Vibrant and young Bishop Obarinemi Paul-Obelley of the Shammah Ministry International in this interview x-rays the problem in Eleme land and urges the youths to think out of the box in order to tear off the garb of laziness which according to him is beclouding their future. He said the youths should explore opportunities inherent in the internet and stop complaining of lack of jobs and harassing the companies in the land. Excerpts:
Inside Eleme: Sir, may we have a peep into your background.
Bishop Obarinemi: I am Obarinemi Paul-Obelley. I am a Bishop of Shammah Ministry International. I’ve been serving in the ministry for about 14 years now, I’ve also been a pastor since 2005 and I was ordained a bishop in 2018. Recently I celebrated my 36 birthday on the 22nd of December and I’ve been married for 8 years with 3 kids.
Inside Eleme: Recently, you were celebrated by family and friends on your birthday, any word of appreciation for those who celebrated you?
Bishop Obarinemi: I want to appreciate all those who celebrated me. It’s one thing to celebrate and it’s another thing to have people to celebrate with you. I want to appreciate everyone that made it. A lot of people came. I didn’t celebrate it the way normal people celebrate their birthday; when you are on this earth knowing that you are on an assignment and you know that you don’t live a normal live but a different life. Usually on my birthday, I spend time with God alone and not with people which is why they came to church after my birthday to give thanks to God.
Inside Eleme: As a son of a prominent industrialist and former Managing Director of the Refinery, many had thought that you will tow your father’s line by going into the oil and gas industry. What informed your decision to go into full time ministry?
Bishop Obarinemi: Like I said earlier, if you know your assignment, you won’t do any other thing. You won’t be fulfilled doing any other thing. Before I graduated from school, I did my IT in Port Harcourt Refinery, then I think he (my father) was the Manager of Engineering and Technical Department of which I stayed there for six months. I saw a lot of people staying there for extra time; I couldn’t spend an extra day. While I was there, I was focusing more on the ministry work. If you know your assignment nothing else can satisfy you.
Inside Eleme: Do you do any other work aside ministry work?
Bishop Obarinemi: The work I’m called to do is my primary source of income and focus.
Inside Eleme: Please Sir; give us a brief account of your calling
Bishop Obarinemi: The Bible says in the Book of Hebrews that no man takes His honour upon himself. Everyone that is born again as a child of God has His calling. In Romans, the Bible says that for whom he foreknow, he did predestined, and who he predestined, he called. When we talked about the calling into ministry it is a different kind of calling. You are called into the five (5) folds ministry either as an evangelist, pastor, apostle, prophet or a teacher. These five set of people are people God selected by Himself to build the body of Christ and to build the kingdom of God on earth. There are the one that train other people for their own calling.
I knew this right from when I was a child. I gave my life to Christ when I was six years old.
We used to go for crusade and then people will tell my mother that we are seeing your children preaching in the crowd. I dint take it serious because I wasn’t the only son of my parents so the prophecy can be for anybody. I went to Bible School when I was about 15 year old.
In the Bible School, I stood out, you know when you are in your area you will know. It was easier for me. God began to speak to me. I got a clear understanding of my calling in the year 1998, December 19 to be precise. Then I was in SS3. Of course my Dad wanted me to take over from him; I read chemical Engineering just like him.
Inside Eleme: You mentioned that your Dad wanted you to take over from him. What was his reaction when you told him you’re going into the ministry?
Bishop Obarinemi: By his record, he gave his life to Christ in 1994 and so he is a Christian. If God is calling any of your children you will know. He knew already, he just wanted me to fulfill all righteousness finishing the education. When I told him, he was happy and gave his support.
Inside Eleme: Eleme youths of a large proportion are said to be idle, jobless and prone to crime and criminality resulting in a very negative perception. As a Bishop and a youth, what in your opinion that can help restore peace and prosperity in Eleme land?
Bishop Obarinemi: The Eleme issue did not start yesterday. Right from when I was a child, the issue has been there. One issue I have seen in Eleme is that many of us from Eleme don’t believe in ourselves, we don’t like helping one another. We feel intimidated by the success of a fellow Eleme man or woman. We rather help a stranger than help ourselves. The issue of violence is not peculiar to Eleme alone, it is all over Nigeria and we know who is really behind it.
