“Life After Ibidun “
And why Bola Ahmed Tinubu should not contest the 2023 presidential election !!
Pastor Ituah Ighodalo is the founder Trinity House, a non-denominational Christian centre headquartered in Lagos. He also founded IGHODALO & CO IN 1987, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo is an Associate, Nigerian Institute of Management (ANIM) (1992) and the American Institute of Management (1993).
A 1981 graduate of Economics and Accounting from the University of Hull, U.K., Pastor Ighodalo trained and qualified as a professional with the firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers in 1986. He is a Fellow of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (1994) and the Nigeria Institute of Taxation (2000). As former Managing Partner, Ighodalo & Co, he brings to the firm 20 years of experience in Auditing, Accounting, Taxation, Human Resources and Financial Advisory Services. Pastor Ighodalo has logged 19 years of experience in running a practice.
He’s the husband of late Ibidun Ighodalo, the ex-beauty queen and Maverick event planner who died of suspected cardiac arrest. Bold, irrepressible and erudite Ighodalo is one of the very few Nigerians not shy from addressing the ills of the society with valued recommendations to the challenges that bedevils the Nigerian state.
In this enthralling interview with Azuka Ogujiuba, the man of God makes candid recommendations about the 2023 election and spoke to truth on what he feels about the candidacy of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in particular.
The dynamic preacher of the gospel advises the government on how to handle Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho, their agitations and also the youths against the trend of engaging in nefarious activities to gain fame and fortune.
He shares insights into the economic and social consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country and also gives details about his late wife, life after her death among other things in this no holds barred interview.
Q: How are you pastor and how are you doing beyond what we see?
A: I am okay, we thank God for things and in all things, we give God thanks, it has been a very tough, painful and difficult journey, there is no doubt about that, but we have hope, we look up to God and he has helped us in difficult times, we are coping with life, life happens.
Q: Last year we all saw what happened in the world from Covid 19 to different other tragic stories, every day on social media we saw how a boy killed his girlfriend or plucked out her eye for rituals. What advice do you have for Nigerian youths generally?
A: Well, the world and especially Nigeria is really going through difficult time, the desire to succeed, the desire to make money quickly, the desire to be somebody or the other, the desire for acknowledgement, the surprising super stardom that is coming to our nation especially with all manner of entertainment, turning themselves into rockstar and living one lifestyle or the other. The weak economy is also putting people under a lot of pressure. The environment is making life difficult and therefore people are doing things they normally would not have done. My advice to them is that they should know who they really are and they should find comfort in who they really are. They should not try to be like another person, you need to discover yourself. Secondly, we need to find a way to make our youth know right from wrong, one of the challenges of Nigeria today is that there are no more values, ethics has gone through the window, people don’t know right from wrong, all people think is that we must survive and we must live for another day. There must be a way of teaching people what is right and wrong, drugs are wrong, ostentatious lifestyle is wrong, living beyond your means is wrong, pre-marital and extra marital sex is wrong. Insulting adults or being rude to people is wrong, all kind of dangerous conversation on media, it could be on social media is wrong, driving car on the wrong side of the road is wrong. Corruption and bribery are wrong but these days in Nigeria, everything goes, we need to reset the nation as it were.
Thirdly, it is to let them know that there is hope, there is hope in spite of what they see. Things like hard work or sensible work is still very worthy and that at the end of the day, it is these fundamentals that make a person and nation thrive. You must imbibe the fundamentals of doing things right, the bible says righteousness exalt a nation and they need to know that there is God, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
Q: A lot of our leaders and Nigerians who are fortunate to travel outside the country are privileged to see world class infrastructure which should inspire them. Why can’t they replicate the same here in Nigeria despite our vast wealth?
A: The problem is that a lot of people who are so called leaders, or who have found themselves in leadership don’t even understand what it means to be a leader. So first of all, they lack understanding of what it means to be a leader even the disciples of Jesus Christ wanted to be leaders and they were asking Jesus Christ that they want to be a leader, ‘we want to be on your right and on your left, we want to enjoy the accolade that you are enjoying from people’. Leadership is about serving others. In Japan, they make the prime minister swear an oath that he will look after the people, we need to retrain our leaders and they need to retrain themselves. Leadership is not about what you acquire, it is about what you do for others, how you benefit life and how you benefit society. So, we need a total reorientation of our leaders, and the leader should know that anything they acquire on earth, they will leave behind but what they invest in people will never die. Once we can get our leader to stop being selfish and self-centered, and money conscious, we begin a new set of leadership.
We need to begin to imbibe in leaders the essentials of true leadership which are passion for the people and the people that you are leading. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son– the love for the people that you are ready to give anything you have.
Secondly, a leader must be visionary because a leader leads in a certain way and a certain direction, so you must see what you want for the people and where you are carrying them to. Thirdly, consistent work, you have to work consistently to be a leader, although part of the work is finding sufficient time to work, so that one can recharge and one is mentally okay. Finally, the fear of God, the fear of God keeps a leader in check to make the right kind of judgement, as a leader you must be a righteous person who loves to do things right according to the laws of the land. If you have tried before and you have been found corrupt, if you have tried before and you messed things up, we don’t want that kind of leader.
