–Cardinal Omolaja Odunbaku, a.k.a. Baba Eto
Cardinal James Omolaja Odunmbaku, popularly called Baba Eto is one of the few audacious men of God who combine soul-winning with politics. The renowned prophet and evangelist is a Nazarene by birth, a prophet by calling and a politician by mandate. Ironically, Odunmbaku who is the founder and spiritual head of Soul Winners Ministry, City of God Church, Lagos, has spearheaded the political campaigns that ushered in all the governors that has been ruling Lagos State since 1999. According to him, the correctness of his many predictions, including the ones that heralded the installation of the last three governors of Lagos State has further authenticated his prophetic calling This anointing, he has carried onto the political turf and unequivocally, told the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to jettison their dream of administering Lagos State. Speaking with Effect, Odunmbaku, Deputy Chairman, All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos State, also described PDP as a party of scavengers, noting that Lagosians would never entrust their future in such a party. The APC chieftain who turns 70 tomorrow, in this interview with TUNDE THOMAS speaks on why no razor has touched his head since his birth among other national issues.
How does it feel to be 70?
I feel great. I feel happy, elated and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. I’m happy being alive to serve Jesus Christ. I have been serving Christ since I was born and I will continue to do so for the remaining period of my life.
You are known as a Prophet and Minister of God, Why are you involved in politics?
I will say that I’m a special creation of God. I’m a Nazerene, that is somebody set aside specially by God to do His work. Since I was born, no razor has touched my head. I have never cut my hair or shaved it.
I have never been to a seminary, but there is no part of the Bible I can’t quote. I know the Bible inside out, and I prophesy whenever God has a message for me to deliver. When you asked how I combine politics with religion, it is very simple. My calling is to preach the gospel. I’m in politics to win souls for Christ, and to let people realise that all is vanity. My calling is to make politicians realize the reason they are in power is to serve mankind. My joy is that as people listen to me when I mount the pulpit in the church, they also listen to me when I campaign to them in politics. My mission in politics is to ensure that right leaders are elected to serve the people.
When you were growing, did it ever occur to you that you would become famous as you are today?
My God is very big and that’s why I have to be big also. I’ve never settled for anything second in my life – I always aspire for the best. If you see me preaching on the pulpit, you will marvel, and when you see me on the podium campaigning, you’ll also find it difficult to believe that I’m one and the same person. I don’t know how to explain it, but that is the way God has designed my life since I was born. You can see I am always attaining prominence and excellence in whatever I lay my hands on.
For this journey of my life, I have been lucky to have come across two great Nigerians whom I like to describe as my mentors. One is late Chief M.K.O. Abiola who christened me Baba Eto which literarily translates into one who can organizes very well or the chief organizer, and the next person is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
I thank God for meeting Tinubu. It was Tinubu who fully tapped my potentials especially in the area of organizing people for political events. I have always been a crowd puller, but since I met Tinubu, I have been able to use this talent fully.
From the day one I met him in 1993 as a senator, Tinubu has been a wonderful man; a seasoned politician, a man of the people, humble and patriotic. It is some of these attributes that Tinubu possesses that have been making it possible for Lagos State to come under the AD, later ACN, and now APC.
For 70 years, no razor, no clipper has ever touched your head …?
Cuts in. That is the truth. You can take the picture. Before now, I was not putting on cap, but at a certain stage of my spiritual sojourn, I receive a revelation from God that I must begin to cover my head. Then I obeyed.
For the years you have been in politics, you have become a godfather of a sort to governors in Lagos State, because you had helped to install at least three governors having served as Director-General or Coordinator of their campaign organizations, has it ever dawned on you to aspire for political office?
Vying for political office is not my calling. I was called to pray fervently so that the right persons mount the throne. When Godly people are on the throne, the people will rejoice. During the era of Tinubu, the foundation was laid, Fashola built on that foundation, and today Ambode is consolidating on the achievements recorded by Tinubu and Fashola.
Tinubu laid a solid foundation, and no other person has been able to surpass that. We thank God that Fashola and Ambode have also been wonderful. Prophets don’t aspire to be kings – the moment a prophet aspires to be king, his spiritual life becomes bastardised.
During the last gubernatorial election, I told God that if Ambode didn’t win the election, nobody should take my prophesy serious again. Meanwhile, I had prophesied to my congregation that Ambode would win. Again, nobody would have respected my prophecy again in the Celestial Church if Ambode had lost the election. But I give glory to God that Ambode won. As a prophet, I don’t take money from people, I bless them. It was during one of our services on a Sunday when I went into the inner chamber to pray to God, that l came out to prophesy that Ambode would win. I thank God that my prayers were answered.
I also predicted the electoral victory of Aregbesola in Osun State and Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti State. At the time Fashola was contesting, he visited my church, and God revealed to me that he would win the election and succeed Tinubu as the governor.
I also gave the same prophecy to Tinubu and it came to pass that he became the governor of Lagos State. At that time he was being addressed as Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
How do you define a prophet of God?
A prophet of God is the one who uses God’s name to predict or prophesy. All my prophecies and predictions are directly from God.
Is it true as it was claimed that you prophesied to M.K.O. Abiola that you saw him on the throne but without a crown, meaning that he would win the election but would not be installed as president?
Yes, that is very true. I met him in his room in Jos during the SDP primaries in 1993. M.K.O. Abiola had gone to Minna to meet General Babangida, and after their meeting, he came back to Jos delighted, telling us that he had received assurance that all would be well from Babangida. But I went to his room, and when I saw M.K.O. Abiola, I told him that I saw him occupying the seat of the president but I didn’t see the crown on his head. He became worried, and later asked me what that meant and I told him the prophecy meant that he would win the election, but would not be sworn in. I saw that he would not be president. That is the hallmark of a true prophet of God. You must be able to deliver God’s prophecy the way it was revealed to you even if that person that is receiving the message would shoot you. M.K.O. then asked me, what do we do? I told him that if there was a way out God would have revealed it to me.
