On Sunday 25th August 2018, popular Lagos C & S Prophet, Primate Omolaja Olorunwo held a birthday thanksgiving service at his Gbagada church. He just clocked 83.
Primate Olorunwo is the founder of Olorunwo Cathedral Church located at the Ifako area of Gbagada in Lagos. The church was filled to the brim as many distinguished Nigerians came to celebrate this great man.
His C & S Church is 52. He was directed by the Holy Spirit to establish a C & S Church (Aladura) which he did on 26th November 1966 at 30, Hughes Avenue, Alagomeji, Yaba in one big sitting room. The Church was named Oke- Igbala C & S Church. He was also directed by the Holy Spirit to stop working with Shell Company, Shell Installation, Apapa which he did in 1968 as an Architect.
He became a full-time Prophet of God though he had lots of tribulations as the first church he erected was pulled down after 2 years of existence. He was later to find the church on the ground after he returned from a 7-day prayer from Olorunkole Mountain in Ibadan. He was undaunted and later moved to another site at 146, Clifford Street, Alagomeji, Yaba in 1968. After this feat, he has ordained an Apostle in 1970, he became a senior Apostle in 1975, a Most Senior Apostle in 1976 and ultimately a Special Apostle in 1979. The church eventually had to vacate the new site at Clifford Street for a swampy area at Abule-Ijesha, Basua Estate, Off Fola-Agoro Road.
During this time, the church lost many members due to the incessant relocation of the church from one location to another. However, there are a few steadfast and loyal members who remained with the church through thick and thin till date. The name of the church was later changed to Olorunwo Cathedral Church of C&S (Inc) in 1970 after a Church General Meeting with Late Gen. Kehinde Sho-Silver. Eventually, the present abode was developed while church activities were held at Fola Agoro, Abule Ijesha, throughout the period of construction. Since then, the church has witnessed an era of stability and progress till it comes to the “Promised Land”. The present church was completed through the Grace of God and was dedicated to the Glory of God on the 26th of November 1983. The occasion was chaired by late Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola with late Dele Giwa.
The church has grown with branches. On the same day, the founder was enthroned and ordained as Archbishop, Primate, Spiritual Father and Head of the Church by the C&S Council at a Most Solemn Ceremony which was presided over by Most Gen. Superintendent C.O.S Benson on behalf of the United C & S council.
On Tuesday, 27th August 2019, his actual birthday, his family surprised him as they all converged on his Lagos home to sing a Happy birthday song for him. After the short ceremony, City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE interviewed him on life at 83. Below are excerpts.
You turned 83 today, how do you feel? Whats on your mind as you celebrate?
I feel fine. I am Ok in the body. But this is a time for sober reflection, to have a spirit of humility, to know how to give out to people, the needy ones. That is the most important aspect of my birthday celebration, not only merriment, not about eating rice or Jollof. No. it is a time for sober reflection for me, to remember where I am coming from and where I am going. That is the most important because in this world there is nothing there.
Eternal home is the most important. And that is where I am preparing my life for. That is why I learnt how to give out, that is why I learnt how to build churches. Whenever I am building churches I don’t usually ask my members to contribute money for building the church. I don’t. I will rather finish the church and ask all my friends and church members to come and open the church. At the opening, any contributions made there I will give it back to the church again.
That is my life. That is why people usually rally round me. They usually give me something back. They like the way I do it. For that, I receive a lot of blessing. I am progressing and everything is fine for me. The joy of it is if you see all my children, they are all doing fine. I pray for them, for progress, good health long life. Many of them are Pastors and they are part of the church. Some are Prophetess. They follow my footsteps. I pray for them. They are all fine and ok. This is a time for sober reflection.
Why do you always celebrate your birthday?
I celebrate it every year without fail. I normally celebrate every year. I thank my God every year. I have cause to thank my God. It is a yearly event. You see, you need to remember the day you were born. You need to constantly thank God for sparing your life.
You told us recently about a dream you had a few days to your birthday. What was the dream about?
I dreamt during that time that I wore an army uniform. Then another soldier stood in my front with a full robe, full decoration and looking at the wristwatch in his hand he said this is the time for him to close and I told the man you can’t close by this time. You better throw away your wristwatch. Its not time for me to close. It is not time for you to close. Then he removed the wristwatch and threw it away. Then I woke up. I told my madam the story. I said to her it is not yet time. It is a proverb.