Q: I am sure you must have heard many declaring that they want to run for presidency. The one drawing much attention is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s declaration which a lot of people claim that being a king maker doesn’t make you a king, I am talking from the commentary section on Twitter. What is your take on that?
A: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is my personal friend, as a person, I love him very much, he has been very kind to me, he is a good man, but leadership today in Nigeria is greater than any personal ambition, the kind of leader we want is not someone who says being president has been my life ambition, no, you must do better than that. What are you offering the people? What are you giving the people, where are you taking them to, do you have the interest of the people at heart? Or you are just trying to put on your CV that you became president of Nigeria? We don’t have time for that anymore in Nigeria, we want people who really want to serve the people, people who are really ready to lay themselves down for the people, people who have vision for Nigeria, people who are bold enough to take the right decision and not going to offer us on the altar of politics and compromise us just because they want something or the other and take us back to square one again and we are suffering all over the place. Asiwaju has done well, he has produced a lot of leaders, I think the role he should be thinking of now is to put Nigerians together and how to select a person who will be able to take us forward and honestly if he is able to do that Nigerians will never forget him. I am looking for that righteous person who is ready to stop all these corrupt practices and not dashing people money, but using the money to educate them, build schools, hospital and laying infrastructures. What drives an economy is production, the ability to transform raw materials into finished goods. When you continue producing, there will be more than enough for everybody to consume. We want leaders that will encourage production, it means that the constitution of Nigeria must be changed and fashioned in such a way that there can be complete production of all the resources of Nigeria, I will not be doing Nigerians a good service if I do not speak the truth, it is costing me a lot no doubt, but that is the sacrifice you have to make.
Q: There is agitation in the eastern part of the country because of the arrest of Nnamdi kanu– whenever he passes a message across that no one should go to work, they obey him, they even listen to him more than the present governor of the state. How do you think the government should deal with the issue?
A: For Nnamdi Kanu, I must salute his courage and I must salute his sacrifice, I must salute his determination, he is a great man. It is not easy to face the government all on your own. Government on the other side, this is your child, you know when you are in a house and your child is complaining, you will call him and ask what is the matter, but when you tell him that he should stop complaining that his noise is too much, you know that his brothers and sisters will also start complaining. Till today, they are still explaining why they killed Ken Saro Wiwa in Nigeria. Till tomorrow, they are still wondering why they put Awolowo in jail. The government should call him and they should have a meeting and let them see whether what he wants is fair and if they can accommodate it. They should give all Nigerians fairness, equity and security to practice their craft. Whatever is due to Igbo land must go to Igbo land, what is due to Ijaw land must go to Ijaw land, what is due to Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina must go there. We want a leader that will unleash the intellectual capacity of an average Nigerian. How can you use illiteracy as a weapon for politics, every Nigerian must be educated to a level where they can look after themselves in terms of being employable in value added areas.
Q: Talking about insecurity in the country, I am sure you have heard so many stories and we have all seen evidences, videos about the herdsmen and one Chief Sunday Igboho who came out to chase them out of the Oyo kingdom. What do you recommend that Nigerian government should do after raiding his house, destroying his properties and killing some which led him to flee to Benin Republic where he’s presently in prison?
A: The government knows what to do, why they are not doing it is what I don’t know. In Nigeria, there is knowledge and information, what we lack is leadership; the will to do the right thing. The issue of bandits, herdsmen and insecurity; there are two solutions. The first is the immediate or knee jerk solution which is to be very honest, sincere and efficient about your security architecture, being able to flush, find and reprimand these people in terms of disciplining them and the second solution is the systematic way which is no one wants to be a bandit, herdsman and armed robber. People are pushed into these things by the circumstances they find themselves, if they want banditry to stop, the economy and the standard of living of the people have to be improved. There is also sponsored banditry by some powerful people in Nigeria.
Q: I am sure that you are aware that Omoyele Sowore was stripped of his citizenship so that he won’t declare for presidency. What do you have to say about that?
A: It is unfair as far as I am concerned to strip him of his citizenship, what did he do? What he was asking for is an opportunity to lead Nigeria, which crime did he commit? Did he carry gun, did he steal government money? Those are the questions we should ask. How can agitation for a better standard of living become a crime? If they say he has used his newspaper to malign them, they should sue him for defamation of character and he should face the law in that regard.
Q: Your late wife has a foundation where she assisted people who are looking for the fruit of the womb. Tell us more about the foundation and if it is still running after she passed on.
A: We are doing our best in other to keep her dream alive, but when a person who has a dream, passion and motivation is taken out of the equation, there will be a little bit of a slowdown, in other to get back at the equation, the emotional outpouring of that loss really helped the foundation and a group of people focused on it. I will like to thank a lot of my friends, my brother’s friends, my wife’s friend, my wife’s relatives, mother and father, cousins who rose up as at that time to give the foundation support, we need a lot of support because we spend about one hundred and twenty million naira to one hundred and fifty million naira every year trying to maintain the dream. You have complications here and there that you need to support, we have overhead, administration and staff.
