Revd Dr Samson Olasupo Adeniyi Ayokunle has been in the helms of the affairs as the President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention in the last ten years. In 2016, he became the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria. Having served 2 terms as the President of the Convention, he is set to relinquish the office by June 1st for another person who will be announced at the Convention-in-Session taking place at the Baptist International Convention Centre (BICC) on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway from this Saturday, April 24, 2021.
Our correspondents, Abolade Adewale and Kayode Awojobi, were a part of an interview session with him, where he spoke about the security situation of the country, the theme for the convention amongst others. Herein below is the excerpt-
NEWSWINGS: Sir, is there anything you would want President Muhammadu Buhari to do to eradicate all this banditry, kidnapping, and others?
DR SUPO AYOKUNLE: My own wish is that I don’t want him to be going abroad again for medical treatment, he should provide the facilities here in Nigeria, the ones in those places weren’t provided by angels, they were provided by human beings, who turned around their countries. If we have one well-equipped researched-based hospital in Nigeria that is a starting point why can’t we do it? Do we have to be more educated to have this things in place in our country? It is a sheer waste of money to embark always-on medical tourism? If the health of the President has to depend on another country, then, nobody is safe, we need to do something about that very urgently because it is very shameful. How many heads of Nations come to our country for medical attention, they provide for themselves. If he has to travel on rare occasions, that is good but for the President to be going every year, if everybody should have the same health condition that the President has and does not have the state backing that the President has, that person will die in the country, which is very bad.
NEWSWINGS: Your tenure will soon come to an end as the President of Nigerian Baptist Convention, what would you like to be remembered for as this tenure is coming to an end?
DR SUPO AYOKUNLE: Well, the tenure will come to an end on the 1st of June by the grace of God and a succession plan is already in place. During this convention, the person that will take over from me by June will be announced to the general public. I want to be remembered for doing my best, to reposition the Nigerian Baptist Convention. Whatever I might have achieved is by the grace of God, Paul may plant Apollo may water but if God doesn’t grant it, it is vanity upon vanity.
We have never had a General camp, the women has their own, some conferences has theirs too, but as a National body, we have never had one but this will be the first time we’ll be together on a 23.5 hectares of land with worship auditorium of 37,000 seats for us to be able to do our annual convention, it is like a mini city where we have a section like Aaron’s rod where people build their houses, we have hospitals, police barracks and others, by the grace of God, it is a legacy.
I want to be remembered for, not only for that, I have worked on our media too, and in 2013, we started the New Frontier Television being own by the Nigerian Baptist Convention, it is currently on StarTimes. I also want to be remembered for empowering our theological education, we have ten theological colleges in Nigeria, three seminaries and seven theological colleges we have embarked on regular promotion for them, year after year so that they can be motivated to produce properly groomed ministers of the gospel that will deliver of the word of God. Within that seven years, we were able to produce Seven Professors of Theology. Before I came on board the number was not as much as this, we give God the glory.
Not only that, the headquarters of Nigerian Baptist Convention has been on lease since and we pay heavily every year, but before my exit, we have paid for the land permanently. Also, the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogbomoso which was established in 1898, the Baptist Hospital which is now Bowen University Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso, we have a leper’s colony there where we are giving lepers skill acquisition and taking care of their health we also built houses for them. The land was also on lease, and by the grace of God, the Baptist Theological Seminary, The leper’s colony, the Bowen University Teaching Hospital, and the Orphanage home has been paid for permanently. The Baptist Convention Centre too, we have been able to achieve the deed of Assignment by the government, by the grace of God.
We have also been able to reclaim our properties at Ijaye Orile where Baptist work started in 1850, part of the school where the government has been taken away, I was able to get in touch with the government that the place is of historical importance and we can not compromise for anything, otherwise, we will lose our history, so we have been able to recover 22 acres of land, now, we are building an empowerment center for young people, for skill acquisition so that people will be able to have food on their table even if they are not into white-collar job, by the grace of God,
Equally, we have no national secondary school at the Federal Capital, but now, we have at Masaka, a Baptist High School. We have also focused the attention of the convention on investment depending on the tithes and offering of the people year after year may not be enough, so, we go into investment by buying properties and turning them to guest houses. We have two already now in Abuja, we have in Jos, Lagos, Ibadan to the glory of God. I started the one in Abuja. And also, improve on secondary school education, because we discover that people now finish secondary school education and they won’t be able to speak English correctly, you will see them committing unpardonable grammatical errors and also pronunciation, as such, we feel that as we have done it before the Government took over our schools, we should pick it up again, so we started expanding secondary school education, bought a property at GRA and converted it to Baptist Model High School, Jos to complement the Baptist High School which is equally doing excellently well. We started investment into a water bottling company so that we will have more money for missions.
NEWSWINGS: Can we know some of your unfinished jobs?
DR SUPO AYOKUNLE: Well, some of the unfinished job is the Worship Centre I started at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife for the Baptist Student Fellowship (BSF) to be able to worship God. The foundation was made and the building have started but the fact that I am handing over wouldn’t allow me to complete it.
NEWSWINGS: What is the theme of this year’s convention and why was it chosen, Sir?
DR SUPO AYOKUNLE: The theme of the convention is, “Moving forward, finishing the race with joy” and the text was picked from Act 20:24. The reason behind it is to call the attention of Christians to the fact that the moment they give their life to Christ, they’ve started a race, it is not when you occupy an office that you are in a race, the day you gave your life to Jesus that you have started a race to eternity and if care is not taken, you may lose it. So every day you have to live according to the rule of the game in other to receive the prize, though it is related to my end of tenure, but it is also good because this is the time I can speak on all the important topic people will listen, it is not about me, it is about all that wants to spend eternity with Jesus Christ, we need to move forward in studying the scripture, operation in the power of Holy Spirit and running away from anything that can set us back, until we see Jesus face to face.
NEWSWINGS: Who would you blame on the condition of insecurity in our country?
DR SUPO AYOKUNLE: According to the constitution the government is responsible to secure the nation. It is not about blaming, it is about calling their attention to their constitutional responsibilities. Why are we giving all the law enforcement agencies uniforms? Why are we giving them exclusive access to ammunition? Why is our commonwealth been footed for security? Is it not to secure our life, where are the rest of us not holding guns? It is for them to be able to do it, we believe in them, we trust in them to do it for us, otherwise, it would have been the case of everybody defending himself against an oncoming enemy, which is why all of us will need to continue to challenge the government because they swore to the constitution to do that. It is the government, the constitution is behind them. Resources are giving to them to do that. No permissiveness can justify failure, failure is failure, as long as Nigeria is not secured, we see them as misfits, and so for us not to call the government a misfit, we do not need any explanation for failure. In hence, the nation must be secured.