Post 2023 Nigeria: My Fears After Buhari by Francis Ojo

Dateline Kaduna

The last week has been different in drama, trauma and in death. The calamity has been extensive as terrorists focused intensive attention on Kaduna, the historical capital of Northern Nigeria and Abuja, the political capital of the Nigerian Republic.
First, they invaded the Airport on Saturday march 26, 2022. Two days later, Monday, they bombed Kaduna Abuja rail track, derailed a moving train, killed some killed, injured many and kidnapped many more. Feeling unchallenged and more confident, four days later, they invaded an Army barracks, killed 16 soldiers, injured 40 and according to vanguard of 6th April carted away arms and ammunition after burning down 3 army Attack Tanks.
With clear agenda coupled with flawless demonstration of capacity, they acutely dominated and morbidly choked the Armed forces and cut off the transport infrastructure of both critical cities. It is as if the refrain is: “Take over the two Capitals simultaneously, subdue the Army, break communication completely, and match from there onwards to take over Nigeria.” Not a sound from our President. The stark reality today is that Abuja and Kaduna have been intensely and robustly isolated by land, rail and air and the two zones completely insulated from each other and totally and entirely choked up.

Kaduna as Foundation of Nigeria’s Security
Those who know Kaduna State will tell you it is not just the historical capital of Northern Nigeria; it is the seat of the entire foundation of the Nigerian Security system. Look at the Institutions domiciled here:
1.    1 Division Nigerian Army
2.    Nigerian Army Depot Zaria
3.    Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji
4.    Nigerian Defense Industry Kaduna
5.    Nigerian Air Force Training School Kaduna
6.    Nigerian Police College Kaduna
7.    Nigerian navy School of Armament, Kachia Kaduna
8.    Nigerian Army School of legal Services, Bassawa Zaria
9.    Nigerian defense Academy Kaduna
10.Nigerian Army School of Artillery Kachia
11.Nigerian Army School of Military Police Bassawa Zaria
12.Army Operation base Southern Kaduna
For a rag-tag so called ‘Bandit’ formation to think of, dare to and directly challenge all the forces massed up in this State should make you suspect monkey business in Government. And our elders are expressing suspicion openly. Listen to a quote attributed to General I.B.M. Haruna: “We are in for sensitive happenings. I think the attack on the rail lines, airports and roads are all processes of de-democratization of Nigeria. The situation makes one suspect that either the present administration wants a situation of self-succession or an emergency Government which would come under its leadership.” Even the usually restrained and calm cleric of the Redeemed Christian Church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye expressed doubts about the future of this Country. Hear the man of God: “God has not told me there will be an election next year.” He continued: “For now, so many things are on my mind. Most especially, the attacks on Kaduna State. Why Kaduna? Who is trying to isolate Kaduna and why? And after Kaduna, which State next?”

What gives Boko Haram Such Swagger?
With all these in mind, Nigerians would wish to ask a few questions
1.    What is the State of our intelligence services?
2.    If Mallam Sheikh Gumi could locate terrorist camps, go there and take high fidelity photos, why can’t the DSS or any other of our Intelligence service find these bases and get the military to annihilate them?
3.    Why are our very expensive military so successful in West African flash points but now being eliminated and disgraced by ill constituted, scantily trained and equipped rag tag insurgents?
They won’t tell us but we can guess. I will start with a few illustrations.

Capturing Nnamdi Kanu
From the rumours, this was the brilliant operation that captured Nnamdi Kanu:
The DSS had studied and gathered copious human and electronic intelligence on Kanu, identifying his two key passions; Biafra and sexy ladies. They tested his appetite in England with some of their fine female agents, planted electronic surveillance devices and gathered robust intelligence. They now arranged some funds for his other passion, Biafra and thus set him up in Kenya. They organized, through the Government of Kenya to grab and fly him in a private jet to Abuja.
Now, if that is not a incredible Intelligence system, effective, efficient and coordinated, tell me what is. In one fell swoop, they coordinated local DSS, foreign NIA and bilateral Nigeria Kenya agencies and synchronized all like a clock. This should tell us that our Intelligence system is super.

