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Monday, 16 January 2017

Kibaati Online Radio is alive in 60 countries of the world

*So Kibaati Online Radio has come to stay 

-Bishop Bola Odeleke

Last year, Bishop Bola Odeleke the first African female Bishop and widow of Late Brigadier General Lasun Odeleke floated an online radio station in Lagos. But rather than making her more relax, and fulfilled, it seems it has even increased her workload burden.

Why? That’s because the famed Agbara Olorun Kibaati preacher, probably may have chewed more than she bargained for. According to her, “Tomorrow I will be in Badagry, I have churches all over the world, and I travel from time to time to oversee them. More so, I am an evangelist and a revivalist. Being a Bishop is just for administration of the church, I am a core evangelist. I travel a lot to places to preach. In April I will be in Edo state. I am booked from now till July.”

Bishop Bola Odeleke who just arrived from a Christian ministry tour of six American states, shared in this interview with Paul Ukpabio, memories of her recent US trip, the success of her online radio abroad, and her lifestyle as a travelling Bishop, mother and grandmother. 

You are the General Overseer of Power Pentecostal Church. Early last year, as a Bishop, you set up the first online radio station, how is it doing?

We are doing well, surprisingly, it picked fast. It’s alive in over 60 countries of the world. People phone in to participate in different programmes on air. In fact when I was in America, I granted about three interviews, one from Finland, and another from Amsterdam and then the last one from New York. So Kibaati Online Radio has come to stay. We are planning the next line of action that is to have a community radio station here. That hopefully will take place in the next one year.

What kind of response have you been receiving so far and what’s your programming content like?

I preach online. For response, I can say people love the preaching I do online. We have different Yoruba programmes where people call in. The man from Finland for instance, he said he heard the preaching and it was refreshing since he had not heard his language Yoruba spoken for a very long time. We have a legal person who talks about people’s rights, another programme where health is discussed and so on. The online radio I can tell you is moving fast. 

You used to be a tele-evangelist but seems like you stopped, what happened?

For now, I am not into television preaching. Yes, I was into it, but it is too limiting. They tell us don’t preach this; don’t say that, they also told us not to talk about miracles and so on. Since then I lost interest in circular radio and television. So right now we are fully online. But you know I was the first woman to preach on television in this part of the world. But right now I need to look at other areas. But God willing, in future, I hope to have a television station. But I know for that, we will need a lot of sponsorship.

What is the meaning of Agbara Olorun Kibaati, the words seems to have relatively become yours?

It means the power of God that never fails. Kibaati is never fails. It was about 1981-82, when I was at Christ Apostolic Church in Yaba area of Lagos that the Lord gave me that word! The Lord said that He wants to give me a programme, a programme that will be like a market. So I asked: what will people be buying and what will they be selling? And God said people will be selling their sorrows and sicknesses to Satan, and that, they will be buying in return, good health and prosperity. He eventually gave me the name Kibaati. And truly, sooner than i thought, I commenced a crusade there which became very popular. People came from everywhere, and I know many will still remember ‘Agbara Olorun Kibaati,” it was that programme that gave me the fame because of the miracles. It was indeed a big market. 

However, that wasn’t my church. I was just there doing crusade everyday in the morning and in the evening. I was in that church for three years. After which, the Lord gave me this present place we are. Here also, God has been moving in miraculous ways. So that is how I got that name Agbara Kibaati. Though people also know me as Bishop Odeleke, but I know a lot of people who also know me with Agbara Olorun Kibaati (laughs). That is also a name God gave me when I was a ‘Nobody.’ I am presently building a mall and when it’s ready, it will also be called, Agbara Kibaati Mall. 

You are mostly always in the church here attending to your members, doing one programme after another, do you go out at all?

(Laughs) I am not always here like that! Tomorrow I will be in Badagry, I have churches all over the world, and I travel from time to time to oversee them. Moreso, I am an evangelist and a revivalist. Being a Bishop is just for administration of the church, I am a core evangelist, I travel a lot to places to preach. In April I will be in Edo state. I am booked till July. That is why there are pastors here for administration for everything. This is the Headquarters of the church but our church in Ibadan is even bigger than the one here in Lagos.  

But recently you were in America, was that a holiday?

Holiday? There is nothing like that for now. I don’t rest. I pray that one day I will be able to go on holiday. Yes I was in America late last year, but I was there to preach. I preached in 6 states, and I did 22 sermons in total. I was in Baltimore, Washington, New Carolina, New York, Chicago and other places. 

So what is your impression of USA, the white man brought Christianity to Africa, are they now as religious as we are?

