The Pastor of the Household of God Church and presidential candidate of the Fresh Democratic Party, Pastor Chris Okotie, in this interview with TUNDE AJAJA, speaks on his mission to occupy the highest office in the land, his life outside church and whether he still has plans for marriage
After you emerged as the presidential candidate of your party about a week ago, people would assume that God gave you the go-ahead, which should be as good as victory. Are you confident of victory in the coming election?
Let me put it this way; the prognosis concerning any venture that you are mandated to undertake is not usually given to you by God. What He does is to give you a command and expect you to act in faith, even if there is no physical feasibility for the actualisation of that mandate. That is why in the Bible you see that when people were called by God to carry out certain responsibilities, it was their obedience that led to their victory.
Few months ago, you wrote to the two dominant parties; the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, to adopt you as their candidate in the coming election and in the same letter, you said they should allow you to form an Interim National Government to correct the ills in the system. What is your real intention?
I’m not asking to be a part of the PDP or the APC, neither am I asking to be their candidate in the 2019 presidential election. I’m asking both parties and other political parties not to field their candidates for the 2019 presidential election and allow me to set up an Interim National Government with the mandate to restructure Nigeria and deal with fundamental issues that beset us as a nation in order to prevent a catastrophe. This is because Nigeria has a fundamental problem that must be addressed, and so it cannot be business as usual. When I said they should adopt me, I meant that they should subscribe their support to a model that I have advocated. I have designed that government and I have named it Government of Reconciliation and Reconstruction. It is like an ad hoc concept to address the situation we have in this country, and after addressing those issues, we go back to the status quo. The constitution of the country today is moribund, retrogressive and subversive to the Nigerian cause. Nigeria needs to restructure and no extant or subsisting party can address this issue because it is impossible while a substantive government is in place, due to partisan affiliations. Thus, if all the other parties do not participate, Okotie would form the interim government for a certain period to achieve its mandate, after which we would go back to partisan politics. We need a man that can be trusted to do this, and that is the mandate I have.
But such a move goes beyond the parties, whether they agree to it or not. It has to do with the constitution. How do you hope to achieve that within the confines of the law?
The enormity of the task itself is apparent to all to see and with God, all things are possible. What I know is that God loves Nigeria and what is ahead for Nigeria is not a regular sequence of events that we are conversant with in election cycles. Nigeria has come to a point where the only way forward is to have an interim government and it will be obvious as time goes on, because at the presidential level, there will be difficulties that will not be surmountable except we submit to another paradigm. And even if the parties do not agree, I will definitely pursue it because it is not dependent on them. It’s a divine mandate from God.
Have the parties you wrote to acknowledged your letter?
Not to my knowledge, but you know that at the time I wrote the letters, the parties were in the process of reorganising themselves for their primaries, so I understand they are busy at the moment. But, it’s of no consequence. The reality of the day would compel them to sit down, not just with me, but with all that are concerned to review what I said and find a way forward for Nigeria. So, there is really no need to pressurise them. We all know why we are where we are, and that is why I came up with this proposal early enough. I’m coming as a solution and I call myself a consensus remedial facilitator. I have been working with a group of men and women who are of like minds with me; people that can be trusted and be seen as the symbol of national unity. And this task must be done with the perspective of people who have never been involved in the political process. However, there is no doubt in my mind that there will be those who are opposed to it. Even the Lord Jesus; when He was here, He had opposition. But I’m saying that the prevailing circumstance at that time would make it mandatory. The average Nigerian man and woman are looking for a practical solution and they know that the present political parties cannot provide that solution. Like I said, that time would come when the Nigerian people would say enough is enough. I’m persuaded that there are patriots within these parties who see the things that I’m seeing and when the time comes, there would be a convergence.
What is the length of time you are advocating for your interim government to last for?
It will depend on negotiations when that time comes. It will be based on consensus; we would have to sit down and decide among ourselves how long it would take and what the interim government would address.
You have contested before and didn’t win, even when you said the mandate from God was that you would be Nigeria’s President; do you think people would still believe that you were sent by God?
I understand the scepticism in the world itself, even in the church. Remember, Moses went before Pharaoh several times before he yielded and it wasn’t because God didn’t send him from the outset. But, this has never been an issue for me because delay is not denial. I’m a man on a mission. I recognise that this is a divine mandate for the sake of our nation. That is why I have stood my ground all these years. It’s time that determines whether you would win or not. It took three days after the death of our Lord Jesus Christ to determine whether He succeeded or not. So, I’m not bothered because it is not by my power or might. It’s God who wants to make it possible for the sake of His people. We will come to a point when the people of this country would say enough is enough. There will be an impasse and it will not be possible to proceed and there will be a logjam and the only solution would be what Okotie had proposed. It will come to that place logically, and I have already seen it. I have said before that the concept of the democracy that we are practising is alien to our culture, and that is why it has been hijacked by the oligarchy.
