Leke, the youngest of the four children of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, doubles as his father’s Personal Assistant (PA).
In this interview with ADENIYI ADEWOYIN, he explains the circumstances that warranted his appointment as his father’s PA. He also speaks about the secular aspects of his father’s life, his love for bikes and the recent controversy about his father’s purported retirement, among other issues.
How would you describe your growing up years as a son of the General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God?
I think he was already a pastor by the time I was born into the family. But he not be a full pastor, because you go from being a deacon to assistant pastor and then a full pastor. But he was always involved with the work of God. Obviously, he is an amazing father. He gives us fantastic examples of how to be a real and true man. He made us to understand the difference between right and wrong and he always had time for his family even though the work might be much.
One of the things most people don’t get is that he nursed the idea of becoming the youngest vice chancellor in the whole of Africa. So, that was what he was pushing for and ensuring the wellbeing of his family. That was a top priority for him, bearing in mind the fact that he came from a very poor background. So, his game plan was that once God blessed him, he would need to pull everybody else out of poverty.
So, I didn’t see him as a pastor; I saw him first as a man. Like the bible says, there is time for everything. You know the time to pull back as a son so that the father can do what he wants to do. You also know when it is time to help him and show that you are a real son.
Most people believe that pastors are usually strict with their children so that they would not end up being the opposite of what they preach. How strict is Pastor Adeboye as a father?
The bible actually gives the guidelines to parents on how to train their children. It says you should train your child in the way that he should go, so that when he grows up, he won’t depart from it. That is the basic standard across the world. Look at Palestine; they train their children from as young as one month old to hate Israel, and that is what the children believe all their lives. A parent should train his children to be good, treat every human being with respect, don’t cheat anyone and don’t lie even if your life depends on it. Do what you are told by your parents. Honour your father and your mother, always be honest and caring.
Each time you do something outside of the rules and regulations that they give you, you would have to be disciplined for it. If you don’t, that means they are celebrating your being disobedient, and I believe that is the basis of the problems that many people have nowadays. They are being celebrated for doing the wrong things, so they believe the wrong thing is right.
In your school days, were there times your peers felt you should not do certain things because you were Pastor Adeboye’s son?
Not just that; they would even say you should not do certain things because you are from a certain tribe. They would say that you should not be talking in certain ways because you were a guy with different kinds of experience and different kinds of exposure. I have lived at the Redemption Camp since I was about six months old, and it was a different life. There was no light and no telephone. We were cut off from the rest of the world until the camp started to develop slowly and then the villages around it. There was no TV for us, so we had to read, develop our imaginations, and we had to be focused. But then, anywhere you got to as your father became more popularly known, people judged you based on him. And that is normal. Everybody will judge a lawyer’s son by who the lawyer is, and it is the same with being the son of a pastor. People expect certain moral standards of you. They will obviously expect that you don’t do certain things.
It is undeniable that your dad is loved by many. But even Jesus had enemies. Are there times you read things about your dad that made you feel bad?
One thing I understand about life is that if you don’t have haters, it means that you are not gifted or talented enough. If you don’t have haters, then you are not doing something positive, because some people will be upset and ask why it is only you. I would tell you that there are people, including senior pastors, who are not genuinely happy that Pastor Adeboye is loved by many. But he remains humble at all times. He knows that he didn’t ask people to love him. He just does what he is called to do. He just focuses on his assignment. His job is to get as many people to heaven as possible, but the devil would not like that because his own assignment is to get as many people as possible to hell. But he (Adeboye) is pushing the agenda of Jesus Christ, and there would be people who would be on the devil’s side.
So really, haters will be there. But we understand that they are doing their own primary assignment. There are certain on air personalities who no matter what you say about Pastor Adeboye or Bishop Oyedepo they will have something negative about it. We know them, but we know that they are fulfilling their own assignment, so we don’t have any issues with them.
How did you feel when it was announced that Pastor Adeboye had retired as the General Overseer?
