Religion has become an impediment to Nigeria’s progress – Pastor Obii
Pastor Obii Pax-Harry is a well recognized and respected international apostolic and prophetic voice. She stands as an apostle and prophet to the nations, a respected intercessory prayer leader and founder of Women Arise International Prayer Network (now ARISE MISSIONS), an international prayer movement birthed in England in 1995. Rev Obii had also served as a leader in Women’s International Ministers Network; an international network of apostolic and prophetic ordained women leaders based in Minneapolis, USA.
As an intercessor, Rev Obii was honored as a national leader and a member of Intercessory and Prayer Leaders Forums in the U.K. She was invited into the European Prophets Roundtable in 2003, and later became a member of the U.K Prophets Roundtable – the only woman.
In 2008 the Lord called her to begin to engage more strategically with the body of Christ in Nigeria and sees as part of her apostolic commission a role in mentoring and coaching. To this effect she established NEHEMIAH COMPANY, an apostolic and prophetic company of watchmen and change agents.
She is the Chief Executive Officer of Nehemiah Apostolic Resource Center, an apostolic hub, incubating center and a spiritual epicenter in the heart of Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. She has recently been appointed as a trustee on the newly established Nigerian Coalition of Apostles (an affiliate of International Coalition of Apostles).
An author of three books and several other publications, her award winning book Issachar Mandate has been translated into five foreign languages and is currently being translated into the three major Nigerian languages.
She carries an unusual and profound burden for Nigeria and has a burning to share these deep insights with those who will listen and carry their own divine mantles to birth a new Nigeria. Rev Obii is happily married and blessed with three lovely children.
She was in Nigeria recently, during which time she spoke with SundiataPOST on the social and political situation of the country. Excerpts
Question: Why does corruption prevail even with the daily increase in churches in the country?
Answer: The type of work that I do now can take me an hour to explain to the average Christian because it isn’t a church. Meanwhile in some other spiritual climes, there are many people doing what I do, and that’s what a lot of people should be doing at this hour. Within this dispensation of time, the church should be reaching out into society so there should be more itinerant Christians, there should be more Christians who answer the call of God in any one of the five functions that Christ set up for the church that makes the church a help unit. So there should be many more people but because there are not many people I even have to answer Pastor Obii for people to understand that I am a Christian leader but there are many more places where I don’t have to answer Pastor Obii because what I am doing is not pastoral work; it is apostolic work. The church is a community of sent people and if we are a sent people, it means that there is a time when our legs start to move, even the legs in our brains start to move and when it starts to move we now enter into that identity of apostolic people. So we are talking about Christians in the work place or Muslims in the work place.
I woke up this morning and I came up with a conclusion that one of the greatest hindrances to social development in the Nigerian context is religion. Let me explain what I mean. The religion card is played all the time on both sides and there are people who have stood in the way of social advancement, progression in Nigeria because they can’t see the future. So they are playing the same old cards with religion and buying time because they can’t see the future. They are stopping the next generation from moving forward because all they knew in their time was religion. Now it is not religion, its information technology, its high speed information, its digital age, I mean look at the kinds of phones and the things our kids are using. By the time you buy an Ipad 3 it’s an Ipad 4 (that is in vogue) so its high speed information, highway generation. And these people who can’t function in the future which must come to Nigeria just keep impeding progress by playing the religion card. If it’s on the Muslims side you just gather a few kids that you would have helped to go to school but you give them money, they haven’t even understood half of why they should be killing people but you play on their weakness. Why am I saying this now? Because it is going to come round, they will come back on the people who instigated them. You give them guns, may be a bit of alcohol or drugs and they go on rampage or you carry out your selfish ambition on Christians and Muslims alike in a particular community by sowing seeds of discord.
