Hello ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the testimony of Bishop Obi Onubogu, he was the ADC to General Odimegwu Ojukwu during the Biafra War, today he is an anointed man of God, Senior Pastor of the Rock Family Church and President Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria in Enugu.
I am also pleased to inform you that you can also read our interviews on the Gospel Celebrity Column of City People Magazine with Adewale Aladejana, I want to say a big thank you to Mr Seye Kehinde, Publisher of City People Magazine for giving me this privilege.
|Rare Men of God; L-R Pastor Iyke Samuels of House on the Rock, Benin and Bishop Onubogu|
I also want to thank my father and pastor; Iyke Samuels of House on the Rock, Benin for making this interview possible. I celebrate you sir.
Enjoy the interview...
www.mytestimonys.blogspot.com; How did you become a born again Christian?
I loved the things of God but I failed to see the God of the things, I was bumping into churches. Believe it or not, one day I woke up at 1am in the morning thinking it was 7 am and I decided to drive to Onitsha. At the Melkin Hill, the police stopped me and asked where I was going, I told them I was headed to Onitsha, they asked if I realised the time, I said it was half past 7, they said it was past 1am, ‘ what are you going there to do’? I said I was going to look for a church where I could go and fellowship and get prayed for and they said there must be something either right or wrong with me. Wherever I saw a night vigil, I went there; I was searching all over the place.
Part of my life that is closely related to my finding the Lord was my life in exile which I will talk about later but when I came back from exile, I was broken down, confused, I didn’t know what to do next, I didn’t know the God that saved me and kept me alive from the Biafra War, I forgot to recognise the God that kept me in exile, in a foreign country and taught me how to communicate with the people. So I came back still searching.
One day, I drove my little Volkswagen to the village, I was coming back, it was a1303 SL, a posh Volkswagen. As I was coming, I saw a young girl on the road and she waved, she needed a lift and I said to myself, ‘Ha, that’s a good one, let me see what will come out of it’. So I picked her, she sat in front of the car, hardly did I drive five minutes when I saw another girl and I thought ‘oh, it will be nice to have two’. So I stopped and she said she was going to Enugu and I asked her to come in. She sat at the back so we took off. Not quite long from where we took off, the one in front said to me , ‘ Brother, I have something to tell you’ and in my mind I said, ‘Brother?! Where did I meet this strange person calling me brother?’ Then the one at the back said, ‘Oh, Sister! I didn’t know you were one of us’.
They conversed a little bit and I knew from that moment that I was going to have trouble and I was out to resist whatever was against my plans for them. So they began to minister to me, they told me about the love of Jesus, they said they saw in me the need to know Jesus. I was wearing white shorts and a very attractive T-shirt. I was quiet, I didn’t like any bit what they were saying. They were talking to me about Jesus and how He died for me and I stopped a little bit and said, ‘ You can’t tell me about how He died and what He died for, where was He when my people were dying during the Biafra war? Can you just tell me that? Where was your Jesus? Don’t give me that, stay quiet in this car or I am going to drop you’. They continued so I decided to keep quiet. They didn’t know whether I was listening or not. They kept on talking about Jesus and how He died for me and the whole world. I was determined that it was a losing game that day. We drove into town finally and when they saw I wasn’t speaking, the one at the back said, ‘I have a little tract I want to give you, you can read it when you like’ I kept it in the glove compartment of the car, drove around Ogui road and dropped both of them in front of one supermarket and drove away in anger, it was a lost project for me.
Two weeks later, I was in a mechanic workshop, vendors were not around, there was nothing to read and I remembered that those strange girls gave me something to read, I found it and began to read. The title was ‘ The Love of Jesus’. At first, it didn’t make sense but as I read, I began to see what the tract was talking about so I decided that I needed to see the girls again. So when they fixed my car, I drove to that building and met a woman, I said to her , ‘Please two weeks ago, I dropped some two girls here’, she took a look at me and said, ‘hmmm, womanizer, they are angels, you can’t get them, I am a believer, I should tell you, God has sent them for that moment, you will never be able to know whom they are and He has sent you a message and the message is this, go and look for God’.
I went away and found myself in a church and in that church that day, the topic of the preacher was ‘ The Love of Jesus’. The topic of the tract I had in my bible and I listened. There were tears in my eyes when the altar call was made and I gave my life to Jesus. The interesting thing is there were about 200 people in that church and everybody saw me because I was weeping and crying but five years later, I became the pastor of the church. Some members reminded me that they were there the day I came first in tears, see what God has done.
