Pastor Kris Okotie of the Household of God Church International Ministries tells GBENRO ADEOYE in this interview why he still wants to run for president despite his three failed attempts and why he splashed over N150m on two luxury cars recently
What informed your recent write-up titled ‘2014: Relevance of a paradigm shift’? Is it a prelude to announcing your intention ahead of 2015 presidential election?
No, I started writing for the media, (including a contribution to Punch) about a year ago. This article is just one of my regular write-ups. It has nothing to do with my presidential ambition. That said, I will run in 2015, God willing.
Has God spoken to you yet about contesting for the election or not?
God spoke to me about my participation in the political process, which was why I took the step in the first place. He has not said anything contrary.
Why do you still want to contest knowing that you have not always secured reasonable votes to become president? Besides, elections in Nigeria have not always been free and fair.
You said it. The elections have always been rigged, everybody knows that and that is why it is incorrect to say I have not always secured the votes required to win.
Why do you think your previous shots at the presidency failed?
I can sum it up in one word- Rigging by the PDP. Even one of the party’s stalwarts, Chief Adeseye Ogunlewe, told The PUNCH recently that all elections have always been rigged. So that answers the question.
If you are contesting in 2015, what will you be doing differently and what should Nigerians expect?
I don’t want to disclose that now because of my previous experience. Someone out there could steal our strategy.
Each time you say God instructs you to contest, people always have the impression that you ought to win if you are truly directed by God, how come you have not been getting majority votes in previous elections?
These election questions are inter-related. If they didn’t rig, then I could have won. Apart from election malpractices, the duty of a servant of God is to obey his master when he gives him instructions, irrespective of whether he fails or succeeds. Like Moses in the Bible, who kept fighting until Pharaoh released the Israelites.
Since FRESH Party has been proscribed by INEC, are you planning to join PDP or APC to contest for the election in 2015?
We won a court victory against the de-registration of our party in June last year. So I will still run on the FRESH Democratic Party platform, God willing.
Do you think Nigerians take you serious because some of them describe you as a serial contender? Some of them wonder whether you heard God right?
Those who opine that my presidential ambition is a dramatic serialisation of a political whim are indeed the unintelligent who seek to fathom the Okotie enigma. I consider such people a necessary comic relief from the tedium of the day. Why would I jeopardise my life, deplete my domestic economy, engage political rascals, hoodlums and brigands and threaten the stability of my ecclesiastical responsibility if I’m not fully persuaded that this a heavenly calling? My only reply to these gainsayers is, delay is no denial.
In the recent write-up that was earlier mentioned, you wrote that the realignment of political forces always comes with a big bang but has never taken us to the Promised Land, are you saying that the APC will go down like the mergers we have had in the past?
Mergers hardly work in this country. Our political maturity is still too low to allow the kind of coalition that the people envisage. Even though I have my fears on the latest effort by the opposition, I believe APC can still pull it off given the chance.
What’s your thought about Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to President Jonathan?
Like I mentioned in that piece, I don’t want to get involved in the presidential skirmishes; but it is common knowledge that I admire President Olusegun Obasanjo as the greatest leader that Nigeria has ever had. He is the ipsissimus of the Nigerian genitive nuance, that is, the personification of the untapped uniqueness of the Nigerian seed.
Why did you describe Obasanjo like this? Is it not ironic because not a few Nigerians feel he was part of the problem of Nigeria?
The perception of the Obasanjo persona is always predicated on conjecture and political superstition. Many do not have the necessary comprehension of the complexities of political leadership; hence, their uninformed and misguided classification of the great leader. Africa needs an amalgam of strong institutions and strong men. Obasanjo is a strong man. He possesses the intrinsic determination which galvanises wilful projections.
You are from the South- South as President Jonathan. Why are you contesting instead of supporting his re-election bid?
The constitution guarantees me that right. Besides, why should I support Jonathan? Why can’t he support me? Moreover, I do not believe in the myopic concept of regional xenophobia. Nigeria deserves the best.
Some of your fans still believe it was a tragedy to have left music career at the time you did, do you agree?
No. I left music for a higher calling. Thank God I did. I still play music in church.
Some still believe that you might stage a comeback, is that feasible?
Well, only time will tell. With God all things are possible.
Are you planning to make gospel music?
I have not given it a thought yet.
You look quite young for your age, what’s the secret?
I have often said that if you want to look young, win souls for Jesus Christ. Moreover, I belong to the Methuselah clan. God made him the oldest man in the Bible so that he could witness for Him. It follows from that logic; if you want to live long and look young, win souls.
How will you sum up your experience in ministry in the last 30 years?
It is indeed a rare privilege and honour for which my gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ cannot possibly be expressed in words. Over the course of my gospel career, I have come to realise that ministry apart from winning souls, is all about service, really. It is probably the best nursery and training ground for leaders in any sphere of human endeavour. It is in ministry that the complex problems of humanity stare you in the face. You encounter circumstances that only God could handle because of their sheer complexity and bizarre nature.
You are a multifaceted human being. The musician, lawyer, pastor and politician, how do you manage all these?
I do by maintaining a balance and I enjoy it.
You recently stirred up controversy when you said Catholics would go to hell. Why did you say that?
It is because the church perverts the gospel of Jesus Christ and that perversion is located in the leadership. Even as Pope Francis recently announced. However, there are many good Christians within the Catholic Church who are not aware of the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, that has substituted Mary for Jesus, in what is known as the hyperdulia of the Virgin Mary. Salvation for them is not through Jesus alone but in accordance with what Pope Francis recently announced to the world. That, in itself, is a direct violation of the sanctity of the scriptures.
You even described the Pope as “an anti-Christ and a friend of Satan” and that the Catholic Church is a counterfeit church set up by Satan. What made you say this?
