My pilgrim’s progress

In the course of my journalism odyssey and service to my fatherland, I have been honoured countless times with awards headlining my modest contribution to country and humanity. But none came close to the one I received on 7 February 2024 at the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion at Ika in Delta state. 

This particular one was an epoch that set me on an emotional introspection followed by profuse praise for God’s matchless grace upon my life.There I stood facing the leadership of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion: the Primate of all Nigeria, Most Rev’d Henry Ndukuba, House of Bishops, House of Priests and House of Laity, at the Anglican Cathedral Church of Ascension,  Boji-Boji Owa of the Diocese of Ika, Delta state, listening to my citation for the prestigious Award For Excellence In Faithfulness In The Kingdom Service.  

As the citation was being read, the Holy Spirit took over, taking me on a journey  back to my formative years which were spent in vicarage.  In vivid colour, the Spirit showed me how my late father, Daniel Akinseye Olamiti – a cathechist- spent 40 years serving God, faithfully and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to many parts of the Old Ondo Province.  My beloved father was the vessel, the early evangelist that God used to bring Christianity to Idanreland. 

 Ironically, despite his many years of dedicated and meritorious service, Papa retired without a building to house his wife and six children. But by the time he was asked to pack out of the Mission House, help came from above. It came in the form of a two-bedroom building without toilet and kitchen, but good enough to provide shelter for him, his wife and six children. 

For his service for 40 years he was paid one-off retirement benefit of 40 pounds and he used half of that amount to offset the balance of my school fees at Olofin Grammar School, Idanre. I also remember how, as a young boy in the primary school, I used to follow my dad to the yearly Synod in Ondo town.  My dad, though poor financially, living on one-pound monthly salary, always went with cap in hand to well-to-do Church members for help.

However, throughout that difficult period, I never saw my father in a moody state. He was always happy and enthusiastic in going from house to house twice daily to win converts into God’s Kingdom from paganism. He was cheerfully and eagerly going about planting churches at the different stations he found himself from frequent transfers.Therefore, as joy continued to dwell in my soul and spirit as I received the award, my spirit kept telling me: this award is not for me but for my father and the people of Idanreland, where my beloved old man was one of the pioneers that brought Christianity to the land.

Shortly after he  passed on to glory, 28 years ago, I saw him in my dream. The two of us were in white apparels, walking in a lush green field. As we walked and as I savoured the scenic scene, Papa told me to look sideways. I did. And I saw men in white dresses entering a big church. My father then instructed me to go and join them. He let go my hand and continued walking away. As I was walking towards the big church to join the men in white as Papa instructed, I woke up.

In his days, my father struggled hard to get a collar as a reverend but could not because of his minimal education attainment. He only had a standard six certificate.  

But here was I, standing on the stage, facing the awesome gathering of God’s people, including the most eminent fathers and mothers in the Anglican Church, receiving this prestigious honour. How can I ever forget this day of glory? It’s not possible. I will forever cherish it. This definitely is not by my powers or might but by the Grace of the Almighty God and also to the leadership of our Church Most Revd Ndukuba. I am one of the few Anglicans that belong to three dioceses – Abuja, Ibadan and Akure. I make sure I balance my responsibilities to the best of my ability  to serve the Lord and humanity in these dioceses. 

Just last year, in January to be precise, the Ibadan Diocese, while celebrating its 70th anniversary, honoured me with an award for Invaluable Services to the Diocese. Yet, this was just one of the many awards that I received from the diocese. They included: Communicator of the Year, 2006; Son of The Year 2009; and 2012 Award for Invaluable Contribution to the Growth and Development of Ibadan Diocese.

From Akure Diocese, I was honoured during its 10th Inauguration Anniversary in 2023 with the Eminent Ambassador Award. This is not forgetting the Abuja  Diocese where I was privileged to be a member of the Committee for the Establishment of the Anglican  International Academy, and from there also came an award in recognition of invaluable service to work of God.

From Oyo Diocese in 2019 the women organisations honoured me with an award in recognition of my  contributions to the Church of  Nigeria Anglican Communion, the media and society  at large. As the immediate past chairman of the Board of Management of Advent Cable Network Nigeria Television, ACNNTV, for two terms. I got a Nehemiah award during the station’s 10th Year Anniversary  in recognition of my pioneering role in setting up the station. In 2017, I was also inducted into Anglican Knighthood of Saint Christopher at Bayelsa state.

Now, let me quickly say this: I have gone all out to mention all these honours among the many honours and services the Church has bestowed on me not  for self-adulation but to appreciate God for His kindness and faithfulness in my 72 years so far on this side of eternity.

Yet, this is not to talk about secular awards which God has bestowed on me  and they came in droves. Needless to mention that I am  a titled Chief in Idanre, my hometown- where the Owa of Idanreland Oba Frederick Aroloye Arubiefin IV installed me the Ajagunla of Idanreland. I am also a trustee of The Yoruba Leadership Peace Initiatives TYLPI. 

I served for 10 years as the Resident Consultant and spokesperson of Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offenses Commission ( ICPC) and received an award for Outstanding Leadership and Service in The Fight Against Corruption. From my professional body as a journalist, I was honoured with an indelible  and committed Senior Management Staff award  of The African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) publishers of Trbune titles where I served for 32 years. 

Other awards included Fellow Nigerian Guild of Editors (FNGE), Fellow of Diamond Merit Award (DAME), the Milestone Award from Nigerian Union of Journalists, and Member of International Press Institute IPI in Vienna and a member IPI Board of Trustees. Nigeria chapter. No doubt, all these secular honours are good for the recognition of one’s services to humanity. And I remain forever grateful for these recognitions. 

But the ones from the Church give me enormous spiritual fulfillment; and for this reason I’m celebrating the latest that came from the apex body of the Church -The Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion. Colossians 3: 17,  says: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it well in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” 

For me, praising God and my Saviour Jesus Christ is a contract that has no expiry date. For my remaining years on earth, I will totally commit myself to serving Him with all my heart and soul. To Him belong all the glory. Thank you, Jesus.

Olamiti writes from Abuja