In a new very interesting interview�with PUNCH’s Kayode Falade, the Vice-Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, talked about his nomination and finally, whether Pastor Adeboye of the�Redeemed Christian Church of God, where he is a pastor, endorsed him or not. Excerpts:
You were not in the early picture of contenders for the vice-presidential slot. When and how did your name pop up?
I think my name was always being mentioned. My name came up early. Maybe a great deal of importance wasn’t attached to it but it came up early.
The Redeemed Christian Church of God, where you are a pastor, has come out to say it never endorsed you…
I don’t think the church has ever said any such thing. Also, the church does not endorse candidates. The General Overseer of the church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has not said any such thing. He has not issued any statement. In any event, the RCCG as a church cannot endorse a candidate. How can a church endorse a candidate?
But did you seek Pastor Adeboye’s consent before accepting the nomination?
I serve under the GO of the RCCG as a pastor. If I am going to take any kind of action, especially an action that involves public service, it is my duty to consult with him. It would be absolutely irresponsible of me not to consult with him. And I have consulted with him.
Did he give you his consent?
I have consulted with Adeboye fully. I am not prepared to share with you the details of our discussion. But be absolutely certain that I would not take these steps without properly consulting with him and that I did what was needful.
As a pastor and legal practitioner who is not much of a politician; why did you accept the offer when you were nominated?
I accepted the offer because I believe one of the most important contributions that any person can make to a society is public service. For me, it didn’t require much reflection because I have always believed the most effective way of making maximum impact on the welfare and well-being of our society is through public service.
You’ve always emphasised prayers. Did you pray about this before you accepted?
I always pray. I prayed about this just as I pray about many things because communication with God at all times is important. I also think people, maybe, get more religious when it comes to political office. People tend to say God told them to do something or the other; but I think the most important thing to bear in mind is that as far as the Christian is concerned, there is something called the priesthood of the believer, which means that every believer is a priest unto God. It also means every believer has a duty to serve man as if we are serving God. In other words, service to man is service to God. For a Christian, especially a pastor, to suggest that if he has an opportunity to serve millions of people, an opportunity to effect policies which may alleviate the sufferings of millions of people, as it is the case in Nigeria, an opportunity to fashion policies that may transform the lives of people, I think it may be hypocritical not to participate in that.
I also believe that when you are committed to doing God’s will � and His will for us all as Christians is that we must participate in solving problems, especially the problems of the needy and those who cannot help themselves � we must do those things. For me, it is almost unthinkable for a Christian to second-guess public service. We must be prepared to serve the people. That is what I teach and preach in my church. There are probably hundreds of thousands of individuals as deserving who do not get that opportunity, but I do. And then I should turn it down for some reasons? It wouldn’t even occur to me, except if God were to say specifically to me, ‘Don’t do it.’
Did God reveal your victory?
That’s the point I’ve been trying to make to you. It is not about winning. That is not what I am interested in. What I am interested in is not what God says about winning or losing. I am not asking Him for, as it were, a lottery. If we were going to play a game, then I could say, ‘O Lord, will I win or lose?’ That’s not the point. The point is will I serve the people or will I not? That’s the only issue I need to consider and I don’t need any special directive on that because that is what God has already said we must do as believers.
And what did He tell you?
No, I won’t disclose that to you.
The opposition has labelled you a stooge of the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. What is your reaction to that?
I think it is irrelevant. I cannot dignify that with a comment. What anyone should do is look at my track record. In any event, when you look at Tinubu, who is it that he has in any form supported that turned out to be his stooge? Is it (Lagos State Governor, Babatunde) Fashola or (former Ekiti State Governor, Kayode) Fayemi? Is it (Osun State Governor, Rauf) Aregbesola or (Edo State Governor, Adams) Oshiomhole? Is it (Oyo State Governor, Abiola) Ajimobi, (Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle) Amosun or Wale Edun? These are individuals who have contributed tremendously to the development of their states and the development of this nation. And all you need to ask those who tell you about stooges and all of that is, ‘Who are those men and women of character who they have produced to serve in the same states where we have served so creditably?’ I think the statement is not really worth the comment.Buhari chose another pastor, Tunde Bakare, as his running mate in his last bid for the presidency in 2011. Does he have a disposition to clerics?
You will have to ask Buhari why he likes pastors. But I think it’s a good thing and a good sign. I think it shows that he is well and able to work with anyone � clerics and people of other faiths.
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