It is true that they brought Christianity to us, but I guess it is our turn to take it back to them. It is their grandparents that brought it to us, not the present generation. And you know, Nigerians can preach, when we open the scriptures to them over there, they look at us with astonishment. This new generation of Americans has no time for God, they have everything. I bought phone card of 40 dollar over there and I used it endlessly. Over here, we pay for every little comfort that we can get. And phone is not even a luxury but we pay heavily for recharge cards. They have things easy for them there, their government care for people and property. And because they have a government that cares about them, sometimes they then feel they do not need God, until cancer, earthquake, all manner of sickness wakes them up, and then they remember that there is God. But in Nigeria everyday you need God to intervene in your matter. Here we seek God every day; we search God everywhere in the scripture to find Him so that He can solve our problems, which are many.

We hear that your church is having a fasting period presently, how long will you be fasting for?

We will be fasting for 21 days, we do this every year. Fasting is important and I have written books on fasting. It is not the fasting however that works, it is our mind. The African mind is too hard, so we need something to soften it down. That is why fasting is important. When you are fasting, you are calmer and it helps you to remember to read the scriptures and pray. When you are not fasting, it is likely you will have an excuse not to pray, but if you are fasting, you will pray because you won’t want the fasting to be in vain. Fasting is to humble us. In the churches in America now, they fast. The Christian ministers over there fast; they have started seeing the importance of fasting. And they have embraced everything concerning deliverance.

As a nation, do you think that prayers can solve our problems?

It will. I was on a television programme recently and I said the same thing. Prayer can solve our problems. If we move closer to God, He will solve our problems. Our leaders’ minds are twisted as it is right now. People in circular leadership are selfish; it’s all about their family and themselves. They are not thinking about the common man on the road. It is even a little bit better in Lagos but when you go outside Lagos, the leaders are too selfish and corrupt. They are not mindful of the common citizen because they are not close to them. That is why prayer comes in. We have to pray that God touches their minds. We are praying that our leaders will hear our language, they need to hear us. We need to have a common ground. Their children are overseas, the common man’s children are in the villages, the common man is entering buses, and they are entering aeroplane, no common ground. So we will pray and speak to their mind that God who is the owner of their minds, will go and touch them.

Now we have many female Bishops and female ministers of God unlike when you were the only female Bishop around, are you happy with the growth?

I am happy we are coming up, women ministry has come to stay, and the women are getting bolder. I was talking to somebody who called in from the US last night on marriage. She told me she will get married but she does not want a regular husband. So I wondered what that means and I asked her. She told me that she is not a regular woman so she cannot be a regular wife. She said that a regular Nigerian husband wants his wife to cook for him three meals a day, and expects his wife not to think of any other thing except him. She said she is a leader, that she has a vision to run a big company and she is already on it. She is already big and still wants to be bigger. So how is she going to be thinking of a husband who wants to be served three square meals every day? I then replied, urged her to get married anyway and have children. She asked me if it is important, and I answered that it is important. She said she will just want to have one child and not marry. So that is the mindset of these younger women, and that is because of what women have gone through in the hands of men. They no longer trust men. Men have not allowed their women to grow. Only a few give their wives opportunity to grow.

But what has your case been?

When I started ministry, I was growing it in my husband’s house, who rose from a 2nd Lieutenant to become a General. There was an understanding, which I use to teach women now, an understanding between the couple. You tell your husband in transparency that this is what the Lord is asking you to do. This is how much I have to start it, you already have what you are doing as my husband, so let us get one or two house-helps to assist us at home. So I advice them to also in that situation that they should however shine their eyes at home because if they are not available, their husbands will take the next flight and before you know it, he is gone. So plan your life in such a way that you run your company, find time to be at home, and as the owner of your company you have time to sit at home do what you have to do at home, before going to work. I am happy that we have more women bishops now.

USA has just missed having a female President at this time. Do you think Nigeria will get a female President in near future?

 By the grace of God very soon, 2019 is almost here, we are warming up. We are looking forward to it; we are raising a woman to contest.

Really, and what would a woman do differently?

A woman carries a child for nine months, delivers the child, nurture the child, and when the father carries the baby and play with him or her for few minutes and go, it is this woman, that will stay with the child till the child grows. Even when the husband has problems, he runs to the wife. So we can use the same caring mentality, to care for our country. Nigeria has suffered in the hands of men for too long. We have tried a young man as leader of this country, for that, we praise the Lord for that. We have tried a soldier: again, we praise the Lord. Now we have tried an old man who is even a retired soldier. Again it is praise the Lord that we are getting. So the person we need is somebody that has compassion. The men have passion but they do not have compassion. And that is what we are missing now. We can see that our present president is fighting corruption that is good; he is also trying to save money that is good. But they are collecting money from corrupt people, what are they going to do with the money? It has happened in the past and such money we did not see. So we are asking the president what are you, going to do with the recovered money. Unfortunately, our president is an elderly man; he doesn’t want to offend people too much. He is being careful. But a woman, with the compassion she has, will not hide such secret; she will name all the looters. And tell everybody what the money can do. If a woman can build a man, then she can build a nation. We are praying, fasting and grooming somebody to come up 2019.  