I’m not even allowed to talk about that. But information is powerful, and a lot of people get things wrong because they are not well informed. They made the announcement to all of us in the same space at the same time, and I was just like, well… Normally, you are supposed to work till you are 70 years old.And if God pushes you to work beyond 70, then it is fantastic.
The interesting thing is what that was done was already being done across all other nations that RCCG is. There is already an overseer in every other nation that RCCG is. So, the fact that we are based in Nigeria, most people assume that there would not be a need for one. Our pastor is also a big daddy to me. I mean the national overseer has always carried out all those assignments that should have been accorded to a national overseer in Nigeria. He attends the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) meetings, the CAN meetings and even controls the payment of salaries to the staff in Nigeria.
So I think it was just because the announcement was made and then some people just turned around and went running with it. I was like wow, thank God we are moving to something else. We would have more time for other parts of the word than just being held back in Nigeria. I mean there are countries we haven’t had huge influence in, and I realise that it is by you going there physically sometimes that will encourage the work of God that is going on there.
Were you made the personal assistant to Pastor Adeboye because he couldn’t trust outsiders?
That is a very interesting question. Actually what happened is this: I would say I was the first person to be interviewed as a personal assistant in RCCG, and that was about eight years ago. Most people don’t know I actually finished with a first degree in Aerospace Technology and a master’s degree in Engineering Project Management, coming around to now say I would love to work for the mission. I mean I would have sleepless nights if God wakes me up at 2 am and say you are not supposed to be here; everything that has been invested into you is to be able to come back and use it to help this mission become much better, become more professional in their ways. So, that was one of the reasons I came back, and I was like is there any role they would like to interview me for?
They started me from the lowest pay grade that the mission has in terms of salary as well. I actually had an eight-hour interview. I went in full suit and came back with only singlet and boxers (laughs). That was how tough the interview was. And while most people are put on probation for three months, mine was for a year and a half, because they were not going to play with their general overseer, regardless of who it was going to be. I have been more scrutinised than anybody else. I’ve been grilled more. But I don’t mind, because when it comes to work, I don’t see him as my father, I see him as my principal and my boss.
I do what I’m supposed to do and constantly try to see how I can improve on my duties as personal assistant, how to improve his office as well as the office of the general overseer. We benchmarked it with the office of Obama back then and even tried to get his own PA to come and do training for us, because we do training for other RCCG’s senior pastors’ PAs every February and also benchmark it with the office of the Pope. We try to consider how his office is run so that we can see what we are doing good, what we are not doing good and where we can do better.
So, to me, I bring in the same level of professionalism that has been instilled in me while studying. It just happened to be my father. It could be anybody else. It could have been the president or the governor or a CEO of another company. That is the way I actually see it. RCCG is a company and it has its own objectives and aims. My own job as senior personal assistant is to ensure that its CEO gets all his primary assignments done in real time without missing anything out, and I carry out basic roles even beyond that of a personal assistant. So, yea, it is interesting. And if there are other people who are interested in the role, why not? They are welcome.
How is your relationship with mum?
She is my mum. She brought me into the world. I love my mum till death. I mean without her, I will not be here. She is going to be 70 this year. I’m celebrating her from now. She does so much that is not even recorded or put anywhere. She is an amazing woman. She has all sorts of initiative that I’m still waiting one day for CNN to come and do a documentary on, because there’s just so much she has done. She has a project where she removes prostitutes or women who have been abused sexually or domestically by their husbands, put them in a home, feed them, train them so that they can fend for themselves and send their children to school from her own pocket and fund raising from other people. Which is where it gets annoying when some people say rubbish on the social media without knowing the facts or what is going on. She has a doctoral degree, which most people don’t know. They assume it’s only pastor E.A Adeboye that has a doctorate.
You said apart from being the PA, you have other responsibilities. Why is it only you when daddy has other children? Is it that you are his favourite?
