The Bishop of Oke-Osun Diocese, Anglican Communion, Right Reverend Foluso Taiwo, is a former Director of Communication of the church. In this interview by SEYI SOKOYA, he speaks about his experience serving two primates and other national issues.
How has the experience been since you assumed duty as the bishop of Oke-Osun?
I was elected as the bishop of the diocese of Oke-Osun on August 21, 2019 at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of House of Bishops, the Hebrew International in Delta State. I was later confirmed after 14 days of notification in case if people would kick against it or not approve of my election. After the confirmation of my election, I was consecrated as a bishop on September 24, 2019 in St. Peter’s Church, Asaba, Delta State, along with five other bishops elected on the same day. After the consecration, I was enthroned Bishop of Oke-Osun Anglican Diocese on November 25, 2019. Since then, we have put missionaries in motion. We started work and we are still working.
How do you intend to use your wealth of experience as the immediate past Director of Communication of the Anglican Communion to transform your present position?
For so many years I was the Director of Communication for the entire church, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion of 167 dioceses in Nigeria and the diaspora; I am replicating what God used us to do there at the national level in Oke-Osun presently. I have set up, now, the department of communication in my diocese with the latest gadgets and we know that by the grace of God, before we finish our tenure, we will have a community radio in Oke-Osun Diocese. That is to tell you that as a journalist – I qualified as a journalist in 1981 – I was the first to attend the college of journalism, at Adeyemo Alakija Avenue on Victoria Island, Lagos, before it was moved to Ikeja.
We have come to Oke-Osun with total transformation agenda and that is why the theme of our just concluded synod was entitled ‘God of Great Transformation’ John 11:44. Efforts are ongoing to transform Oke-Osun. The zone is made up of six local governments and one local council. Lots of projects, including sachet, bottled water and juice companies are ongoing. On the day of my enthronement, we opened a medical centre and it has impacted greatly to the community and its environs.
Friends in World Health Organisation (WHO) also supported us with drugs. It is a selfless service. The medical centre at Ileasoro is managed priests experts and my sister leads the nurses. We have pharmacists who are priests. We know that there is poverty in the land and we are doing everything to touch lives, including non-Christians. It will interest you to know that from November 25, more than 5000 patients have been treated and record shows that there are more Muslims than Christians that attend the medical centre. The medical centre is going to metamorphose into Anglican Christian Hospital soonest. The whole of Gbongan has no hospital. There is no federal, state or local government presence either. We are going to build it; we have already acquired five acres of land. We are starting with a 50-bed hospital. We pray to God that everything that we are doing will outlive us so that when we retire, it will still be there. Look at Seventh-day Adventist in Ife, Jaleyemi Hospital, the Catholic hospital, so what stops from building our own?
How was it like leaving your juicy position for responsibility in a remote area?
There is nothing as good as coming to serve your people. I am a bonafide son of the soil of the diocese of Oke-Osun. My mother is from Ode-Omu and my father is from Orile-Owu, the origin of 32 Owu settlements in Nigeria and in the diaspora. Also, my Kehinde married from here. I was elated. No one will want to leave Abuja, but then, because I want to serve the people and humanity, I jumped at it, I wrote my letter of acceptance immediately and I want to thank God for the sufficient grace on me.
You served two primates as the director of communication. How was the experience like?
Yes, I served two primates, Papa Akinola and Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh. I learnt a lot from Papa Akinola. He was a disciplinarian and very strict. He finished his tenure. Then the Most Reverend Okoh came in; I served him too, but at a point I told God, I don’t want this man to leave me here and God heard me.
Why such plea to God; was the relationship not cordial?
No that. Don’t forget the Bible says you can desire the position of a bishop. I did not go hobnobbing, fighting and jostling for it. At a stage when you have been serving, you will want to move forward. They are good leaders and their good works are speaking for them.
The Church has witnessed a great challenge since the beginning of the year. How do you feel about this as a cleric?
If you see what is happening in Nigeria today, you will feel sad. Our people are being slaughtered. The former primate and I travelled and traversed the whole country trying to bring life to people who have become refugees in their own country. We supported the IDPs with money and truckload of foods each time we visit. But my observation about the whole thing is that the IDPs should be better treated because they have become refugees in their own country. They are being molested, raped and have no hope. I thought the government would have resettled them if they were on top of the situation as they claimed. When you get to Kafanchan in Southern Kaduna, you will thank God for peace here. Killings over there are indescribable.
If you look at how they kill and molest Christians, call it any name – whether internal or external – lives are being lost on a daily basis. Our bishop there escaped death by a whisker. I am sure he must be hiding somewhere now so that he can live and tell the story. We traversed the whole place to alleviate the suffering of our people but the moment we leave the place, trouble erupts again in wider dimension. I pray that God almighty will help us. We went as far as Yola, to all IDPs, if you want to ask me, I will tell you that the North-East areas are predominantly Christian area and the Boko Haram people, I am not saying they are not killing Muslims too, in fact, they are killing indiscriminately.
Will you say you are fulfilled in your spiritual journey as you are now a bishop of a diocese?
Yes and no. I have done a lot. You know I have journalism background – broadcast journalism. I worked my heart out for the government that I served in Lagos, Oyo and Osun, before I was ordained. I was working for Osun State broadcasting corporation at the same time working for the church where they placed me at St Andrew’s Oke Baale, Osogbo, for seven years. Now, I have worked, I must say this, it is God, I have worked, spent my energy and my everything and when I entered into priesthood too, I just thank God that He called me at the right time. I am not fulfilled yet until all these programmes that we have set before God are completed.
It is observed that you have a lot of responsibilities aside ministerial work in this geographical location. Do you also see yourself as a community leader?
A bishop who has the interest of his community at heart is a community leader because the government cannot do it alone. We walk hand in hand with the government and that was in the days of our fathers. When Christianity was brought, it was with laudable programmes such as hospitals, schools and other social amenities. They worked together in collaboration with the government and that is what we are doing. I am going to visit the state governor very soon; we are going to dialogue on how to reduce the rate of unemployment in the state.
What is your message for the government?
Nigeria desires truthful and committed leaders. They should be committed totally. My message is that the three tiers of government should be committed. They should be resolute that they will transform and make Nigeria a better place. We have the resources, even untapped resources. Let us be focused and by the idea of great transformation. Let there be transformation in Nigeria and the Church at large.
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