You have seen Nigeria go through many phases, what do you think is God’s plan for Nigeria?
Nigeria is going through a destiny; there is a plan from God for this nation. Even as an individual for you to get to where God has prepared for you, you need to climb mountains, you need to build your muscles; you don’t build your muscles without exercise. Its pain that brings you the gain of the place that’s prepared for you. If you look at the past events in Nigeria, you know we are headed for something great maybe we are not all prepared for it and God has to prepare us. We need to be patient to learn our lessons and when our time expires, then we may have done what is necessary for our generation. We should be ready to ease up so that the next generation will come up and take up the baton. This is where we have a problem. People whose time has passed are holding on to the baton and yet the people with a lot of preserved energy to run are just waiting; the baton is not handed over to them. I will implore all to be patient and look to God.
God doesn’t make mistakes; we have had prophecies about our nation Nigeria delivered by people who have never been to the nation. I believe in prophecy when it’s coming from genuine men and women of God. God has spoken about our nation, God does not mince words when it comes to destiny, we are destined to lead Africa and the world. Our people are all over the world, the preparation is on. In fact, one European joked, he said, ‘ If I go to any place and I don’t see a Nigerian then I know it’s a dangerous place, I will go away from there but if I hear there are Nigerians there, I know there’s profit there.’ This is true; God has spread us across the nations of Africa and the nations of the world in preparation for where we are going. The servants of God are being prepared, the politicians are being prepared, upcoming generations are being prepared. We have to be patient. I can’t begin to call names but you see for every situation, God provides the person that will handle it. Don’t think that whoever is there is a wrong person but God is wiser than you, He saw you before He chose that other one. All we need to do is cooperate and put our efforts together.
There is a perception among Christians that politics is dirty and that you cannot be a good Christian and be political, what is your view on this?
This is a deception from the pit of hell and that will slow down our march to destiny if we listen to that. We need to get in there, it’s a murky, slippery, dangerous ground full of darkness but we are the light of the world, we have got to show up there, there is no amount of darkness that puts out light no matter the darkness. Even the light of a matchstick once it comes will drive away darkness around it, if you have one candlestick, it will drive away darkness, if you have one thousand candle sticks in an area it becomes brighter, if you have one million, it gives light. So we must go out there and determine to do the cause of Christ. Our problem is that we get in there and forget who we are and where we are coming from. We get messed up by the system and those who don’t go out will say we shouldn’t be doing all that.
I remember when President Jonathan came, he said, ‘Without Christ, I am doomed’ and that’s what attracted me to him. There’s no way this nation can go on without Christ and those that bring the influence of Christ are Christians, born again Christians, not those who profess Christ and are full of corruption, sexual immorality, conspiracy, organising coup d etats and all kinds of things; bringing down the economy because of the level of illicit businesses they do. God does not owe His people, there’s a reward for every good work that is done in His name. God rewards people of integrity. We have had a seminar where we invited Christians in government and spoke to them. We invited all aspiring politicians, we prayed for them and spoke to them and we released them to go forth. If we don’t do that, then we are responsible for bad governance in that we failed to send in our people but we say it loudly and very clearly, if you make up your mind to join politics, you must know that the place is a horrible place, you will be tempted, attacked, you might be scandalized but you must be rigid to fall on the strength and the power of the one who has sent you.
You must have been a major target during the Biafra war; can you share some of those moments when God delivered you from death miraculously during the war?
We were collectively the target, we were always around the leader, we called him ‘His Excellency’. If he died during the war, we could have died. If there was an explosion or bomb attack or a well-planned ambush to get his convoy, we would have gone with him. We were always conscious that we were targets, if the Nigerian Air force jets were flying over, we knew they were looking for where we were. If we were in convoy travelling to the war front we knew we were targeted. We were ready that’s why we dug what you call bunkers, but we know that what we dug were mere holes in the ground on the roads we normally used. So if there were any attacks, we got down from the vehicle and we ran into these well designed shelters or holes.
I have been around a terrific air raid at Umuahia, very close to the market place. I was off duty and I was just coming home when I heard people shouting, ‘enemy plane’. I parked my car and before I ran out, the bombs were exploding and within a short time, it was finished. I began to hear cries, wailings; there were all kinds of smoke. I started looking for the person in my car with me; I stood up from where I took cover, only my ears were a bit achy and started looking for Justin, my friend in the car with me. I didn’t find him until a large crowd gathered somewhere and I went there. I found Justin divided into two from his chest, I only found the upper part of him because of his beard, I didn’t find the rest, I was to die with him but God spared me.
