How I pastored Odo-Oru Baptist Church for 28 yrs without crisis – Rev’d Adetutu
Reverend Dr John Oladapo Adetutu on February 29, 2020 retired as minister-in-charge of Odo-Oru Baptist Church after twenty seven and a half years in charge. He spoke with editor, FEMI OGUNLANA and AYOOLA TAIWO on his journey through the church, and based on his experience in community service he identifies one way by which the intractable feud among Obas in Ogbomoso zone can be resolved just as he explains why he is a fanatical supporter of Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, a former governor of Oyo state.
Congratulations on your retirement and on the successful retirement programme held in your honour, how do you feel?
Well, all glory be unto the Lord, I was so happy because I didn’t know it would be like that, coming from a lowly background, the Lord glorified Himself, I feel very happy.
Did you envisage what was witnessed that day?
I didn’t, considering that some retired pastors didn’t have such opportunity. Not that they did something wrong but because of our congregational peculiarity; something will just happen, the pastor will just find himself in a turbulent situation. Some people were telling me too, ‘Rev’d. Adetutu, pray well o, it is coming to your turn o, you know some people that had retired, they didn’t retire on a good note o.’ And in the town, people would say, ‘it is the turn of Odo-Oru Baptist Church now and we would see whether Adetutu would end well.’ And I did tell them, ‘I didn’t call myself, I didn’t put myself here, if God is the one that called me, He will do it!’ So, I’m surprised that God did it that way. In fact, about six months to this time, people were saying that well,’ some things might happen, some members will start a quarrel,’ so we give glory to God. So, to answer your question, I didn’t see it would end that way.
So, how were you able to contain crisis in the church that we never heard of crisis in Odo-Oru Baptist Church while you held forte as pastor for 28 years?
I will say I didn’t have any magic wand, I didn’t know how to contain people, I only put my trust in the Lord and the Lord did it. Well, I am from this place and people do say that no pastor of Ogbomoso descent pastoring in Ogbomoso would end gloriously. But the Lord did it, people expected some quarrels, some fighting, some palavers in the church but they didn’t see it, not that things didn’t tend towards that o, but the Lord would just quench it. So, it was not by any special skill of mine to control people, it is the Lord that was doing it.
During childhood did you dream of becoming a minister of God?
I didn’t dream that I would become a minister of God at all, at all. I didn’t like to be a pastor especially because of my experience in the church where I grew up, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Okelerin. When it was time for business meeting, you would see some people packing their bags especially the women going home because they knew there was going to be quarrel. Anytime there was business meeting, you see people talking in all manners of way, abusing the pastor, one day when they gave the financial report, Rev’d. D.W. Adetoye was about explaining something, and some were pointing accusing fingers at him, over very small money! So, I was never interested in becoming a pastor, is this how they would be treating pastors? So, I don’t know how I found myself becoming a pastor. Though, I was not born again then, but God called me, when I gave my life to Jesus Christ I said I surrender, whatever you ask me to do I will do. When I was in the modern school (Ahoyaya), 1974 to 1977, I was a rascal, I had already become a motorcycle mechanic, I was so big, and so I joined the gang that stayed away from class, drinking alcohol and wooing girls for some of our teachers. But Brother Gbile Akanni who came to teach us, was devoted and was looking for people to turn to God, he searched me out, he would say, ‘John come.’ He would talk to me, preach to me. All this began to have impact in my life, and I just found myself hating going to the drinking base, running after female students for our teachers, I just began to hate them. And so, the Lord saved my life. I became the chairman of the Drama Group in the school and I began to represent the school in literary and debating programmes, within and outside Ogbomoso like in Ajaawa, Ikirun, Osogbo etc. Brother Gbile Akanni was the one that exposed me to Christ; he didn’t abuse me, he didn’t flog me, the Lord just made it so, my life was saved through the teachings of Brother Gbile Akanni.
Did you invite him for the retirement programme?
He is a busy man but I told him, he was so happy. I dedicated my Doctoral thesis to him when I wrote it in 2005. I gave him a copy, he was so happy.
How would you describe Odo-Oru Baptist Church?
Odo-Oru Baptist Church is a church of God. It is a church that fulfills God’s purpose, it is not a church like many other churches engaged in bad things.
Can you share some of your experiences in the church? The challenges faced, the achievements etc?