Questions for Government
There is an interesting quote making social media rounds attributed to late General Sani Abacha: “If insecurity lasts 48 hours, then Government is involved.” If I do not know whether Government is involved, I sure know that they know who is, how the cycle or chain can be broken and Nigeria brought back from the precipice. If our DSS is so efficient and capable to coordinate very complex International, Inter-agency project to capture Nnamdi Kanu, I have no doubt that it has the operational competence and proficiency to bring Boko Haram sponsors to book. But is it not strange that not a single Boko Haram member, their officers or sponsors has been brought before our courts even as United Arab Republic has jailed 6 of them in far away Abu Dhabi? Rather those arrested are quickly sent to ‘rehabilitation’ camps without accounting for the murders they commit.
It is a well-known fact that these terrorists live in camps, we should ask DSS and Military Intelligence if these camps are located on Mars. How about their supply chain? Granted that they can get hold of motor cycles, can these bikes run without fuel? If they cannot, where are these fuels procured from and why has Government not cut off these supplies? We are even told that they get most of their arms and ammunition from Military Ordinance, can the army swear they do not have inventory control over their arms and ammunition. If they do, how many of those in charge have they court marshaled? The way they walk casually into Army Barracks to kill our soldiers and cart away arms and ammunition indicate internal sabotage and local espionage within the army. How many Boko Haram soldiers within the armed forces have been identified and punished? We can go on ad infinitum but it is very clear that many fingers point to Government.

My Worries
My apprehension is two dimensional. They cycle around our National flag, the uniforms designed to protect it and effect of President Buhari on both long after he is gone.
Remember our first national anthem which General Obasanjo changed?

Our flag shall be a symbol That truth and justice reign,
In peace or battle honour’d; And this we count as gain,
To hand on to our children; A banner without stain.

O God of all creation; Grant this our one request,
Help us to build a nation; Where no man is oppressed,
And so with peace and plenty; Nigeria may be blessed.

A nation’s flag expresses the idea, ideology and aspiration as above. Now, this administration has damaged and stained this flag. It no longer stands for truth and justice but for hate, ridicule and oppression.  A flag designed for all now serves the interest of tribe, tongue and religion. The military and other services in uniform mandated to protect the nation now recruits those who continuously kill their comrades in arm. Boko haram has been inching towards Abuja. Will this Government donate us to them? How do we get our Country back after Buhari? I worry.

Thank You, Brother Thomas

Taiye (aka Tayita) Akinnawo (1966-70)

I was in St Joseph’s College Ondo to know you as and simply call you Brother Thomas w0ith no surname affixed to it. It was when I left school that I got to know your full name to be Francis Thomas McCrea. I thank God for your life on achieving the age of 90 years. Surely, God has been very merciful and faithful to you during these 90 years because you live a life of service to humanity. You live your life with lots of love, care, courage and perseverance. You were able to cope with the harsh environment in which you worked as a Principal in St Joseph’s College Ondo, Nigeria. There was no light, no water and all that were needed to give you a minimum comfort, but you persevered to ensure you gave us good education. I sincerely believe that God in His infinite mercies have considered all this to bless you with long life in good health.
Nobilitas and of course the Ondo Community appreciate you. Your footmarks at St Joseph’s College Ondo remain indelible. We cannot talk about St Joseph’s today without a mention of your name and your good works. We cannot forget how you cared for us as children, ensuring that we woke up early to assemble at the Chapel for morning devotion. We cannot forget how you were going round the dormitories at night, even at risk, to ensure we were on our beds. We cannot also forget how you chased us to classes and preps so that the purpose of sending us to school by our parents was not defeated. In short, you are a cherished and unforgettable Principal. You were not just interested in the students’ academic pursuit, you promoted sports development in St Joseph’s. In fact, your contributions to sports development and active participation in all competitions were unparalleled. That was the period we defeated Ondo Boys High School in Ondo Stadium. Also, in Athletics. Table Tennis. Volleyball and Basketball, you were no doubt a sports enthusiast par excellence pursuing all round sports development in the school.


On the occasion of your 90th birthday, I heartily congratulate and rejoice with our only Brother Thomas and join other enthusiastic admirers in wishing you a Happy 90th Birthday. I pray that the Almighty God’s presence will continue to abide with you. I also pray that God will continue to show you His marvelous loving kindness and hide you under the shadow of His wings. The Good Lord will continue to bless and protect you as you journey along the remaining years of your life in Jesus name. Many happy returns and many more years of excellent health and service to mankind.
And at 90 years, I say Congratulations and Many Happy Returns. Amen!

In a Time of Bereavement

Adewale Adesulure (a.k.a Ade Barna) (S.J.C 582) 1967 – 1971 Retired Tutor General/Permanent Secretary,Ondo State.
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”


Brother Francis Thomas McCrea successfully played the role of a father who took good care of his numerous children by molding our lives in preparation for adulthood.
My first close interaction with him was in my first year at St. Joseph’s College (SJC) precisely sometimes in April 1967 (my first term in form one)
On this day, the Principal of Ondo Boys’ High School who was my uncle then (Late Rev. Canon J.A. Iluyomade) arrived at the office of our Principal (Bro. Thomas) to inform him about the demise of my father whom I had visited at the University College Hospital (U.C.H) Ibadan few weeks earlier during our midterm break.
Bro. Thomas sent for me from the classroom and on getting to his office he handed me over to his colleague i.e., my uncle (Principal O.B.H.S). The sad news was broken to me and my elder sister (a form 3 student then at St. Monica’s Girls Grammar School, Ondo) at the Principal’s residence in Ondo Boys High School.