Since you said Nigeria would get to that point when people would realise it, does it mean it doesn’t have to be 2019?
I believe it is now; this 2019. You see, there is some kind of rumbling going on within the polity that is being ignored by the government. We have never really had people this vocal in their condemnation of the things going on in government. We, I mean I and those who believe that God has a hand in the destiny of this nation, are expecting that something really drastic that would change the course of this nation and would lead to the renaissance of the Nigerian state is going to happen. Nigeria is on the verge of a renaissance and it is going to happen no matter what the political elite think or want, because for the Nigerian state, this is our last chance and I mean that prophetically.
Why did you say it’s our ‘last chance’?
I’m saying that there is a presumption that the political class think that nothing can happen, and it is called arrogance because they feel they have a measure of control over the people. There was a time that the PDP said they would be in government for 60 years and the APC has also fallen into that same mode, thinking it would govern Nigeria for as long as it likes. And there is nothing wrong with that because it is just political braggadocio. But what I’m saying is that if they are observant, they would notice that the Nigerian society has become more sophisticated than it used to be. People are praying and hoping that there would be a divine intervention because a power that is higher than their power must intercept this process. I believe God would do it because we have been praying across the nation like in the days of the late Sani Abacha (military head of state). Something is going to happen and I can tell you that confidently; and that would bring all of us to a table to dialogue with one another about the future of this nation. It’s not going to end the same way it did in 2015, because if it does, this nation is headed for a civil war or some catastrophe and that’s not what anybody wants. That is why I’m saying it is the last chance Nigeria has to turn away from this route.
You’ve been contesting since 2003 but you didn’t in 2015. Were you fed up with the system at that time?
What happened was that the then President Goodluck Jonathan decided to define what the political horizon would be for him. He didn’t want somebody from the South threatening the possibility of him winning the election. So, in collusion with the Independent National Electoral Commission, they decided to stop me from participating in the process, and that was when they decided to deregister our party, even though we had won the case and the court had ordered that we should be recertified. But an instruction came from above that they should not allow our participation. So, we were excluded from that process.
Sometime in February, you opined that the ongoing anti-graft war was enough reason for Nigerians to support President Muhammadu Buhari should he opt to seek re-election. If you still hold that view, you would not be contesting this election; what has changed?
There are prevailing circumstances right now that make it impossible for there to be stability in this country if we follow the usual political process. This is not to castigate anyone or to chastise the machinery of government. It’s about the fact that it is no longer possible for any particular government that is in power to stabilise this country because of the adversaries that we presently face. That is why I also said they themselves would come to that realisation in time. When Noah began to tell the world that there would be rainfall and he began to build an ark, some people concluded that he was either insane or going senile, until it happened over 100 years later. The one who determines the methodology and timing is the Almighty God himself. And the case of Abraham is another example. He never knew it would take him 25 years to have a child even after God had made the promise. So, people who question the validity of this prophecy had not read enough of the Bible to understand the way God operates in these things. I’m going to pursue it until it crystallises and until the plan of God for Nigeria is done.
In the course of the Interim National Government that you are advocating, what are the things you are aiming to achieve in each of the sectors, like education and infrastructure?
This federalism that we are practising is not working; it’s like a unitary state, so we need a pathological approach to deal with this very ailment itself. What is the cause of the present stalemate and stagnation in the development quotient of our nation? Part of that are the constitution and the structure of Nigeria itself. When we put the interim government in place, we would decide on the system of government that is unique to our own culture and can work for us.
There is a belief that it is hardly possible to steer clear of corruption in Nigeria’s political space. As a pastor, won’t you be tainted if you get there?
I think it’s a misconception, because light is greater than darkness – no doubt about that. What has happened to some of our people is that they were drawn by desire. So, somebody has to show an example. Joseph did not compromise his stand with God because he was an Egyptian prime minister. He ruled in Egypt when the dominant power was satanic. His righteousness flourished in such a way that even Pharaoh gave him the latitude to do whatever he wanted to do. Daniel worked with several kings in his time and he never compromised his Christianity. Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego never compromised their stands in the days of King Nebuchadnezzar. So, the belief that you would be tainted if you occupy political office is deceitful. It is when we compromise that we lose our steam. You don’t want to know how many of them have asked me to do certain things with them and I said no.