Please, don’t put me in trouble o. I’m not the favourite. The first born is Pastor Adeola Adeboye who owns Wisemen Apparels. He also does Team Nehemiah, which is an arm of RCCG that ensures that there is safety in terms of movement of people in and around the camp, especially on the expressway. And he is also a full pastor and has his family to contend with. So, everybody is doing something. There are other people, but it is just that I’m the one that you see around him, so they assume maybe because I’m the most troublesome, they are keeping me closer.
What would you have been if you were not a pastor?
I don’t even think I’m a pastor yet. I am just an assisting pastor. I am assisting a pastor; I am not a full pastor. I just want to serve. I have seen what my dad has done all his life serving the people and I just want to help him make sure he does that and I do mine in my own little way.
You almost pulled a stunt out there with your bike when you arrived. Do you have a flair for bikes?
Yes, I have a flair for bikes, extreme sports. But I have to behave myself because I am married and I have four kids if you count my wife. I have to ensure that I am safe. Life insurance is from God, but obviously, I have to think about them. So I behave myself. But then, I like to get to places in time. So, yea, I like bikes. I have a flair for anything that moves fast. That is why I did aerospace, which comprises training of aircraft, jet fighters and space shuttles.
What is your most prized fashion item?
We are not allowed to be canal (laughs). But, of course, I love fashion and I like simplicity too and something that is comfortable. Everything I am wearing now is Nigerian made. Because I looked at it, we buy jeans that is Versace and you give him big money and he’s making the money. The tailor that I use is actually one of our youths in Ebutte Metta in Lagos. So I told him go and look at Versace jeans; we too can sew the same thing; we just buy the material. The shirt is also made in Nigeria. The only thing I have on me that is not Nigerian made is Michael Korrs watch, and it is because I don’t have anybody making watch in Nigeria yet. And the shoe. But then, if anybody decides to make that, we will support. That is the only way Nigeria will even come out of this economy issue that we are in.
People believe that everything about Pastor Adeboye is spiritual. Could you give an insight on the non-spiritual aspect of his life?
He likes to fish, so every single house that we’ve had on the camp has a fish pond behind it. It is very relaxing. He likes to go for walks. He likes train rides; thank God the railways are being developed back in Nigeria. But any time we are outside Nigeria, he prefers to go by train to most places, because you get to see the countryside and have a different view of life than just being in the car all the time. And we watch movies, but not corrupt ones. We watch Mount Zion movies too, but not necessarily hundred per cent Christian movies all the time, because you would be caging yourself and you are not engaging in the reality of what other people are experiencing as well. He is a huge fan of James Bond, so we have a collection of more than 50 James Bond movies. I even have one in my house just in case he comes to visit me and that’s what he wants to watch.
You said earlier that he likes fishing. Is that where the theme of the church’s programme, Let’s Go A Fishing, came from?
(Laughs) That’s a good one. But no, he’s actually fishing for souls.
What’s his favorite meal?
He always makes a joke that it is Ila Asepo (okra soup) and pounded yam, but Iyan gbere (bread fruit). It grows on trees and it is very goo.
Your parents would be 50 years in marriage next year. Having gone this far as a couple, will you say they are perfect to have maintained that love?
They will be married 50 years by next year, I think experience makes you perfect and overtime and practice also make you perfect. I mean they are huge role models. The only other people that I know that have been married more than 50 years is elder Ohiwere and Mummy Janet Ohiwere who are friends with Daddy and Mummy Adeboye as well. I have never seen them argue. That is why I genuinely don’t have any issues with my wife, because I don’t want to have any place to say I’m picking up a bad habit from. So it’s difficult for me to fight her or have issues with her.
Now 50 years and going strong, especially nowadays when some people do destination wedding and in three months the wedding is over. They warn people now in advance that if you know that this wedding won’t last, we are not going to any destination with you, let’s do it in Nigeria where we can catch each other (laughs). But 50 years is no mean feat, and I’m hoping that I too will get to 50 years and beyond