Three Soccer Players

Dr Frank Thorpe: (SJC SET 1963—67). Retired medical director, GAVI consultant NPI, Secretary-General Paralympic Committee Nigeria.
I am honored to be an old boy of SJC, our great Alma Mater. It is noteworthy that most students that passed through SJC have done extremely well in their various fields of endeavors. We have engineers, medical doctors, teachers, professors, CEOs of companies, PhD holders in various disciplines and professions.


Thanks to the De La Salle Brothers that made these achievements possible.
There is no doubt that Brother Thomas played a significant role that contributed to the success story of SJC. He made sure the school rules and regulations were strictly adhered to.
My family the Thorpes – Walter, Ernest, and myself Frank – owe the school a lot of gratitude for the quality education and training that contributed to our achievements as medical doctors.
The SJC brought out our abilities in sports, especially soccer to the extent that the three of us played for the school and Western Nigeria Academicals.
Brother Thomas, I wish you a happy birthday and many happy returns of the day. May the Lord grant you more years in good health and peace of mind.


Dr. Ajibike Olukunle Akinkoye
(1962 – 1966; SJC 255)
Author, Editor, Publisher, Retired Professor & Pastor.

JibikeIt is difficult not to repeat some of the things other old students have written. They are inspiring and enjoyable to read. However, there is at least one experience that was probably unique to me.
Before I was admitted to SJC, I used to read all the newspapers and magazines to which my father subscribed at the time, and all the books he brought into the house. My father was a teacher at Ondo Boys’ High School (now Ondo High School).
After I entered St. Joseph’s College, my appetite for reading only grew. By the end of my third year, I had read all the novels in the school library. My elder brother, Dr. Olugbemi Akinkoye, who was then working in Lagos, would buy up most of the novels on annual sale at Kingsway Stores in Lagos and send them to me. I just loved reading. However, I did not always read at the authorized hours. Late at night, I would pull my bedsheets and cover cloth down the sides of my bed (to block out the light of the torch I was using) and lie down under the bed to read until the wee hours of the morning. One day, Brother Thomas caught me reading at an “unholy hour” and pulled me out from under the bed. He led me out to the corridor of the dormitory. I thought bleakly that my days at St. Joseph’s were over.
Instead of the tongue-lashing and punishment I had expected, Brother Thomas simply admonished me not to stay up so late at night because it was not good for my health and my growth. Then, later that day, when he learned that I had read all the novels in the school library, he brought me some books from the private library of the Reverend Brothers! He gave me the nickname “Bookworm” and only cautioned me to “get enough sleep” each night. I think I also read all the books in the Brothers’ private library.

It was fun to later read and study great writings from around the world until I obtained my first degree (First Class Honors, University of Ibadan), as well as my Master’s and Doctoral degrees (French and English) from the University of Bordeaux, France. I have written a few books myself, and I have edited and published over thirty books for others. The seed was planted by many people in my early years and thoroughly watered by Brother Thomas. I cannot forget.
Merci beaucoup, Brother Thomas. Blessings on your 90th birthday!

Whither Nigeria?

