By Alawode Omotunde
January 9, 2022, will be evergreen in the life of Rev. Victor Olakunle Abayomi Ogunkanmi, the general overseer of Christ Gospel Mission International (CGM), for the ambience of worship, gratitude and friendship, and the great turnout of personalities at the serene centre of Bolton White Hotel & Apartments, on the cool Sunday evening in the heart of the capital city of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ogunkanmi was born on Tuesday, January 9, 1962, to Rev. Daniel Olagoke and Princess Sabainah Oyefunmilola Ogunkanmi (nee Oyediran) of Aro Ogunle’s clan, Oluponna, Osun State. His parents were righteous pacesetters of inestimable worth who focused more on eternal treasures and lived as pilgrims in this world. They served God and pioneered an indigenous Christian church, Christ Gospel Mission International, with headquarters in Lagos, in August 1969.
Ogunkanmi’s birth was turbulent, which was one of the reasons he was given the name Victor Abayomi Durotoluwa. His mother had waited four years and lost a pregnancy before getting pregnant with him. Victor did not exit her womb until after 12 months! With absolute trust in the ability of Jehovah to deliver from all evil attacks, his mother decided to go on a fast. It was during that fast that she was delivered of her baby boy, a child destined for continuous victories, at the Maternity Ward of Lagos Island Hospital. He was born with dreadlocks (Dada), which his father prayed over and cut, although it tangled for a few more years.
Ogunkanmi attended Lagos City Council Primary School, Okesuna, Lagos, from 1967 to 1969, and got his first school leaving certificate at St. Jude’s Primary School, Ilasamaja, Lagos, in 1973. He proceeded to Ecole Gaskiya Bilingue Internationelle, Porto Novo, Dahomey, now Republique du Benin, for his secondary school education, from 1973 to 1975, and Archbishop Aggey Memorial Secondary School, Ilasamaja, from 1995 to1978. He attended King’s College, Lagos, for his higher school certificate, from 1978 to 1979.
Ogunkanmi was singled out by his Advance Level Literature teacher to play the star role of Anthony in a staged drama of William Shakespeare’s “Anthony and Cleopatra,” to mark the 70th Founder’s Day celebration of the school in 1979.
Ogunkanmi proceeded to the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, from 1979 to 1983, where he bagged a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. He played prominent roles in student unionism and campus journalism in his undergraduate days. He served as a member of the Students’ Representatives’ Council, production editor, and later as the editor-in-chief of Pointer News Agency in his penultimate year. He was also a member of the Evangelical Christian Union, where he was actively involved in the prison visit, school visits, and drama ministries. He participated in the National Youth Service Corps in 1983/84 and did his primary assignment with the National Secretariat of Christ Gospel Mission, Lagos, and also taught in the Bible College.
Ogunkanmi earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Jos, Plateau State, in 1990. Passionate about self-development and lifelong learning, Ogunkanmi has obtained several theological and professional certificates, including that of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria. He continues to attend and facilitate conferences to learn and teach others.
Ogunkanmi met his heartthrob, Olubukunola Iretioluwa Durojaiye, a Law student, in ECU on the beautiful campus of the University of Ife, around 1982. They got married on May 9, 1987, in Lagos and are blessed with three daughters, two sons and grandchildren.
Ogunkanmi’s children affirm that their father has successfully managed to balance those sometimes conflicting demands with such poise and grace that only God can give. He is a loving, present, devoted, altruistic and caring father who ensured that all his children completed their education in reputable institutions. He puts their needs before his and goes the whole nine yards to ensure their well-being.
Ogunkanmi stands tall and walks swiftly and will never condone anyone dragging his or her feet around him. A connoisseur of the English language, he ensured that his children all spoke properly. He taught his children good English. Common phrases wrongly used like ‘we used to pray,’ for an ongoing action were not allowed in his house. He would dictate words for them to spell, and, till this day, still asks them frequently, “What book are you reading?” “What is God saying to you in this season of your life?”
Commitment to Nigeria
Rev. Ogunkanmi has had rare opportunities of interacting with the highest echelons of power in the past and seized those occasions to boldly speak the truth to power. At 36 years of age, he delivered a directional message to the nation at a delicate period when the country was at a crossroads, on the death of General Sani Abacha in June 1998. Ogunkanmi jolted the nation to consider their end as he asked all Nigerians, especially military leaders of the day, at the Methodist Cathedral, Wuse, Abuja, the fundamental question: “What will you be remembered for?”
