Primate Elijah Babatunde Ayodele is the founder and front man of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, with headquarters in Oke-Afa, Ejigbo, Lagos. He’s been around for over a decade and is well known for his annual publication, Warnings To The Nations, a collection of divine signals. The 2015/2016 edition of the book which he started publishing in 1994 just hit the stands and as usual, it’s riddled with some earth-shaking predictions. YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, AZUH ARINZE, took him up on that on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 when they met. He also got the controversial seer to shed more light on his ministry, his person, his past predictions and more. Excerpts…
What’s your take on the recent indictment of the Synagogue Church of All Nations by the coroner set up by the Lagos State Government to look into their building collapse which claimed over 100 lives?
Yes, the Synagogue Church of Christ or Church of All Nations, I don’t know…but what has happened has happened. This is just an appeal on behalf of the Christian body. Though I don’t belong to CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) or PFN (Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria) or any association. But the prosecution; they should please bear with him. Let’s leave everything to God; what has happened, nobody prays that such a thing should happen. But it has happened, it has happened. I pray that the lost souls, God should grant them peace. But the fact remains that it’s not the man of God’s fault. Some have seen what he has done; that he’s good. He does a lot of spiritual things, prays for people, delivers people. The thing might be spiritual, more than what we see physically or ordinary. That’s the plane hovering and all that. But to me, it’s that what has happened has happened. We just (want to) appeal to the government of Lagos State to please let’s forget it. Let him go back, because he’s still going to spend a lot of money to (re) build that place. They should look at that. So, let us leave him, leave everything to God and this is the time I believe that all pastors should come around to support whoever is in such a situation. We don’t need to just keep our mouths shut. Somebody must come out…To me, whatever the judgement is, I give him my own support; let the church of God come around him, because to me, it’s not his making. I don’t know him! Yes, I don’t know him and I’ve not met him before and I’m not ready to meet him, but I’m only giving my own support; I’m part of the people who want to give him support. Please, let government forgive him and let him continue his work.
You just released the 2015/2016 edition of your annual publication, Warnings To The Nations, published since 1994. Tell us about it…
The book as usual was authored through divine promptings. The book for the 2015/2016 is here. There are things that are there like the new government, we talked about corruption, we talked about so many things, we talked about the Malaysian airplane which crashed and you can scan through the book and ask me any question…Em.. the government of President Buhari has a lot of plans for this country and that’s why he has to be very careful when he’s taking decisions. But he should note (this) – he needs genuine people in his cabinet. The people I saw o! I don’t know them o! I’m not here to campaign for anybody – people like Fashola, Amaechi and this Inspector General of Police…
Which of the Inspectors General of Police?
Arase! Yes! He should leave those people, let them be in that system. They will do a lot to stabilize his government, because I see ups and downs in his government. And also his health. He must be careful with past leaders. Past leaders that want to get involved in his government might want to truncate his government and at the same time, let him be very careful with the issue in the National Assembly. If they are not careful, the party may crack and it will cause a lot of problems for the party. Bukola Saraki will be splattered with different scandals; I don’t see Bukola Saraki having a stable seat and if he doesn’t play the politics right, he might be removed and he has to watch very well; very well, very well, very well. In that House, if Buhari has a particular set of people who are close senators, they will affect his government and if he has a particular set of people as best friends, as governors, they will affect his government. So, he must be independent-minded in order to direct the affairs of the nation and fight corruption. Yes, he cannot fight corruption, but he can manage corruption. Manage corruption in the sense that those who are corrupt; yes, he plans to jail them, but behind, they will be the ones frustrating his government and that’s why he has to screen people that he’s going to put in his government. There will be another way of corruption. He’s started fighting corruption, but he may not move o! That’s one. Then two, the economy. It still needs a lot of hands to change the situation of the country. To fight poverty, you spend a lot of money. And relying on US or any support he’s looking for from US, he must be very careful because US will make it very difficult for him. He should not think that US likes this country o! They only want to benefit what they want to benefit from him. So, he must be careful of US. Because they will bring a policy to him that he will be in a fix and also not all the governors will finish their term, not all the senators and House of Reps. (members). Some Speakers will be removed. There’s still going to be pandemonium in APC (All Progressives Congress) and Tinubu; if Tinubu does not become the BOT chairman of APC, the party may crack and APC may come out of CPC again because that alliance may