Engr. Olusanya Folarin is the Brigadier General Emeritus of the African Lads and Lasses Brigade. He was ceremoniously pulled out as the Brigadier General having served for seven years last Sunday, November 10, 2019.
He spoke with National Monitor shortly after his pull – out ceremony. ROTIMI OLAWALE brings excerpts:
You have been pulled out today, what can you say about the Movement?
The Movement is moving strongly. We thanked God that we have been able to achieve some strides especially during my tenure. I am proud to say that the Brigade Movement was lifted high before I left the office. However the conduct of the members also improved alot and our recognition all over the federation was quite in order and it was glorious too.
What were your achievements while in office?
I cannot mirror myself, it is other people that can mirror what exactly I have done. But for the things I can remember, I had tried as much as possible with the special grace that God gave me to move the Brigade forward , starting from our enrolment, it was all redefined. Most of the books were rewritten, constitution was also reviewed. But unfortunately it was not appendaged before I left the office. It only required approval and signature before I left office. However in the property acquisition, I met the 2.1 hectares of land at Olowotedo Village and I inherited empty land from our presecessor. To God be the glory, before I left the office I was able to lay the foundation and even take it to the ground floor level and also constructed a temporary roofing for our members to be trained , lectured and even worshipped at Olowotedo. In fact, I must say two national camps were held, one in 2016 and another in 2017.
Was there any challenge while in office?
Every office has its own peculiar challenges. Yes there were a lot of challenges because when you are trying to improve or trying to introduce so many important things that will make us greater many people might not see it that way at the initial stage, they might want to go against it. They would be saying traditionally this is what we used to do, this is the way our forefathers used to do it. But we can improve upon it. So that is one of the challenges I met , but I was able with the Grace of God to carry my executive along and anything we wanted to introduce will first of all be discussed at the executive level, and then we would table the recommendation before the whole house, hence we were able to march forward.
In your speech you said you stepped on toes while in office and that you don’t have any apology to give to anybody. You also advised your successor to step on toes but later on you advise him to take it softly. Are you not contradicting yourself?
It is not contradictory at all. It is not. Yes for any leader to have anything done at all , apart from what he met on ground , to improve on foundation that have been laid , you must step on people’s toes otherwise you will not achieve anything. That’s why I met a lot of challenges from human beings, especially senior members thinking what the Brigadier General was bringing was not acceptable, we want to remain where we were. But I told them what I wanted and that it’s good for us. And as a result after carrying along my executive I moved on to do other things. At the end of it they would come and say welldone sir. But initially a lot of people would go against it. That is the kind of stepping on toes I was referring to. If you do not take your bull by the horns you would not actually achieve anything. If you are looking at the dissenting voice of the people you will not achieve anything at all. But once you have focus and you have your vision and you march on with your vision , definitely people will march along with you. So as a leader, you cannot be all in all, be fighting against your people. At times you need to thread softly in order to express what you are trying to bring up. You need to explain to them that this is exactly what I am talking about . So when you come to their level and you thread softly even those that are actually arguing or go against it , you can bring them along by explaining to them through patience. Without patience, one can’t lead very well.
You must have patience, you must have listening ears , you must carry people along with you. You cannot be an Island or you think you have monopoly of knowledge. No, you have to carry people along with you in order to achieve your aims and objectives.
Concerning Olowotedo Evangelical Mission can you expanxiate what you said in your speech?
The Olowotedo Mission has two missions. One, Olowotedo is 2.1 hectares of landed property I inherited which like I have said earlier we have developed a little bit to where my capacity can take us to. But along the line there was a great commission, it was spiritual. The Lord spoke to an highly spiritual father and he called us that Lord told him that Brigade should first of all start evangelism, that is revival. We started the first year as an obedient servant, obedient children to the words of God. We did one annual revival, during the second time , the Lord ministered to us that we should not even do it annually, we should organise a prayer champion that would be praying and would be doing revivals, prayer meetings every month, in form of vigil. The reason we have turned it to a vigil was that as Christians many of us come from different churches. Most of the churches now have their own revival programmes and weekly programmes which we don’t want to disturb. And ours is not a church, it is a fellowship . We started as a fellowship, and we started monthly revival, monthly vigil and to God be the glory before we erected our Hall we were using ordinary ground , the field of Olowotedo Village. During the first nine months that we started, to God be the glory, He was so nice to us , He was so enormous to us because rain never affect our programmes . During the day when we did the revival, rain never dropped for once to disturb our programmes as we start from six o’clock. It was either the rain had earlier fell and land dried before we started or immediately we finished the rain would start . For a whole nine months we were having it on an uncovered ground. The very first month that we decided to now have
our camp on that particular ground we tried to roof half of the hall before we started. That very night, on Sunday, it rained cats and dogs. It was as if the rain that could have disturbed the spiritual revivals earlier, the Lord stocked it somewhere and it now started to rain. To God be the glory.
What advice do you have for the members?
My advice for the members is that we should not disobey the voice of God . The great commission must continue, the great commission in the sense that there are lots of people among us that are not born again and are still doing what any ordinary people will do in the village of Olowotedo and they still need to be brought to God through evangelism. We should not stop doing that .
Two, I have said it , we cannot stop our training. We must continue with our training and our weekly practices. That’s what will make us okay as soldiers of Christ .
Three, I will still need to emphasise, obey the voice of God. When David had problem before he went to war, when he came back another opposition war has taken all his children, properties and everything to their place. And when David came back home, he didn’t meet his children and the children of the soldiers he took out. And he asked from the Lord, what shall I do , shall I pursue them, will I overtake, will I recover? The Lord said pursue and overtake . Because David asked from the Lord , the way out, what shall I do? In the Brigade too , we have been having problems of appointing leaders, I want to suggest that since we have tried one, two or three things and it has failed , why don’t we go down unto God . Let us called our various prayers champions to order, let them pray, so that the Lord himself will direct our leaders who to choose as deputy and other leaders of the movement.
During your tenure we were able to have African Church Lads and Lasses Brigade overseas. How was this made possible?
The African Church Lads and Lasses Brigade as the names that we bear was only in Nigeria alone . It had not even gone round the whole federation. During my own time apart from the 23 states that we had already established, I also made efforts to establish Brigade in Delta, Akwa Ibom and Benue state before I left the office. There are still other states to be covered. Apart from the states in the country, we made efforts to innaugurate Brigade at the Republic of Benin, in Cotonou . And to God be the glory, we innaugurated them in 2015 . Though it is a French speaking country we have to rewrite most of our orders, our commands, in French and our handbooks too. So to the Lord be the glory we have done that. I also made efforts in September 2017 I was in UK and I addressed the African Church in UK and introduced Brigade to them also. They have started recruiting members right now. Very soon we shall go and innaugurate them . Furthermore I took a further step to African Church at Ghana but unfortunately that did not materialise because I couldn’t finish the work before I left the office. So hopefully there are lots of jobs for the new Brigadier General to do .A lot of works , where we have reached, and where we are going next, the Lord will be with him. I pray that the Lord Almighty as He has been with me, will also be with him. He would achieve greater success in the mighty name of God.