It is pertinent at this time in our history and national underdevelopment to ponder a few things. Nigeria, to some, a geographical expression; to others, the indivisible nation to which we must pledge allegiance, like it or not, is, once again at crossroads. Crossroads, for many great peoples and nations are often events or periods of great national calamity that cause peoples to reimagine their future. Great peoples such as Indians and Chinese were humiliated by decades, if not centuries, of domination by Western powers, reached their crossroads in the middle of the 20th century. Chairman Mao Zedong asked himself: “In this vast land, who rules the destiny of man?” With a strong determination, he embarked on his “long march”, closed his country to foreigners for another half century, taught self-reliance, educated his people, and organized his country until his grandchildren, capitalizing on the structures he created, are now a giving the same Western powers nightmares while teaching them lessons in human capital and social development. It is an ongoing story.
India, another great nation that had also been humiliated, is not too far behind: A completely different methodology. When Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, created the Indian Institutes of technology around mid-20th century, he may not have imagined that his actions will lead to the near dominant stranglehold later Indian generations will have on the worldwide Tech Industry in our time. India has seven companies among the world’s largest 500 companies according to Forbes Fortune 500. While India is not known for being an Oil rich nation, the combined revenues of India Oil companies, listed on Forbes, is as large as half the revenues of the largest oil companies in the world! For Korea, it is about Ships and Chips! At the end of the Korean war, South Korea was devastated, hungry and desolate. Helpful western Charities kept orphanages for many homeless children. In fact, up to the early 1970s, South Korea’s electricity production capacity was lower than that of Nigeria! Today, they are not only producing 50 times per capita, the Nigerian production, they are manufacturing semiconductors, consumer electronics products, cars, and trucks in addition to their historical world leadership in heavy industries including ship building! The return of the so-called losers of the second world war: Germany, Japan, Italy, etc., whose cities were flattened by bombs, into economic winners in its aftermath is another case in point of what successful nations do when they are at crossroads.
Wrong Questions
Beginning from organizations such as MASSOB, IPOB and movements for the Yoruba Nation, centrifugal forces have been unleashed via the ineptitude and nepotism of the Buhari Government in an atmosphere of conspiracy theories on the intention of the Fulani nation that, despite their minority status, have long dominated Nigeria’s politics. The land needs healing from the armed banditry, kidnappings and killings attributed to the herdsmen of Fulani stock, Boko Haram and ISWAP all over the country. Brave Governor Ortom has been shouting from the Benue and others have simply had enough and are ready to break the nation into smaller pieces. How these will all end requires the insight of a prophet – not the kinds of prophets Nigeria is famous for – Horoscope Prophets, living and dead!
While uncertainty pervades the air, unelected Deputy President Garba Shehu has been doing what he does best: thrown a little more fuel into the raging fire by making pronouncements – insolent, to be charitable, idiotic, to be accurate, on the reason why, for example, it was necessary to attack Igboho’s house, looking for arms while ignoring the armed criminal Fulani bandits, ISWAP and Boko-Haram operatives and sympathizers, etc. that routinely kidnap northern children and take ransom money from hapless travelers nationwide! The “professionalism” of the boastful DSS operators remains AWOL when it is needed to confront the Boko Haram/ISWAP alliance that recently held “elections” in Borno State with its own “governor”, “tax” collectors, “law” enforcers and other paraphernalia of “government”! That is where Nigeria finds itself in 2021! And, of course, the situation makes people to ask questions.
Channels Television had two contrasting guests last week: Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, a Fulani, and former Secretary of INEC and a vociferous “Southern stalwart” in Dr Katch Onanuju. The questions they were asked and the issues that appear to concern many in Nigeria are not about wealth creation, infrastructure, employment or competitiveness, but where the next president should come from in 2023! First of all, listening to Baba-Ahmed, I wonder why, given that such articulate Fulani people exist in this country, why is it that the ones that actually get to be president need to sometimes have their WAEC certificates presented to them after they have been head of state? If we must have a Fulani President, give me Baba-Ahmed and replace all else we have had in this land!
Of course, he did his best to feign ignorance of the attitude of Northerners in demanding the presidency after Jonathan, such is the selective amnesia and subterfuge that pervades national discourse in Nigeria. Asking the tribe of the next president, unfortunately, is the wrong question in an era of secessionist agitations, large scale insecurity, stagflation and poverty, unemployment, degeneration of public and social infrastructure, and general despondency. Baba-Ahmed asked what the demand for a Southern president would achieve. A journalist drew his attention to the fact that the ACF forgot to ask the same question when the Fulani irredentist, Professor Ango Abdulahi, made similar demands for a Northern president in 2015; a question which Baba-Ahmed masterfully dodged!