There is this belief that religious leaders have in one way or the other encouraged docility by telling people to keep praying when they should confront their leaders. Why have Christians become so docile?
It’s the wrong teaching; the indoctrination from the pulpit. Many of my colleagues (pastors) are not aware of the difference between the priesthood that we are in now and the one before it because some of them are not well instructed and not well learned in biblical concepts, and so they do not direct people correctly. The former priesthood under Aaron or Leviticus order of priesthood commanded all of God’s people to work only within the temple, but the present age of Christianity is under the priesthood of Melchizedek, which enables you to work in a secular office and still be a priest. Now, we are priests and kings and the enlightenment has permeated a lot of churches now.
There was a time that a former media aide to President Jonathan, Dr Reuben Abati, said there were some mystical powers in Aso Rock that tend to prevent even a President with good intention from performing well in office. As a pastor, do you believe there are such powers there?
Dr Abati was absolutely right. Everywhere in the world, there are powers that control government. Ephesians 6:12 says, ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in the high places.’ What happens in the seat of government is the result of operations in the subterranean spirit. For instance, in Aso Rock and in its environs, certain sacrifices had been made in the past by certain past leaders to ensure a certain favour from the deities that they were appeasing. What they do is to bury the sacrifices in those locations. The deities draw on the sacrifice and determine what would happen in that location, because spirits are territorial. Even in churches where you have fake pastors, if they want to have followership, they would appease the subterranean spirits in those locations and bury their sacrifices there, and within six months of the inception of that ministry, it is flowing with people. There are many of them like that in Nigeria. So, that is part of the reason why governance from Abuja has been extremely difficult. What Abati said is absolutely true. Recently, there were tremors in Abuja and I have said this in church that it’s not because Abuja is prone to earthquake; it’s that the prayers of the Nigerian saints have begun to shake the subterranean spirits that are underground, according to the revelation we have in the scripture. It wasn’t a geological occurrence. It was spiritual. With the shaking of the seat of government, the end of these subterranean powers has already begun. My counsel to the praying Christians is that they should fire on because their prayers are being answered and that is a clear indication that God is already in this with us and that is why I said something is going to happen. That tremor is indicative of God working underground, and it’s really powerful.
Other pastors have not come out to show you support. How does that make you feel?
The support that I have got have been the greatest this time, because when I started in 2002, due to the lack of information, some were sceptical and some were even worried for me. But it has come to a point that pastors have identified with what I’m saying. That is why I said prayers are going on all over our nation and men of God are becoming bolder and more vocal with the way things are going in this country. So, I have got great support from pastors who have subscribed to this. It is a sacrifice that I’m making and I don’t have to do this. I’m already successful as a minister and what I do, I do very well. But, by the grace of God, my ministry is to bring back peace and solution to our nation so that Nigeria can thrive. God loves this country. Many have prayed and asked for divine intervention and God has answered the prayers.
There are a number of people who are not comfortable with how you post pictures of your cars, like your Rolls Royce, in the social media and some say a pastor should not be doing such. What’s your reaction to that?
First and foremost, let me say that when you criticise something out of ignorance, it’s a detriment to that person. There are people who try to decipher Chris Okotie enigma and in their frustration, they articulate incoherent inconsistencies. I consider them a necessary comic relief. If I post my picture with a car in the social media, it’s not because I’m trying to show that I have the car. I didn’t post a Rolls Royce in 1987 when I started because I didn’t have it. Prosperity is a process and I’m 31 years in the ministry now. If I was working in any office or company, I would probably be at the helm of affairs or the apogee. Those who follow me understand that what I did was to communicate a trajectory of faith and that you can start small. Do not despise the days of little beginnings. And if you walk with God according to the laws of prosperity, He will bless you, which is not an end in itself, but a means. Prosperity is part of the blessing we have in Christ. But someone might look at my picture and say he’s just trying to impress Such a person is only ignorant of my antecedents. They do not know where I come from, but if they look back, they would see that I have always been at the top of my game and it’s taken me a long time to get to where I am today. I’m not a prosperity teacher, I’m a bible teacher. God has blessed the works of my hands. I understand that people tend to take these things out of context and make the church look like all we are concerned with is material wealth but that is wrong. The material things we get are fringe benefits of the things that God has given to us.
Perhaps the reason why people see churches in that light is because churches are not doing enough to cater to the needs of their members, like Jesus did, yet they see pastors flaunting their wealth.