There was another incident when several bombs were dropped around Government Reserved Area (GRA) Owerri, we left our camp and we were visiting Owerri, they were time bombs, few exploded and after that, everywhere was quiet. I was sent from the government camp to go for inspection with some people, I got there and it was horrible, people told me that there were eight unexploded bombs, I went to where the bombs were and I was exhibiting ignorance and uncalled for boldness. I told them the Nigerians only wanted to scare them and make them surrender.
I stood on one of the bombs, one was as big as a quarter of an office table, real big things, it sunk into the ground and only the top of it showed and I stood on top of one of those bombs addressing the people and after that, I asked them to go home and assured them we would call the technicians to take care of the bombs. Fifteen minutes after I drove away from the area, the remaining bombs exploded including the one I stood on! What a deliverance!
I have got to tell you another story. One morning, we took the Biafran Head of State in a convoy to a camp elementary school where we fixed a small area as his office. We were camped in another school which was about a kilometer from that office. We got into the office and settled down, the aides and assistants were just around, then we had a call that the planes were around, immediately we heard the whirl of the jets flying low, we rushed in, I and some other people took hold of the Biafran Head of State and dashed to one of those ready shelters. The planes were already dropping and firing bombs but as I headed into the hole with him and some other people, right in front of me were two huge snakes with their tongues and venom ready to strike, they seemed to be saying ‘ You have escaped the bombs then come to us!’ We stopped; it was either the snakes or the bombs! The God I didn’t know delivered us, we stood there, the planes passed, and we ran away from the snakes.
That was deliverance, it was very close but God helped me and when I look at it today, I knew that it’s because of today because of your being here, because of this great house, because of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, because I had to pray and bring up people that he spared my life. I can go on and on and tell you what great things he did. I should have died, on the day we met the snakes and the bombs was the day I received my war injury; the only injury I had during the war; many people died, they were maimed, blinded and all kinds of things happened to them but I received my war injury that day and you want to know what the injury was? I had a scratch on my little finger, just a little cut and I was bleeding from there. That’s the only injury I had during the entire war.
You were Aide De Camp (ADC) to the late Chief Ojukwu during the Biafra War, what kind of man was he, what kind of principles did he have that made him so outstanding?
A lot of people even today will boast and say that they knew him. Some of us that were very close to him during the war just laughed when we hear people talk about him because we know they never really knew the man (General Ojukwu). The man had a very high sense of humor. I think one of the people that knew him in one aspect is General Babangida who described him simply as a wordsmith. He could twist whatever he wanted to say using English words; you know his background was Oxford University and all that. Whenever we had foreign journalists convey, we were amazed at the wisdom, choice of words and intelligence.
One day he came and rather than make a statement, this is what he said, ‘ Ndi beanyi na ndi obianyi ekene m unu’ (My people and our visitors, I greet you all) and he continued to address them in Igbo language. Some person said ‘Why wouldn’t he address you in his language? If you went to China or Japan won’t the Head of State do the same?’ That was one of his ways of heightening our emotions and interest; we saw a lot of that during the war.
I remember very well that every night, he slept less than two hours, he always went to bed at past 5 every morning. He saw people throughout the day and throughout the night and he ate his meals late too. His dinner would be around 12 midnight, he loved coffee, cigarettes and brandy; the highest class of brandy. In his recreation, he loved talking to people, he would normally ask us to go and bring some professors or top engineers. They would just talk about the areas he needed to get information. He talked to pastors, reverend sisters and bishops also.
There was an incident which I would never forget, it was towards the end of the war, our people were playing tricks, the guys were tired of fighting both Nigerian and Biafra, so they decided to make a deal. They sent messages around saying, ‘Ojukwu is in his bunker safe drinking his coffee; Gowon is in his bunker somewhere in Lagos enjoying himself why should we die at the front? Let’s make a deal, let’s not fight, we are brothers.’ They had a meeting and decided to come to No Man’s Land and bury the ammunition. On our side, the intelligence report showed that nothing was happening there until we started getting reports that they had compromised.
Biafran soldiers would go for an outing in the Nigerian camp, they would dance, get stock fish, cigarettes, milk and shake hands. Such parties began very late around 1am and before 5 am, they would disappear like wild rats in the bush. The Biafrans arranged for them to come over to somewhere close to Aba in a hall. They brought everything; food, girls and all. Close to the time of dismissal, things changed, the Biafrans cocked their guns and said, ‘this time, you are not going back, we are taking all of you back to our base’ and the Nigerians said, ‘that’s not the deal, you came to us and we released you ’, the Biafrans said, ‘we can’t get on with this, we have betrayed our people too long, we are taking you away’. I was on duty at Umuahaia Government House when three lorry loads of Nigerian soldiers were brought in with a sinister report that, ‘we captured them at the war front’.