The same thing still happened about 4 days before my Thanksgiving Anniversary that I dreamt that I was working under a light, big light. Then they were telling me that you are going to Isreal. I said not yet, not now. When the time comes I will tell you. Then I woke up again.
What are the lessons you have learnt in life at 83?
One, I am not a member of any club where I go to drink. No. I don’t sleep outside. I only eat her food. I don’t normally eat outside. Ask anybody, I don’t eat outside, I only eat her food. It is better to be humble. It is better to preserve yourself, preserve your body because most of the things you take in are poisonous to the body. You should be able to manage what you are taking in, what you are eating and what you are drinking. I don’t eat too much. I don’t take meat. I don’t eat chicken. I only eat vegetable, cray fish or fish. All the others I don’t take. I don’t drink. I don’t take fruits. What I take once in a week is red wine, bitter wine, half a glass, every Wednesday of the week after food. I take red wine, bitter wine not the sweet wine half a glass finish. Then I take water before I eat. I take water before food. It’s good to take water before food.
I am a very, very reasonable person. I face the work of God. There is no day you will see me and not see me with my Bible. I am not a member of any club. Since I stopped working at Shell Company in Apapa. I don’t do any other thing besides or outside my church. I face my church work seriously and I carry along all my children with me. Those are the things that keep me well. I have only one wife. I don’t have 2. I have only 1 wife. And I don’t have any children outside. No. Many of my friends credit me for that. I don’t blame some of my colleagues who have 2, 3, or 4 wives, but for me, I have only 1.
Many of my friends respect me for my principles. Even my Balogun, Baba Obasanjo respects me. He refers to Baba Olorunwo as the respected Voice of Owu Kingdom because they know me. I don’t copy them. I don’t copy anybody. I have my own mind. I have my own life to live. I don’t envy them. Everybody is going on his own way. But we are all close.
They like me. I like them. We relate as friends and brothers. They all love me because I normally say the truth. Gen Obasanjo likes me for that. He normally tells them to make me the chairman of many committees because he knows that I would do what is right and what is good.
I noticed that you are very close to Alake of Egbaland…
Yes, I am very, very close to the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremo Gbadebo. He is my very, very good friend. Every year, Alake will come to the church here to do thanksgiving because before he became a king of Egbaland, I did a lot in prayer to support him. And glory be to God he became the King.
After he came in, he called all his Chiefs and everybody around him that they should make Primate the Baa Adura of the whole Egbaland and they did. And the same thing the Olowu of Owu (Orile Owu, the source) from where we came to Abeokuta, he made me the Baa Adura of Orile-Owu in Osun. That is the source of all Owu where we all came from before we landed in Abeokuta.
I was installed by Oba Adejobi, the father of the acting Commissioner of Police in Ondo State, the Lead of the CID and then the father of Muyiwa Adejobi, the P.A Mojeed Alli in Ibadan. I have many AIG, DIGs, with me, both Yoruba and Hausa people in the police hierarchy.
What is your advice to our leaders today?
What we need in the country today is fervent prayer. We need prayers. And we would continue to pray. But our leaders should stop being self–centred and selfish.
That is what is killing our leaders. They should remember the poor. During my thanksgiving, I remembered the widows. I gave out clothes and gifts.
I shared food for people. I give clothes to people. That is my life. Our leaders are self-centred, they don’t think about the poor. They only think about their pocket. It’s only a few of them that think about the poor. Many of them only think about how to become a billionaire. If they are not careful, the end may not be good. They have to think of the poor because people are suffering. Every Sunday in the Church before I enter my church on Sunday. I will see about to 7 people they will say, Baba, I have not eaten this morning ooo. I need money. At times all the money I have on me to contribute at the church.
I will finish it at the entrance of the church. I pray that God almighty will change the minds of our leaders for good.
What is the secret of your youthful look? You keep looking younger and younger each year….
Yes, people normally say that. People normally say I look younger and younger every year. They always ask me; what are you eating? They even went to my madam to ask her, tell us what you give Baba to eat?
The answer is simple. I watch what I eat. I don’t eat outside. Baba does not eat any how. Baba is very very reserved. You cannot see Baba at any party and be eating. I keep to my wife’s food. I don’t drink. I don’t go to the club. I reserve myself. I take care of myself. I take water before eating. I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t eat Eba. I don’t eat moin-moin. Any thing that is too much for my kidney I don’t take it.