The truth is that Baba-Ahmed, cleverly advancing the Fulani agenda, asked the correct question! What is a Southern President supposed to do? (Baba-Ahmed did not ask this question about the Northern presidency in 2015.) Are we going to have a Southern equivalent of Buhari? “A president that will further alienate the North?” because to Baba-Ahmed, it is the North, not the South, that is being alienated right now! Is it supposed to be a temporary opiate for the South till another version of Buhari comes again with his own man-Friday or co-president like Garba Shehu? Suppose there is agreement for a Southerner to succeed Buhari, will that trim the wings of the forces of secession already in full flight? What happens if a Yoruba woman becomes the president in 2023? Will that, for example, stop Nnamdi Kanu from calling Nigeria a Zoo, making him and some fellow Biafran zoo-keepers the only humans in this land? By the way, let us not forget to remind him that some zoo-keepers occasionally end up in the belly of hard-to-tame tigers! Suppose we have an Igbo president, will that assuage the following of Sunday Igboho that believes that nothing short of an Oduduwa Republic will be needed to stop the humiliation of Yoruba people whose potentials have been curtailed by the heavy load of belonging to an unworkable contraption called Nigeria? Will such a president be able to mobilize Northerners against the Boko-Haram/ISWAP alternative governments that only slowed down a little when, Buhari, their spokesperson, was made President? Can the agreement for a Southern president create an atmosphere to begin to develop Nigeria? Will it make us to start talking about wealth-creation, developing local capacity to build large infrastructure projects? Move away from NNPC as a bazaar company to energy and technology companies that use modern technology and research to create energy products and whose scope is not limited to the natural resources of Nigeria alone? Work on improving the Judiciary, law enforcement and fairness for everybody before the law? More accountability: Is it true, for example, that the great railway link between Lagos and Ibadan could have been between Lagos and Maiduguri for the same amount? Will it lead to better, more competitive education for our children?
Right Questions
I have little optimism that the present regime will end well. I pray to God that I be proved wrong while trembling at the fact that I may be right! That will be a shame because, in all likelihood, we shall all pay for the errors committed by Buhari and his government one way or another. Indeed, we have started paying: We pay in hard cash at the market where the most basic food item is becoming difficult if not impossible for the average family to buy; we pay in ransom to criminal Fulani herdsmen and local copycats in the bushes around the highways; In the payments by various governments and individuals to retrieve kidnapped schoolchildren; in the disruption of society by social mobilizations for secessionist movements; in midnight visits of “professional” DSS operatives that only win their successes in unarmed civilian neighborhoods where they can kill and suffer no concomitant casualties; in the exportation of privileged youth whose parents despair of a future for their children and therefore package them overseas to start afresh in new lands where they will need another two generations to fully belong; in many other ways.
It is not likely that these will be our last payments. If we are not careful, the success (or even the failure) of the vocal secessionist movements may easily place us in the same position as Southern Sudan. Divide Nigeria to any number of parts you want, the border of the new entities will be drawn by blood. And it will be our blood (or that of our relatives); you and I – we may not be spared! Perhaps that will be noble and even necessary, for what is the need to live a useless life when there is a good death to die? Perhaps, after such bloodletting, another set of leaders, totalita alia, from what we presently have, may emerge that will allow the different peoples here (Igbos, Yoruba, Hausas, and others) to reach their potentials. They may look back and thank us for giving blood, when it was necessary, to furnish them a sense of purpose and a bright future.
The question we need to ask ourselves at this time is, whither Nigeria? Today, there is no corporate entity in the whole of Africa in the Fortune 500 wealthiest companies worldwide! Not even South Africa nor Egypt has an entry! Nigerians like to ask those of us in the universities how we rank compared to the rest of the world. Wrong question! Universities in Nigeria exist in an ambience, a system and an environment! How do the roads in Nigeria rank? How do the transportation system and motor parks in Nigeria rank? How do the sanitation system and garbage collection arrangements rank? The city transportation and danfo vans? Law enforcement, policing and the Police Stations? Health system, health financing, and the hospitals? The judiciary, their independence, fairness and courtrooms? Rental accommodation, mortgage system, or say, a typical two-bedroom flat in major and minor cities? The hygiene of food service if you want a snack on the fly? These are the corresponding questions that help to situate the answers you get. They are related!
Instead of asking where the next president will come from, let us begin by asking: President of what? Will there be a Nigeria (nation, contraption or geographical expression) to preside over? Or, if you like, to “rule” as Information Minister Lai Mohammed informed us? How will such an entity, if it survives and endures, generate the competition among its constituent elements to create better schools, more efficient industry and fairer social justice that will unleash the creative potential of its citizens? Do the people asking for secession want anything different from these? Why are we always hung up on the opiate of the tribal orientation of the leadership as if they will therefore solve our existential problems? Why is General Buhari and his Government so bent on scoring own goals by foreclosing such discussions insisting that the only changes he will accept must come form the National Assembly and that he cannot listen to those who have not won elections? Has General Buhari forgotten that in a scant six years ago, “inability to win elections” that he is so happy to denigrate now, defined him? That he relied on mass action to make his case? That he did not get any help from the national assembly?
If we break it down, in simple terms, we may ask, how will the electricity generation be tripled in the next ten years? How many local governments will be self-sufficient in infrastructure and power generation as a result of distributed power production that will therefore attract the best and brightest to itself and create wealth? How will infrastructure development companies be developed locally to challenge the tertiary institutions to supply more able products? How do we begin to measure the cost and quantity of contracts awarded in Nigeria to similar ones overseas and keep costs down to the level of our labor costs so to gain an advantage and build more things? How can we produce more doctors to the extent that they not only keep us healthy but also create a health tourism system attracting inhabitants of our region here? How do we make it more attractive to develop local environments instead of always reaching for the sharing bazaars in Abuja?
More than all this, what do we need to do today so that inhabitants of this space, 100 years from now, will consider us as worthy forbears that took them into consideration when planning at the crossroads?