not work as expected. And also, we still need to be very prayerful for our president, our dear president, because it will get to a stage that he may be going off and on, off and on…He has a very good agenda for the country, like he has said. But some people, some cabals don’t want him to get the result as expected. Then, in terms of security, Nigeria is not fighting Boko Haram now; they are fighting ISIS. It’s not Boko Haram! And we will still face challenges in terms of that. It’s not Boko Haram now, it’s four in one that we are fighting and at the global level. We are still going to see a more powerful sect than ISIS. ISIS is just an intro to what we should be expecting and moreover, The Democrats, if they are not careful, they will lose the coming election; if they don’t fix the right candidate, the Obama party, they must be very careful about that and also let us pray against a disease that will come from Asia. And Nigeria should also still be working against this Ebola thing, because Africa is not yet free from Ebola. It will take us another one year before we can be free from Ebola. So, they must be very, very watchful. Then, in terms of energy, let the country be very careful. If they privatize it, it will cause some problems. But government can utilize our resources for energy. Then, there’s going to be some changes of some federal Perm. Secs., Head of Service, Service Chiefs, Customs, Immigration; then the pensioners. Also Prison Service. It’s going to be changed and sure, they will cut some ministries. There are going to be changes in some ministries and I’m seeing some (new) ministries coming up as well. Then, let us be very careful about religious crisis. There’s still going to be a very serious challenge for the president because of constitutional reforms and electoral reforms and the Zakari that they put as INEC chairman will be criticized. They are going to battle the woman for her not to have that seat and there’s going to be a lot of changes in CBN and of course, some CBN officials will be charged for corruption and some banks as well will have challenges – like Zenith Bank, like Unity Bank, like Stanbic Bank and Diamond Bank. So, we still need a lot of things to do about reforms in our banking sector. That’s all I want to tell you at the moment and the issue of Naira devaluation. Well, maybe by December, Naira will come up a little bit and our stock too is going to appreciate as from September. Then, we are still going to pray so that we don’t see the death of a very, very respected politician. And let us continue to pray for the nation because in our South West here, we should be watchful of bomb scare. We must be very watchful about that, flood in Lagos and some other parts like Lokoja. Then, the farmers. Nigeria is going to be one of the farming nations of the world if the government looks into it. Petrol will not help us. In the next 10 years, our petrol won’t have any quality (value) again. We should go for all these our natural resources, which will help us a lot. And we should handle the issue of health sector because there’s still going to be a kind of reform in the health sector.
We would like you to expatiate on this issue of Boko Haram?
We are not fighting Boko Haram again. There’s no Boko Haram in Nigeria again. We are fighting ISIS and another group is even coming that will terrorise the world. So, it’s not Boko Haram we are fighting at the moment. And these people wanted to attack Israel, attack US, attack France, attack Spain. So, by the time they come, we are going to see that yes, it’s not Boko Haram we are fighting, we are fighting real terrorists and that’s why the government has to be up and doing. America will not help us. So, the issue of saying the president is running to America for security, let them take care of our security people, let them give them what it takes, let them give them what they want to fight these forces.
Let’s look at the National Assembly. You seem to be convinced that Dr. Bukola Saraki will leave the office; what of if he doesn’t?
The thing is this – the APC must manage the issue of Bukola Saraki very well. If they remove Bukola Saraki, APC will have a serious problem; very serious problem. And even the president won’t get it right. So, what I’m saying in essence is, Bukola Saraki; APC wants to deal with him and he will face a lot of scandals, serious scandals. Bukola Saraki needs a lot, a lot in order to manage the crisis in the senate and even Dogara also needs a lot of prayers to survive the 4 years. Because there will be challenges and as a matter of fact, money will still cause problem in the House and the senate will still fight the president. Let’s leave it that way so that it will not be that maybe somebody is attacking anybody.
What about the issue of Super Eagles?
It’s there (his book) that Keshi will not take the glory. You know the new coach (thing) happened last week and we said it before now. Oliseh will not be able to…we are only trying to build Super Eagles just like Keshi has done. But Oliseh and the NFF management, they are still going to have crisis and if care is not taken, the NFF president will be indicted. So, he has to be very careful. Bringing Oliseh in and bringing a foreign coach; foreign coach will not help us. They should make it home affairs instead of looking for a foreign coach to support Oliseh. No! It won’t take us to where we want. But we will get a very good new Super Eagles that will be together for maybe the next 4 years. Yes, Super Eagles will be the giant of Africa. But there will be much that Oliseh will face and that will make Oliseh to opt out or to be sacked. But Oliseh will attempt to give us a very good Super Eagles which will go by their name. There will be a lot of politics; his efforts will be frustrated.
