Fiery cleric, notable critic, celebrated columnist and ex-banker, Solomon Abioye tells his life story to
MOST men of God always have a tough background, were you a tough kid in the neighbourhood?
No, I was not. I’ve been the easy-going type of person since my childhood and I thank God, I want to believe I still am.
Between your father and mother, who spanked you more?
That’s my father. The man had this hydra-headed stick called pasan, kept inside his sitting room. Being the simple type, I always feared the rod and the moment he noticed this, he used to talk sense into me. I remember one day, he scolded me to the point that I burst into tears. My mother had run into the sitting room and saw what was happening. She was fond of struggling with her children as if you were both fighting and no matter how strong you were, she would bring you down, sit on your stomach and start scolding you: “I’m your mother. I gave birth to you. You can’t kill me.” Knowing this of the two, I would go my way. I can’t really say there was a particular time I received a memorable flogging from any of them.
Beyond the normal activities in your formative years, what were the major events that shaped your life while growing up?
School cultural groups also helped in shaping my formative years, especially during end of sessions. You also had the debate groups, end of vacation travels to my father’s other village in Ikoyi area of the present Osun State where we engaged in farming. I also observed spiritual exercises in my aunty’s church in Ibadan, where we usually gathered to tell tales in the night by villagers.
There must be those who shaped your life, what exactly did they do for you?
Mention must be made of my father, the late Pa Samuel Korede Abioye and my mother, Mrs. Abigail Oyenihun Abioye. Also, my friend, Bukola Popoola, who would not see me go wayward; my late brother, Moses Gbolagade Abioye, Prophet Kayode Abiara through whose ministry I became born again. He also sponsored my Bible course; Pastor Joseph Adelakun, who God used for me when poverty was biting me; Funmilayo Abioye, my younger brother’s wife who contributed to my first trip to the United Kingdom and others too numerous to mention.
Between your father and mother, who would you entrust with a billion naira investment and why?
If it was before I became a Christian, I would say my mother. But today, I would say both of them because they played major roles in making me who I am today.
Some men of God in the Bible like Solomon and Isaac were romantic, why do today’s spiritual fathers find it difficult to be openly romantic?
I may not be able to speak for other spiritual fathers, but it depends on the atmosphere and environment I find myself. So I could be openly romantic with my wife while sometimes I’m a closet lover. For example, when we are in a congregation where you have diverse sets of people with different marital issues, you have to be careful, especially when you consider the fact that some could have lost their spouses and some are not fortunate enough to get a husband or wife. Also, we have to consider the young ones around us so that we don’t introduce them to a promiscuous life. I want to think that spiritual fathers contributed to the life being lived by the youth in our nation today through open romance. They do it to the point of erecting billboards and signposts with photos bearing spouses hugging and embracing each other. It’s all nonsense!
Was it love at first sight for you when you met mummy?
No, not at all. We started our friendship from a church, Christ Apostolic Church, Agbala Itura, Odo Oba, in Ibadan. When the time came to get married, I prayed. I saw her among the Sunday school teachers, which I presided over, but I couldn’t talk to her immediately because I was shy. I started looking for ways to engage her in discussion. When the opportunity finally came, she didn’t immediately agree but when she finally did, the relationship started until we got married.
Life is fraught with angers, any near-death experience?
A lot of near-death experiences which I cannot count, especially in the early part of my ministry when I would travel to Ilesa, Ikoyi, Ede mountains in Osun State or Olorunkole in Ibadan, Oyo State. Sometimes, I might not be able to secure a transport in time either as a result of high fare or any other reason and I would be travelling on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway when it was known for robbery attacks of which a lot of people fell victims and were either killed or maimed, but God had always seen me through. For example, one night around 12 midnight, we were close to Berger when a motor rim was thrown and it hit a car which I boarded from Ibadan but glory to God, the driver managed to overcome the situation and we landed safely and started praising God. Also, year 2000 when I travelled to Minna in Niger State in company with a friend to visit the late Administrator Oduoye. We were already five minutes to Minna when the driver lost control and our bus skidded off the road and hit a large billboard. It tumbled in the process. Some found themselves in the pool of their blood or were soaked in blood, though we landed in the general hospital, not even a small injury was found on my body. From that night, I started moving about and we came back to Lagos the following day. Another one was when I was coming back from London to Lagos, Nigeria in 2016 aboard a Kenya Airways plane. We were getting ready to land when the tide arose midair. People were screaming, shouting and doing all sorts of things when the aircraft started going up and down. It was really a horrible experience but I just found myself speaking in tongues and at the end of the day, we landed safely and everybody started thanking and praising God. To God be all the glory for His salvation.
You always speak your mind. Has your outspoken attitude ever got you into any kind of trouble, whether with government or within the ministry?