On Prayer, Tongues & the Holy Spirit

The article uses existing materials on the Internet. The links to the full articles are given so that full credits for such copied materials may go where they belong. When materials are not referenced this way, the materials are essentially mine or digested from other works.
This is a response to a friendly conversation from a Pentecostal friend that wants to know how our beliefs differ on the above issues

Prayer, Tongues, Holy Spirit
Approach from the point of view of Christian History, Nigerian Church History, Scriptural Understanding or Personal Experience.
Church History
Who were the acknowledged greats in faith since Apostle Paul? Augustine, Bishop of Hippo or Ambrose, his mentor. Athanasius, the hero of the Aryan controversy that gave the church the Athanasian Creed? Jerome the translator of the Bible or Wycliffe, Huss and Tyndale who bled for what they believed and led, to the availability of the word among the laity.
Then we arrive at Martin Luther the father of the reformation in the 15th century. Ignatius Loyola, Erasmus and others at the opposing end. Is it Aquinas the gentle scholar and translator and John Calvin the Christian statesman? None of these people suffered from the doctrine of “Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues”. In fact, the only church great that can be remotely associated with this would-be John Wesley. That is a man, who, if he were to come back to life and see what the Pentecostals are doing with some of the things he taught, would faint immediately.
There was a remarkable story in one of John Wesley’s journals: There was this “devil possessed man in the King’s palace who “manifested whenever a passage of the scriptures was read. He was calm when you read from classical literatures translated to English. This behavior became problematic and they brought him to the king’s attention.
King George, I suppose, called for the scholars from Oxford and they read the same passages in Latin and Greek. The demon-possessed man did not react to the scriptures when read to him in these languages. It was immediately concluded that the demon that possessed him could speak only English – need not be feared!
“It seems, then, that tongues-speaking, whether unknown utterances or miraculous gifts of languages have been reported throughout history. However, what makes Pentecostalism unique is that never before has tongues-speaking been given the doctrinal importance that modern Pentecostals gave to it.
“Pentecostals… were the first to give doctrinal primacy to the practice. Though Pentecostals recognize such sporadic instances of tongues-speaking and other charismatic phenomena throughout the Christian era, they stress the special importance of the Azusa Street revival, which occurred in… 1906 to 1909 and launched Pentecostalism as a worldwide movement.” [18]
“But to understand why Pentecostals were the first charismatic movement in history to give tongues-speaking theological importance we need to understand the theological roots of Pentecostalism.
Why Pentecostalism began
(Full Article )
Pentecostalism began as a worldwide movement when a revival of tongues speaking at the beginning of the 20th century attracted international attention. Speaking about the origin of Pentecostalism, Vinson Synan (Ph. D., University of Georgia) says, “The Topeka and Los Angeles events took place in a turn-of-the century religious environment that encouraged the appearance of such a Pentecostal movement.” The question is, what was the religious environment that encouraged the appearance of Pentecostalism? What prepared the world for Pentecostalism, historically? In other words, why did Pentecostalism begin?
Firstly, people were seeking the “gift of languages”. [2] Among those committed to world evangelization serious concerns arose over how the unreached millions were going to hear the gospel before the end. Several factors generated these concerns: The missions movement had spent considerable time and energy but the numbers of conversions of native peoples was alarmingly small; the premillennialists’ gloomy assessment of the immediate future caused Christians in this movement to expect the condition of humankind to get worse before the imminent return of the Lord; and then when the arms race of the 1890s occurred and the end of the century was approaching, the Christian expectation of the end of the world was considerably heightened.
Widespread interest in the gifts of the Spirit convinced some that God was going to restore the gift of tongues (identifiable human languages) to the Church to equip them to preach the gospel in other countries, in preparation for the end. In 1895 the widely read Holiness author W. B. Godbey predicted: “[The “Gift of Language” is] destined to play a conspicuous part in the evangelization of the heathen world, amid the glorious prophetical fulfilment of the latter days. All missionaries in heathen lands should seek and expect this Gift to enable them to preach fluently in the vernacular tongue, at the same time not depreciating their own efforts.” [3]
Frank W. Sandford was another teacher who advocated the missionary use of tongues-speaking. He spread this teaching in his publication “Tongues of Fire” through which he endevoured to rapidly evangelise the world. He and others were praying and expected to receive the gift of “power and eloquence” for evangelism. This desire for the gift of languages set the stage for the revival of tongues speaking that occurred in the early 1900s.
Secondly, people were seeking a restoration of the “full” gospel. The Holiness movement sought to restore what it understood to be New Testament Christianity to the Church in the last days in preparation for Christ’s return. This led to the movement reforming existing theology to develop what it saw to be the “full” gospel. Reflecting this desire, A. B. Simpson blended together four themes of Christ as Savior, Baptizer, Healer, and Coming King. In time this was described as the “full gospel” or “fourfold gospel.” [4] This change of theology set the stage for Pentecostalism.
