Simple but down-to-earth, Rev. Francis Adebayo could immediately cut the image of someone not carved out for taking a dip into a shark infested water or embarking on a trip on a stormy night. You would however be terribly mistaken. He is a risk taker. One who is downright passionate about his course for the gospel.
His strong performance at the recently concluded state parliamentary elections in Lagos, Nigeria is a testament. For a first comer in politics that is. And one with a white collar round the neck.
Contemporary Christian Lifestyle Magazine got round to him after the elections:
PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?
I am FRANCIS ADEBAYO, the senior pastor of HARVEST PLACE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY in Maryland, Lagos. I’m married with two kids (boys). And I’ve been pastoring in this church for some years now. The Lord has been helping us and has kept us. I’m so grateful to God because the church will be 10 years this year.
HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE MINISTRY?
I think I’ve been since my university days. I started a fellowship while I was on campus from my 100 level and the fellowship is still much alive and doing very well. Since then I think I’ve been very active in the ministry. The moment I left school I continued in the ministry, serving as the personal assistant to Rev. Victor Adeyemi and later pastored a branch of his church, GLOBAL HARVEST CHURCH, before I started Harvest Place.
YOU RECENTLY CONTESTED FOR A SEAT IN THE LAGOS STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY (State Parliament) AND GAVE A VERY BRAVE FIGHT FOR A FIRST TIMER AGAINST THE RULING PARTY IN THE STATE. WHAT LED YOU INTO POLITICS?
Let’s start with what led me into politics. Well, I think I’ve always been a student of politics and I’ve always been interested in governance. More so, I feel Nigeria is blessed with vast material, human and mineral resources and yet we are rated as one of the poorest counties in the world. It’s an abnormality I felt I could contribute to change and that’s what gave me the motivation and encouragement. And of course, I prayed about it, I really did. I spoke to my spiritual mentors and fathers, they gave me their support. It was something I knew I was on the right track doing. The Lord gave me the go ahead. Coming against the ruling party especially in a state like Lagos is not an easy task at all. It was a good experience and it was my first time contesting. In the actual sense, my thought was to contest in 2019 before our PDP candidate for Lagos State governorship seat, Jimi Agbaje, who happened to be a senior friend even before politics came in, and encouraged me to give it a trial. It got so good when I got the PDP ticket which wasn’t easy and then the journey started for the House. (Laughs) It was quite an experience.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ABOUT PASTORS AND CHURCH LEADERS GOING INTO POLITICS?
Church leaders and pastors have their own lives to live. First and foremost, I regard everybody as Christians. Christians are allowed to go into politics, including leaders of different churches. I believe in the new testament, we have the marriage of the kings and priests then in the new testament, we also have the priest being the one to anoint the king except for David who operated as the king and a priest and at some point in his life as a prophet but in the new testament I believe that Christians can combine the three together. I strongly believe that there’s nothing absolutely wrong with pastors and church leaders going into politics as long as he/she has the conviction, and carries the church along and also has the support of his/her spiritual mentors. I’ll love to see more pastors go into politics.
HOW DID IT AFFECT YOUR FAMILY AND CHURCH- ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ALREADY HAVE PREFERENCE FOR OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES AND CANDIDATES?
Well, to a very large extent, months and years before I went into this, I had started talking to the leadership of the church about it. At least, we had one year of preparation to discuss it back and forth. A lot of them gave me their support while some declined and I really appreciate that a lot. I had series of meetings with them until they could see what I was seeing. Until you see what am seeing you will not feel my passion and will not comprehend the reason why am doing what am doing. To a large extent a leader’s job is to make the followers see exactly what he sees. The scripture says, “Cast the vision, make it plain,” and so I was able to cast the vision before them and to God be the glory they were able to see what I saw.
Standing before the church, I basically made them know that this was not at all about the political party, and that I would never stand on the pulpit to proclaim, declare, support, or clamour for any political party. I never wore any of my party emblems such as the wristband and cap in the church because when am in the church I am their pastor and when I get outside I become a party man. I pastor everybody in every political setting. For me, I do not subscribe for a party at the detriment of the concept called “NIGERIA”. I had other members that were of other political parties and if I had a member contesting I would also have given him my support so long as I can vouch for him, what he stands for and what he believes in regardless of his party. It is all about Nigeria, not the party itself. Now that BUHARI will be inaugurated as president soon, my advice to him is to focus more on governance, maybe 30% politics and 70% governance. Trust me his tenure is gonna be something Nigerians will never forget.
WOULD YOU SAY THE ELECTION WAS FREE AND FAIR ESPECIALLY THE STATE LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS?
It was free and fair compared to the previous elections we’ve had before but there are still some hitches here and there. I would say thumbs-up to Independent National Electoral Commission, yet we still have work to do to improve the next election process.
WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES YOU FACED?
Once one comes out to contest in Nigeria, he is seen as a money dispensing machine. While you’re contesting because you want to win, some people come to you with all sorts of ridiculous demands. At that point you will not want to make enemies for yourself so you try to please as many people as possible. At some point my blood boiled. You want me to spend all these money and yet expect me to get into government and perform- where does that happen? When a politician spends excessively before getting a particular seat in government, the first thing he thinks of on getting that seat is how to recoup the money, and I think if Nigeria is gonna get it right money spent during election must be audited. All they just want is money because they won’t ask for your vision and it’s so unfortunate but I do hope that at some point we will be able to get out of this. I learned a very big lesson and I know going into this next time will be better prepared for.
HOW DID YOU FEEL NOT WINNING THE ELECTION?
Naturally, I felt bad but I know it’s not the end but just a bend. Even our president-elect had tried four times before he had his victory. So for me I won from the very first day I decided to contest because there are some people who would have loved to do this but didn’t have the courage and backings to do so. So for me, my first victory was overcoming the fear, the prejudice and sentiments, and then stepping into the game. I think it’s a victory for me.
Reports by: Daniel Ikwuagwu & Esther Ifemegbunam