She has other programs like babies’ day out where she goes to buy all manners of stuff for mothers and their babies, she does that once in a year and she visited babies in the hospital and made sure that they were fine and also gave them gift and in some cases; she paid their hospital bills. We are building mother and child centers across Nigeria where there will also be IVF section. The primary thing is to look after the mother and the child, and the secondary is to provide IVF at a very reduced rate for people who will like to go there and I think this is only foundation that is focusing on IVF because my wife knew the importance of children and we also encourage and support adoption.
Q: Nigerians are still not used to the adoption of children, is it something we have to imbibe in our system. What advice do you have for Nigerians who think they can’t cope with adoption?
A: The problem is that childlessness in Nigeria still looks like a stigma, it looks like you are incompetent, it looks like there is something wrong with you, so a lot of people try to prove that they are okay, they must have their own children. Another reason is that some people think they cannot love somebody that didn’t come out naturally from their body, when they see such individuals, they keep feeling one way or the other. What we need to do is to reprogram the mind, it is only God that can give you fruit, those who are fortunate to impregnate themselves and carry babies, it is just God grace. You need to understand that they might be physical reasons for it, like tubal accident, low sperm count, abortion, when you have an accident and you are castrated, fibroid or your uterus is not well aligned to carry babies. There are some women who had series of abortion and still have children and some women who married as virgin and still not have a child. People have to reorientate their mindset. As a pastor I know there might be spiritual reason why some people can’t have children, there might be curse or their parent had covenant that they would not have children- if you have spiritual problem, you will look for a spiritual solution.
Q: What are you learning from being a single parent?
A: There is nothing that I didn’t know when my wife was around, most of what I am doing, I did it when she was around because I was going to be a handsome father, but now I have intensified it to compensate for the thing my wife would have done. My wife helped me, she trained me well and I also helped myself because I wanted to be a handsome father, to be as involved in their life as I could and we had a very good partnership and relationship, but there are some things she used to do, but now I do them with joy. It’s a privilege to have them in my life, it’s a privilege for me to be part of their life.
Q: Are you incorporating lessons from being a single parent in the church, you know that churches typically have single mum units, rarely do we see single dad meeting. Do you think our society is ready for this?
A: Whether the society is ready or not, where there is a demand, you must respond to that demand and I think it is a good idea what you suggested. We won’t necessarily call it single parenting; we will call it right parenting and discuss all the circumstances that lead to your parental situation. If you are a single dad as it were, then you must be ready to be a single dad and we will help to train you, to educate you, to help you to be a single dad. The reason why we talk on single mum is because they are more prevalent in the society. Today, hardly will you see a dad taking care of his children, he’d rather give the children to his mother, mother-in-law and sisters to take care of, so that he can carry on with his life. All those things must change, you need to take responsibility for your children and you need the children to be part of your live, that thing affect children psychologically when they are old without them realizing it, some children behave badly because they fill, they were abandoned, rejected and not properly taken care of.
Q: There is a lot of disdain contempt against religious leaders on social media. How do we correct this anomaly?
A: What has happened is that sometimes we Christians also have not quite managed our attitude and utterances, so we need to be careful how we accept to expose ourselves to the public and the public on other hand must test what people say without being vicious. People are entitled to their own opinion. As a Christian you have to have the right conversation, attitude and word, with that we begin to gain our rightful place back.
Q: What about a case where a religious leader says what does not align with the holy book. Don’t you think that some of these people are abusing the privilege or anointing if they were really anointed by God?
A: Religion is not mandated, you have the right to choose who you associate with, but what the Bible says is that you must test the spirit and person under whose anointing you are, you are responsible for your own relationship with God, not the man of God. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your life. That my advice for a lot of people, that they should be careful who they accept spiritual instruction from, there are some people who pretend to be men of God and it a sign of the end time.
Q: Has your philosophy of life changed or evolved?
A: We started off thinking we were in control of lives and we could do whatever we wanted, along the line we realize that life fights back and life has his own way of doing things. Along the line, we discover that we need help from God and if God didn’t help us, men cannot help us. It is God that instruct men to help you at the end of the day, but now, we know and feel that we are pilgrims of the earth, we are just here temporarily and we need to give to the world all that God has asked us to give to the world and be ready to make our way out at the appropriate time.
Q: The president of France is thirty-nine years and he is not doing badly. Do you think there is hope for Nigeria to have a younger leader in the nearest future?
A: I think so, because maturity is not about age. To be honest l think anybody below forty-five is still trying to find their feet in life, I think at the age of forty-five, you can be entrusted with a lot of responsibilities, anybody above the age of forty-five and the maximum age of seventy can become the president of Nigeria. By the time you are seventy your intellectual capacity may still be intact but your physical strength and interest may not be quite available.
Q: Technology has taken over our lives (the world), what is your take on that?
A: We just have to respond to that, we must not allow it to take over our lives, technology cannot feed you, it can bring food to your table but cannot put it in your mouth, technology cannot sleep for you, technology cannot impregnate your wife for you, technology cannot carry your child or kiss your children for you.