“By the turn of the century, the Holiness movement had become preoccupied with the “Pentecostal reformation of Weslyan doctrine” and the four themes of the full gospel. In fact, when the Pentecostal movement began a few years later, only the priority given to the gift of tongues distinguished it theologically from Holiness beliefs.”
Thirdly, people were seeing spiritual experiences as “crisis” events. The Holiness movement taught that Christian spirituality involved seeking distinct experiences that occured as instant events. This in turn set the stage for the Pentecostal doctrine of Spirit baptism as a separate experience to conversion.
“Not only did such Holiness teachers emphasize conscious religious experiences, they tended to encourage persons to seek for them as “crisis” experiences that could be received in an instant of time through prayer and faith. By 1890 the Holiness movement began to think of religious experiences more in terms of crisis than in gradual categories. Thus the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church taught instant conversion through the new birth, instant sanctification as a second blessing, instant baptism in the Holy Ghost and fire, instant divine healing through prayer, and the instant premillennial second coming of Christ.”
Fourthly, there was a need for “evidence” of the second work. Benjamin Hardin Irwin was a radical Weslyan Holiness preacher who taught a third work of grace for power in Christian service. In 1895 he began teaching that the second work of grace initiated sanctification and the third brought baptism in the Spirit. This “third blessing” was called “the fire.” Irwin named his group the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church, beginning another movement that started new groups across America and Canada. This created the problem of needing evidence to distinguishing between those who had received the third blessing from those who had the second only. This problem was part of the reason why the mainstream Holiness Movement rejected his as the “third blessing heresy.”
This controversy laid an important foundation for Pentecostalism because it crystallised the movement’s commitment to a two-stage work of the Spirit (which would be simpler to identify). It also highlighted the need to clarify what is the nature of the second work of grace (which would be empowerment, not sanctification). In addition, the Irwin heresy (as it was called) revealed the need for an evidence for the second work of grace. This again set the stage for Pentecostalism which provided that evidence. Irwin later joined the Pentecostal Movement.
To summarise, the historical situation at the turn of the nineteenth-century that encouraged the appearance of Pentecostalism was a widespread desire for the gift of languages for world evangelisation, the desire for a restoration of the “full gospel” involving Spirit-baptism as a post-conversion experience and the miraculous gifts such as healing, the emphasis on spiritual experiences as “crisis” events, and the theological necessity of an evidence to distinguish those having received subsequent works of the Spirit from those who had not.
But in order to understand the origin of Pentecostalism completely we also need to understand how early Pentecostal thinkers themselves interpreted the historical events surrounding their beginnings. Did they themselves understand their doctrine of tongues-speaking to be unique in church history? Did they interpret the events surrounding the beginning of the twentieth-century as the end-time restoration of the “Apostolic faith” in preparation for Christ’s return?
Nigerian Church
The gospel that took root in Nigeria was the handiwork of the main groups: The Church Mission Society (supported but not limited to the Anglican/Methodist Church. In fact, the first missionaries of this group were Germans, not English), The Roman Catholics. To a lesser extent, there were the evangelical groups such as Baptist, ECWA, COCIN and several others. Among these groups, we owe the Bible translations and institutional establishments of Christianity such as schools, hospitals, orphanages, bible translations, hymn books, Christian literature, etc. that we have today.
The Pentecostal churches have contributed little more than noisemaking to the Nigerian Church. Cherubim and Seraphim Movement, Cele, Yahweh Church of TB Joshua, Christ Embassy, Living Faith, Redeemed, Deeper, etc. cannot hold a candle to the deep work of evangelization wrought in this land by the CMS and the Roman Catholic church – take any metric you want. These movements are at best mediocre, at worst, commercial agencies for expanding the influence and wealth of their proprietors who often function and owners of the yard.
From the Protestant perspective, the real greats in the evangelization of Nigeria are Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Townsend and Hinderer, Archdeacon Dennis, W Banfield, etc. These people did not know about the “Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues”.
As the previous section clearly shows, this formula came about from 1906 in the US. It has had the effect of making Christians – mostly converted through the efforts of others, to become highfalutin and overconfident in their ignorance of church history and basic biblical doctrines! It has turned the Holy Spirit, blasphemously, into a noisemaker.
Historical Scriptural Understanding of
Hymns and the Holy Spirit