On the Christian side you see someone who is suspicious of himself, this person is chasing you, that person wants to kill you. When are we going to get out, so I think what can actually bind us is discovering the values. Christian values, Muslim values and if you will agree with me, that’s what our nation has been deprived of, value erosion. That’s why we play the blame game because nobody knows what we are supposed to be doing. That’s the truth; I don’t think many people know what we ought to be doing. I do believe that there is a generation that knows though, but those who don’t know won’t let them come through but I believe with all of my heart that come 2015 we are going to come through. There will be a manifestation reality of a generation shift by the people that will be holding positions of influence. We cannot have this ‘go-slow’ forever. This is the only nation I know of where people don’t retire, this is the only nation I know of where people who sleep on the job want the job. Why can’t their grandchildren have it? I mean because they have already taken the life of one generation. Why can’t their grandchildren have hope, or have the Nigerian dream? What is the Nigerian dream? I don’t know what it is.
So I woke up this morning and had a conference with myself, my mind, my body and soul and my conclusion is that religion is one of the greatest impediments to social development in Nigeria’s progress and progression and I hope Nigerians can hear me well and analyse it objectively. I am not talking about spirituality because a spiritual person will enhance progress and progression; a spiritual person will want what God wants, a spiritual person will have values of their religion as well as the values of their state and I do not believe that there is any religion that gives anybody the right to take any life. Even the Shiite Muslims that cut themselves up, they don’t cut other people up but themselves only and run into the river to wash themselves with their own blood. So if you want to cut yourself you can go ahead and do so, what is not acceptable is to go about and kill other people. So that is just it, people have been playing the religion card because they don’t have an idea on what to do and they are making work difficult for those who may have an idea. In all the noise and the hyper activity it’s very difficult to think. So we are not growing strategic thinkers, even strategic thinkers (available) are fatigued
Another conclusion I have within my short stay in Nigeria is that is that there are too many fights, too many squabbles, quarrels. That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about values because you get to a stage where you consider the next person be it in war or at peace, there comes a time where you wonder how the next person feels. I don’t think there is enough worry about how the average Nigerian feels. It offends me to buy newspapers and see all the trouble going on and how our leaders think they can squabble in their rules as long as it suits them. I feel that the average Nigerian has been disrespected by the people that lead us. And this is because we don’t put a value on who we are, that we actually are people who voted people into office and can also vote them out of office. And we don’t think that way because money is such an issue, we think we can buy the conscience of the average Nigerian. These are things that make my focus in Nigeria to be on transformation. So my mind will be thinking about how is this agenda getting on, are we going to ever get it right and get to this new place and new nation?
The religion card has been played at every quarter even to weaken the hands of any serving government. So I hope to draw other people who will be willing to be involved in voter education, teaching the average Nigerian to understand that they have a right to choose their leaders and have a right to wait for them four years down the line and make an important decision of whether we are going through or not, it’s very important to me. These are some of the things burning in my heart right now. The values erosion is becoming too much, we talk any how and even abuse our elders because we feel we have the platform to do so.
My last comment is that I also came to a conclusion that I have a part to play in the transformation of the nation not only the governors, the president or the lawmakers. We all have a part to play as individuals. The president cannot come down to your house to change it, it’s your responsibility. So if you don’t take responsibility for your own house, how are you going to change the nation? If you pay me one billion dollars I won’t accept to be the president of this nation, we are wonderful people but there are some fundamentals that we need to change, some values we need to imbibe. We need to become more considerate of one another. I can’t give up my right to bring change to my home to anybody. I love the way Lagosians live, the fact that they just get on with their lives with lots of entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, they are not parading round offices or waiting for anyone and that’s how I want to live my life, whatever I am good at I do it and do it well as long as it can make me money. My life does not have to begin and end with contracts if I get it fine but if not I don’t have to curse those who refused to give me or sell my conscience to get it.
The reason we have so much corruption now is because of values erosion. That corrupt person may be a pastor or an imam, they will use the scriptures, tell you money answers all things to back their bad behaviour, they genuinely don’t think they are being corrupt because when you are deep in filth it gets to a time you become used it you and don’t know what it feels like to live in a clean environment. How do we deal with this corruption issue if you mention Christian and Muslim leaders whose influence can change Nigeria? I know that many of them are thinking the way I am thinking. I work with many Pastors that are already working in various communities that are bringing change, doing incredible things and even those I have not worked with I have engaged in a practical level in bringing change to the society.
