ARCH BISHOP KATTEY'S SPEECH ON SIR MOSES ONWUMA LECTURE
IBO NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL ABA OLD BOYS’ ASSOCIATION
A TEACHER IN PUBLIC LIFE:
SIR MOSES NWAFOR ONWUMA ERA REVISITED
Being A Paper By
MOST REV. DR. IGNATIUS C.O. KATTEY (JP),
Dean Emeritus, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion),
Archbishop, Province of Niger Delta,
Bishop, Diocese of Niger Delta North &
Grand Patron, Scripture Union (Nigeria)
Thursday, 23rd March, 2017 @ Recreation Club Aba, Abia State
Hymn: SS&S. 798
1. Fading away like the stars of the morning
Losing their light in the glorious sun
Thus would we pass from the earth and its toiling
Only remembered by what we have done
Only remember, only remember,
Only remembered by what we have done
Thus would we pass from the earth and its toiling
Only remembered by what we have done
2. Shall we be missed, though by others succeeded,
Reaping the fields we in springtime have sown?
Yes, but the sowers must pass from their labours,
Ever remembered by what we have done
3. Only the truth that in life we have spoken,
Only the seed that on earth we have sown;
These shall pass onward when we are forgotten,
Fruits of the harvest and what we have done.
4. Oh, when the Saviour shall make up His jewels,
When the bright crowns of rejoicing are won,
Then shall His weary and faithful disciples
All be remembered by what they have done
It is a very special privilege and honour not to be taken for granted to be asked to participate in the lecture organized by the Old Boys of Ibo National High School Aba; a School that helped to mould my early life. There were only two Ibo National Colleges in the Country then, one in Kano. We are talking about a time, when Nigeria was literally one and our then National Anthem captured it:
Nigeria, we hail thee,
Our own dear native land,
Though tribe and tongue may differ,
In brotherhood we stand,
Nigerians all are proud to serve
Our sovereign native land.
Our flag shall be a symbol
That truth and justice reign,
In peace or battle honour'd,
And this we count as gain,
To hand on to our children
A banner without stain.
O God of all creation,
Grant this our one request,
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed,
And so with peace and plenty
Nigeria may be blessed.
We are referring to a time when an Easterner as we were known then could be the Mayor of Kano and a Northerner could be the Mayor of Enugu.
This was a time when the renowned sage won the election to be Premier of the Western Region and when Mr. I.U. Akpabio was to be the Premier of Eastern Nigeria. The unity of Nigeria was sacrosanct until .…
Today, our lecture is centered on one of the great men the East, Ngwaland had ever produced. Whether we believe it or not, God knows us all from foetus till death. He knows the day of our birth into this world and the day we will depart this world.
In His discuss with Jeremiah, about Jeremiah, God had this to say:
Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I sanctified you (that is, I set you apart). I ordained you a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).
The Psalmist had earlier alluded to this:
For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise. You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them (Ps.139:13-16).
This is not fatalism, but that the Maker and Creator and Owner of us all, knows our beginning and our ending. To say that one is destined to be this or that, may be both acceptable and unacceptable.
Jabez was a man who had everything wrong with him - his birth, his name, his everything. He was afraid for his future; so bleak, so dark without any sunshine or brightness, he did something. Let the Holy Word speak:
Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bore him in pain. And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain! So God granted him what he requested (1Chron. 4:9,10).
Through prayer to God, he changed his own destiny. This is not an isolated case.
King Hezekiah prayed to God and in less than one minute, God added fifteen years to his life span:
In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live. Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David (2 Kings 20:1-6).
David changed the course of war that was irreversibly against him:
So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up. Then someone told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness! (2 Sam. 15:30,31).
And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counseled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom (2 Sam. 16:23).
And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the Lord had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring evil upon Absalom. Then said Hushai unto Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, Thus and thus did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and thus have I counseled. And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father (2 Sam. 17:14,15,23).
Hannah the barren changed her situation:
And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord (1 Sam. 1: 4,5,10,13,19,20).
Sir Moses Nwafor Onwuma was born as the World War 1 was about to begin, ten year after the birth of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. He was raised in an Agrarian Community but God created him and had a plan for him.