The heresies in their doctrine and the recent announcement by Pope Francis corroborate this position.
You were credited to have said that tattooing and plastic surgery were not sins before God; can you explain this to the public because it’s still a controversial issue?
No, I didn’t say that. What I said is that even though it is our body and to an extent we have the liberty to do what we want with it, at the end of the day, everybody will stand before God to give account of how he/she used his/her body.
You seem to be a fashionable man. At a Red Carpet event recently, you showed off your designer outfits, naming Franck Muller and Lois Vuitton as some of the designers. But as a pastor, why are you interested in such things.
Pastors are human beings, right? We could be fashionable like everyone else. King Solomon, the servant of God was the most fashionable icon in his day.
Some Pentecostal pastors think it is wrong for clerics to have jerry curls, why do you wear curls and how do you respond to misgivings about your curls?
My hair style is part of my fashion statement. I have no misgivings at all. Also, I do not wear jerry curls. It is now old fashioned. There are better innovations in hair styling today.
Some people also criticised you for buying a N120m car recently, they claim pastors should not have such luxury items, particularly in a country with so much poverty and that such money could empower a lot of people. What’s your take on this?
We should not mix up the issues. Buying an expensive car is a choice. In our church, we are involved in a lot of charitable events, like our annual GRACE programme, amongst other charitable things that we do to bless our members. I think the reaction you mentioned is because of the novelty of buying such an expensive automobile. You know I bought those cars for a purpose, which is to celebrate my 30 years as a born again Christian, which actually was in November last year; then, the 27th anniversary of our church which comes up on February 1, 2014. These cars are part of the event; that was why our publicist sent pictures of the new cars, taken by Seyi Body Lawson, our in-house photographer, to some media houses.
Same way people criticise pastors who have jets, what do you think?
It is because of the novelty. Pastors who buy these jets have their reasons. When you do something new, it will create a stir.
Do you own a jet, if not, are you planning to buy one?
No, I do not have a jet now. But I will if it becomes necessary in the prosecution of my ecclesiastical responsibilities.
With your love for luxury automobiles, what message are you sending to your church members? Do you think Nigerians would even want to vote for someone with ostentatious lifestyle?
Our faith is predicated on the finished work of the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is vindicated by his resurrection from the dead. And it is crystallised when we personally appropriate his blood through faith. My life is a trajectory of faith and commitment to divine servitude. It is proof that the veracity of scripture cannot be impeached, that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. That is why 27 years ago I had nothing, but through a progressive application of the word of God, I have appropriated soul prosperity and material blessings. That is why I was able to pay N33m for the Range Rover Autobiography 2014 Executive and just over N120m for the Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe 2014 bespoke edition; to mark the occasion of 30 years of being a Christian and 27 years of being the pastor of the Household of God Church. 30 years is symbolic because it is reminiscent of the baptism of the lord Jesus at the River Jordan at the age of 30. Prosperity is an integral part of the gospel. It is not an end in itself. It is the authentication and the validation of the acceptance of the Melchizedek priesthood of our lord Jesus Christ.
Let us assume that you go on to win the election, what is the guarantee that fortunes will not be spent to cater for your luxury lifestyle?
I think I have already made it abundantly clear that for me politics is a sacrifice. I do not stand to acquire any benefits from being in governance. All that I require, I already have. I am already prosperous and famous. That is why political governance is not attractive to me. But, I have subjected my will to the will of the Lord. I believe that the Nigerian dream is unattainable without people like me who are willing to make the necessary sacrifice. The credibility of our political future can only be corroborated by men and women who subscribe to the great inevitable; that is a paradigm shift, which the Chris Okotie philosophy epitomises. The people must come first. Our political mantra must be God first, and then, country. This is the philosophy upon which I have erected the citadel of my confidence.
People say you go out in a convoy of vehicles with bodyguards. There was also a picture on the internet which showed you on the pulpit surrounded by about five tough-looking guys. Why do you use bodyguards, are you afraid?
Yes, there have been threats. And you know the days are evil, so we need to be more circumspect. The Bible says wisdom is profitable to direct.
Some people wonder how you are able to cope in a church full of many women more so now that you are divorced, how do you cope? How do you avoid being distracted by these women?
It is by the grace of God. Let me say that I don’t get distracted at all.
We are asking this question because some pastors believe strongly that women are often used by the devil to make them fall. Some don’t even allow women to sit in front or counsel women alone. How do you cope and what is your take on such fears?
Inasmuch as the devil uses some women as vessels of distraction, it has also been established through the word of God and things we have observed that some women are also vessels of honour in the hands of God.
Some people still can’t understand why you divorced twice; they believe it is wrong for pastors to divorce. Why do you always divorce?
I have addressed this issue from the pulpit several times.
But why did you divorce someone you reportedly told your members God asked you to marry?
I don’t want to go into that again.
Are you still planning to remarry?
What do you think about the controversy surrounding pastors with private jets?
When the unusual happens, like I said earlier, people will talk. When I first bought a v-boot Mercedes some years back, it caused a big controversy. It was so with my Hummer jeep. I think the jet issue is still a novelty; that’s why it is controversial.
Left to the ordinary person on the street, you are a pastor that always speaks ‘big grammar.’ Are you not bothered that the less-educated may not attend your church?
Not everyone can be attending our church regardless of their level of education. At the same time, not all of our members are highly educated. Also, you go to a church as you are directed by the spirit of God.
How do people in your church cope with the ‘big grammar,’ any feedback to know they always understand you?
They do. We have a ‘Question and Answer’ session which we hold during some services to enable people to ask follow-up questions on what I have taught, or seek clarification on general theological issues. Through this medium you could see that there is no communication gap.