He is the second in command in the Redeemed Christian Church of God in the Edo State capital. A life time politician, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, was the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2016 gubernatorial election in Edo State. In this interview with Hendrix Oliomogbe, the former Secretary to the Edo State Government and one-time Chief of Staff to ex-Governor Lucky Igbinedion, one fights back teardrops as he shares his experiences as his heart-rendering testimony could melt a heart of stone. Excerpts:
For most born again Christians who traverse the road to Damascus like Apostle Paul, it is always tortuous. How would you describe your way to Damascus that led you to becoming born again?
My real road to Damascus actually started in 1995 because I get married in ‘94, I had my first child in 1995, I was going to with my friend, as I was about leaving my house in the Government Reserved Area (GRA), I had this urge to pray. It wasn’t because I was a serious Christian; I leant very early in life to pray, pray before I eat, pray before I sleep and pray before I travel. I knew that there was a God who protect and we should pray to him when you do certain things. I was not really a church person, and you cannot as at that time address me as a Christian, I was very socially, but when I was set for the journey, I told myself why don’t I wait till I get to the toll gate before we pray. So by the time we got to the toll gate at Oluku, myself and my friend where so engross in a discussion I just paid the fare and forget to pray.
We drove off, I think after Ijebu- Ode on the way to Shagamu, that was where I noticed that the car was no longer obeying my commands. It appeared as if I had lost control. I told my friend look at this car, it is trying to go to the other side. The steering became something else, and before we jumped over to the other side of the road, I just heard “you did not pray”. The next thing was total black out and I woke up later in a dark room, a very dark room. I only heard people talking but was not seeing them. I knew there was a serious problem. I started wondering whether I was dead or what; I was hearing voices but very low. All of a sudden I remembered that word “you did not pray”. I was really between death and life.
After some time, I regained consciousness and I heard them saying he will be okay, what a terrible accident, it was then I realized that I had an accident. but I was not seeing them. I started to ask whether I was blind. Had the accident made me blind? I tried to talk to them. I asked the people who they were but they could not say anything to me but gradually I started seeing shapes. The darkness started giving way. All of a sudden, I could see dimly. The people also noticed that my eyes were opened and they all started to say ha! He is alive! They started to thank God that I’m alive. But I could not move my body.
From a private hospital, they carried me to Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital. At Igbobi Hospital I was there for six weeks. It was at Igbobi hospital I realized that I couldn’t walk; everything I do was on the bed. I became very careful not to eat too much because I didn’t want to go through the humiliation of being hated by those nurses but I went through hell. I ask them what could be done. They said well they have to do operation and see if they could bring my hips back to its position but that the chances were 50/50; that I may have to be in a wheel chair, that the most important thing is that I’m alive and that so many people have had accidents that made them totally paralyzed, and some died in the process. So I began to pray to God and said God I never believed too much in you before, I realized that I ought to have prayed before I travel, but I didn’t pray, the last word I heard was that you didn’t pray.
How did you survive the accident?
This period of nine hours, I was unconscious, it was a period for me to decide either to live or die. I told God if you allow me to live, I will serve and give you all my life, because if you let me die, I won’t have the opportunity to serve you. I cried to God please help me to walk God, I’m promising you that if I can leave this place walking, I will change with all my life serving you, I will no longer pay lips service to you. Then I took the Holy Bible and began to read it afresh from Genesis to Revelation.
On the day of the operation, what was on your mind?
On the very day of the operation, I prayed and said God these people have said that the chances were not too bright but I’m trusting you, I’m grateful for my life, but I do not want to be in a wheel chair. Help me to walk. As they were carrying me right into the theatre, I felt a sharp pain. I shouted. They were rebuked and told to be careful and ought to know that I was in pains. So they put me there waiting for the chief consultant who was to come and do the operation. When he came, he asked them to bring the X-ray. They brought it and he said that the hips were separated and so needed to be joined together and was like a house without foundation. There was no connection between the hips and body so could not stand. He said that they will try and see if they could make the hips come together again so that I can be able to walk, but that it was not going to be easy.
They had to put me to sleep. So he asked them if that was the X-ray they took when I was brought to the place. They answered yes. He said he needed to know if he thing had degenerated or not, that they should wheel me back to the X-ray room for another one. They did it and came back. He asked them if that was the X-ray. They said yes. He told to them to again give him the administration X-ray. They said this was it sir. He looked at me and said “young man look your hips are back, God has put your hips back. There was no going to be any operation again, then the nurses shouted praising God. Then I realized that the time I screamed with a sharp pain at the entrance to the theatre, that was when He did His miracle for me. It was the biggest miracle of my life. So I told God that I will do serve Him all the days of my life. That is the journey of my life to Damascus.
