By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN
As Ukraine and Russia battle to change the dynamics of world power, history will be recording a landmark event on March 2, 2022, when the life and times of a single individual will reach a defining peak. Assuredly, the history of modern day Nigeria will not be complete without the exploits of certain persons, in the way that God has ordained them to affect the fortunes of this great country. Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, will celebrate a milestone in his journey of life when he clocks eighty years on March 2. For a person with such modest and humble beginning to rise to the height of universal influence speaks of the combination of divine power and human vision.
Growing up in the then remote village of Ifewara in present-day Osun State of Nigeria, Adeboye may have become a successful farmer, husband of many wives and may be the king of his domain, which is nothing bad. From the stories narrated by Adeboye himself, God propelled his mother to push him into the path of greatness, against all odds. His life history has become a compelling memoir that cannot be summarized in any single piece of this nature so I will only dwell on some of the salient events through which he has positively affected individuals across the globe and humanity in general.
It is common to read of the challenging background of great men and women indeed and it is no fiction to say that Adeboye’s life journeys surpass human understanding. I will tell you from a distance. Adeboye grew up in a rural community, where farming was combined with education. His mother was greatly inspired by the exploits of foreign and local missionaries and she created the picture of greatness for her little boy, with all the trappings of the polygamous environment in which he was being raised. In a society dominated by occultism, witchcraft and traditional African religion, it would take God Himself to rescue Adeboye from the mouth of lions. Barely able to afford the cost of school uniforms, Adeboye would kickstart an educational journey that took him trekking for the first eighteen years of his life without shoes and borrowing kits for his secondary school graduation.
By dint of hard work, ruggedness and display of excellence, Adeboye secured a scholarship to study at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and would later move on to the University of Lagos, where he became established as a renowned scholar. Traversing the length and breadth of Nigeria in pursuit of knowledge, Adeboye would himself later commence moulding the destinies of young men and women through teaching and mentorship programmes, in order to eke out a living. His life ambition was to become the youngest Vice-Chancellor of a university, until some personal challenges of life drove him to The Redeemed Christian Church of God, under the tutelage and mentorship of Pa Josiah Akindayomi, who took him through the rudiments of faith through the practice of holiness, aggressive evangelism and effectual prayers.
Given his miraculous escape from his locality, his travails in the various schools he attended and his academic exploits at Unilag, it was a puzzle of some sort that Adeboye had returned to another local assembly in the remote part of Ebute-Metta in Lagos Nigeria, where he laboured day and night with a largely illiterate crowd, to build what today has become one of the fastest growing establishments in human history. Upon the death of Akindayomi his mentor, the mantle fell on Adeboye in 1981 to pilot the affairs of RCCG, as its General Overseer. He set up a vision for the church, made himself a sacrificial lamb for its growth and expansion, surrendered his meagre income for the work of the church, sold his car, gave up all his assets along with those of his wife, to build the church as a universal brand. Given the enormity of the challenges, the nature of the vision and mission that he outlined for the RCCG, Adeboye had to resign from his secular assignments to face the work of mission, full time.
He was deliberate in his plans, in growing young men and women to become godly ambassadors and people of global influence. He relocated from Lagos to a jungle along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, dwelling with his wife and family amongst giant snakes and other wild animals, in what then looked like a forest of a thousand demons. With divine backing and a personal sense of purpose, Adeboye deployed his teaching experiences to set up schools, to train individuals and thus opened up the church for partnership with like-minded believers.
The RCCG now boasts of Nursery and Primary Schools all over the world, countless secondary schools spread across many nations, several colleges and the Redeemer’s University, which ranked the best private university in Nigeria in 2021 and the second best educational institution. Adeboye also set up the Redeemed Bible College, Leadership Training Institutes, the Redeemed School of Disciples, the Redeemed School of Missions and other institutions, for the training of believers to become deeply rooted in faith and the work of ministry. There is also the Redeemed Maternity Centre, which is a philanthropic health facility for pregnant women in and outside the church, a modern Health Centre at the Redemption Camp and a Health Village, under construction.
Adeboye has since extended his philanthropy to government hospitals, through the provision of modern equipment and facilities. The church also has a Corporate Social Responsibility department, which has grown to be a platform for the training and empowerment of the less privileged through vocational and entrepreneurship programmes. That local organization that he inherited in 1981 has now spread across more than 196 nations of the world, providing employment for several people and creating platforms for people to reach their potential. Adeboye has transformed the jungle of those years into a full blown modern city, boasting of banks, schools and a sprawling housing estate, where people develop homes and families in a godly environment.
The RCCG camp is presently powered through an independent power plant which supplies electricity to camp dwellers and the neighbourhood, a functional modern dam, effective security, environmental sanitation and a peaceful and friendly atmosphere. Adeboye has affected the nation and the world at large, in diverse ways, in building people of influence, through self development, godly backing and a life of discipline and personal sacrifice.
His love for Nigeria is not in doubt, through constant prayers in what has become his annual month-long prayer and fasting. In recent times, Adeboye’s voice has been loud on matters concerning insecurity, democracy and good governance. In February 2020, Adeboye declared a Walk for Peace, as a peaceful protest against insecurity and to put pressure on the government to defend the welfare and security of the citizens. He led his congregation on a peaceful march from the RCCG headquarters in Ebute-Metta, carrying placards with various inscriptions on the need to end violence and insecurity in the nation. His voice resonated with those of the youths during the EndSARS protest.