For everyone, God chooses for us:
The year and date of birth
Your village or town and nation to be born
Your parentage and siblings
Your height, colour
God decided that late Papa Moses be born in Omai Ihie Obeaku Village. As usual in those days, he trekked to over 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) to attend School at St. John’s School Asa Umunka and finished his Primary Education at Government School Aba in 1938.
If he had ended here, his spoken English would still have been better than the spoken English of most graduates today. Today, some graduates (even some of those who majored in English language) cannot put their tenses right.
There was a man I know who became a Head of Service with only Standard Six Certificate he obtained in the forties, but his spoken and written English was superb. Our education system must be looked into.
Papa Moses passed the entrance examination into the renowned Dennis Memorial Grammar School Onitsha (DMGS) and had Grade 1 result in 1942. He later enrolled into the renowned Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. With scholarship from Ngwa Union, (whose aim was to promote education); he travelled to Dublin (Trinity College). There he obtained his BA and B.Sc degree in Mathematics in 1948 and 1950 respectively.
In the days of our father, the North was known for groundnut and cotton production, the West was known for Cocoa which was also exported, and the East was known for Palm Produce. Sir Onwuma worked briefly with Eastern Nigeria’s Produce Board and then with the Nigeria Custom.
Lest we forget, the Malaysian Government sent some Agriculture Officers to train in Nigeria in Palm Produce in the sixties. Today the economy of Malaysia is hinged on what they learned from Nigeria. Nigeria has lost it. Where is our Palm Produce?
As God would have it, Sir Moses Onwuma co-incidentally moved into Politics under the then ruling Party in the East - National Council for Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC).
In the Parliamentary System, which was by far less expensive, with more accountability, he was elected into the Eastern Region House of Assembly yet; he was concurrently the Education Officer at Government Secondary School Owerri 1957-1959. He was also Vice Principal 1958-1962, and Pioneer Principal Asa Grammar School Asa 1962-1967.
I entered IBONACO in January 1962 so, he must have been my Vice Principal with Chief Odigbo as Principal. Mr. Ezechukwu took over from Chief Odigbo. We had a Peace Corp member from the USA, William R. Miller, who taught us Astronomy and predicted that Objective Questions would be introduced into the Nigeria Examinations, especially the West African School Certificate Examinations. We were the first set to be examined with Objective Questions in WAEC in 1966.
The fact that he was re-elected in 1959 and 1961, means that he represented his Constituency very well. He was also appointed Chief Whip of Eastern House of Assembly.
As a result of his work in the House of Assembly, he was recommended to the then Military Governor of Eastern Region, Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and was appointed the Civilian Administrator of Aba Province.
We read a book on the Civil War written by either Onwuatuegwu or Maduebo, Ojukwu’s Army Commanders. He said he was called back from the war front for an award by His Excellency, Lt. Col. Ojukwu. As His Excellency was decorating him, he asked, Your Excellency may I please ask, who put my name forward for this award? Col. Ojukwu; that great man, smiled and said, “The usual three-man Committee! Mr. Chukwuemeka, Mr. Odumegwu and Mr. Ojukwu”!
Let us go back into history to relate briefly how tribalism came into Nigerian politics:
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was elected into the Western Region House of Assembly on the platform of the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC). The NCNC won majority of the seats and Zik, being the leader, was to be sworn in as the Premier. Dr. Azikiwe was seated and ready for the inauguration and administration of oaths. But in his presence, most of the Politicians who won election on the plat form of NCNC crossed over to the side of Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was leader of the Action Group. Chief Awo had the majority and was sworn in as the Premier of Western Nigeria.
Afolabi Awosanya in his write-up exonerates the Yorubas for the unbecoming act of betrayal. He said that those who first cross-carpeted were not Yorubas but Chief Arthur Prest and Chief Anthony Enahoro - both from the then Midwest Region. That was the beginning of tribalism in Nigeria.
Still on the dark days of Nigeria, we will mention a gentle man who has been completely or almost forgotten by Nigerians and Nigeria. That faithful man, gallant soldier, loyal to the core, who would not let coup plotters lay hands on his Boss and Visitor the then and only Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi.