The Bible says in John 10:10, the thief comes not but to steal, kill and destroy; so whenever you see killing, stealing, destroying we know who is responsible. We know the devil is responsible; he has so many ways of doing it. Part of the way the devil is operating in Eleme is through ignorance.
In Ephesians 6:12 “We don’t wrestle with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers, ruler of darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places.
Spiritual wickedness in high places is the set of demons that are assigned for wickedness. Whenever you see killing, burning of houses, although they will tell you it’s cult group but we know the demons responsible for this. There are other set of demons that operate in Eleme that ensure that the people don’t go to school, even if they go to school they don’t have the proper vision or understanding of what life is all about and what they are going to achieve with their life. These are the ruler of darkness of this world.
The average Eleme man even if he is educated when you look at him, he doesn’t really have plans for developing the land. The average youth in Eleme, if you ask them what their plans are, they can’t say, everybody wants to take something and go, they just want to go to companies around and collect some money and go their way. Nobody has a future plan for the land. I don’t want to blame anybody but this is something that has been going on from generation to generation. Everybody has been selfish. If a selfish father gives birth, he will have his own selfish interest to place it above his children, but if a father that has vision gives birth to children, he will begin to tell them about his plans.
Things are getting bad among the youths of Eleme now because the fathers have not handed over anything to their children. What has the father handed over to the children? If parents can get their children to fear God, none of these things that are happening will happen. They happen because people don’t fear God; we go to church but we don’t fear God; that’s why we can take laws into our hands. They came to kidnap me some years back but God delivered me. Some of them died and the annoying part is that this people are not strangers but indigenes of the land.
The problem of an Eleme man is internal, the average Eleme youth does not want to be useful to himself, and I’m not saying it to justify anything but the truth is that the Eleme youth are lazy. If you see any hardworking youth in Eleme, check in well, it is either he schooled or lived outside Eleme and as such, he has been exposed. I know that the solution to all this is for us to come back to God. External peace doesn’t last; peace comes when there is peace in the heart. The average Eleme youth is trying to look for whom to blame for his problem. But if you keep blaming people for your problems it shows lack of responsibility. For one to change one’s life and place, one has to accept responsibility. We need to accept the problem we have met in Eleme land and then rise with the help of God, face this problem and deal with them.
Inside Eleme: There have been reactions from the youths of Eleme that despite the multinational companies in the land, they don’t employ them which has resulted to their idleness and joblessness. What is your take on that?
Bishop Obarinemi: Yes. The truth is that there are companies in the land and they are supposed to employ the youths but if you dig deep into it, you will know. I’ve worked with one of these multinationals as an IT student and I’ve seen many youths also that complain.
First of all, the companies used to say the Eleme youths are not qualified, as in not graduates and usually when you go there you see them as casuals in the companies. They don’t really get to the high position because they are not educated but now, you can see many graduates now in Eleme which shows a good development in the land. The graduates are complaining that when they go for employment in the companies and they meet with somebody from Eleme there that is supposed to be Public Relations Officer, but then this person begin to ask of money from them; instead of giving the work to an Eleme youth that is qualified for the position, they want to sell it out to a stranger and it is a norm.
It is so bad in Eleme that if you are not from Eleme, for instance, you cannot go and apply for job in Indorama. If you are not from Onne, you can’t go to Notore and likewise. You can see that we are part of our problem. If we really want solution, we should stop looking up to these companies. We should set up our own companies. When you go to school and you graduated, you will see that there is no job, but the truth is that it is not an Eleme problem alone but Nigeria problem as well. The graduates are too many for the jobs available, that is the problem we have in Nigeria. The solution is that since we know the job are not enough we need more people to create more jobs, government alone cannot create jobs, people who have been working for so many years have been occupying the jobs and not yet retired.
The average person in Eleme now has 6 children, all these 6 children will graduate from school and the father is still in the office, when will they ever get the chance to work there.