I had personal encounters with Adeboye, in discovering his person and his faith. While working as a young lawyer in Gani Fawehinmi Chambers, I had cause to enjoy the support of my mentor and coach then, which seemed (mark the word) to stand me out as one of his favourites. Then one day, a colleague of mine in the Chambers approached me, to share with him the secret of my closeness to Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN. According to my colleague, he had observed that I was exempted from the usual stormy sessions that other lawyers had with Gani and he was sure that I must have some other ways through which I’d been influencing the man.
In simple terms, he wanted me to share the secret of the native charm that I was deploying to curry favour from Gani all the time. We both laughed and joked about it but when I got home later that night, that encounter set me thinking, very deeply. I had heard so many weird stories about lawyers, when growing up; how they are the leaders of very demonic occult groups, secret societies and such other hidden organisations. My first experience in legal practice was with Gani and he was always fighting with the powers that be, both in the legal profession and at the national level. Gani had no personal friends, he didn’t belong to any organization, he had no secrets at all, as we were always with him everywhere he went, mostly to prosecute or defend cases for his clients or in one prison or the other. I was so consumed with work in the Chambers that I had completely forgotten about all those scary tales that I had heard about lawyers, but this encounter with my colleague brought them back.
That night, I thought of many options; whether it was possible indeed, as my colleague had suggested, that some lawyers were patronizing shrines and other traditional methods, in the course of their practice. And here I was, jumping all over Nigeria, along with Gani, confronting the military and other establishments, without a single alligator pepper! I weighed my options; whether to seek some strange powers, as I grew along in this very fearsome profession.
From what I had learnt growing up, these powers come in grades. Suppose I procured my own power, is it possible for me to be subjected to some more superior power from other lawyers along the line? How do I get to possess the most superior power that would take me to the peak and get me to square up with just any other lawyer in court?
There and then I was reminded that my grandfather was a Reverend, very renowned for battling with evil powers in our locality. My father himself was a very powerful apostle, with his own church, where I grew up as a Cherub and trumpeter. What then do I have to do with strange powers? If it is true that there is a God that is greater than all, then His own power must be superior to all other powers. In my room in Ebute-Metta, I became acquainted with the ministry of RCCG church through its loudspeaker, but I took it all as some kind of nuisance then. Now in this confused state, I traced the loudspeaker on one particular Sunday and ended up in RCCG headquarters, without any invitation.
That particular Sunday, Adeboye preached on a topic titled “Be Ye Separate”, dwelling on the need to steer clear of evil forces and powers. He addressed the confusion in my mind, so I became even more curious and then started attending the Sunday services because of his penetrating messages. Looking back now, it must have been some kind of divine orchestration as not long thereafter, I became separated from my mentor unprepared and I had to stand on my own.
Another friend and mentor, Bamidele Aturu, was my next port of call, as he too had just set up his law firm, having left Itse Sagay & Co. Aturu took me through the journey of his personal encounter with Adeboye through the Holy Ghost Service at the Redemption Camp and he invited me to join him and his wife to attend. As the service progressed that night in July 2000, Aturu asked me to be attentive as some messages would start coming from Adeboye. Suddenly, Adeboye announced that there was a young man attending the service for the very first time, who was confused about his career and life journey but God is assuring him that He would build him up, set him up and take him to the greatest level in his career. I couldn’t help but cry, as tears from my eyes soaked the notebook upon which I was writing. Aturu who sat next to me held me and spoke words of comfort and we both agreed to take our faith further and deeper. I eventually set up Adegboruwa & Co and became part and parcel of RCCG, going through its foundational classes and sitting under the mentorship of Adeboye and his other disciples.
By 2002, I had moved my practice from my house in Onike, Yaba, to Lapal House, with a well-equipped library and flourishing legal practice. But all this was interrupted on June 3, 2002, when a strange fire enveloped Lapal House and consumed many offices, including my Chambers, such that I had nothing to ever show that I was once a lawyer. It was a Monday, so I relocated back to my house. I however decided to attend Bible Study in the church and to take out time to pray. I met Adeboye in church, who took the Bible Study on the topic “Divine Champion” and spoke about how Sampson lost his power and regained it. In a private meeting with him later that night, he took me through the challenges of life and how God is able to see me through with courage, faith and determination. The rest, as they say, is history. Together with my youth corps lawyer then, Mr. Oluwasina Ogungbade, SAN, we went round the courts, retrieving processes and building new files, as if nothing had happened.
In January 2017, I had another encounter with Adeboye, this time in his house at the Redemption Camp and after about thirty minutes of our interaction, he made his now famous declarations, this time concerning my elevation to the Inner Bar. It was a very tough process but God was in it to accomplish it, eventually.
What is the relevance of Adeboye to our national development, you may ask? The RCCG camp is akin to a local government in a way, wherein a man, driven by vision, integrity, personal sacrifice, self-determination and faith in God, has been able to build an empire, has built men and women of influence and is affecting millions more, positively. He is a living example of true leadership, developing infrastructures to support his vision, providing the basic amenities of life for his people and mentoring them to attain the very best in their chosen careers. Nigerians do not demand to share the loot with their political leaders who fancy that crude method as the best way to lead, no. Our people all over the nation are in dire need of functional hospitals, good roads, schools, security, portable water, etc.
This is the phenomenon in the person of Adeboye, as a living example of how a leader, through his faith, has defined his own fate progressively and in that way affected (and still affecting) the fate of many others, positively. Happy 80th birthday, Daddy GO. I join many other Nigerians and your admirers all over the world, to wish you many more years of service to God and humanity. In your lifetime, Nigeria shall be delivered.