Recently, many residents of Lagos State were naturally dumbfounded when they saw the General Overseer of Resurrection Praise Ministries, a.k.a Jehovah Sharp Sharp, Archbishop Samson Mustapha Benjamin on the street carrying a coffin on his head.
Many recalled on that day of the incident during the Obasanjo Military Regime, in the late 70s, when Afrobeat King Fela Anikulakpo, members of his band as well as fans carried a mock coffin to Dodan Barracks in Ikoyi, Lagos, to protest the horrendous ill-treatment given to his mother during the invasion of Kalakuta Republic by soldiers.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Sun, The pastor gives reasons for his action and also addressed other national issues.
What informed your decision to carry coffin to walk on the streets of Lagos?
Well, from September 15, 2019 till this month of April, 2021, I have not eaten any food cooked by fire. I have been busy seeking the face of God over our great country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria. All through, I did not talk to any mortal, I did not see the sun, the moon, the cloud and the sea. All I did was to communicate with the Lord God Almighty. What you are seeing me do is what the genuine prophets of old did. They were asked by God to go and carry a symbol when he wanted to pass a message to the leaders of the nation. In my own case, God said to me to carry a coffin on my head and tell the Nigerian leaders that they have intentionally and wrongly deployed the common resources that belong to the country, and have therefore brought hardship upon the citizens of Nigeria. God said I should tell the leaders that He is not happy with them. He is not happy with the bloodshed, insecurity and other challenges in the country. At a time, we had strong hope for Nigeria, but now, the hope is no longer there. And, a man needs to tell them the truth from President Muhammadu Buhari, members of his cabinet, the senators, members of the House of Representatives, governors and local government chairmen. I carried the coffin in obedience to the word of God that the present Nigeria, is a disappointment to the Lord God Almighty, who brought people of various ethnic groups together in one place and gave them a heavy resources, which the self-centered, selfish and greedy leaders have taken and made the commonwealth of the people their own personal treasure. That was why I carried the coffin on my head to walk on the street. God said it is not only the political leaders, but religious and traditional leaders too. I am not a politician or for the politicians. I am neither here nor there, but as a servant of the most high God, I declare the message He sends to me. A lot of people are asking that I have not been talking for sometime now. But I told them that I cannot speak, except when God asks me to do so. For about a year and seven months now, I have not eaten anything cooked with fire, and I have been busy listening the voice of God. I have obeyed the voice to the fullest. I have delivered the messages.
What is the significance of the coffin you carried on your head to deliver the message from God to the Nigerian leaders?
As we all know, a coffin is not a furniture or something for interior decoration. It is actually good for nothing and it is in the end of life of a man that he will be put in the coffin.
What would be the implication of the leaders not adhering to the message you delivered to them?
Well, mine is to deliver the message, and if they listen and obey, God will spare them. But, if they do not, their blood will never be on my hands. I am not one of those who will always tell them what they want to hear. I will deliver the message the way I was asked to do. That’s why I carried the coffin.
But none of those you are sending the message are not around here. Why did you not go to the seat of power in Abuja?
You see, right now, we live in a society that actually is supposed to be democratic, but that is not what we are seeing. We wear the uniform of democracy, but refuse to practice the democratic values. You and I know very well that human rights and civil rights are the rights of citizens of Nigeria. But we have found ourselves in a government that when you are being constructive or destructive in your criticism, they would consider you of being anti-government. I am not sending the message because I cannot go to the seat of power, but right now, I am still in a journey, process, procedure of no food cooked by fire for about a year and seven months now. So, moving up and down will not be an easy job for me. Besides that, God will tell me where to go before I can do so. I fear nobody. If God tells me to go to Abuja today with coffin on my head, I will not hesitate to do so.
Considering the gradual collapse of Nigeria, could you specifically suggest wayfoward for the country?
There are whole lot of things to do. For me to have carried a heavy coffin is not easy. But, I must obey the voice of God. We can see and hear cries for secession and restructuring everywhere. But the question now is: is it God’s will that all these things will happen? We, as Nigerians, must sit down on a roundtable and look at it again, what and what brought us together, and whether those things are still workable today or not. If there is need for restructuring, then the country can go ahead and do that. Restructuring is not a breakup; if it is devolving of power from the centre to all the regions that make up the unitary government called the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Unfortunately, some are against restructuring, but the truth is that President Buhari, his appointees and everyone in power, must do something to save the country from collapse. They must sit down and ensure that we come to the roundtable again to decide whether we should stay together or not.
Obviously, kidnapping in Nigeria occurs almost on daily basis, even churches too are victims. We have occasions where churches paid ransom for their members. Could it be said that prayers are no longer effective?
It is unfortunate, and that is the reason I said that my message is not only for political leaders, but also for religious and traditional leaders. Kidnapping and all other vices are all insecurity problems and crisis going on in the country. Those days, we grew up with knowing the power of prayers. The Bible describes it as having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. I Know there are people around me that had been kidnapped several times, but we’re released through the power of prayers. No man who has not eaten food cooked by fire or any pleasant food for about 19 months, that will not believe in the power of prayer. But right now, what a lot of people portray outside, is not really who they are inside. That is why it is as if the church is more or so, like the world today.
Some Nigerians are calling for the resignation of President Buhari, due to his inability to tackle the various challenges facing Nigeria at this point in time. Do you subscribe to the call?
You see, the truth remains that when the head says he has done his best, and it happens that his best is not enough, the very best thing for him to do, is to actually take a pen and paper and write a resignation letter, and ask another person to carry on. In fact, people will applaud such action. When he sees that he can no longer continue working as he is supposed to, all he needs to do, is to find a better way of giving others who are more competent, the opportunity to do it. I remember, in the administration before Buhari, many people said the man was incompetent and that he could not go further in doing this or that. As a result, he was ejected out of power. Now, the truth here becomes that Nigeria, as a country, should pray very hard that the 2023 elections will be free and fair, so that the leadership of this country, will be able to move over to the younger generation