In this last administration, we noticed that some women were also involved in large scale corruption, so is there any difference between a male leader and a female leader?

I know that you will ask me that, but let me tell you, people like such women, are the bad eggs. That however gave us something to think about. So we gathered and asked our proposed candidate, are you going to go there and steal money like that? And she has assured us, that she will not. We have told her that she should go there and be a mother for the nation, no mother will destroy her child. Even the women that have been seen to be corrupt must have been urged on by the men. It must have been the men that have told them there is money there, take it, nothing will happen. So this particular woman, we have drilled her and groomed her to be a mother to the nation.

Do you see Nigerians voting for a woman in the next dispensation?

I believe they will because Nigerians are tired of all that has happened and is happening now.

Nigerian politics is also about money, big money. So where is the ‘financial-muscle’ for this person that the women are grooming, going to come from?

That is why we need a change. Our support is from the Lord. When God supports you, people will support you even without taking money from you. If God wants you, people will come to you and tell you that, they are supporting you because of God. It’s true, the money is in the hands of men but men have put us through so much trouble in this nation, we need a woman to bring that compassion into the affairs of the country. We must have a good change. The woman we are grooming is not the type that will get to the presidency and use a whole year to look for manifestos. The woman we are grooming will not get there and use six months to search for ministers. This one already has done her research for the past twelve years, she has gone around Nigeria and if you ask her what is wrong with any state in Nigeria, she will tell you and tell you the solution.

Do you advice for young women who are in the ministry and are aspiring to become bishops like you?

They should remain focused, follow the tenets of the bible, all knowledge is there. Do not compare yourself to another, do not want to be like another, be bold and share your dreams with your husband so you can have an amicable understanding of where both of you are going. And remember there are so many lions out there, that will try to stop you.

How about your children?

I thank God I have seven children, they are good, some of them are in the ministry. Even the ones that are working outside the church have something that they are doing in the ministry. I have fourteen grandchildren and there is another one on the way to make fifteen. So I am a grand mom and still counting, that is, I am still expecting.

What is life like for you as a grand mom?

Life for me is beautiful. When my grand children come around me, I am usually pleased and happy. They love to play with me. They sit and sometimes run around me asking questions, of which I usually respond. It is a beautiful life.

You are looking youthful, what are you doing to maintain good health and beauty?

(Laughs) I am not as youthful as you may think; I am 66 going on to 67 later in the year. Thank you for the compliment that I am looking youthful. I really thank God for all that He has done in my life. Indeed it has been a life dedicated to His calling, a life of obeying the Lord and Master.

Does that also mean that you are through with marriage?

Oh, I am a child of God. I am totally in His hands. I have no plan. God has the entire plan for me. So here I am, with no plans, but what He says I should do, I will do. If He says I should marry tomorrow morning, I will gladly do it. What God decides will be okay for me (laughs).

Has your fashion sense changed over the years, what would you say is your fashion sense now?

I started out as a boutique owner. I was selling fashion and fashion accessories before God called me into the ministry in 1974. So, I know what fashion is and I like looking good for myself. I wear clothes that look good on me.

How about fashion accessories, do you have any that you cannot do without?

I can do without anything. Nothing is too important than God to me. Nothing is more important than preaching the gospel. It is when I am preaching that I am happy. If I am not wearing any fashion accessories, I will still go out there and preach the gospel. Beauty is in the mind, if my mind tells me I am beautiful, then I am beautiful.

Being someone who knows fashion, do you have up to 200 shoes?

(Laughs) I can even have 1000 pairs of shoes. That doesn’t mean anything to me. So the kind of person I am is the person who accepts what God gives, if God gives me 1000 shoes, I will take it, but if He doesn’t, I won’t think or worry about it. However, the relationship that I have with God is such that anything I need, God provides. He is my great provider, and it has always been like that. 

What difference do you want to see in Nigeria?

I want to see a praying people, thinking and producing goods and services. We should also look inward; other countries want our intellect but let’s use it for ourselves. Let us go back to what we were doing and getting it right, the East had palm oil, the West had Cocoa, the North had groundnut, let us search and develop our natural resources.

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