesy wrongly and end up bringing the prophets to disrupt. Note I didn’t say Christianity, but the prophets themselves.

Should clerics be partisan the way some went during the general elections?

No. I have made the point. Church leaders are fathers of the society. In a big house, not all will be at one party. So, you must be large hearted to accommodate all. Moreover, the country also belongs to Muslims even atheists and people of traditional religions. Politics and the church cannot mix. You cannot dictate your doctrine in a country where there is freedom of religion. This does not mean the church is powerless and cannot turn the society in the direction it wants it to, however, it doesn’t happen by being partisan.

Recently, there was an outcry over Pastor Jimi Odukoya, succeeding his father as the Senior Pastor in Fountain of life Church. Should family members take over after the death of the founder?

There are two approaches to this. Firstly, a registered church or ministry, just like a business must have a legal document, its constitution, which states its structure and also succession plan, according to the laws of the land. So, what do the Nigerian laws say? What does the constitution of the ministry say? Different ministries have different organisational structures, so follow the constitution, that will make what you do in succession legal and justified. Secondly, from the spiritual perspective, there was a specific tribe of Levi that were designated to be priests.

So, anyone who came from that tribe was eligible to be a priest according to his order. In the same vein, I believe in a Christian ministry, all sons and daughters of the head pastor are eligible to succeed their spiritual father. This means, there should be a level playing ground for all to succeed the head pastor. The head pastor must then be led by God, who is the father of us all. Having said this, both the biological children of the head of the ministry, as well as all his spiritual children must be given a level playing ground for succession.

Discrimination against his biological children is as bad as favoring them. If the head of the church, who is the Lord Jesus Christ, instructs you to select a person, you must do so whether he’s your biological offspring or not. The most important thing is for them to be spiritual sons and daughters. Bishop Fred Addo, my spiritual father, came to us some years ago, and told us God has instructed him to handover the ministry he founded to someone. Following God’s instructions, he handed it over to me, though, his biological son was already a pastor in the ministry and his wife was already a Bishop in the ministry.

I was a son and protege who had followed him in the ministry from inception. There are many ministries who have done that both in Nigeria and abroad. However, this does not mean that handing over to a biological child is wrong, if we follow the due process and not just because of narcissism.

Some observers have it that there is no difference between the way people dress to church and social outings, especially ladies in the name of fashion. Why is it so?

The main reason some church people dress revealing their body parts is because they have not developed a wholesome value of who they are in Christ. I will call them carnal Christians. Some church peo- ple though they have been born again, their minds have not been renewed, so they need renewal. Remember, the Bible says in Mark 7 verses 21-22 (NIV); every action comes from within men’s hearts. It’s from evil thoughts of the heart, that you bring forth evil actions. You dress according to who you are inside.

So, your dressing is actually a reflection of your values system and how much you have embraced the teachings of Christ. Don’t expect a pig inside, to avoid mud outside. You will never see a matured Christian dress like the world. In reality, the world is supposed to get its best designs from the church. We are the light and the salt of the earth.

Nigeria is recorded second most praying nation in the world after Afghanistan, but there is criticism that the situation of things in the country do not reflect this record, why is it so?

Most people in Nigeria are only practising religion with emotionalism and not in reality. Many people go to churches or mosques as a formality and it has no bearing on true value systems of life. Religion is indeed the Opium of the people. It can help you feel high, without changing your condition. It can whip up emotions and make you take up arms to fight for it. However, true Christianity, must involve your deepest values such that you have respect for yourself and others. You treat your neighbours as yourself.

You embrace the basic tenets of honesty, hard work and fidelity. You understand that worship is work. You refuse to cut short processes to please yourself. You follow procedures and processes that will make the end product main the standard it’s supposed to maintain. That is true Christianity. Prayers and religious services, are meant to only teach you how to live with integrity. What most people practice in Nigeria is false religion. A selfish endeavor that you pursue just to meet your need and not what you can contribute to the society.

That is why we have more churches and mosques than factories in Nigeria. If for every place of worship in Nigeria, we have a factory or shop, we will be more productive. This country can only get out of its mess when we learn to produce. I expect the government to provide all the enabling environment necessary for true entrepreneurs to arise and begin to build small, medium enterprises as well as large scale industries. Government needs to promote agriculture.

Three things that can turn our country around, large scale employment of our youths in agriculture, massive building of roads and housing, and finally, enabling specialisation by different geographical regions of the country to the natural endowment of each region.

What other way out of the current situation in the nation do you proffer?

Three things that can turn our country around, large scale employment of our youths in agriculture, massive building of roads and housing, and finally, enabling specialisation by different geographical regions of the country to the natural endowment of each region. Agriculture alone can make Nigeria an independent country economically. Israel today is one of the most developed nations in the world, they started by developing their agricultural system based on the kibbutzim system.

Once you are independent agriculturally, you can then develop other systems of industrialization. If we want to get out of this situation, we must set up skills development centers, where all young people will learn modern agricultural techniques that can help them grow crops all year round. Another radical approach is we should shut down our country, and only eat what we grow. This radical approach has been used many centuries ago and once we develop our economy to be able to compete with others, then we can open it up for competition.

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