On Friday 29th July 1966, Nigeria entered a new phase of life. It was an anti-climax. The day Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi and his host Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi were murdered. Fajuyi, that great Yoruba gentleman, a man of his word, a man to be trusted, refused to surrender his Guest and Master, General Aguiyi-Ironsi. He wondered what the world would think of him, if his Guest and Commander-In- Chief was killed under his roof! How would he explain it to the world?
Fajuyi would have simply handed over Ironsi and stayed alive, but he decided (and rightly too), that it was his professional duty and moral duty to protect his official guest and superior officer. The Coup leaders put both to death, when the Yoruba gentleman Fajuyi refused to hand over. Then, the pogrom that led to the declaration of Biafra. Gowon was requested to take over the Government, at the age of 30.
The Igbos and Yorubas seen to be bitterest enemies and they never marry each other easily. Ironically, each try to romance with the North at the slightest opportunity.
NCNC romanced with NPC before the war and carved out Mid-West State (Bendel) out of the West to spite the Action Group. No Civilian Government has ever created a State since Nigeria existed as a Nation. Thanks to the Military for creating States in Nigeria. Perhaps Civilian Governments are still waiting for Military to create more States.
During the war, Yoruba romanced with the North against the Igbos. The Igbos and Yorubas never trust themselves inspite of the fact that Fajuyi was killed because he refused to surrender an Igbo, Aguiyi”.
What was the crime of Aguiyi Ironsi?
1. He was an Igbo, an Easterner
The North believed, rightly or wrongly, that the Coup that unseated Sir Tafawa Balewa’s government was an Igbo plot. This coup was led by Nzeogwu, a radical Major whose mother was Tiv, He was Igbo. Just in name. Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, agreed that great leader Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello was killed in the coup. Agreed, those who were asked to take up Balewa the Prime Minister of Nigeria and Chief Festus Okotie-Ebo the Finance Minister were killed in a very dehumanizing manner, dragging them alive with army jeep on the street of Lagos.
Hear what Col. Abba Kyari, the then Military Governor of North Central State said: “There is no question that Nzeogwu had been a nationalist, not a tribalist, who was acting for the good of all Nigeria”. Major Nzeogwu has been grossly misunderstood.
Col. Hassan Katsina who was assigned to carry out the coup in the East, out of naivety or pity, spared Michael Okpara, the Premier of Eastern Nigeria and Akanu Ibiam, the Governor. Those assigned to the West killed Chief S.L. Akintola. But Nzeogwu and company planned to release Chief Obafemi Awolowo from Calaber prison and make him Prime Minister of Nigeria. Aguiyi Ironsi foiled the coup and took over.
2. Aguiyi Ironsi promulgated the Decree 34, the Unification Decree of 1966,
thereby abolishing Regions.
In the words of HRM. Dr. D.I. Aguiyi the ruler of Nduma-Ibeka Kingdom “…The exit of Aguiyi was the exit of gentility, candor, gallantry, unity, peace and love in the Nigerian Army”. President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo refers to him as “our excellent son, a great soldier, a firm soldier and the highest ranking first Nigerian General”.
Fajuyi had no business dying. He showed solidarity for his boss, he had to pay the price. Then he added this, (We are not sure whether he is right): “Just as the Igbos recognize Fajuyi, and appreciate him for his actions…” Nigeria, as a Nation has not given Col. Fajuyi the honour he deserved as a man, who even in the face of death, and at the risk of his life, was loyal to his Boss. Nigeria is sending a wrong signal that loyalty does not pay.
How many infrastructures or streets in Igbo land are named after Fajuyi! How many Igbos are married to Yoruba? The North used the people of Rivers State to fight the civil war and dumped them. Before the civil war, they used the Igbos (NCNC - NPC) to fight the Yorubas and during the war, they use the Yorubas against the Igbos and dumped them. The Igbos and Yorubas with the South South never learnt their lessons. Nigeria is still practicing de facto Unitary Government, (in the guise of Federal Government) that led to the death of Aguiyi Ironsi.
