Then there was Fidelis Oyakhilome: a policeman who was variously Military Administrator of River State and Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency. Because of his alleged lascivious liaison with a certain Lagos socialite, Jennifer Madike, he was found to be complicit in some hefty official indiscretions that ultimately enabled his ignominious ouster from NDLEA. And I must add that he was quite a handsome dude!
He is simply known as Pastor Chris but his full names are Christian Oyakhilome. He shares the same vocation with the first Oyakhilome and is as good looking as the second; if not more. For as long as I can recall, his pretty and photogenic missus, Anita has been his ever-present partner in ministry. Apart from his name, there were other reasons that endeared him to me.
One: he was young and focused, and for a nation bogged down by a leadership deficit coloured with a gerontocratic hue, that counted for much. Two: the object of his focus was the gospel; a preference I was equally passionate about. It is my settled opinion that preachers play a most important and critical role in society. We can very easily dispose of politicians but not so for preachers. Three: he studied Architecture like I once did so I can place his analytical prowess.
Pastor Chris and his ilk make you believe some were born under klieg lights and specifically fitted for the big stage. The way he glides around the dais, you get this sneaky feeling that if he wasn’t a preacher, he would still have wound up on some platform peddling and promoting something else.
To attract and retain the confidence and admiration of people is no mean task. In that regard, he has done extremely well. He has taken both the gospel and our country’s name to corners of the earth where our over-rewarded leaders will never know. If I had to recommend him for National Honours, it will be something between what Dangote sports and our President’s.
I do not agree with everything Pastor Chris says or his sometimes bizarre homiletics. As a writer and gospel minister with over three decades under my belt, it couldn’t have been otherwise. If every preacher agreed in to-to with what every other preacher was doing or saying, that would be blind conformity. Incidentally, what is sine qua non for the prosperity of the gospel enterprise is unity, not conformity. So long as your motivation is to publish Christ, you are family and I’m your dependable ally.
With Pastor Chris, there was just one major detail I was never comfortable with: the fact of living apart from his wife Anita and their two daughters. From the gamut of Scriptural injunctions, one’s qualification for public ministry is predicated on successful family life; a fact that is impossible to ascertain in Chris’ situation. Men and women who continue to be dogged by persistent personal and familial failings automatically disqualify themselves from public ministry.
Anita Oyakhilome has stated that it has been 16 years she and her daughters were shipped off to the United Kingdom. I believe it was 16 years ago their union actually began to unravel. That was when those with genuine interest in the health of their marriage should have started raising the alarm. We should have prayed and pleaded, harassed, harangued, and if possible, threatened. The end would have more than justified the means. The great apostle Paul said he had become all things to all men all in a bid to save some. In this matter, we should have aped Paul.
In their globally acclaimed devotional, Rhapsody of Realities, Anita and Chris appear inseparable. It was designed to be so and we were all duty bound to ensure it remained so in every sense. But we mostly minded our business; keeping mum by rationalizing that it was after all their private affair. The Good Book enjoins us never to judge anyone; but by wrongly equating our responsibility to confront obvious error with judging, a trickle has by default swelled to a dangerous deluge. We equivocated – in our notoriously laissez-faire manner – that because they happened to be choice servants of God, he would solely enable them overcome their challenges.
Now it turns out the matter isn’t so private after all and God had actually expected us all to weigh in and save the day.
Unfortunately, lawyers are already calling the shots and they must be itching for the usual legal razzmatazz to be inaugurated. Feelers from both Anita and Chris suggest the situation is beyond redemption.
I beg to vehemently disagree. In an atmosphere of miracles, everything positive is possible; least of which are redemption and full reconciliation. Of all people, Anita and Chris should know that. Now is the time for every stakeholder to go to work. No, I take that back. It is actually war: war against the principalities and powers of separation and divorce.
Let all prayers warriors prepare to bruise their knees supplicating to heaven to save the union of Anita and Chris. For all of God’s generals in Nigeria, this is one battle that must be won. Deliverance ministers have been handed a carte blanche to prove the efficacy of the anointing by breaking the yoke of the devils that have been making evil suggestions to this wonderful gospel couple. If I could get away with it, I would abduct the lawyers from both sides just to stall any trial.
Let’s beg them or beg those who can beg them to give themselves another chance. They should do it for God’s sake and the gospel’s that has enabled them to prominence and significance. They should also think of their daughters, Sharon and Charlyn who cannot imagine Mummy and Daddy arriving their weddings from different locations. They should factor in the feelings of millions of Believers’ LoveWorld members and admirers scattered around the globe. And they cannot be unmindful of the odium that will be visited on the Church if they were to carry through with their plans.
So if you share my concern and you have an airplane, a fast-moving car, a slow-throttling truck, a tricycle, a motorcycle, a bicycle, animal transport or functional legs, this is time to take off to do the needful. It seems one hell of a race against time is already upon us.
If we sit by and allow Anita and Chris Oyakhilome become history, the taunt will be on us – every one of us. And it will be recorded against us that under our watch, this parody of realities was permitted to become a permanent feature.
OLUGU OLUGU ORJI mnia