This is where General Odimegwu Ojukwu comes in. He called us and said there must be something wrong with the way they captured three lorry loads of Nigerian soldiers without any casualties on the side of the Biafrans. That morning, the captured soldiers were lined up for parade and inspection. He already knew that there was something fishy which the commanders didn’t know, he got somewhere and stopped, somebody got out of line and saluted him which is unusual, one of the captured soldiers was his batman in kano, a man who served him and he recognised and shook his head.
At the end of the parade, he called us into his office and he was weeping, he said, “You commanders, you think I am blood thirsty, you think I must kill someone? You went to them and they spared your lives, you tricked them and you brought them back to a blood thirsty leader to execute them! I will not execute them, I will not do that! Now you have to take them to one of the best camps you can find and you will feed them three times a day till the end of the war, it’s your responsibility! You find the money, you find the food, you beg, borrow or steal to look after them!” They took them to a camp and the guys remained there to the end of the war.
The other aspect of him that I know that is rare was his life in exile. I lived in exile with him, it was a different level of life, we ate together, we played tennis together, we went out with the locals, we went to see the crocodiles. We were living in five villas, I was living in a villa with my wife, incidentally I got engaged to my wife just before the end of the war and we got married and wedded in the Ivory Coast on exile.
In exile, General Ojukwu humbled himself, he had time to think things over, we had well-meaning Nigerians who felt that there was something wrong in the way we were treated, they visited us. It was at that level that they began to talk about reconciliation, which materialized much later in the time of Shagari which led to our coming back.
This man called General Odimegwu Ojukwu did not go all alone contrary to what people said. He invited the best brains of Biafra, his secretaries were the best brains, they all become ambassadors in Nigeria. Ambassador Onyegbule was his secretary, Uche Chukwumerije was his secretary. This will show you the level of people who are still relevant today honestly pursuing what we believed and there was discipline, down to the level of the soldiers. Commitment was unique, people were taught military exercises carrying sticks, not knowing whether the guns would come. The first guns that were used were the old police rifles, those long things that never got the correct aim. He had the support of the upper, middle and lower class as well as the politicians. Everybody had to be united for us to survive the war; we had no option; that was what kept us.
He was also a thorough man because of his training in the military and academically. You couldn’t send out a report without him, you couldn’t do anything on his behalf, you are qualified to do but it has to pass through him. He scrutinized everything, he approved the issuance of arms and ammunition and the propaganda war took Nigeria off balance, we talked as if we had everything when we had nothing, we made them shiver. The news from Biafran radio was something else. We were ill prepared in the real sense of it but then, conviction that we were fighting for a genuine cause kept us going that’s why the war lasted.
Don’t forget also that there’s a sacrifice General Ojukwu made which nobody wants to listen to; he gave his family money, his father was one of the richest people in Nigeria. The money he had if you want to look at it from today’s worth goes into billions in the hands of one man. I have had people say what he gave was nothing, just a few million pounds in a Swiss bank his father left. One foreigner told me that’s a small amount of money, for us it was a big amount. So the initial purchase of arms and initial expenses were made. What you had in the Central Bank of Nigeria in the east was tampered with even before the war broke out, Central Bank was empty. I remember we had Biafran currency; our people were bent on using it even though you can have a whole box of it and not be worth much.
I returned to Nigeria before him because I was tired, I couldn’t stay again exile, there was too much food, too much time, too much comfort, so I decided to leave. I left my wife there; my wife is his first cousin. I told her, ‘let me go, if they get me arrested and kill me, you will get on’. God helped me; I got through the airport in a very miraculous way. I came into Nigeria with a forged passport; my brother asked if I would risk coming back, I told him I didn’t care as long as I got to Nigeria.
I felt I belonged in Nigeria and I needed to get back there. I arrived at the airport and I approached immigration with my forged passport, my heart was pounding. If caught, I would be forcibly identified and arrested because I was ADC and Security Officer to General Ojukwu. My name was on their list so there’s no escape. Three immigration officers were attending to people, I went to the one right before me and as soon as I arrived, he started talking to the other officers and stretched out his hand for my passport. I gave him my passport, he didn’t look at it, he was conversing and laughing with the rest and while he was doing that, I looked at a list by his left and my name was number four wanted person on that list. My heart jumped out! When he joked and laughed more, he stamped my passport. He never looked at me! That’s how I entered Nigeria. I reported myself to the security, I saw my people. They interviewed me and asked me how on earth I got to Nigeria, I told them the story.