The government jobs are limited in number, the population has exploded. We need people to stand up as entrepreneurs and begin to create jobs, if after creating these jobs I employ ten people and the next guy employs ten people, the level of unemployment will reduce. If graduates should come together and go to their area of study and create business relating to that, things will be better. I do internet business, if you come to my websitewww.obarinemi.com, any youth that is ready, I will teach them how to create business of their own. Doing work on the internet, people have made millions from it today.
There are 7.7 billion people on the earth today. Out of this 7.7 billion people, about 4billion people use the internet. In Nigeria alone, we have close to 50 million Nigerians that use internet. There are a lot of jobs in the internet; we can’t just keep scrambling for Indorama and jobs in the companies.
Inside Eleme: There has been criticism in some quarters that Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in Eleme is non-functional since your boss and mother, the Archbishop came on board as the leader of the group in this zone, how true is that allegation?
Bishop Obarinemi: Well, I don’t know where the allegation is coming from. To the best of my knowledge, I see PFN doing what they ought to do. I know there is a body which is in charge of Christians in the land and that is Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and they are also functional. When I was in Kano I was the Vice chairman and we even did a crusade, we went round churches. So I didn’t see it as PFN issue, I see it as body of Christ issue.
Truly, I didn’t think the church has done enough to deal with the problem in the land. Yes, we organize prayers, last time we organized Solemn Assembly.
We have so many churches in Eleme, we have over a thousand churches in Eleme and many of the people that are involved in this problem go to church. The real duty Jesus Christ gave to the world as a light of the world is to educate our people. If you go to church today, they don’t talk about issues in the land anymore. When last were you trained?
I think I know churches do Skill Acquisition. A man that doesn’t know why he is here, no matter what he does, he will still allow circumstances and situations to dictate what happens to him. So I think the church have to do more on educating people by helping people understand their calling and why they are on earth, especially the church in Eleme.
Inside Eleme: I know your boss who is also your mother is a member of the PFN. Could you tell us some of the activities they have had this year?
Bishop Obarinemi: I think PFN has been meeting. My mum Archbishop Lizzy Paul-Obelley is not the person directly in charge of Eleme.
Inside Eleme: I know she is in charge of the Rivers East Senatorial District, but since she is of Eleme, she should have the interest of the Eleme people at heart.
Bishop Obarinemi: Yes of course, she has interest. I see some pastors come to Shammah Church at the headquarters and they do what use to be done in PFN. The body is just to bring the churches together and deal with issues that have to do with them. PFN is still functioning; in fact last week during the Christmas period they had their End-of-year get together.
Inside Eleme: One major challenge in most churches today is that ministers of the gospel are not well catered for by the ministry in which they serve. What could be done to correct that anomaly?
Bishop Obarinemi: Well, I have interacted with many pastors in PFN. You will find out that even the pastors are complaining that they are not being catered for. In a case where the members of your church are all poor and the offering is low, how can the pastor be catered for? Some of the offerings and tithes of the members are what is used to take care of pastors/ ministers. So whatever problem affects the land has also come to affect the ministers in the land.
It is the general problem of the land, if things are going on well in the land people give more offerings and if things are not going well, people give fewer offerings.
The ministers have to go back to God and really understand their calling; the truth is that if I don’t make impact in the life of these members, their lives will not change.
Something similar happened in the time of Elijah in the times of the Israelites, people ate their babies because of hunger in the land. God fed Elijah with bird, he used to drink water from the brook but one day the brook dried off and the raven didn’t show up. And God told him to go to Zaraphat, for I have commanded a widow to feed you. Elijah met the woman that was going to fetch firewood, just two sticks of it, and you could imagine what two sticks of firewood would cook for her and her son. When Elijah met the woman, she said I just have little that will serve me and my son and we will die, and Elijah had to use the anointing on him to change her situation.
The anointing of Elijah sustained the woman. So if my anointing cannot work on the members of the church, how would they have what it takes to give to me? And I have to go back to God to pray for blessing for my members. If some members are depending on salaries and salaries are not being paid, they will be hungry and so will you. So if your members are doing business, salary or no salary, business must go on.