Let’s talk about hymns. To tag hymns as “Anglican”, “Catholic”, etc., is to misunderstand the historical development of the Church of Jesus. There is a Pentecostal reductionist idea of expressing satisfaction in the feeling that something makes you “feel good”, “feel blessed”, “Spirit ministered to my spirit”, etc. as answers to questions on the logic, value, and purpose of Christian singing. This attitude, a major reason why Pentecostalism is often an undefined mumbo jumbo of incoherent beliefs, is an extremely low bar to set when we consider hymns and what makes Christians to sing. Paul and Silas, in jail for preaching the gospel, after they had been given a thorough lashing,
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. Acts 16:25-26.
What is a Christian Song?
We lost a lot of information in the sense that the Bible did not record for us the lyrics of their singing. Suffice it is to know that the Church of Jesus Christ has followed Paul and Silas and has been singing hymns for 19 centuries before the movement described above metamorphosized into Pentecostalism. It is therefore a pertinent thing to ask: What is a hymn and why do Christians sing? What does it achieve? A robust answer to these will help us understand how to judge singing and increase its value to the profit of our souls.
1. Praise to God. St Augustine defined Hymn as ‘a song with praise of God’ and by that emphasizes the fact that a hymn is usually directed towards God. That statement is of course quite narrow as there are many hymns directed to us, that are words that we use to encourage ourselves, and even songs of protest as evidenced in some Negro spirituals, which are hymns in their own right. A people oppressed, having no other tool for protest and self-encouragement, reverted to this form and tool.
2. Friendly Form of Mysteries. The Gospel, according to Paul (I Cor 4:1), is the “stewardship of the great mysteries of God”. One thing a hymn does is to place these mysteries in a friendly, accessible form. A young person, for example, may find the Creeds of the Church, a bit heavy and intellectually demanding to follow; yet every little child can sing with Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander: “All things Bright and Beautiful”, or “Once in Royal David’s City”, etc. and the same Creeds are packaged in a friendlier and accessible form!
3. Direct Teaching. Not only are Mrs Alexander’s compositions attractive because of their friendliness, they also make for easy remembrance. Hymns are much easier to call from memory than Bible verses. They are therefore a formidable pedagogical weapon in the Church’s arsenal. There is yet no doubt that, sung with understanding and meaning, they afford the same spiritual satisfaction and enjoyment that Pentecostals crave without sacrificing rigor. Mrs Alexander, a bishop’s wife, wrote some of these hymns to paraphrase the basic essence of church beliefs as written in the Historical Creeds!
4. Corporate Prayer. The next issue we need to understand is that Hymns are veritable prayers for corporate worship! The orthodox churches that use a lot of hymns often create confusion in the liturgical services by misreading this fact: We rush through the hymns and go into prayers, forgetting that, in the hymns, we are actually already in corporate prayers! Reiteration of the words of the hymns as a preface to the prayer sessions may, in fact, create a more satisfying corporate prayer experience! Listen to the great immortal words!
When we add these points together, we discover that hymns are among the most influential and potent ways by which faith is transmitted and practiced. “A feature of hymns which makes them increasingly valuable at the present time is their interdenominational character Many hymns in current use are common to most branches of the church, at least so far as any particular geographical area is concerned. In Christian song churches have forgotten their quarrels and men have lost their limitations, because they have reached the higher ground where the soul is content to affirm and adore.”
A more thorough definition of a Christian Hymn could be a “metrical composition to aid worship.” Naturally, such a composition is a hymn because it can be used in private or public worship and, usually, has been set to music in some form. The one-liners that are popular in Pentecostal settings may “bless my soul”, “speak to my spirit”, etc., they need some more dedicated work in theological upgrading to rise to the level of hymns. And that can, and ought to be attempted. I say this, not to discourage their usage, but to call for a more dedicated effort to improve their quality and expand their usefulness.
The Holy Spirit
Talking about the Holy Spirit, it is customary for Pentecostals to accuse “Orthodox Christians” of not “believing in the Holy Spirit”. It is Pentecostals that do not believe in the Holy Spirit. What Pentecostals preach is “Holy Spirit with the evidence of Speaking in Tongues” Of course, I do not believe in that formula at all! But, I believe in “the Holy Ghost, The Lord, the giver of life, Which proceeded from the Father and the Son, Whom with the Father and the Son is to be worshipped and Glorified; He spake through the Prophets”. Here is what the Bible teaches. I am ready to fellowship with my Pentecostal brethren. I can tolerate them. I cringe at some of their practices, but I can bear. The first step to fellowship and understanding is that they too be tolerant and understanding that not interpreting the Holy Spirit the way they do doe not prove unbelief!
As a first step on this fellowship effort, I propose that we read, the following passage responsively, without necessarily disputing or commenting initially. Let us allow this to seep into our hearts as we learn the sincere milk of the Word!
I Cor 14: 1-end
Let us read I Cor 14 responsively and try not to argue or interpret.
Personal Experience
Here is my sermon on the topic. It will tell you what I hold, practice, and believe on this issue. I think the spiritual strategy of prayer as taught in Pentecostal circles is scripturally deficient. Too much thoughtlessness and noisemaking. Prayer should move us more in line with God’s plan: The battle is the Lord’s!