Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, Senior Pastor, Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC), was certainly not joking when he asked his listeners if they were prepared to die for Nigeria. And before they could answer, he quipped, “I am not ready to die for Nigeria?”.
However, he immediately explained that the decision was not taken out of lack of love for the country, but for the fact that his father’s death in active service as a Nigerian soldier was treated with so much levity.
The senior Ashimolowo was killed during the Nigeria/Biafra civil war in 1967.
He thundered: “My father was killed at the Asaba/Onitsha Bridge and the Nigerian military did not have the decency to inform his family. His death was treated with levity. Even to get his entitlement from the military, my brother had to bribe his way through. Is this the kind of country you would want to die for?”, he asked his bewildered listeners.
Pastor Ashimolowo made the statement as the guest speaker at the recently concluded Excellence in Leadership Conference organized by Daystar Christian Centre, Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos.
The preacher who has garnered world wide acclaim through his ministry has also authored several life- changing books which include “What is Wrong with Being Black?” and “Tongues of Fire”. At the conference, he took listeners through tested theories of the qualities of irreplaceable leaders. His paper was titled “50 irreplaceable marks of a leader”.
He described weak leadership as the single reason why Africa as a continent seems to be trapped. “Europe would not survive if it was not for Africa. Most of the things they need to survive are in Africa.”
He further explained that the biggest challenge Africa has is not with the people, but the leadership. “Africa now has a willing generation. If we don’t challenge the youths to take their destinies in their hands, there is likely to be a catastrophe in Africa”.
On Nigeria, he described the country as a five-talent nation being perpetually led by one-talent leaders.
“Nigeria’s problem is because culture influences how we choose leaders. Culture puts age before ability to choose leaders”. He described this as not only wrong, but also outdated.
He regretted the fact that willing Nigerians who have good plans to develop the country are regularly frustrated by some privileged few.
For instance, he told of his inability to secure approval for the KICC University project, because of near- impossible conditions the authorities are giving. This is even after erecting 46 buildings on a large expanse of land, meeting so many other conditions; still approval has not come.
“A lot of universities were approved in Ghana. All they require for you to put in place is a solid building, but the case is the reverse in Nigeria”.
On the issue of non-interest banking, he summed it up as feudal, which could take the country back to the past. He remarked that since the system was introduced in the United Kingdom, “UK has almost been bought up by the Arabs”.
On the system of governance in the Nigeria, he said: “A good leader does not need a four year term to make a difference. You can do that in a year”.
Questioning the rationale behind keeping Nigeria’s money in foreign reverse while poverty ravages the populace, he asked: “Why have $30 billion in reverse and people are picking food in the dust bin?”.
A native of Odo-Ewu, near Ife in Osun State, he was born on March 17, 1952 in Zaria, Kaduna State. An erstwhile pastor with Foursquare Gospel Church, he is married to Yemisi and they have two sons – Tobi and Tomi.
NB: First published March 2012