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Daniel Taiwo Odukoya: Nigeria has a great future

Taiwo Odukoya Taiwo Odukoya

BY SYLVESTER OJENAGBON

If there was ever a man who believed in the potential of his country for greatness, that man was the late Daniel Taiwo Odukoya. As a child, he knew beyond any doubt that he would play a significant role in the development of Nigeria. He had felt at some point that it would be as a politician or someone occupying a public office. His call to full-time ministry subsequently however put paid to that.

Odukoya trained as a petroleum engineer and contributed his quota to the oil sector through the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, where he worked for 12 years before retiring to concentrate on the ministry God had committed to him. He even served as secretary to the acreage committee under the then honourable minister of petroleum, Prof. Jubril Aminu, and left with his hands untainted or unsoiled. Even after becoming the senior pastor of a vibrant church in Lagos, his heart continued to beat for Nigeria and her development.  

He was not only a pastor, but he was also a relationship and leadership expert. For him, Nigeria was a project he had a personal stake in, so he committed all he could to her development and was intentional about raising leaders. It is therefore no wonder that some of his initiatives were geared towards enhancing private and public leadership.

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Whether it was Discovery for Men, Discovery for Women, The Woman Leader or Leadership Training with Pastor Taiwo, the goal was the same: raise an army of leaders who would inspire change and make a difference in their spheres of life.  

Odukoya’s articles at various times in national newspapers and programmes on radio and television focused majorly on the leadership question. He was not only highlighting and analysing leadership problems, but he was also proffering solutions and challenging leaders to live up to their responsibilities. A book titled Reclaiming the Nigeria Dream came out of the many articles on leadership he had published in a leading national newspaper.

He also paid for a bi-monthly front-page advertorial in the same national newspaper for over two years in spite of the frightening cost in order to get his message across to those in public leadership. Such was his zeal to see things turn around for this country through effective leadership. 

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In the years preceding his death, he often ended his articles on leadership with the catchphrase ‘Nigeria has a great future!’ Although it was difficult for many to believe, Odukoya held on to that belief till his death.

It is therefore not surprising that on his first posthumous birthday on June 15, 2024, his children decided to continue his legacy with a public lecture. With the theme ‘Strengthening the Christian voice in government and public office,’ the lecture, which is designed to be an annual event, held at the prestigious Civic Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos.

On hand to deliver the lecture was the immediate past director-general of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, with a keynote address from former Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. They both echoed Odukoya’s messages throughout his lifetime on governance and public leadership and challenged Christians in public leadership to walk the talk. They also called on Nigerian pastors to stand and preach against bribery, corruption, stealing and other vices. If well practised, Christian values, they said, could bring transformative change to the country.

Before giving his lecture, Akabueze told the story of his personal encounter with Odukoya. In his words, “Pastor Taiwo was a man who walked his talk. I have a personal testimony which I will never tire of sharing. About twenty years ago, when I was Managing Director of NAL Bank PLC, a member of the bank’s staff was indicted in a fraud case.

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The investigators traced some of the stolen funds to cheques issued by the staff in favour of The Fountain of Life Church. I reported the matter to Pastor Taiwo, who promptly directed the church’s finance department to determine how much of such funds came to the church, and to issue a cheque to return same to the bank. This exemplary display of integrity shut the mouths of those who were poised to vilify the body of Christ, and endeared Pastor Taiwo to me.”

Such was the nature of the man who preached integrity in all things and demanded probity from those in leadership positions. As he always believed and said to his congregation, “God has made you the light; so, let your light shine wherever you find yourself.”

Pastor Daniel Taiwo Odukoya lived his life believing and praying for positive change in Nigeria through good leadership. The only honour we can all do him, now that he is no longer with us, is to imbibe and live out the principles he stood for and the ideals he preached. That way, Nigeria will indeed manifest the great future he saw and prayed for all his life.


Ojenagbon writes from Lagos

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Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.
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