These great men must be remembered. Institutions and Infrastructures should be named after them. The Igbos and Yorubas cannot continue to be antagonistic to each other for ever.
It was this distrust between these two major tribes that led to the abrupt withdrawal of Col. Banjo led-Biafran army at Ore on their march to Lagos, the then Capital of Nigeria. It was believed the Yorubas requested him to stop that march. He was regarded as a saboteur by Col. Emeka Ojukwu the then Head of State of Biafra - and executed. Igbos and Yorubas must unite and come together - to love themselves.
The 30-year old Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon’s first speech has been misrepresented to the fact that Col. Gowon made a broadcast that “there is no basis for unity in Nigeria”. We wish to reproduce part of his Inaugural Speech after the coup:
.… As a result of recent events and other previous, similar one, I have come to strong belief that we cannot honestly and sincerely continue in this wise, as the basis of trust and confidence in our unitary system of Government has not been able to stand the test of time. I have already remarked on the issue in question. Suffice it to say that putting all consideration to test –political, economic as well as social – the basis for unity is not there or is so badly rocked, not only once but several times. I therefore feel that we should review the issue of our national standing and see if we can help stop the country from drifting away into utter destruction.
About a year later, the slogan “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done” was coined.
Just after this speech, Lt. Col David Ejoor, the then Military Governor of Mid West (the man who said he rode a bicycle from Benin to Lagos in order to escape the Biafran troops at the capture of the Midwest) in his broadcast said:
…. I am convinced however, that it is idle and unpatriotic to pretend that all is well with the nation. Frankly the position, as I see it now, is still tense and all true lovers of the country especially those in position of trust and authority, must take all necessary measures firmly to arrest the situation, time may be well against us!
At this juncture, it is necessary to talk about this great man of foresight - Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and how he came into the picture:
Many people want to be in the past and are comfortable and contented with being in that past. Some others want to be in the present and they are happy.
But few, very few persons want to be in the future and all their thoughts and actions are futuristic. They do and say things that are not acceptable now, but these same things will be in vogue in future. Such people are always in trouble. This is the price of thinking and being ahead of others.
Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is in the last class. He lived in the future. Ojukwu lived forty years ahead of Nigeria. As far back as 1967-70, he spoke and detested the domination of the North which the broadcaster journalist Mr. Okokon Ndem referred to as “Hausa - Fulani Oligarchy”. It is left for we who are living to judge whether Ojukwu was right or wrong.
He was a ‘political” prophet, and an autocratic democrat.
If Ojukwu had declared his Biafra nation today, he might have succeeded. He declared it too early, that means he was far ahead of his time.
Remember that great Activist, the bold, daring and courageous man Ken Tsaro Wiwa, who was killed by the same people he helped about twenty years earlier. When Ojukwu declared Biafra as an Independent Nation, the same Government that used Ken Tsaro Wiwa as the Administrator of Grand Bonny to destabilize Ojukwu were the people that killed him. Why? Because, he was fighting for what Ojukwu fought for about twenty years earlier - self-determination of Ogoni people.
The great people of America were indifferent because their brothers the British were on the side of the legitimate Federal Government of Nigeria when Ojukwu declared Biafra in 1967. The same America about forty years later predicted that the same Nigeria they fought to defeat its break up in 1967 would disintegrate in 2015. We are not saying America is right or wrong, nor are we here contesting the merits and demerits of their prediction, but we are simply stating a statement of fact.
Ojukwu seemed to be ahead of the whole world. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you view it) Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s own people defeated him and scuttled his plans for them.
Ojukwu foresaw all we are suffering today and wanted liberation but the entire world did not understand him. He was only 33 years of age then. Easterners must thank General Yakubu Gowon (30 years then) for sparing the lives of Easterners because he had a human heart even though earlier on, he relegated on implementing the Aburi Accord.
Ojukwu was a hero.
Leader of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike to Biafra Secessionist Leader, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu just before he was flown out to London as they were trying to talk him out of stroke, praising him, reminding him of all the great things he had done, calling him by all his revered titles, told him; “You are a very handsome man”, Chief Uwazuruike said, at that moment, Ojukwu looked at him and asked “Ralph will I be handsome in my coffin?”