Except for people who always call me or send text messages, I have not got into problem or trouble with the government. It has rather paid off and people have benefited through it. For example, during Raji Fashola’s tenure as the governor of Lagos State when I saw the shoddy way he was handling a canal project in my area, I started hammering him in the newspaper making him realise that was not how things were being handled in developed countries. This gingered him and his government to come back to the project and complete it after abandoning it for a long time. His government even did it more than people expected and everyone in my area started appreciating my role. Also, in the ministry, while a lot of people have always shown their unhappiness, a lot of people have always given me a pat on the back for my outspoken attitude, home and abroad.
What are public misperceptions about you sir? Or what do people not know about you?
The public perception of me is not any different from that of the home front. For example, I’m a columnist in a Yoruba newspaper magazine called ‘Alariya Oodua,’ a weekly newsreel. In it, I speak on a lot of misgivings and crazy things happening in Nigeria, especially the way our government officials both at the federal and state levels are handling the affairs of our nation which has got us nowhere. We’re still backward as a nation at nearly 60 years of independence. I’m not happy at all because of the corruption, embezzlement and shoddy way our leaders are managing our country whereby up until today, we cannot boast of 24 hours of electricity supply, major roads are still not pliable, no pipe-borne water, we’re surrounded by viruses from dirty gutters, mosquitoes, dirty currencies, etc. Not only coronavirus, no jobs, there’s always threat to life and property, youths are found in most corners smoking marijuana with nobody to caution or tame them. The list goes on and on. How can any right-thinking or genuinely called minister of God close eyes to these or keep quiet? So, a lot of people would read my column and call my prayer line and give me kudos for speaking the truth but others would call or send text asking,”why are you doing this?” They see me as too hard, not knowing that behind all they’re reading, is a soft and simple man of God.
Men of God are supposed to be without vices, but are there those things your wife is trying to change in you and why? Also there are daughters of Jezebel out there. How regularly do you encounter them and what do you do to rid them of the demon possessing them?
Indeed, men of God are supposed to be without vices. But what is a vice anyway? To my understanding, a vice is a sin or in another way, flaw. Going by this understanding, I will answer with the scripture in 1 John 1 verse 8 which says “if we say we have no word, flaw or mistake, we deceive ourselves.” Some churches claim perfection, but we must understand that so long we’re in this world where we live with Satan around us, we can be prompted to make mistakes, but not intentionally as some men of God are doing today, burying human beings in the altar claiming it’s the devil that pushed them. But basically, everyone has one thing or the other according to that Bible reference, but it didn’t stop there, verse 9 says “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But to come back to your question, I’m someone who has a hard stance on abnormal behaviours. I can’t see evil or bad and keep quiet or close my mouth. But as you know women, if you’re someone like this, you’ll be labelled or tagged “a no nonsense man,” which I like anyway. She will often say “your problem is too much.” But I thank God, it paid off for me later when I started visiting other countries. I’m able to mix with people and relate with them on conventional level without any quarrel. My spouse is also seeing results today when she also started having the same experience and had to confess “so this man has been saying the right thing after all.” And also, it is true, there are daughters of Jezebel everywhere, but a lot of times, when people listen to my message and know the stuff I’m made of and my stance onto a lot of things, that keeps them away from messing up around me and I show them the word of God and pray for them. For example, very many years ago, a friend’s wife who professed to know the Lord came to me and said “why do you normally preach on adultery and fornication? Is there no other message or topic in the Bible?” That’s how she started. She tried all she could to make me lie with her, I refused with the help of the Holy Spirit. It’s a long story. She later voiced out and said, “oh, your wife has hypnotised you not to have fun with another woman.” Yet I was relating with the family until there was a gap in the relationship due to my itineraries.
What are your fond memories of life so far, particularly joyous moments that aren’t easily erasable?
In the first instance, I am someone who doesn’t care about many things. Secondly, I believe that any experience you have in life, there’s no big deal to it, it’s your own share, either positive or negative. But I’ll mention two. One, the unforgettable day I received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. Then I was a member of a church in Ibadan – C A C, Agbala Itura. I had heard a lot of sermons on this third person of the Trinity, read lots of books about Him and had desired to have an encounter with Him with the evidence of speaking in tongues. But much as I tried anytime we were asked to pray and sing in the church or I went for prayers on the mountain, personal or group prayers, it became a difficult task for me and yet I would see people in most congregations I went for prayers speaking in tongues. I then started questioning God asking why was it difficult for me to receive the Holy Spirit. Finding no one to answer my question, I therefore concluded that perhaps those people I used to see in prayer meetings speaking in tongues might either be mimicking it or doing it for the fun of it or for a show-off. But I didn’t stop; the thirst continued in me to the point that sometimes I would refuse to eat my dinner. As this hunger and thirst continued to the point of even feigning sickness, I decided I would give it another trial before I would finally give up. And so, one lovely evening, I went for a Wednesday prayer service and we were asked to invite the Holy Spirit again by praying and singing. Mind you, I was a banker then, working with the First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Loans and Advances department, Dugbe, Ibadan. So, that evening, I decided I would stay at the back of the congregation, which I did. As we were singing non-stop, I felt my hands and body especially tongue become uncontrollable. Behold, I had started speaking in tongues to the point that when the bell was jingled for people to stop, I and some people couldn’t stop in time. When I finally did, I thought to myself “wow, is that it?” Later as the experience was leaving me, I became unhappy with myself again, thinking maybe I had feigned the experience. I got home, refused to eat and instead of sleeping in bed, I said I would punish myself by sleeping on the carpet. In that mood, I lay on the carpet and fell back to sleep. Behold, I found myself in a dream where I was speaking in tongues and I did it even into real life when I started praising God. Then I concluded, so this experience is true and real? The joy was just too much in the morning.
