Aged 77, today marks his seventh year as retired Bishop of Egba Anglican Diocese, Ogun State. Right Reverend Matthew Oluwaremilekun Owadayo, who has been in the ministry for over 50 years, shares his experience in retirement and thoughts on nation building with RITA OKONOBOH. Excerpts:
Having retired for seven years, what do you miss about being in active ministry?
When a bishop retires, he retires into a sort of solitary life, although, it is not totally so with me. I receive invitations to other dioceses to feature at events. I also present public speeches at clergy schools and religious seminars. Retirement has, however, robbed me of the fellowship I used to have with other bishops. I have also had the opportunity of leading retreat for the bishops. Retirement gives me the opportunity, even though I miss many people, to have quiet time to myself and be more resourceful. I am also engaged in research compared to before.
Why did you decide to write an autobiography when you retired?
Life is a journey and I felt that having gone this far through the grace of God, I can leave part of my experiences to share with other people in form of a book. I documented my challenges and general experiences and I think that people can learn from this sort of thing. I have passed through scarcity and God has used people to support me. People can learn from my experiences and they can find encouragement, especially with how God has intervened in my life.
You have been in the ministry for over 50 years. Would you say Christianity has made the necessary impact in changing Nigeria for the better?
The church has really tried but the people are not yielding enough. That is, people are not putting into practice what they hear on the pulpit. Jesus said we should not only be hearers but also doers of the word. Even Christians in prominent positions have lost their integrity and have sold themselves off. However, there are some who have refused to soil their hands. The problem is that we are only hearers and not doers of the word.
You stated seven years ago that Nigeria needs a rebirth. Now it’s been over one year that there has been a change in administration. Would you say you are satisfied with how things are going?
I would say that the present administration’s determination to fight corruption is commendable. Where there is corruption, people cannot develop according to the will of God. Growth will be stunted. The Bible says that any nation that is corrupt is a nation that is not ready to develop. If we believe that God exists, we must fear him, because the consequences of our corrupt actions are destructive. We are destroying our image by being corrupt. We should join hands to support the fight against corruption. Proverbs 34 states that a nation built on corruption can never see peace, happiness and joy.
What is your message for leaders and the Christian community?
We are birds of passage. God is eternal. We should know that our time on earth is limited and during that time, we must lay good examples for people to learn from and know that we should obey God. We must fear God and love our neighbours. No time is permanent. If we love one another, we will have good accounts to give to God. Righteousness exalts a nation. Corruption brings ridicule.