Two years later, Odimegwu Ojukwu comes back to Nigeria, politicians negotiated it. I think it was Okadigbo and the rest of them.
Here is a statement he made, which as a bishop and a preacher of The Word of God, as a servant of the Most High which I think is highly spiritual, I don’t know whether he knew it when he was making that statement. He said, ‘ Nigerians, I ask you to forgive me what you are thinking or were thinking or imagined that I did to you which I did not do because I have also forgiven you now that I am back, some of the things I had in my mind that you did which also you didn’t do. I also want to assure you that for the things which you will do in future, I forgive you right now and I ask that if in future there is anything, be ready to forgive me too.’
That’s a deep statement about forgiveness. I have problems with you because I am thinking you did something which truly you didn’t do and you are thinking that’s the reason why I am doing what I am doing but that’s not the reason but you are so convinced and you are fighting me for that but I forgive you. I made the same mistakes you made and I am asking you to forgive me and I forgive you, also get ready to forgive me for the future, now!
How did you meet your wife?
I met my wife during the war, at the Biafran Government House. She’s the first cousin to General Odimegwu Ojukwu. In those times that he desired refreshment and family just to take off pressure, he used to send for his relatives to come and this young girl was coming to the house always, they lived at a hospital very close to the Biafran Government House, Umuahia. I took interest in her and I began to ask whom she was, I was the one that was always sent to go with the driver and make sure they come in and I always took them back. I discovered that the family was well known to my family so I contacted my mother living in Umuahia then to go see about her, that’s how we started.
We got officially introduced and the war ends and then the Biafran Head of State General Ojukwu then invited me to come on exile with him and I told him I would go on one condition, he said, ‘You want to go and tell your parents?’ I said ‘No, it’s that the one I want to marry comes with me’ He said, ‘Who is that?’ and I said, ‘ Your cousin, if she doesn’t come with us, I am going nowhere!’ So that’s how we all left together and then in the Ivory Coast, we got properly engaged and then we wedded. We wedded away from our friends, family and the people we loved. We were alone, the presidency brought food but there was nobody to eat. I helped her to do her hair. That same morning, we went out to the local government, signed, pulled off my suit. The food came, the people that were around, the men, gardeners, very good food from the presidency.
Ever since then we have been together. We have five children; two girls and three boys. One of the boys is a pastor in the church now, we have six grandchildren already and the going is still wonderful and good.
What is the foundation for a successful marriage?
If you marry your wife, you are already successful. Unsuccessful marriages stems from foundational mistakes, not being led of God to the person. A female not led of God to a man, she’s led by the sight of a big Mercedes car and a big house and a big bank account.
A marriage has to be built on love, agape love, the love of God, the love that will go on whether there is or there is not. I believe my wife loves me and I love her too. We have been under serious pressure, during the war we decided to get married not knowing how things would go. In exile, we saw pressure, we had food, we had comfort, we had every other thing, no counsel from people, nothing at all and then because we were meant to be together, ministry is working. She is the head of the women ministry, God is helping her. It’s the same thing we passed on to our children, one of my sons is married, he's a pastor, he's got two children already, they have their programmes and we direct them.
Once you put God in the beginning, it will help you to select and you are sure you are hearing from God, you have laid a good foundation for marriage. I didn’t say you won’t be under attack; the devil loves to attack marriages. Family comes before church, it’s from family you get ready for church then you come to church and build a larger family, so if the devil wants to get at the church, he starts at the family level and that’s why some people in ministry are in trouble. They don’t know that they are not necessarily the target, it’s the work the devil is targeting. A foundation based on agape love, a foundation based on the direction of the Holy Spirit and not on what you desire or what you want.
You may have your plan, the kind of person you want to marry but eventually, you have got to live it for God to settle it for you. When He settles it for you, He gives you seeing eyes because there are eyes that are not seeing anything but the wrong things; spiritual seeing eyes. Many men meaning to get engaged and married need to ask God to open their eyes.
It is not the shape of the man or woman, not the size of his car or bank account that matters. It is something on the inside which the ordinary eyes will not see.
www.mytestimonys.blogspot.com; Thank you so much for your time sir!
|I had to tap some of that grace|