As the 2023 general elections draw nearer, a popular Lagos-based cleric has said that Nigeria, the most populous black nation in sub-Saharan Africa, will experience a great turnaround that will place the country and its citizens on the path of positive change never seen before in its chequered history.
He, however, insisted that the much desired positive change in Nigeria’s socio-economic and political spheres depended largely on the willingness of the elites and political class to ensure that the country achieves true democracy, without which peace, development, justice and equity would elude the country.
Founder and Senior Pastor of Christ Army Jesus Ministry in Lagos, Pastor Eric Okechukwu, stated this while speaking to The Trumpet on the political situation of the country and the need for Nigerians to snatch the moment by doing the right things to elect credible leaders in the upcoming general elections.
“The Nation Nigeria is on the verge of change that would usher the country into a completely new era. That change is imminent and auspicious. As Chairman Mao once said, “If the people no longer fear your power, it is because another power is on its way and I say prophetically that another power is almost upon us. It will be to the praise and glory of Almighty God,” he stated.
Reviewing the state of the nation he further observed: “Poor governance is at the root of most of our national problems and challenges. The rise of high-profile kidnappings, terrorist attacks, crime and criminality of all shades are directly related to the failure of governance in Nigeria and unless the ruling elite changes the paradigm and embrace purposeful governance, things will not change for the better as expected.
“Our leaders should also do away with the habit of bandying economic indices of positive growth that cannot be directly related to the mass poverty and dysfunctional realities on ground. We must begin to close the gap between rhetoric and genuine service delivery.”
He argued that the pursuit of true democracy, equity and justice were sine qua non for peace and development in any modern society. The pastor called on President Muhammadu Buhari to show strong leadership expected of a president, whose country is embroiled in what he described as ‘very complex socio-political and economic crisis.’
“We also expect all Nigerians to play their part. We must eschew bitterness and embrace meaningful dialogue to resolve our differences,” he said, adding that the key challenges facing Nigeria are insecurity, corruption and how to rehabilitate collapsed infrastructure across the country.
He predicted that the 2023 election will come and go, he said if there are no forms of rigging the best candidate will win we all know by now, who he is, but if the political elites refuse to accept the results of the elections, a strange government will come to rectify the situation in the country, which we are not praying for in Nigeria for now. He prayed for peaceful elections and a smooth transition to another government.
In 1983, the servant of God came into the valley of decision whether to obey the deep impression God was putting on him to go and expand His evangelical work or be afraid of offending man and spirit.
He said he struggled with the situation for some time until he answered the call of God upon his life. And as of 1983 when he gave his life to Jesus Christ at the Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor Okechukwu never wanted to be a servant of God, because his family worshipped a deity known as Opara-Ogu, “Otamiri” water deity and his family was the head of the deities.
So when the call of God started manifesting in his life he thought it was impossible for a man of such background to serve an ‘unknown’ God, as according to him, “there was a time in the entire Ihiagwa Community when you will not see a single Church or a pastor by name due to the water goddess “Otamiri.
“In short she (the water goddess) was very powerful and greatly feared by the entire community, far and near. People usually came to consult Otamiri for various reasons, ranging from protection to fruitfulness, worldly powers and wealth, as they considered the deity their god at the time.
Pastor Eric Okechukwu Duben was born to the family of Mr and Mrs Okechukwu Duben on November 3, 1968, in Ihiagwa Community in Owerri West Local Government of Imo State. He attended Ihiagwa Community Central Primary School and Ihiagwa Community Secondary School, after which he migrated to Lagos where he later gained admission in 1997 to study History and Strategic Studies at the University of Lagos. Thereafter, he obtained a Master’s Degree in History at the Lagos State University (LASU).
The first son of six children, he grew up without a mother as she died in 1974 and was raised by his stepmother. His father, who worked at UTC as an Engineer, hardly visited home, but sometimes came home only once a year.
According to Okechukwu, whose ministry has evolved into a centre for the care and education of youths, assisting widows and orphans, paying house rents and hospital bills, pastors are the masterpiece of workmanship of God, as their work remains the best.
He listed the major challenges as a pastor as lack of amenities and resources to assist widows, the less- privileged and the poor in his environs and society at large, assuring: “We have been trying to meet up with the demands for the people until the economic situation in Nigeria worsened, but we will continue to do our best by God’s grace.”
Pastor Okechukwu, who has travelled widely around the world evangelising and propagating the gospel of God, having visited South Africa, the Gambia, Kenya, Tanzania, United Kingdom and the Caribbean countries, confirmed that he had been winning souls for Christ, whom he struggled to accept many years ago because he wished to be either a journalist, lawyer or a mafia.
A member of the Christ Army Jesus Ministry for the past seven years in the Ushering Department, Rita Nwachukwu, said Pastor Okechukwu is a sincere, humble and good listener, among other positive attributes.
She also pointed out that Pastor Okechukwu’s wife, Reverend (Mrs.) Eric Okechukwu is a disciplined, great listener and a great assistant in the ministry, whom he met and got married during his ‘wilderness’ experience when he began his ministry under a tree, adding: “She was an unbeliever then, but she is on fire for Christ presently. She is now a prophetess and a firebrand soul winner.”
Another male member of the church in the past 10 years, Brother Kenneth Iheanacho, described Pastor Okechukwu as “the Elisha of our time. A direct man of God, Pastor Okechukwu, whose ministry became a full church in 2001, having been funded by members, who were liberated through God’s gift and calling upon his life, now boasts of no fewer than 1,000 members and still counting.”
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