Not every one of us will be dressed up in a coffin, whether ugly or handsome, beautiful, rich or poor, a coffin is a coffin. It does not really matter. The grave is a Leveller of the Poor.
Sir Onwuma later was commissioned Lt. Col. in the Biafran Army. *
It is pertinent not to forget people like Col. Achuzie, Okokon Ndem, the broadcaster and one of the greatest propagandist of our time, the then Minister of Information Ifegwu Eke, General Philip Effiong, the man who stood in for Col. Ojukwu, at his own risk and surrendered Biafra to Nigeria, Col. Ifeajuna, Col. Banjo who for whatever reason withdrew Biafran troops from Ore just about 120 miles to Lagos. Col. Okonkwo the Head of State of the defunct Republic of Benin, Tom biga, Ojukwu’s half brother who was killed and Major Nzeogwu.
God saved the life of Sir Moses during the war. In 1970 he went back to Dublin at the age of 56, to obtain a Masters Degree. Let us quote part of a write-up about him by Chief Odoziaku Enyinna Onwuma:
When he returned to the country later in 1971, the Late M.N Onwuma went back to Asa High School as Principal and Supervisor of Schools. As a strict disciplinarian, he was usually moved to schools where students mainly returnee soldiers proved stubborn to school constituted authorities.
In 1973, he was transferred to Ibo National High School Aba as Principal grade 1. He was reputed to have brought recalcitrant old soldier students to their knees and thereafter earned the acronym “Ma-mma” (his father’s name which he usually and unconsciously exclaimed about to show his seriousness to issues) and was popularly known as such by his students. They thought that he had the magical powers to hear all their sinister conversations and appear steal tingly to quell such embryonic conversation. This period was when men were in secondary school.
From 1976 to 1978 he was appointed the Chief Superintendent of schools, State Schools Management Board Owerri, Imo State, a position that took him outside the purview of students but more into administration of schools. Hardly had he settled down at Owerri, that he was beckoned upon to quell the rascality pervading Sacred Heart College Aba.
Between 1979-1981 he held forth as Principal, Boys Secondary School Eziukwu Aba, the Sacred Heart Aba popularly known as (Sahaco). He brought sanity to the school and virtually called most of the students by either their first name or by their surname and this strategy by Late Sir M.N. Onwuma disarmed any student attempting to escape from his sight when caught at odd hours or exhibiting deviant behaviors. He was feared and admired by his students.
He was a man of discipline and was focused.
In 1981, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, President of Nigeria appointed him Public Complaints Commissioner for the then Imo State (now Abia and Imo State) and this was confirmed by General Muhammadu Buhari and this extended to the tenure of Ibrahim Babangida. He served out his tenure in 1988 and retired from active Public Service.
A man who succeeds in every other area of endeavour and fails in his family life has failed. The family is the cradle of the nation.
Sir Onwuma married pretty Miss Priscilla Ikonna of Abayi Obeakrika Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area in 1957.
The Christian life of Sir Moses Nwafor Onwuma is full. Apart from being the Treasurer of the Diocese of Aba for 13 years, he was also a member of the Synod, the Province of West Africa - before the Church of Nigeria was inaugurated in 1979.
A man who was elected to represent Nigeria in West Africa, must be a man of great religious commitment. He aspired and was licensed a Lay Reader in the Diocese of Aba and was investitured as a Knight of St. Christopher, in the Anglican Communion.
He was a member of the Advisory Committee on the International Evangelistic Outreach of the World Evangelism Inc. When the renowned Evangelist Morris Cerullo visited Aba in 1974, he was chosen as a worker in the crusade packaged by Rev. Dr. Mac Nwulu.
Who made Sir Moses Nwafor Onwuma what he was?
God who made the world, Israel taught the world to worship only one God, whose name is translated -YAHWEH or JEHOVAH.
Jehovah rules the world that He made. He is sovereign and does whatever He wishes to do. David summarized this view in 1Chronicles 29:10-15:
Therefore David blessed the Lord before all the assembly; and David said: Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You. For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, As were all our fathers; Our days on earth are as a shadow, And without hope.