So, how do you feel any time you come up with predictions and some of them don’t come to pass?
Some of them don’t come to pass? I don’t believe that prophesies don’t come to pass. The only way you can prevent a prophesy is when you take to the warnings, then it won’t come to pass. But when you don’t take to the warnings, you don’t care, you say what is he talking about…In fact, I feel bad when most of the prophesies come to pass…When it doesn’t come to pass, I’m happy.
Okay, has there been any instance where you made a prophesy and maybe the people concerned reached out to you and you told them what to do and the calamity or whatever that was supposed to happen was averted?
Yes! A lot, a lot…But that is private and it’s strictly confidential.
Are there instances where you gave a prophesy, told the people concerned what to do and they still refused to do it?
Of course! We have issues like that…
So, how did you manage that?
At the end of the day, we come back and we resolve the thing.
Yearly, you come up with predictions. What will you describe as the most accurate prediction that you’ve given?
There are many of them; I can’t remember.
Primate, tell us – what makes a good man of God?
There are a lot of things. But what makes a man of God is discipline. When you have discipline, you follow God’s directives, you are obedient. And when you are obedient, you will be down to earth. And also you follow the Lord’s doctrines.
What do you like most about being a servant of God?
What I like most is serving the people. I don’t allow my people to serve me. I can prostrate for anybody and I want to do anything for them. Everything that is of God, I want to do for them. Some will come and want to kneel down, I tell them to stand up, talk to me. You will see an old woman of 80 years going on her knees to talk to you; you will feel somehow. But some will say I respect your anointing, I want to do this, I want to do that. But I will still tell them no; just stand up.
What don’t you like about being a servant of God?
There’s nothing I don’t like. But I have some restrictions to a certain extent and at the same time…There’s discipline in it and my time. I am time – conscious. Because being a man of God, I must be time – conscious to know what to do, how to do it at a particular time and focus. There’s nothing I don’t like. Everything about the work of God gives me more experience, because I don’t have a father in the Lord, I don’t have a mother in the Lord, I don’t have anybody who anointed me. But I love to work in God’s vineyard. If I have the opportunity to come back again, I will still work in God’s vineyard.
What is the commonest mistake that most servants of God make?
The commonest mistake that servants of God make is money! Some marry the wrong wives and when they are rich, there’s a way they worship Him. So, those are mistakes that men of God make. Especially money, money, money…
What is the best way for one to attain success as a minister of God and also sustain it?
The best way to achieve success is through your divine calling. When the Lord has called you for His purpose, when He has called you for great things, you maintain it. If you don’t disobey God, you follow God’s word strictly, then you cannot fail. Because when you are up there, you should remember where you are coming from. Some men of God don’t have any philosophy, some men of God don’t have any policy, some men of God don’t have any vision and some of them don’t even know their mission. So, when they don’t have all of these, things come up and we see them and when they are up there, they forget their source. And the source is God o! It’s not from any human being. Again, some men of God don’t understand their calling. They want to be a prophet, they want to be a healer, they want to be this, they want to be that. You can’t be everything. Except if God has given you all; then you will know how to manage them.
What distinguishes you as a servant of God? What stands you out?
Yes, what stands me out is that I serve people; people don’t serve me. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. So, I am a man of God who serves the public, who serves his members.
What distinguishes your church from the other churches?
Nothing! We serve the same God, the Almighty and living God. You know that this church is a white garment church. But in our white garment church, I can tell you that we have four sessions. We have the English one, where you see people wearing suits; it looks more like Pentecostal, then you have the real traditional white garment church, and that is the reason why we want to have the extension. We are also building the youth ministry as well and taking care of the under priviledged, the widows, the orphans and the vulnerable children. So, that distinguishes us from the other churches – because some of the churches, they don’t do all of these. We see that as our own corporate social responsibility. Then, I don’t take tithe. I don’t take tithe in the sense that the church tithe, I use it to do food service, to pay the church workers and to also give to the old people.