Let me say, I didn’t have any achievement in Odo-Oru Baptist Church, everything that happened there was to the glory of God. That is number one. Number 2, my experiences, just like any other pastor was very turbulent, we went through hard times but God is the one that did it. The members of the church too are human beings, many of them are like my fathers, brothers, and incidentally, I have blood brothers in Odo-Oru Baptist Church, that we came from the same Ogogo family. I had some that we were mates in the Baptist Modern School, I had some that were my senior, some that were my junior, I didn’t know until when I got there. But when it comes to church politicking all those things you forget it, everyone holds on to what he/she believes but God did it. I had wept as a pastor; people would come, ‘pastor let’s do it this way, let’s slow down?’ Yet, God has sent us to the world to sanitize it, so, whatever we wanted to do we did it and sometimes we had unpleasant results, I didn’t mind, God gave me the boldness, whatever I said I would do, under God, the people, whether in the EC or wherever, they would cooperate, whether genuinely or not genuinely, they would cooperate and we would do it. My experience in Odo-Oru Baptist Church, I would say, God helped me.
Despite spreading the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, conducting discipleship for your members, you still had time for socio-cultural programmes, like you were once the chairman of Ogbomoso Parapo home zone, what was the motivation? How were you able to cope?
It is not difficult. I found myself loving Ogbomoso. The blood in me is Ogbomoso blood. When I was in Lagos, I was in Lagos for 4 years and 4 months as pastor; anywhere I went they would say this Ogbomoso man. When I asked, ‘why did you say this is an Ogbomoso man?’ They would say, ‘your cap, how you styled it’. So, when I came back to Ogbomoso, I felt this is my root, where God has brought me to life. I love Ogbomoso too much. So, that is why I voluntarily became an active member of Ogbomoso Parapo, not because of anything other than I wanted to contribute my own quota. Though many people would call me a politician, but I know I cannot be a politician, I am a father to politicians. I did not spend more than six months attending meetings before they said you should be our chairman. I said ‘no’. They insisted I must do it. By God’s grace I was there I spent some three years plus as chairman. I said I couldn’t continue, after my retirement I would come back, because being the chairman involved a lot of travelling, searching for members, settling quarrels, all these misunderstandings but the Lord helped me, I love Ogbomoso.
There was a time Ogbomoso Parapo tried to settle the squabbles among our traditional rulers in Ogbomoso, can you tell us what happened then?
Ogbomoso is complex, it was not when I became the chairman of Ogbomoso Parapo that we started the settlement, I came to Ogbomoso in 1992, the first bus bought by Odo-Oru for evangelism, I, without knowing converted it for the purpose. I called some elderly pastors who were Ogbomosos, pastoring in Ogbomoso, from all denominations, this thing is not going on well, how would our traditional rulers be engaging each other in fighting? Then, the subjects of the various Obas argue also unending on who is the superior Oba, it is nauseating and so, I took it upon myself, let’s go and settle this matter, so, it was the church bus that we started using, we went to all the local governments, we started from Soun; in my own estimation, he (Soun) is the paramount ruler but when we started people told me I was wrong, I asked why, and they would say, ‘he is not our own paramount ruler, all Obas have their own classes!’ We went to Ikoyi, we went to Iresa Adu, we went to Oko, we went to Ajaawa. We went to Onpetu (Onpetu Atobatele, not the present Onpetu). They made us to know that ‘you can’t settle this quarrel, you can’t. We know ourselves. And we know who is the senior, we know who first settled.’ So, when it got to a time I retreated. Even among us pastors some would tell me, ‘Rev’d. Adetutu, you have to be very careful, what you are saying, you are crossing your boundary.’ So, it wasn’t successful, because Ogbomoso is a complex place.
What can you say is the underlying factor making this crisis to remain intractable?
Well, my father Pa James Olakanmi Ajani Adetutu gave me a book, The History of Ogbomoso; it is an old book by Baba Professor N. D. Oyerinde, published in 1934. When I read the book, I know one cannot just solve Ogbomoso’s problem like that, because we had about 150 towns and villages that came to Ogbomoso and each village or each town came with their traditional heads, each with its own histories, they all settled in Ogbomoso. So, when I read those things, I knew for us to settle the crisis we must forget where we came from. We must congregate together to move forward. Whenever I go to Soun or the current Onpetu (you know my wife is from Ijeru), I would say, ‘Kabiyesi, in Ibadan, we have only one paramount ruler, and we have 11 local governments there. In Abeokuta, we have the Alake and we have many other Obas,’ they will say, ‘bara re da so un, omo kekere lo n se o!’(Get out, you are being childish!). I know what they are saying is very correct and right, but in my own estimation, there must be a way to settle it, and it is not the Obas that are making trouble, it is their subjects that make this problem to fester, even among us pastors, we are factionalized on the matter. But I know we can’t settle it that way, somebody must be the head. Baba Soun said one day, it was 1999 or so, he said ‘all of you are saying we should come together, but I didn’t meet myself here, I am not the first Soun, and history says Soun is the head of other Obas.’ He narrated the Elemoso episode, that made him their leader, ‘Soun Ogunlola’s wife was the one giving them palm wine, you are now telling me that I should relinquish that, that I should go back. If you want this thing to settle, let’s be on the same pedestal, let’s make Soun the leader and let others come behind me, I will be taking them to different places, even to the United Kingdom, even to the U. S.’ But if we went to other Obas, they would ‘Laye’ (Never).