All these things came to me through the inspiration of the spirit of Almighty God. I don’t eat meat. Meat for the body is not good. When you reach a certain age you have to stop. All you need to eat is Fish, Vegetable, water, fruits. Don’t take too much sugar. Too much Sugar is not good for the body. Every Wednesday I take red wine, bitter winner, half a glass after food. I don’t eat Coco. I don’t eat Eba. I don’t eat Fufu, Semo, I don’t take them. My food is Amala with my Ewedu I don’t take Lafu from my home town. I take vegetable. It is the Spirit of God that gave me that directive. Some of my children no longer eat meat. They are fine. Please forget about meat. Even those people selling cows most of them don’t eat cow meat. They eat goat.
Any time I want to eat, my wife will be with me. If I am not around and she is hungry she will wait for me. She does not eat alone. I too, I don’t eat alone. She will stay by my side. We would eat together.
My wife is very supportive of my Church work. I am married to only one wife because I copied that from my father. My father is a very loving person, very peaceful. My father used to give out. He had the spirit of humility. My father loved my wife than myself. My father is an easy-going person. I am also an easy-going person. When it comes to prayers that is my area.
When you look back at your life at 83, how does it make you feel?
Many are the afflictions of the righteous. But the Lord delivers him out of them all. I have had many tribulations but I thank God, that God almighty the God of nature, particularly in the church, in the church activities. I went through a lot in my younger age, working in the Vineyard of God.
How did you get the call to become a Minister for God?
I am an Architect by Profession. One day we were in the Church and I heard the voice that I have to leave where I am working and establish a church. I didn’t count it to be anything. Another Prophet came to deliver the message. Another Prophet came that I should resign. My Engineer, Eng. Akanbi was my Installation Engineer at Apapa. Adeogun was my installation Manager. (Call Installation) at Apapa. Then I went to him to tell him Egbon I will like to leave this job ooo. I want to become a full gospel of God. He said haa you want to be a poor man. I said no I won’t be a poor man. So I decided to leave the place.
Before that, something terrible happened to my junior sister. She fell sick. After 7 days she could not walk again. The lady died, then I was told, you see what happened to her? So, I should go and resign and become a full-time Prophet of God.
Then I decided to resign in 1968. the church was established in 1966. During that time, I was still working when I established the Church. I was using my salary to pay the house rent of the big parlor where we were worshipping in because there was no member, I was the only member of that Church. I will open the hymn book myself. I will sing my self. When I do thanksgiving, I will be the one to collect the offering. I will put down the offering myself, I will collect the offering myself. I will pay the tithe myself, I will collect the tithe myself. (Laughs) As things went on, many people came. And the church continued to grow. The church started at 30 Hughes Avenue, Alagomeji, Yaba, 26th November 1966. From Alagomeji Yaba I moved to 146 Clifford Street, Yaba.
That is the house of ex-Mayor of Lagos, Bright. From Clifford Street, I moved back to my own house at 19 Olonade, then to Fola Agoro. I bought the land from Bashua Family. It is in a swampy area. I built the church by the side. Then I built my own house by the side. But I could not stay there because of the erosion. It was so terrible. I let the house out for 3 years. I used that money to buy this very land here at Gbagada.
So I put up another church here.
Thank God we are here. So, when I look back I feel happy. I need to thank God for many reasons. People of my age are not as strong as I am. Many of them are shivering when they walk. Some of them cannot perform again. I can. I can perform.
That thing has not expired. So, I am ok. In everything of my life, I thank God.
Tell us the story of your life. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born 27 August 1936, at Yobo Village, at Ifo District Council, under Abeokuta South Local Government, then. But we are now in the North now. They have divided the place into 2. I was born in a village. I am a village boy. A village boy is now a big man in the town.
Is it true that before you were born there was a prediction about your birth?
Yes, there was a prediction from a soothsayer. My father was on a farm, one day, and a young man came and my paternal grand mother was there. The man was playing with sand. He told my father that look, you are going to have only one son ooo!. But the son would be a wonderful one. You are not going to name the child ooo. The child will name itself. They drove the man away. Before my father married my mother, there was a clash between the father of my mother and my father.
The father of my mother didn’t want my mother to marry my father. It was later when they delivered me, and they told him, we have a baby boy, that they went to announce to the old man, that your daughter has delivered a baby boy, that the whole fight had to be settled. He said, well, Omotilaja ni yen.
So that’s the end of the whole story. That is where my name came from, Omolaja.
Then a Prophet made the prediction. He said this man is going to be a Prophet of God. He has to join them. I joined in 1946 at the age of 10. I was born in 1936. Since then I became one of the C & S members, an active member.