Earlier on, you said you don’t have a father in the Lord, you don’t have a mother in the Lord. So, how did God call you?
He called me at a very tender age, when I was around 17 and He anointed me Himself and He gave me the guidelines. Then, I followed up…
How exactly did He call you?
That is private to me, it’s not for public consumption. I’ve been to several churches. I’ve been to the Catholic Church, been to Deeper Life, joined SU (Scripture Union), joined gospel church, not Pentecostal, then CAC, The Apostolic Faith and so on and so forth. I’ve been to Celestial, Cherubim & Seraphim…
What have you asked God to do for you that He refused since you started?
At the moment, I don’t have anything that I’ve asked Him that He has refused. Maybe later I may have, but for now, nothing.
What is the greatest thing that you’ve asked Him for and He did it for you?
So many things!
Tell us one…
When we wanted to build this church, I asked Him to do it in a very convenient way and He did it, even beyond what I expected.
Anytime you are not preaching or doing the work of God, what do you spend your time doing?
There’s no time I don’t do the work of God. Even inside my car, I do the work of God; if I’m sleeping, I’m doing the work of God. So, there’s nothing I do besides that.
Can you tell us about your marriage? Your wife and your children…
My family is not for public consumption. Me alone is okay. I don’t want to discuss my family with anybody.
In the Bible, which character or person do you love most?
I just love him because he’s very passionate about widows and he’s a man of God with authority and he tells God what he wants and instantly he gets a response. So, that’s why I love him.
What is your favourite Biblical quote? Which quote in the Bible excites you the most?
Exodus 33:14, then John 1:1, and Romans 12:12.
What is the best way to avoid sin as a Christian?
The best way to avoid sin is to desist from it; not even thinking about it and to be very careful in anything that you are doing and you don’t do what God said you don’t do and when you want to do anything, you first of all consult God.
Why do we have too many churches around and yet too many sinners? Is it that the church leaders are not doing enough or is it that the messages they are preaching are not hitting the right targets?
The church leaders have done a lot – the church, the mosque. If not because of them, the country would have been turned upside down. The church leaders are passing the message from door to door; that is why we can curtail sins. So, the church leaders have done so well.
There’s no arguing the fact that God has been so nice to you. What more do you want from Him?
I want my members to attain great heights. I have a vision for them, so I want them to attain that vision before I leave this world.
Your church is called INRI, how did you come about that and what’s the meaning?
It’s divine. I don’t even know. I was just going and the message came – This church will be called INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church and I told somebody that the name of our church will be this; the man said no, how can it be that name? It’s not sweet, it’s not this, it’s not that. So, the name, as it is, is divine.
What is your dream for INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church?
We are trying to have a small clinic which we are on right now; to have a school for the underprivileged and not too much parishes. I have a number of parishes that I want and we are working towards that and by God’s grace, in November, we are going to open another parish in Ikorodu (Lagos). I want INRI to be a household name and to help the underprivileged spiritually and physically.
Most people still don’t understand who God is. Is God a man or woman? What kind of being is He?
God is unexplainable. That’s my definition of God. He is unexplainable. Because that is the sermon I love most – when you want to talk about who is God. But God is unexplainable. I can’t explain who God is.
As a servant of God, why do you think other people should also follow God? What are the goodies that are in God or in serving God?
Everything is in God. Everything! Everything you can think of is in God. Whatever problems… They are part of the things you must know; you must pass through in life. That’s part of your life. If you don’t pass through them, you are not going to be the right person. So, for everybody, either you believe or you don’t believe, just know that your being alive is from God. God can do anything; He can do and undo. I don’t know how to put it, but I just want everybody to follow Him, worship Him and adore Him.
Lastly, you said you don’t belong to CAN, you don’t belong to PFN. Why? Why have you chosen to operate solo?
(Laughs) – There’s nothing in PFN and CAN. The people there are only playing politics. CAN is (about) politics and money. Their purpose is to follow government and collect money, do abracadabra prayers and that’s all. There’s nothing serious there. It’s just an association of political pastors to discuss their candidates. It’s not about helping others. Ayo (Oritsejafor) has failed CAN and other CAN leaders have failed too. Likewise PFN. They have all failed. So, why do you want me to go and join failures? I don’t want to join such people.