Can you mention some other efforts made by other eminent Ogbomoso persons to broker truce among the feuding Obas bearing in mind that Chief L. A. Gbadamosi also constituted a committee when he was president of Ogbomoso Parapo Worldwide?
I was not part of that committee, but I knew that of the Osile of Oke-Ona in Abeokuta. He came to Ogbomoso, I was the chairman Christians Association of Nigeria, Ogbomoso Zone. We went to our Obas, we even decided to meet with all of them, they all agreed that we should meet where Osile would be present. But we went to the venue, waited, some Obas came but those we expected to come didn’t come. So we dispersed. We went back to Soun and he said, ‘How can somebody come from Abeokuta and ask me to have a meeting in my own land?’ There were other efforts too. Some people came from Lagos, they called themselves Noble Christians Club, they were all Ogbomoso sons and daughters, we conducted seven or three-day revival in the palace of Soun, he allowed us. What I know of Baba Soun is that there is nothing you take there that he would not allow, but don’t talk of ‘Baba, eyin naa e ju yi le!’ The Noble Christians Club came from Lagos, we held the crusade inside the Soun Palace. Baba said, ‘I am a Christian, all my daughters and sons, I have told them what you want to do, do it. I won’t debar any of you.’ That is Soun for you. We have tried our efforts. Indeed, in my retirement programme, Baba Onpetu wrote: ‘I congratulate you, you tread where others don’t want to tread. Your perceived assumption…’ I like him he would say ‘my in-law, you think we are fighting, we are not fighting, everyone is defending what he met on the ground.’ God is the only one that can do it perfectly but as a Christian, as a retired pastor, I will still put my effort into it.
How much will you now be involved in evangelism? Are you setting up a ministry or how will you continue in the vineyard of the Lord as His servant?
People have been calling me, and asking me, ‘Are you going to found a church? ‘Are you going to do this or that? But I do say, ‘It is God that called me and in all the 36 years that He used me, I was not the one dictating to Him. Now that I am retired, I am waiting for the next line of action.’ So, setting up a church or whatever, no, no, no! What God says is what I will do, but I know evangelism is in my blood.
So, where will you be worshipping now?
I have gone back to Ebenezer Baptist Church. So, my membership will be in Ebenezer Baptist Church, but I am not saying that is where I will be going to, permanently. But as a true son of Okelerin and Ebenezer Baptist Church is in Okelerin, I have returned there.
What is your advice for young pastors?
My advice is simple, it is God that owns us, it is God that has this ministry, we didn’t do anything to start our ministry, it is God that called us, with the little I know, the trouble with our young pastors is that they are too ambitious. When God called me, and we started, I remember, after my graduation in the Seminary, 1988/1989, Baba Okesiji was the only one having a car in Ogbomoso. Late Rev’d. Dr. Adelani Akande in Sabo had a Volkswagen, all other people had none, I bought a motorcycle when I was teaching, that was what I was using, and we were all satisfied, but today, a young pastor will want to be like Rev’d. Adetutu, who had been struggling, struggling for all these years. My advice is simple: let them serve God, the God that called them. Myself, I never knew I would reach this position, I didn’t know God will make me known, I didn’t know, then those pastors, if truly they are called by God, let God dictate their pace. And we all know God is not unfaithful, God rewards everybody, that is my advice.
You excessively and massively supported former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, when he was in government and when he was seeking re-election, how will you react to this?