This world belongs to God - and God is in charge of the entire Universe. There is nothing to doubt about this. “The earth is the Lord’s and its fullness thereof. The world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).
God knows every detail of all events happening anywhere. Nothing takes God by surprise.
In Brazil, there was a man, a Politician called Tancredo Neves. He said that if only his Party, the Social Democratic Party could give him five hundred thousand votes (500,000), not even God would stop him from being the President of Brazil. All that would make him President was 500,000 votes from his party men. He got over 500,000 votes during the election. He also won the Electoral College. He won the election and was to be sworn in as President of Brazil on 15th March 1985. On 14th March, he was dead, and his Vice Presidential Candidate Jose Sarney was sworn in as President.
You may say it was co-incidence but that co-incidence was “too coincidental”. God is the final voice, the final one who puts people into position.
In Nigeria, there was a man called MKO Abiola who contested and won election as President of Nigeria in 1994. That election was the acclaimed as the best, freest, and fairest election Nigeria ever had. Both International and National Observers confirmed this. It was a contest between Social Democratic Party with Abiola as Presidential Candidate, and the Nigeria Republican Convention with Bashir Tofa as Presidential Candidate.
MKO Abiola had money.
MKO Abiola had connections.
He was a Publisher; the Concord Newspaper was his. The Concord Airline was also his.
The most striking thing about that election was that MKO Abiola, a Muslim picked Baba Gana Kingibe, another Muslim as Vice Presidential Candidate. That was the first and perhaps the last time both the Presidential Candidate and Running Mate in Nigeria will be both Moslems; no one bothered. They won more votes in the Christian South than in the Muslim North.
Abiola won that election without doubt, but his own bosom friend, another Moslem, Ibrahim Babangida, the Military President of Nigeria cancelled the election.
Nigerians said ‘Yes’ - Abiola, you will be President of Nigeria. But God said ‘No’. There was a story going round that great man “who was conferred with 197 traditional titles by 68 different communities in Nigeria in response to the fact that his financial assistance resulted in the construction of 63 Secondary Schools, 121 Mosques and Churches, 41 libraries, 21 water projects in 24 States of Nigeria, and was Grand Patron to 149 Societies and Associations in Nigeria”. He won the election but was not President of Nigeria because:
…. He ordered the sinking of three million copies of the Bible in the high seas. The container load of the Holy Book was bound for Nigeria when he used his influence to seize and destroy them. The Christian world did not bat an eyelid. I think God is paying him and his family back.
Whether this was true or not as it cannot be ascertained, but that was the story.
Mohammed Haruna wrote:
Once, he said, the Bishop of Akure ‘led us into a procession in Akure that it was Abiola who went and sank a Ship that was bringing Bibles and Christian Hymn books to Nigeria. We demonstrated in Akure against Abiola in those days. Yet the same Bishop became one of the greatest advocates of Abiola after June 12 because he was Yoruba, so you should see what ethnicity does.
It is strange that a man who was said to have sponsored the building of Mosques and Churches went to the extent of destroying Bibles, if that story was true. However, no one had ever deliberately insulted God and got away with it.
John Lennon, one of the Beetles said in 1966, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and will be proved right, we are more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first - rock’n roll or Christianity”.
Fourteen years later, Lennon was shot dead by Mark David Chapman in New York City on December 8, 1980.
Brazilian Singer, Cazuza died at the age of 32 of Lung Cancer after blowing cigarette smoke at God during a show in Rio de Janeiro. While smoking his cigarette, he puffed out some smoke into the air and said, “God, that’s for you”.
Marilyn Monroe, an Actress told Billy Graham that she did not need Jesus - and died shortly after wards.
In Campinas Brazil, a group of friends were drunk and went to pick up a friend. The mother accompanied her to the car and was so worried about the drunkenness of her friends and she said to her daughter holding her hand, who was already seated in the car; “My daughter, go with God and may He protect you”. She responded; “Only if He (God) travels in the trunk, cause inside here… its already full”. Hours later, news came to her that they had a fatal accident in which everyone died, no one could recognize what type of car it had been but surprisingly, the trunk was intact. The Police said there was no way the trunk could have remained intact. To their surprise, inside the trunk was a crate of egg, none was broken. Jesus was in the trunk!!!
