The Man Called Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Faith, LIFE

The Man Called Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor

Posted: Jul 3, 2016 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Chinyere Abiaziem
Lagos-The actions and in actions of leaders sure place them in the spotlight for criticisms, whether positive or negative. One of the Christian leaders whose actions attracted much negative criticisms during his tenure is Pastor Ayodele Oritsejafor, the two term President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Founder of the Word of Life Bible Church, Warri, Delta state.
Prior to being CAN president, he was the National President of the Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), from 2005 to 2010. After which he took over the leadership of CAN in 2010 and was reelected three years after to continue with the affairs of the body till last June when the national election was conducted, with Rev. Dr. Supo Ayokunle emerging as the new CAN president and Prof. Joseph Otubu as the Vice President.
‘Papa Ayo’ as addressed by his admirers is one that commands respect from many due to his outspoken nature, vibrancy, boldness, charisma even his fashion style. Regrettably, all these put together have allegedly become “baseless” ever since he ran into the proverbial troubled water of the arms deal scandal, that rocked his boat during the regime of the former Nigerian president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, that many refer to as his ‘boy/son’.

His Birth, Conversion, Ministerial Calling
History has it that Pastor Oritsejafor was an answer to the long cry of his late mother, who was in dire need of a son. Hence he was christened Ayodele, meaning – joy has come to our home, by his late parents Mr. Joseph Monday Oritsejafor and Mrs. Roli Durojaiye Oritsejafor in Lagos. Not being able to speak until he was five years old, his mother, had him laid on the church altar for hours praying that God heal and use him. Due to his father’s death, his mother remarried and relocated to United Kingdom (UK), leaving him under the care of relatives, where he turned out to live waywardly until the turning point at a crusade where he got born again in 1972.
In an interview, he did say  he will never forget Church of God Mission because that was where he became a Christian. “I was in the Baptist Church but I knew nothing about God. I gave my life to Christ under the ministry of the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa and immediately became an active part of the church. One thing I would be grateful to God for about that man was that he was able identify potentials in people. I knew him from the day I gave my life to Christ but the day I had the closest encounter with him that changed my entire life was during an evening service in Benin; the place was packed and he wanted a song and I jumped out to lead the song.
“By the time I finished that ministration, he asked me; ‘Who are you?’ I told him my name and he said; “I know your mother. Tell your mother I want to see you. I want to see her too.” That was how a very close contact started and I started coming to his home and spending a few days there even when I had returned to Sapele. He liked me. I became assistant pastor and very vibrant but there were certain situations I don’t want to get into, that led me to go to the Baptist seminary. He didn’t like it. However, when I returned, my heart was to start a church and I went on a seven-day fast. But on the fifth day the Lord said to me: ‘Break the fast. I have answered your prayer.’
“So, I had to break the fast and the very next day, I had a knock on my door and it was Archbishop Idahosa with three other persons. It was strange to me. He asked me what I wanted to do now, but I couldn’t answer him. So he said, you must be a pastor in Church of God Mission. ‘You don’t have a choice. I didn’t come to ask you. I came to tell you.’ The way he said it, there was no room for discussion. He added: ‘When I leave here, I am going to see your mother to tell her the same thing.’”
Meanwhile, Pastor Oritsejafor left Church of God Mission to start The Word of Life Bible Church in a class room from where it grew to a warehouse, then an open field and now a 35,000 Seater Church Auditorium, one of the largest in the world, according to the information on the church’s website.

Papa Ayo’s Philanthropic Works
Reports have it that over the years, Pastor Oritsejefaor has been involved in several works of charity geared towards giving meaning to the lives of the under priviledged in the society. In 2000, he initiated a university scholarship scheme for undergraduates as well as indigent students wishing to study in Polytechnics and College of Education. Yearly, he reportedly gives out scholarships. The Eagle Flight Micro Finance Bank in collaboration with his church have equipped many individuals and businesses irrespective of religion or denomination. He as well through the Eagle Hand International Foundation takes care of the elderly and orphans, vulnerable young men and women in Warri and its environ. Oritsejafor has consistently helped the Christian families and churches in the North who have lost their loved ones and property to the Boko Haram menace in recent time. He also used his position as the CAN president to create religious harmony while frowning at the religious killings that occurred at various times in the country. He was so much of a succor to the Northern Christians who were affected in the religious clashes. These and many more the cleric did and still doing for the sake of the gospel. His wife, Pastor Helen Oritsejefaor is not left out as she is also involved in the charity mission around her community and beyond.

Alleged Romance With Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan
The radical and energetic preacher was alleged to have over stepped his bound as a Christian leader into the corridors of political power, by overly relating with the ex-president, a relationship which many believed brought disrespect and costly damages to the image of the Christian body. The relationship paved the way to the ‘arms deal scandal’ that hit Oritsejafor in 2014, when he was accused of owning the jet that conveyed $9.3m to procure arms in South Africa’s black market. Though the government then came up with claims to separate him from the saga. In his statement, the leader exonerated himself from the illegal transaction, on the ground that the jet was earlier leased in August  to an airline operator, an explanation which did not go down well with many who till date seem to have lost confidence in the preacher.
One leader in a Pentecostal Church, who refused his identity known, said he believed the preacher’s prestige reduced when he started romancing with the then president. “Believe me if you romance with politicians there is no way you can say the truth or criticise them. You really do not have to mingle with politicians before they will know you wish them well. You can stay in your corner and pray for their success and not you moving around with them,” the leader stated.
Another who also did not want his name in print said he was one of the leading and respected pastors before the advent of Goodluck Jonathan. “When Jonathan came into power, Pastor Oritsejafor practically became a politician and canvassed for him, which many to lose their admiration for him.”

Alleged Role In The Last CAN Election
Papa Ayo as he is fondly called by his admirers was alleged to have masterminded the emergence of the new CAN president, because of the already established relationship between them. An inside source has it that Rev. Oyekunle was chosen to protect the interest of his predecessor. Additionally, reports also have it that the TEKAN/ECWA bloc members have some reservations as their supposed candidate was barred from participating in the election. This claim was, however, debunked by another inside source as he said the bloc failed to meet the requirement of the association.

Overview Of His Tenure As CAN President
In as much as he is credited for some accomplishments including championing the building of CAN secretariat and a 50-bedroom Jubilee Center to generate income for the Christian body, allegedly reversing the order of  “sectionalism” and challenging the “exclusiveness” of CAN presidency to a particular bloc, he is described by an analyst to have brought divisions in the body.
“His activities brought divisions as some members of CAN, particularly the Catholic Bishop Conference, threatened to pull out of the foremost Christian body due to their non-acceptance of the manner in which he ran things in the association,” Martins Nzeako said.
In contrast, a Christian leader stated that: “During his tenure, he tried to bridge the gap between the Christians and Muslims. He showed concern for the displaced persons. He did his best in bringing dynamism in the body. Apart from the issue that happened some time ago, which people that were not happy of his stride and vocal nature decided to use against him. I know him as a consistent man who stood against sectionalism during his tenure. He was one who was ready to put his life on the line. We need a person like him in the Christendom, people who are vocal, otherwise we will run into troubled waters. I tell you if good men keep quiet, anarchy will set in,” Reverend Alli Oladapo said.

Comments (1)

  • Jul 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm True N

    Hahahaha. Bunch of unprepared & empty sand bag journalists on this website. Baseless story! Shameful editor!

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