Well, a lot of people don’t understand and they will say Adetutu is a politician. Let me say for Adebayo Alao-Akala, the mother of his father was born in Ile-Ogogo, my own family compound, that is number one. Number two, anybody that comes from Ogbomoso, and he is making it, I always support him or her. It was (now late) Chief Adegbola Adeomi, a friend of Alao-Akala, when I came to Odo-Oru, that took me to Akala. Akala was an Assistant Commissioner of Police then, he was in Onireke or so in Ibadan, when we went to him and I greeted him, he said, ‘so you are from Ogbomoso.’ I was happy that an Ogbomoso man could occupy such position, since that day I have supported him. As God would have it, Akala retired as a policeman and went into politics. He became a local government chairman, when there was a quarrel between him and some of his followers, myself and late Chief Adegbola Adeomi, we went to settle the quarrel between Akala and Oba ni Jesu who happened to be my senior at Baptist College, Iwo, so, we settled it, at Adeomi’s office at Odo-Oru Area. It was Adebayo Alao-Akala that nominated Oba ni Jesu, people didn’t know, because they disqualified Akala close to the election. On the day of the election people voted thinking they were voting Akala. I just love him, when he was chairman during the tenure of Lam Adesina, I went to Ibadan with him for inauguration. It was while he was chairman that he brought the form to go to Jerusalem for me, so I love him, the way he was doing his own thing, he was not selfish, I can say that. I have this song, ‘Ibi o ba n lo, lawa o lo, Alao-Akala’ because he is not selfish. When he was nominated as Deputy Governor to Rasheed Ladoja, I said this is not your end, you are still going forward, and as God would have it, he became governor. People would say I am a politician but it is because he is not selfish. I love him to a fault, that is our relationship up till today.
But you didn’t support his defection to join the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the last election!
I am a person that will not hide his feeling, anything Akala says, I will tell people this is what Akala says o, let’s support him. You know that time he was in APP (All Peoples Party) when he became the chairman of Ogbomoso North local government in 1999. In 2003, he was in PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) when he nominated as Deputy Governor before becoming governor first in 2006 and then 2007. He contested for the second term in 2011, we were in Beulah Baptist Centre, we were preparing for the Convention, we all gathered there, phoning him, it was on the election day, when the Ibadan people did their own, because Akala won the election in 2011. But this is Nigerian politics. So, in 2015, when he said he would find a new party, Labour Party, I supported him, let’s go to Labour Party, the PDP had done their own, they didn’t want Akala to be governor in PDP, let’s go to Labour Party. So, I supported him. But in 2019, there is nothing Akala will do that he would not call some of us, he would tell us, but with this Penkelemesi thing, we know Penkelemesi is of Ibadan thing. Akala we know him, he held meetings with us, we even asked him when he was first running for governorship on the platform of ADP (Action Democratic Party), the person you take as your running mate is a fanatical Muslim o, he said yes, I took him up so that people would know my stand. We supported him, but when we heard over the radio that we should support ‘Penkele’, who is Penkele? I said ‘no no, no,’ I didn’t like it! But I like Akala, Akala is my man!
Let me ask this, if you are not a pastor, would you have been a politician?
Honestly! Anytime I would tell my wife, if I had not been a pastor, I would have been a politician, but maybe I would have been killed because I would venture into all these trouble areas.
What is your view on Amotekun?
I support Amotekun, why? Because in Nigeria, things are falling apart, the Myetti Allah people are doing their own, they are from the Hausa/Fulani stock, the bandits, from Fulani stock, the Boko Haram, Fulani stock. They are doing it unhindered, up till this day, they have not proscribed any of those things, but when IPOB made some noise, soldiers were deployed there and the organization was proscribed. This Amotekun when it came I said good, people will now know Yoruba too can do something, I support Amotekun wholeheartedly. I support Amotekun for self defence.
Lastly, I want you to comment on the LAUTECH issue!
Anytime there is anything on LAUTECH I will be in the lead. What we are hearing gladdens our heart, I was in the struggle and when Governor Makinde came, how he started and what he is doing, I like it. What Governor Akala did in 2010, October 23, 2010, he and Governor Oyinlola signed a document that LAUTECH should be given back to Oyo state since Osun has its own university. And it is the only one in Nigeria that is run by two states. Other states that had similar situation, former Bendel state and old Ondo state, there was separation in regard of ownership of the university each had before new states were carved from them. Why are Oyo and Osun not toeing the same path? Our people made that mistake because of politics, I am in whole support of LAUTECH becoming solely owned by Oyo state. Not because of any benefit, it ought to be like that. It was Governors Ajimobi and Aregbesola that thwarted the process in 2011, because in 2010 the thing was almost settled, until Aregbesola became the governor in November 2010 and Ajimobi became the governor in May 2011. Now, they shouldn’t play with it, that is why I said I have been hearing news that is gladdening my heart. They set up a committee in Osun, they set up a committee in Oyo, all the news we are hearing is that Osun has also come to its wits end. In 2013, I spearheaded a write-up (advertorial) in the Nigerian Tribune that Governor Ajimobi please let LAUTECH be for Oyo state alone. We conducted some research to package this paid advertorial. Immediately the write-up came out, different people were calling my number, some praising me, some condemning me. So, it is Governor Ajimobi that led us to where we are. Makinde should not make that mistake. LAUTECH should be fully owned by Oyo state.