Even when I came back my friends could not believe me. I became very committed to the things of God. I joined the Redeem Christian Church of God (RCCG). They called for committed people to join workers, I did. They called for ushering group I joined, joined the ministers group, until I rose to the position that I’m today. This is how I became born again.
What happened to your friend that drove in the same car with you?
He survived. In fact if he had not been in the car with me, I would have died by now. During that ghastly accident, when people in the neighbourhood discovered that my car was stalked, they brought an axe to cut off my legs so that they could bring me out of the car. I remembered my friend telling them not to cut off my leg. He begged them not to cut off my legs. So you can imagine using axe an on me. It meant that I would have bleeded to death. In the first private hospital they took me to I remembered him asking me the combination of my brief case or portfolio because he didn’t have money. He knew I had some money inside it. In my unconscious situation, I managed to say something and they tried it. It opened. They took money and paid. My friend is still very much alive. His name is Osaretin Osunde. He was also chief of staff to Governor Lucky Igbinedion. He is in Benin today.
That was a turning point of my life. And since 1995 till date, I have not looked back on the things of God. This is my story on how I became born again. I’m more than happy that God saved our lives.
How often do you hear from God as a man of God?
Yes God has spoken to me in quiet moments of my life. When I told God if you save me, I will serve you all the days of my life, I didn’t hear anything from Him. I kept on praying, but God answered me by a miracle, and when that miracle happened, I didn’t need to be told that God is the one that did it. Since that time, my relationship with God has deepened. A lot of time God ministered to me. He drops a word in my spirit, and He has also used me to minister to thousands of people. Serving God has taught me not to be hasty in taking decisions. God is not talkative. To be able to talk to God, you must develop a silent relationship with Jim. In everything I do, I wait for God’s direction.
How do you combine politics with religion because of the way people perceive politics in Nigeria?
If you are a good Christian and you study your Bible very well, you will see men of God who are politicians. In fact, if you read Proverbs 29: 2, it said: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, when the wicked man rules, the people groan.” If you translate it, God is telling you when my servant is in government, people will rejoice and enjoy total freedom, but when the unbelievers are in government, people will suffer and mourn, simple. The righteous are those who work closely with God and does His commandments. What is authority government?
We should not leave politics to cultists
Because of the way politics is played, we have left it for cultists. These people understand what government is all about. They tend to be stronger when they are in government and they become untouchable. They are able to get jobs, contracts. When you take them to court, they have people who are members of the same cults. They give them signs and the judge or whoever is presiding over will say oh this is my person and before you say jack, justice is perverted. So you find out that we don’t actually have a sound judicial system.
It will take the special grace of God for Nigeria to operate a system that will favour the common man. If people who know God are involved in our political system, things will change.
Christians should not shy away from politics
I keep telling Christians to get actively involved in politics and see it as a mission. As a pastor, there is nothing that I have not seen in politics. They have made several attempts on my life, they blackmailed me, threatened me, told all kinds of lies against me, betrayed me. In fact so many bad sides of politics. People take an oath just to get power, so a lot of Christians are afraid to go into it because of the dirty nature. But a mission field is a place that is dirty, so we must go in there and sanitize it. In Isaiah 6, Jesus said the government shall be upon his shoulder. So it is our duty to carry government on our shoulders. Too many things have gone wrong in this country. Today we are in a serious mess. You and I know that our electoral system is far from being transparent. Anybody who emerges in a system that was not free and fair does not own the people any obligation. In a situation where his coming to power was engineered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other federal factors, such a person cannot do anything for his people. He will tell the people to go to hell. Yes, politics in Nigeria is very rough, but we cannot leave it in the hands of criminals and people who don’t fear God. Our government is in the hands of cultists, criminals and all kinds of human beings. What this means is that they can wake up one morning come to your house, take your wife, kill you, take your properties and nothing happens. If we want good things to happen in this country, we must begin to encourage decent men and women, not only Christians There are our brothers, Muslims that are decent, people who fear God. When the right persons are put in positions not because his father is my cult member, things will take its normal place. I’m afraid for this country.
If you were not called by God at a critical moment of your life, where do you think you would have been by now?
That is a tough one. I suspect I would have been dead by now because I leaved a very bad and rough life, drinking anyhow. I remembered many a time after drinking to stupor, we go into doing so many bad things. I also remembered escaping numerous accidents, but thank God for saving us.I did so many things that I do not want to talk about. But I believed that God rescued me at the right time for His work. The truth is that if I were to die today, I have no regrets, but my children will only say oh dad went so early. To tell you how bad we were, we used to leave drinking spots to church to say Happy New Year, but after that we return again to the same drinking spot because there was no regard for God, but ironically, after that I will tell God in the night, “please God do not kill me this night”. In the morning, if I remember I will say “God I thank you that I did not die last night”. In all of these, within me, I knew I wasn’t happy with the situation. But all glory to God today that I’m serving Him.