Lack of unity affecting Nigerian churches –Sanusi

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General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Bible Society of Nigeria (BSN), Pastor Samuel Sanusi, shares with CHINYERE ABIAZIEM some of the works of the notfor- profit organisation

 

It is about a year since you took over the leadership of the BSN. How has it been so far?

It has been very challenging. Leadership in Nigeria today is not leadership of Nigeria of 10 years ago. Someone has divided leadership into three parts using the traffic light as an example. Anyone can be a good driver when the road is free because such a person will move at a smooth speed because nothing is delaying.

 

There was a time in the world where anyone can lead because the economy is stable likewise the political and social environment. But the current situation is the red situation where everything seems to be at a standstill. I came in just little over a year ago and I have discovered leadership is not a tea party. For instance, there is insurgence to war against.

The foreign exchange rate is there likewise managing your staff and a lot of things to be concerned about. There were some periods in BSN whereby we did not even touch our distribution price for many years because the exchange rate and economy were stable. Today, a dollar is sold for over N600 and we do not know what will happen the next day.

 

There are some parts of this country we cannot get to because of insecurity, yet the stakeholders do not want to hear that you are not performing because of these challenges. The last one year has been very challenging but we give God the glory that we are still moving on. The Bible House project which is projected at N2billion, has been on for almost three years. What are the challenges hampering its actualisation? The challenges hampering the actualisation

 

of the Bible House are the Nigerian Christians. There is virtually no church leader that we have not written concerning the Bible House. When we unveiled the project, we thought we would be able to achieve our goal within six months. This is the Bible House we are talking about, does not belong to any denomination. Since this Bible is for every church of God, then the churches should be interested in supporting such project. But lo and behold, since the unveiling in 2019 and this is 2022 we have not raised N200 million. Someone will ask if we have contacted the church leaders. Yes. We have contacted them, we have held seminars, we have carried out courtesy visits, we have written, we have contacted Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) but all of them seem to be like ‘why should we build Bible House for you?’ It has been a very big challenge for us but we are trusting that God’s work cannot suffer. Could it be that the importance of a Bible House is yet to be known? I do not understand. Maybe… Among the church leaders we have written, I believe they can announce to their congregation to give a thousand naira each for example. With this a single denomination would have been able to even provide the money. Instead, the leaders write a cheque of one or two million naira. We have the idea of having two million Christians give a thousand naira each, as we have denominations with over two million people. If the leaders we have written see it as important they can raise offerings among members. What is the situation with the handwritten Bible project? It is one of the different approaches we adopted for the realisation of the Bible. Crowd funding is another approach where we request every Nigerian Christian to give us N1,000. The third approach is meeting Christians who can give large amounts. Presently the handwritten Bible is about 15 to 20 per cent completed. There is an amount of money attached to writing which is why some are drawing back. But when we get the money we will commission writers to write and complete it because of our commitment to give the handwritten Bible to those who already have given money and have some verses written. When we get the Bible House completed the handwritten Bible won’t be a problem. While BSN complains of inadequate support from churches, some sections of the church, on the other hand feel the BSN does not make its account public. What is your reaction to this? I am sorry that means these persons do not know BSN because an NGO like ours is not meant to publish its accounts in the newspaper like the financial companies will do. We present our reports to the church during their Synods. Go to our website you will see our financial report, we put it there every year for people to see. Those saying this obviously have not been supporting us otherwise they would have known. What strategies have the BSN adopted to  broker effective relationships with church leaders? We have practised a lot of strategies, we send our quarterly publication to them, not minding whether they are involved in our activities or not. Seeing that they are busy people and may not have time to read, recently we adopted what we call ‘proclaimer’ which comes in a one or two page (s) document highlighting what BSN is doing. In January this year we adopted another system that from the CEO’s desk we send monthly reports to let church leaders know what we are doing. However, face to face they say is better than a thousand letters, so recently I have discovered that it is not as if some of them are not willing to support us but they don’t really understand what we are into as such. The challenge is meeting these church leaders one on one. I know the number of church leaders I have written for courtesy visits and to worship with them yet no feedback. At one point we wrote to 50 General Overseers, Christian CEOs and philanthropists through our patron, Gen. Yakubu Gowon but only two responded. Recently, we said we will not give up and we introduced the idea of having ambassadors and it started paying off gradually. One of the ambassadors we unveiled in February fulfilled his promise of linking us to the head of the church where he worships. For the first time the leader had a roundtable with us and as we were leaving he promised us ten million naira, which he had fulfilled. Do you have any concern about the Nigerian church? My concern is that we are not united. Lack of unity among the churches is affecting us as a nation. For some of us it is money that determines how we practice our christianity. It is money, some honour. For example if someone is a voodoo pastor but can shower money on members, you will still see people giving such person accolades. Also, if the CAN president declares a national prayer and fast how many people will obey? Unlike when the General Overseers of the churches where they worship declare fast. The problem also is that we are majoring in the minor instead of majoring in the major

 

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