In another prophetic message to the nation during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day service at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Area 3, Garki, Abuja, on Sunday, January 12, 2003, Ogunkanmi contrasted Nigeria with the God-chosen nation of Israel, whose failure, idolatry, immorality, greed and contempt for God’s covenant made to become the target of God’s chastening. He described Nigeria as a paradox, an apparently absurd country, abundantly endowed with human and natural resources but ranking among the poorest of the nations of the earth. Then he proffered seven challenges to transform Nigeria from being called “The God-forsaken Land” to “the Land of God’s Delight.”
Ogunkanmi believes that Nigeria is not a mere creation of Lord Lugard or any human being, but a country with divine purposes for God’s end-time agenda. He is of the conviction that, in his own generation, Nigeria will rise to her God-given destiny, globally respected and revered in all areas.
Ogunkanmi’s career took off from his appointment with the Federal Civil Service Commission, Lagos, in 1984. He served in various positions in administration, HR, planning, monitoring and evaluation at the directorate level. He was appointed executive director (administration/human resources development), Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), from May 2006 to 2009. He retired from the Federal Civil Service in 2019.
Ogunkanmi has been actively involved in Christian ministry since1983. After relocating to the Federal Capital Territory in 1987, he pioneered Christ Gospel Mission in Abuja, in 1988. He was ordained into the pastoral ministry in August 1989 and was later elevated by divine ordination as a reverend on August 10, 2001. His missionary initiatives revolved around the country and beyond, especially in the Middle Belt of Nigeria, Republic of Benin, and the United States of America. He was appointed head of missions and evangelism department of CGM by the General Advisory Council, with effect from January 19, 2004.
He served as the first general secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in Abuja, from July 21,1990. He was returned unopposed for a second term as general secretary, PFN, Abuja, from 1994 to 1998. He was also appointed general secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in 1997 and served for two terms; vice-chairman, PFN, Abuja, 1998 to 2002; and national deputy secretary (PFN), two terms, 2001 to 2009, among other outstanding honours and appointments.
His spare time is spent reading edifying books, playing Scrabble, and other indoor games with his family.
Rev. Ogunkanmi is committed to excellence in life. He is passionate about winning more souls for Jesus and multiplying leaders of integrity in all spheres of human endeavour. He is pained at the degeneration of political leadership in Nigeria, and opined that a generation that does not critically assess the vices and virtues, as well as the success and failures of her political leadership, will lack the wisdom and boldness to discern credible political leaders for the future. He added that people without a solid and credible personal and family foundation are deficient from being considered for political offices in contemporary Nigeria. Ogunkanmi believes in raising visionary leaders from the younger generation, which has led him to mentor youth across the country.
He is an example of a life sold out to Christ, without whom he is nothing. Beyond the joy of celebrating this birthday and many more to come, by God’s grace, his utmost desire is that the world comes to know Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life.
According to his wife: “You deepened my intimacy with God by your unique walk with the Lord. I tried to understand your serious nature, which was completely different from my playful nature, and when our opposite personalities seemed unmatchable, I cried to God to explain how we would make it together as a couple. God reassured me that Victor was His desire for me. I’ve learned to pay attention to his words. I once received inspiration about him: ‘His words speak louder than his actions.’ I had my peace from then and could appreciate his favourite saying, ‘All unrighteousness is sin.’ Not once have I found a lie on your lips.”
She prayed for the years ahead to bring greater joy, fulfillment on all sides, sound health and rest, “as the Lord showers His love and grace upon him more and more.”
Among dignitaries that graced the occasion were Bishop Wale Oke, the national president of the PFN and chancellor, Cornerstone University, Ibadan; Rev. Dr. William Okoye, former chaplain to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and National Advisory Council member of PFN; Archbishop John Praise Daniel, deputy national president, PFN; Rev. Dr. Isaac Oriakhi, general overseer of Gospel Light Redemption Church and former national vice-president for FCT, PFN; Rev. Dr. Isaac Komolafe, chairman, PFN, FCT; Rev. Timothy Osuolale, CGM’s Ondo/Ekiti divisional overseer; Pst. Toyin Adeyemo, Lagos/Ogun divisional overseer; Pst. Gideon Olaleru, treasurer of CGM; Pst. Ernest Akhilele, director, planning and strategic initiatives; and the celebrant’s elder sister, Rev. Mrs. Victoria Olatuyi, from Maryland, USA.
Other dignitaries included the chief medical director of the National Hospital, Abuja, and his wife, Dr. Jaf and Dr. Mrs. Sade Momoh; Bishop Ayo Odunayo, the celebrant’s best man at his wedding in 1987 and school mate at King’s College; Mrs. Ope Jiya, the chief bridesmaid in 1987; Pastor Andrew Enaboifoh; Rev. Mrs. Julie Akhimien; Deacon S.B. Taiwo, national director of Gideons International and retired director of WAEC; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Osobu; Pastor Omoniyi Fagbemi and many other great men and women of God.