Another fond memory didn’t come until 23rd September, 2003 when I first had the opportunity of leaving Nigeria for London. Prior to that time, though I had started doing well as a gospel minister, a lot of fellow ministers who ought to be close pals used to see me as inferior to them, but I had placed my hopes on God until finally a woman, Alhaja Bakare who was introduced to me by one Mrs. Jadesola Bakare for prayers connected me with her cousin, Tejumade Shitta-Bey in London. After some time, this lady sent me an invitation letter which I used in processing the visa. To God be the glory, the visa was granted. Thank God for my immediate younger brother who God used to raise money for me to buy the ticket as I couldn’t get money for complete three months out of the six months visa. It was a harrowing experience midway. But thank God when I finally procured the ticket and set for the trip on that Sunday morning, it was so exciting as I boarded the flight and forgot the miseries and ridiculous life of the past.
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
COVID-19: Dokpesi, Daughter-In-Law, Six Other Family Members Test Positive
The founder of DAAR Communications Plc, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi and his daughter-in-law along with six members of his family have tested positive for coronavirus. This is coming three days after his son and Chairman of the board of the company, Raymond Dokpesi Jnr, also tested positive for the virus… Read full story
Kano And The Mad Woman Of Omu-Ijelu
Not long ago, the funny character, who presides over the affairs of Kano State as the governor, Umar Ganduje, raised the alarm that the Federal Government had literarily abandoned the state in its quest to combat the rampaging Coronavirus epidemic… Read full story
Lagos Discharges Polish, Filipino, 24 Nigerians After Testing Negative For Coronavirus
Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Friday announced that 26 more patients have been discharged from isolation centres in the state having tested negative twice consecutively to coronavirus. He said those discharged included 14 males and 12 females, including two foreign nationals – a Polish and a Filipino… Read full story
WHO To Identify Animal Source Of COVID-19 ― Director-General
Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General, World Health Organisation (WHO), said the agency will work with relevant organisations to identify the animal source of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) based on Emergency Committee recommendations… Read full story
COVID-19: Workers Won’t Be Retrenched Without Following Due Process, Says Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has told workers that despite the expected downturn in the nation’s economy owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Government will ensure that workers won’t be retrenched without due process. Seeking to allay the fears of workers for their jobs, which has heightened recently… Read full story
COVID-19: Osun Monarchs Want Govt To Explore Herbal Medicine
SOME traditional rulers in Osun State have charged their subjects to abide by all the precautionary measures announced by the World Health Organization (WHO), Federal Government and health experts in the state so as to stay safe against the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic in the country… Read full story
Nigeria COVID-19 Survivor: ‘An Experience I Don’t Wish On Anyone’
It feels great to have survived COVID-19. If you see the data of people who have passed away due to the virus, they are alarming. I’m really grateful to be alive but also grateful for the experience as I am able to share with people that COVID-19 is not a hoax like many people may believe in Nigeria… Read full story
Our Fears Living Close To Isolation Centres —Residents •Why we can’t relocate you —Govt
Lagos, which has the highest number of patients with COVID-19 infection, understandably has the highest number of isolation centres, topping four as of the last count. While two have been in use and frequently in news, two new ones located at Landmark Exhibition Centre in Victoria Island and Gbagada Hospital are… Read full story
Loss Of Smell May Suggest Milder COVID-19, Study Finds
New research suggests that loss of smell as a symptom of COVID-19 may indicate a mild case of the disease. A new study has found that loss of smell, which is a reported symptom of COVID-19, may indicate that a person will experience a milder case of the disease… Read full story
Covid19- And The Rising Global Challenge
It would not be an exaggeration to aver that Covid 19 has endangered human race globally in such a manner that is novel. Death tolls in countries like China, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Iran and others are rattling and quaking the whole world and make many to be having the fear that the globe is on the… Read full story