Christine Hewitt, (a Jamaican Journalist and Entertainer) said the Bible (Word of God) was the worst book ever written. In June 2006, she was found burnt beyond recognition in her motor vehicle.
The story of the Titanic is a good example of how we must not dare God. The best of British Engineers built the Ship Titanic - Sturdy, well built, rugged and every one had confidence in its ability to deliver. A Journalist asked one of the Engineers “How safe is this Ship?” The Engineer responded “Not even God can sink it”. The Ship sailed off the coast in 1912. This luxurious British Ship sank after sailing for only 2 hours 45minutes, killing 1,512 persons.
This God guides the history of all people and nations. This Jehovah is not a lifeless thing, or an idea, or nature or the law of Karma. God is a personality.
It is necessary at this point to relate briefly how the “charge” came into my life. It was in January 1971 through the ministry of the Scripture Union. My wife Beatrice had her own experience in 1972. We got married in 1975. This experience transformed my life - I placed my life into the Hand of Jesus Christ, God’s Only Begotten Son. I still thank God today and I continue to wonder why and how He called me to Himself at the age of 23.
I invited Jesus Christ into my life thus, I suppose: Lord Jesus Christ, I know I am a sinner and I have been controlling and running my own life. In many ways I have sinned against You and done those things You asked me not to do. I am therefore asking You earnestly to come into my life, let Your Holy Spirit take overall control of my life. I can do nothing on my own, but through You and by You. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I was filled with the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues in 1973. Ever since, God has kept me going. There had been many temptations, trials, etc. I was debased, mocked, despised and insulted.
Even as a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from the University known as best in Engineering at that time, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, things seem not to be moving because I refused to do shady things. Those I had taught in School were “making it”. I seemed to be stagnant.
I must thank my wife Beatrice, who borne all the brunt. Very close relations were accusing her of not helping me “make it”. But she was steadfast. As I said during the 40th Anniversary of our marriage, if there is any one person who would make heaven, it is Beatrice. Both of us were praying, not to “make it” but simply to survive. We would fast, and pray. Our classmates and friends would invite us to dedicate their personal buildings and cars, which I did willingly without any grudge.
But when it was God’s time, no one could stop it. That is why when we preach we do so with zeal. If anyone else abandons this Jehovah God, my wife and I will never - all by His grace.
As I used to say:
I was born by grace,
I survived by grace,
I live by grace,
I will die by grace.
The God, Jehovah, the God of Israel is the God of this Universe. He opens the door and no one can shut. He shuts the door and no one can open. He dwells in Heaven and uses the earth as His footstool.
He is He who lives forever and forever,
He who was, who is, and who is to come.
He who has no competitor nor comparison.
He who has no limitations.
He who neither slumbers nor sleeps.
He who kills and makes alive.
He who brings down to the grave and brings up.
He who makes the poor rich, and the rich poor.
He who brings low and lifts up.
He who lifts up the poor from the dust bin and makes them sit with Princes.
He who lifts beggars from the ash heap and sets them among princes.
He who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.
My beloved listeners, the life of Sir Moses Okafor Onwuma was initiated, sustained and blessed by this same God. God who sent His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ, The King of kings and Lord of lords, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last and the Holy One of Israel, to die for our sins, and was raised from the dead on the third day. This God is worthy of our worship and praise. We are safe if we ask Him to direct and control our lives.
Now unto Him Who is able to keep us from falling and to present as faultless before the Presence of His Exceeding joy,
To God Our Saviour, Who alone is wise Be Glory and Majesty, Dominion and Power, Both now and Forever, Amen.
1. Diocese of Niger Delta North (2013) Synod Presidential Address/Bishop’s charge -
2. Province of Niger Delta (2016) Archbishop’s Opening Remarks - Ignatius Kattey
3. Onwuma, Chief Odoziaku Enyinna Onwuma.
Biography: The Sunrise and Sunset of Sir Moses Nwafor Onwuma. Tribute by M.N. Onwuma Family.
4. Duru Ephraim - Text Messages.