We need more Christians going out to do business, there are lots of problems in the land and who ever solves the problem is a business man. If pastors can begin to look at the problems of their members and pray to God to get wisdom and teach them how they can solve them, of course the members will go forward and if the members prosper, the pastor will also prosper.
Inside Eleme: Some time ago, you wrote a book on relationship and handling sex targeted at young people. Now that you’re a Bishop, and with more experience even at the home front, should your readers expect a new book soon?
Bishop Obarinemi: Ok. I have said it earlier that I had my 36 birthday three days ago and I am coming up with 36 books. I have written many books, but I told you I have been focusing on the internet. If you can come to my websitewww.obarinemi.com you will get those books, books at different levels, the one that has to do with relationships, How to make money, How to understand your calling. Many of these things I’m talking about are things that I’m doing by myself, so they should just come to obarinemi.com they will be able to find my books. There I have e-books, e-books are electronic books. You can’t just rely on physical books anymore we have gone global, so let them come there they will get access to those books.
Inside Eleme: A final word of advice for the people of Eleme, particularly the youths of Eleme.
Bishop Obarinemi: It’s time for us to stop complaining and it is time for us to arise. The more we complain our problem will grow. Nobody makes feed by complaining of hunger. Somebody has to get up to look for food and cook for the house. It is time for all of us to rise up, Eleme people are hardworking people, and our forefathers were farmers. We have a lot of things; let us stop looking up to others to solve our problem. If we rise up, we can solve this problem if we rise up. Never you think that an outsider will come and feed your family. In those days we used to go to farm. Even as I got married, I still farm. In those days once you are back from school, you go straight to farm; it is there you will eat your lunch. What has happened to our farms today? Food should not be a problem in Eleme again, you can only complain of not having money but not food. Many of us have left our needs and we are now idle waiting for companies to feed us. Let us go back to our farms.
And also for those that are graduates now, let us go to internet business, let’s come out of the mediocre mindset and come out to solve problems globally. I don’t want to say this to bring embarrassment to the Eleme people but if you check very well, Eleme has changed, about half of this Eleme today are strangers, and the economy of Eleme now is not in the hands of any Eleme man but in the hands of strangers. Go to the market now, the top businesses now are owned by strangers because Eleme doesn’t go into business. We want to wait for the companies. But these strangers are opening their companies, they have one or two staff and they are growing.
Something got me sad years ago, Indorama have been paying millions to her host communities, and we know the fight and issues that came out up till now. The question is, the people that received those millions what did they use it for, how did it change the land? It only brought problem to the land. Many church members didn’t pay tithe from it, some used the money to pursue women, some wasted the money. Why? It is because we still have the problem of ignorance. We don’t know what to do with the money. We need to be educated now, not just the education that comes from school but the education of how you can be used and solve problem in your society.
Every Saturday, the market is filled up; people from Aba in the market are controlling our economy. I’m not saying its wrong but where are the Eleme people that should be doing business. All the money that used to come to Eleme has gone back to the hands of the business men in Eleme. The average Hausa man we call Aboki is making money in Eleme land and the Eleme man is complaining that there is no money because everything he is getting, he is spending it here because they are not doing business even those working, you will retire some day. If every family were to be doing business, nobody will complain of unemployment. If I set up a business and put my children into the business, my children will be there in the business.
We need to go more into job creation, let the church go into it. Do you know that the problems with most of these churches are churches that are just depending on tithe and offering? Churches have schools now, what are schools? It is solving educational problem and the schools have school fees, and churches that have schools don’t complain like churches that don’t have schools. Not only their church members but they put people in the society. Anyone that is not doing business to solve problem in the society is bound to be poor because money is just a reward for solving problem.
Show me a poor church and I will show you a church that is filled with members that are not solving problems for the society. How did church come to Nigeria? They came to solve problem. They came to our land and they also brought schools. But now, we are only trying to embrace the gospel without solving problem. Jesus Christ was going about doing good; he was solving problems, teaching people, healing the sick. Nothing goes for nothing, if you don’t solve problem in the society you are going to have a big problem. So let us go into solving problems.