At that point in time, did you advise him to back out?
I told him it wasn’t revealed to me that he would become the president, but he would win the polls. I believe at that point in time that it was too late to withdraw from the race because the whole nation was ready, M.K.O. Abiola had reached the point-of-no-return.
Then, M.K.O. Abiola used to tell people that he only feared and respected one prophet and that is me, Odunmbaku or Baba Eto. He fondly called me Eto, Eto or Eto ni o. Each time I went to him, he wouldn’t want me to talk too much because he would be afraid that one prophecy or the other would come during my stay with him.
But in the turbulent years that followed, did you have any prediction or prophecy for him again?
No. What eventually happened was that some people, for various reasons saw the crisis that followed the annulment as an opportunity to feather their own nests. Some people saw it as an avenue to make money from Abiola, forgetting that when God says, yes nobody can say no.
What is the vision behind Soul Winners, your pet project? Is it to evangelise, win souls, and organize special prayers for Lagos State annually?
God in His infinite mercy says to me that those who pray for the peace of Jerusalem would have peace. God told me that I should start organizing prayers for Lagos State, if I obey His commandment, that peace would not elude Lagos, and that peace would not elude me and members of my family. It was a divine instruction which I had to obey. When Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola came for one of our programmes of soul winning prayer meetings, it was there that the revelation came that he would become governor of Osun State. Annual prayer for Lagos State, I can’t ever stop it, because it is an injunction from God. And as a servant of the Most High, I must obey that commandment. We thank God that the turnout for the programme has been very impressive. We also thank God that since we started the programme, there has been peace in Lagos State. No Boko Haram, No bombings and no serious crisis.
Lagos State government under Tinubu later allocated a large expanse of land for us at Ibeju-Lekki because of the growing number of attendees. Lagos State government under Fashola used to donate about 200 to 250 LAGBUS buses to us to convey worshippers coming to the programme. That is to tell you about the efficacy of prayers. We feed the attendees free for three days. Over 100,000 people used to attend the programmes. It is an inter-denominational prayer programme.
What attracts the attendees to the venue?
There have been testimonies. There was a particular year a man was taking his wife who was due for delivery to the hospital. As they passed by, they stopped to see what was taking place. Just as they entered the venue, the wife went into labour and was delivered of a bouncing baby. The couple later confessed that it was a miracle because they didn’t expect such a thing to happen. There was another boy healed of epilepsy. The boy under the power of prayers fell down and vomited a life lizard. We were later told by his parents that the young boy had suffered from epilepsy for a long time. I’m not a magician. It was the Lord that healed him. You can count several other ones including those with fibroid who have been told by medical doctors that they can’t conceive again. But when such women come to the prayer meetings, they later have testimonies to share as they become proud mothers.
I also warned people against giving false testimonies as they do in some places. I warned people that if they mount the podium and give false testimonies that hitherto, they were blind but now they can see when in actual fact, they had never been blind, then, such person would go blind.
You claim that prayers and good governance has ensured victory for APC, dating back to the AD years in Lagos State since 1999. But the PDP has attributed its losses to rigging and electoral manipulation, what would you say to that? Again PDP also claimed that APC operates like a cult, and that the chieftain of the party pledged or swore to an oath of allegiance to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu?
We owe allegiance to God. But we also support and revere Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu because of his sterling qualities.
PDP is not serious and that party is a party of people with questionable characters. The party is made up of manipulators. If they say we are riggers, that means they are master riggers. PDP members don’t believe in the power of prayers. They are like atheists – they don’t believe in God. They don’t believe in prayers. They believe in power of money –they are like night marauders and that is why we have been praying that God should keep them away from Lagos. PDP can never, and will never rule Lagos.
Some people are saying that APC-led government is afraid of conducting local government elections because the party lost to PDP in some local government areas during the last general election …?
Cuts in … That’s a false claim. In the first place, APC is a political party and it is true we are controlling Lagos State, but the responsibility of conducting Local Government elections lies with LASIEC, and I make bold to say that anytime they call for election, we will inflict crushing defeat on PDP again. PDP is a serial loser in Lagos.
The fact that we lost some constituencies in the last election doesn’t mean that PDP will make any in-road in Lagos. APC led government has been transforming Lagos State, and this is why Lagosians have been voting for the party. Under the present Governor Ambode, the transformation has continued on a bigger and massive scale. When people are happy with you, they will continue to support you. In actual fact, during the local government elections whenever it comes up, APC will reduce PDP to zero level in Lagos State.
Lagos State has always been blessed with good leaders who know what is good for the people, and that is why through the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR Lagos State has been doing very well.
What is the secret of your youthful look at 70?
The secret is the blood of Jesus. Keep your tempers, never lose it. Be contented in whatever you do. Say No to stress. I don’t envy people. Whatever God gives me, I’m okay with it.
What are those things you want to achieve now that you have attained 70 years?
It is only one thing that I desire. I want to see that in my lifetime, the Soul Winners Prayer Ground becomes the Jerusalem of Africa. I want the place to be transformed to Mecca of Africa. I desire no other thing than this.
You are a prophet, and you are supposed to be for all nations. But what happens if a PDP member comes to you for prayers?
Whatever God reveals to me is what I will deliver as message. But one thing is this: PDP people are born losers. If they are the ones in charge of Lagos State, PDP would have sold Lagos. We thank God for His mercies that these marauders calling themselves PDP members are caricatures of what politicians should be. PDP is a party of scavengers. Nothing good can ever come out of PDP.