By Tolu Ogunlesi
(Originally published in NEXT newspaper in March 2011)
Being the transcript of a sermon delivered at a thanksgiving service to mark Chief Olabode George’s release from prison
Beloved, we are gathered today, to celebrate the triumphant emergence of our dear brother, father, husband, friend, Chief, Chieftain, officer and gentleman, Olabode George, from the dreary depths of Kirikiri prison. Like Daniel in the den of lions, like Jonah in the belly of the whale, our dear brother was cast amidst great waves of tribulation, but emerged victorious. Hallelujah.
We have every reason in the world to be grateful to the Almighty. I hear – I myself have not been there – that at the gates of Kirikiri there is a sign that says: ‘Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.’ But our brother entered, and now he has come out. Many entered and did not come out. Some entered and came out with tuberculosis and all manner of grievous infirmities. Some came out and their wives were nowhere to be found. In the case of our brother, his wife is still here. His houses are here. His cars are here. His friends are here. Hallelujah somebody.
The Bible says the Lord shall prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies. In their presence, not behind their back. Brother George’s table is under construction. The angels have awarded the contract. If anybody likes let them come and accuse the angels of splitting that contract. They will gather, sayeth the Lord of hosts, but not in my name, and I will laugh at them. God will laugh at them the way our Baba here, Obasanjo has been laughing at his enemies.
Like Bro George, Baba knows what it is to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. He spent more than two years as a prisoner himself, before God elevated him to the most powerful position in the land. God placed him over and above his jailers. Bro George, God will lift you. The Almighty will elevate you.
Long before Baba Obasanjo’s travails, Obafemi Awolowo, our dear father and mentor, the man whose free education policy has made it possible for many of us to be where we are today, faced his own tribulation. They said he wanted to overthrow the government, that he wanted to blow the country up. They threw him in prison. When Pa Awolowo left prison it was to become the second most powerful man in the land.
Bro George, blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you, for yours will be the last laughter. You will laugh last. My prayer is that ‘I still dey laugh o’ will follow you all the days of your life, forever and ever, Amen.
Where was I? Yes. Bro George, blessed are you when men accuse you. They said you are a thief. It is their children that will become armed robbers. People of God, did Brother George steal any money? Did you see the word “thief” in the judgement with which they victimised our brother? For those who have not read the judgement, you can purchase your signed copy from the ushers at the end of the service.
I want you to read that judgement for yourself and tell me if Bro George was ever called a thief. What they said was “abuse of office.” ‘Abuse’ and ‘stealing’, are they the same thing? The Bible specifically says that thieves and liars shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Now tell me, does the Bible recognise anything called “abuse of office”?
People of God, did our brother abuse the House of God? Did he abuse the Church of God? Did he abuse the Servant of God? They said he split contracts. When God was creating heaven and earth didn’t he split the task into seven manageable portions, one for each day of the week, for managerial efficiency? Now they want to disgrace our brother for doing likewise.
Le t me say it loud and clear – the PDP is the party in whom the Lord is well pleased. The Bible says one with God is a majority. PDP is the majority party in this land and therefore we are one with God. We are the apple of God’s eye, the umbrella in his hands. We are not perfect, no, nobody is. Verily verily I say unto you, no one but God alone is good.
Bro George, the years that the EFCC and Selective Justice have eaten, God will restore. And for all of you gathered here this morning, Kirikiri will not be your portion in Jesus Name. When they are calling the roll-call of the next set of inmates for Kirikiri they will skip your name in Jesus Name.
Join me and let us sing this song of praise to the Almighty. As we sing the ushers will go round with our special Ghana-must-go bags, for a thanksgiving offering. Hallelujah.
Tolu Ogunlesi (c) 2011