Now we are doing that based on Christian values. Our leaders should learn to be accountable and transparent. Don’t tell people we are going to Gwagwalada, give them a reason to want to go to Gwagwalada. If you begin to think this way, like Jesus went about doing good and changing culture then your leadership will be strategic, it will be result oriented and have a long-term plan. So if we give more to thinking about our actions, just as I said Nigerians are very rude people we are also probably the brightest people on the face of the earth but in trying to apply our brightness if we can do so strategically then this country will change . The average Nigerian if you seat them down to make them understand you’ve won them for life. If somebody can bullet-point these things, why people should not be like Esau, for the present satisfaction you throw away the future and shut the gate to your children, a generation that is coming. Some people think buying a jeep or living in a big house is all that matters, but you are going to die, though Nigerians are afraid of death; we don’t write will because we don’t want to think of death. But one day you are going to die, so what happens when you die, what have you left for your children? I mean I don’t know about Nigeria but in the UK when you drive out of a garage your car has lost at least five percent of its value. That money that you don’t steal or take from government but allow them to build schools will benefit your children and your children’s children for life. Scream all you like about corruption, it’s not going to change, nothing will change except we begin to mentor people and talk to them like sensible people and let them know they are not running anybody’s race. We have to stop clapping for people you can’t explain the source of their wealth. Oh goodness me! I saw a governor slouch on a chair yesterday on the news, the governors are human too, and I thought, in every other nation you will get somebody to teach you comportment, people voted you, you shouldn’t slouch on a chair like that, you should sit properly, if they call you ‘your excellency’ you should sit like an excellency. Somebody elected you to sit upright and not to slouch lazily. If nobody will talk about these things I will.
Question: On a lighter note how do you combine being a Pastor with managing the home front?
Answer: Home is priority. The word that I love so much is TRUTH. You should tell yourself the truth about your responsibility towards home life, ministry life and societal life, and put everything in balance. Often I tend to work my calendar to England around the school calendar of my youngest child. As a woman in ministry I always work around what is comfortable for my family while fostering the call of God in my life. What I am grateful to God for is that I don’t have a driving force other than to do the will of God. Once that is your driving force, everything will work in balance. So I don’t have a personal agenda or a personal goal all I know is I will like to be someone who will look back and see that I have impacted so many lives. Your driving force is what will help you keep in balance or not. If God lifted you He should be your driving force and set you in motion. I don’t have ministry schedules that take priority over my family, it’s all I have at the back of my mind and I am not confused about my gender and I am not confused about my role and family responsibility.
Question: What is your commission in Nigeria?
Answer: My commission in Nigeria ‘Breakfast with the King’ is a 10-year-programme where God told me that by 2015 there will be a definite turn around in the state of affairs and the seat of governance. Breakfast with the King brings people from all works of life and my focal areas in Nigeria are Abuja, Lagos and Calabar. At Breakfast with the King, a wider constituency of Christians come together to fellowship. It was from Breakfast with the King that Nehemiah Company emerged because of the large number of people who wanted mentoring. We call the mentoring ministry Apostolic Community of Change Agents. One other programme I run is ‘Woman of Influence’ which started in 2008. It emerged from the prophesy where God told me that by 2011 He was going to increase the female representation in government. We started almost at the same time when the First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan started Women for Change and it was exactly what she was doing that we did with Woman of influence. So it was a prophesy in which God said go to Lagos, Abuja and Calabar, gather women and begin to prepare them for 2011 and I think that has been fulfilled as we now have 35 percent representation in government. There is of course Apostles in the Market Place. Then more recently I was appointed into the Council of the Coalition of Nigeria Apostles and also the Abuja Coalition of Nigerian Apostles. Every single one of the things I do has been a track for change and from all these things, Nehemiah Company is what provided the way for who should be involved in change. So that’s why I encourage Nigerians to get themselves involved and become the change agents this country needs to flourish.