I understand that, but you see, you cannot take a case and make a stereotype of us all. I believe each case must be addressed according to its own merit. That would enable you to come to a rational conclusion about that minister. Household of God has been a unique place. If you come to our church, you would know that we are so different. The structures that are there have been adopted by others. I agree that there are aberrations in churches and some of these are even fake churches, and Jesus warned us about them because all they care about is to take from the sheep and not to give. Our church is definitely not like that.
The question as to whether Christians should pay tithe or not raged on for a while; what is your position on the issue?
The subject of tithe has been misunderstood and a lot of people who talk about Bible issues are not well studied. In scripture, there is only one truth; you cannot have your separate view. It’s either you know the truth in the scripture or you don’t. However, it’s an issue that has a deep background, but let me just give you the truth that you can masticate at your own leisure. First, tithing did not start in the law, as being peddled around that the law has come to an end and so tithing had ended. That’s an error. It didn’t begin in the Law of Moses. It began in Genesis 14, when Abraham met with Melchizedek. He introduced it in the law because he wanted to bless Israel. A lot of people who argue about these things don’t know that tithing is for this dispensation, not for the law. When you read the account of the relationship between Abraham and God from Genesis 12 to 14, you would discover that everything Abraham owned was given to him by God. The tithe, therefore, is an acknowledgement that you went to work for 30 days, as the case may be, but that God owns everything irrespective of the fact that you worked for it, and that because you are a part of creation in acknowledging Him as the possessor and owner of things, you yield one-tenth of that thing to His priest. That’s what it represents. They don’t know these things, so they think its pastors trying to coerce members to give them money. There is no doubt in my mind that sometimes people would take these things out of context, but it doesn’t change the reality in the Bible and the authenticity of the exercise. If you are a child of God, you need to study before you begin to articulate incoherent inconsistencies or verbalise ignorance. There are many colleagues of mine that are sincere but are sincerely wrong. It is painful to see our colleagues who think they are supporting God to preach things that are contrary to the same Bible they are teaching. The discourse was highly unnecessary and totally irreverent for anybody to discuss a matter in scripture that they don’t understand, else you would be dishonouring God. One of the most sacred things in the Bible is tithe but the people misinterpreting it don’t know that. In every situation, there would be aberrations and people would take things out of context and think it’s about money and what they use it for. They need to understand that it is the only covenant between Abraham and God.
There are people who like to know if you still have plans for marriage; will you still get married?
About my amorous propensity towards women, I’m a servant of God and as we walk along, we will experience all manner of vicissitude, verisimilitude, prevarications, etc. but one thing is clear, knowledge and wisdom shall be the stability of your times and strength of salvation (Isaiah 33:6). I have come to recognise that there were things I did in terms of my marital status that did not have divine permission. They were based on my personal desires, propensities, proclivities, predilections and things like that, but I have come to a point where I recognise now that it is God and God alone for me. And so, I won’t make those mistakes anymore. At my age of 60, you disengage yourself from carnal propensities and thoughts and yearnings that drown the soul and you break away from those things and you mount up with wings like eagles and embrace the reality of what God and destiny have set aside for you. I have come to that point in my life, and so marriage is no longer a part of my future.
Do you mean you won’t get married again?
Exactly, and if it’s about having a child, you can adopt a child. There is work to be done for the Lord and I have committed myself to that and I have decided I would yield myself to Him. If you read II Corinthians 7, Paul’s admonition to us is that we should not marry if we have work to do because it could be an obstruction. But again, it’s entirely up to you. I have come to that understanding of my future that that is no longer part of God’s plan for me. So, I have disengaged myself from such amorous propensities.
How do you relax?
I have always been a solitary person. From when I was a kid, I recognised that I was quite removed from things that had crowd in it, if you know what I mean. I just love that solitude. So, for me, the best times of my day are the times when I’m alone or meditating on the things that He has revealed to me or involved with Jesus. That’s how I have enough time to do my work and meditate. You know I still do music as well. I write some of the songs we sing in church. When I became a pastor, I was not involved with the local assembly. I got saved when I was on campus and it was three and a half years after I got saved that I became a pastor. It was a very rapid movement. When I started Household of God Church, I didn’t know some of the songs being sung in church, so I had to write mine. There are many of my songs that are being sung in churches that people don’t even know that I wrote. So, I’m fully engaged in the things that I do at home and the work that I do in church and then my personal fellowship with my Lord Jesus Christ.