I always thought I have read the world’s Number 1 bestseller- the Holy Bible – comprehensively and diligently. On 18th November 2018, I was proved wrong. A brief background will clarify.
My preferred churches of worship in Abuja are the NKST Church in Mabushi and the ECWA Church in Wuse 2. The NKST is my family church. Christianity in Tiv land started when my great grandfather – Chief Saaitu Deekpe – hosted the first Christian missionaries to Tiv land on 16th April 1911. The consequence of that great act of hospitality was that Christianity began as NKST in Tiv land in our village, located halfway between Wukari and Takum. While my great grandfather hosted the missionaries, my grandfather, the Rev JEI Sai, was the first Tiv man to be ordained a priest.
I like the ECWA church because even though it is not Reformed like NKST, it preaches basically the same message with my NKST.
When I left home on 18th November 2018, I thought I was going to attend the ECWA church. Halfway, I decided to attend the NKST.
The service of that day proceeded normally. Then came my first shock. The preacher decided to take his sermon from Hosea 1 and 3. I was rather taken aback by these verses that were read out by the preacher. I cannot remember reading the verses or hearing the incredible stories contained in those verses. They were new to me.
God, our Holy God, was in these verses instructing Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, King of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel to go and marry a prostitute and have children with the prostitute. I began to wonder why our God who abhors sexual immorality would encourage a man to go and marry a prostitute and have children with her? My attention was fixated on the preacher. How was he going to rationalize this unholy instruction from the Holy God?
As if reading my mind, the preacher revealed to us that he had read out these same verses at a morning family devotion and posed the same question to his wife. Did Hosea do the right thing by marrying a prostitute and having children with her?” Well”, the wife answered, “Hosea did no wrong since that is what God wanted”.
Then the unexpected happened. The preacher as if pushed by a strong invisible wind fell. It was a loud bang that caught the attention of the whole congregation. The Pastor of the Church, his elders, the preacher’s wife and other concerned worshippers rushed to the podium. He was taken into a car and rushed to Zankalin Hospital.
We members of the congregation remained in shock and turned the service into a prayer session. We sang and prayed; sang and prayed; sang and prayed. Then we dispersed – frightened, confused. Later, the sad message came that the preacher was gone.
The dead preacher was Mr. Benjamin Adamu, a retired Deputy Director of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, my classmate at the University of Ibadan and a friend of over forty years. He was an elder in the Church.
His death remains a mystery. According to his wife, he was in good health. For a man of his age, 60+, he had issues with his blood pressure. Even that was not serious enough to cause concern because it had stabilized considerably. That morning, he had his breakfast, drove himself to the church and there was no evidence that he was indisposed.
Benjamin Adamu was a strong man physically. I remember when we were students at Ibadan, he put together his resources and bought a motor bike. When the school broke on holidays, he would do the extraordinary thing of riding the bike all the way from Ibadan, Oyo State to his Village in Gboko Local Government of Benue State. He was tall, huge, strong. The rest of us used to travel by the rickety, ill maintained buses with all kinds of funny names: A BUBUYAYA, DO WELL GOD WILL HELP YOU TOFI etc.
While we were at Ibadan in the 70’s, the Tiv students elected me their leader and spokesman. We graduated and went on National Youth Service after which we went our ways and hardly ever saw each other. Benjamin Adamu, a graduate of Economics, joined the Central Bank in 1980 and worked there without break for 35 years, rising to the rank of Deputy Director.
In 2016, there was an urgent need for us to come together. One of our mates, James Ayatse was appointed the paramount leader of the Tiv people – Tor Tiv. His classmates of Tiv origin got together to pay him a courtesy visit in his Makurdi home. At the preliminary meeting before the main event with the Tor Tiv elect, the question of who would be our spokesman in the royal presence arose. Our mates remembering the good old days turned to me. I said NO. let Adamu speak.
It was agreed and he spoke for us. It was a spontaneous oratory and the Tor Tiv elect was happy and relaxed, cracking jokes about Adamu’s powerful handshakes of those student days. I had hoped he will continue to be our spokesman for long. Man proposes, God disposes.
Our last serious interaction was when we attended the 32nd Inaugural Lecture of the University of Abuja held 30th August 2018. The lecturer was Professor Wilfred Tile, one of our classmates at Ibadan and now a professor at the university of Abuja. Joseph Akaanan another classmate came from Gboko and spent the night in my house. In the morning Adamu picked us from my house and we attended the lecture.
It is sad he left us without warning. But he left at the point of serving God. There is no better way to die.