The vision behind Maranatha Bible University
I was born in Celestial Church. My father was a shepherd and I grew up in the system. I just remembered that when I was 12 years old, a prophet told me that my mission in celestial Church was different from that of any other person. He told me that God brought me forth to propagate the gospel and make the world know the glory of Celestial Church. He prophesied that I would be well-read. At the time of that prophecy, I was just being admitted then into Igbobi College, Lagos. The inspiration started from there. I took the Bible as my primary assignment. My mother did a great job because she took me to the Apostolic Faith Children’s Evangelical School at Anthony Village. I was there between ages 10 and 15. Don’t forget that the Crawford University you see today is a product of the Bible School of Apostolic Faith Church.
I was in the seminary when I nursed the desire of establishing an institution like this. To the glory of God, I was part of the team that started the Celestial Church of Christ Seminary and Training Centre. I was a lecturer in that seminary for a good number of years. I was in the institution from 1985 up to 2003. I left the seminary as the deputy rector. I was almost being named the rector when I left. I brought expertise to the institution. Celestial Church was not known for Bible exposition. People know Celestial Church as a white garment church that lights candle and breaks pots.
But in 1985 the late Rev. Pastor A.A Bada called the scholars together and asked them to give the church a befitting institution. So, we set up the seminary at the national headquarters in Makoko and I was there. I rose through the ranks until I got to the post of the deputy rector. That time, I wanted to establish a Bible school but they wanted it established first for the church. The university was later founded on August 1, 2003. That came after 18 years I had conceived the vision. Our mandate is to produce scholars through a systematic training platform that promotes mentally productive, practical Christians, who are to become key national leaders both in the secular and spiritual world.
We are not only in Nigeria. We have a campus in South Africa. We have campuses in the United Kingdom, Holland, Italy and Belgium. We connect all our students via the satellite and the Internet. So, whatever we do is shared with the rest. What we did in at the last graduation ceremony at the main campus in Lisa, Ogun State, was actually broadcast live because we had our television crew, who were covering the event and downloading on the Internet immediately. We are not running a hidden school. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be broadcasting our activities to the world. I have been a Bible person from my childhood.
Why Maranatha University does not offer secular courses
We are not running secular courses here. If you want to study law or business administration, you can’t get such courses here. Our courses are purely theological and that is the directive from the Nigerian Universities Commission. No theological university is allowed to run secular courses. If we want to run secular courses, we have to go to NUC for approval and accreditation. We are church professionals. We train people for church usage. So, we limit ourselves to theological studies and knowledge.
The Association of Christian Theologians (ACT) is a body of all the Bible universities, seminaries and colleges in Nigeria registered with the Federal Government as a regulatory body. There was a problem sometime ago between the NUC and Bible school. There was a serious crackdown on Bible schools because some of them were issuing fake certificates. The NUC now called for regulation of the activities of Bible-based institutions to avoid a repeat of such incident. If we do anything wrong, the NUC will sanction ACTs and the ACTs will in turn sanction us. There was a problem in one Bible school in Abuja and it was shut down. The institution was secretly running a secular course. The matter was brought to the ACTs and we discovered that the institution was not registered with the ACTs. The proprietor of the school was sent to jail. That is the essence of a regulatory body. Every year, we hold a conference of the Heads of Theological Universities and Colleges in Nigeria. We hold this conference annually to discuss the institution, and what we need to do to improve their standard.
The Covenant University is a product of their Bible school and likewise Redeemer’s University. If we want to go secular and we have the required 250 hectares of land and put some structures on it, we will seek for accreditation and will become Maranatha University. Then Maranatha Bible University will now come under the Maranatha University. The NUC will now allow you to run a full fledged Bible university. We have Crescent University and others that are religiously based but such institutions must have a secular look.
For me to go secular in future, it would require 250 hectares of land, that is the minimum land mass demanded by the NUC. You must develop at least five faculties to the required standard. When these are put in place, as well as the facilities, I can approach the NUC for inspection and accreditation.
Running satellite campuses abroad
The campuses outside Nigeria mostly run through leadership programmes. We have Basic Leadership, Advanced Leadership and Supervisory Leadership. The campuses outside Nigeria come under the Maranatha Bible Institute. It is not allowed by ACTs to run multi-campuses like Maranatha Bible University Campus in Holland for instance. You have to register it in Holland as Maranatha Bible University. If you look at our prospectus, you will discover that it is a federation of colleges. Any time we are moving a school out of Nigeria, it is under the Maranatha Bible Institute, which serves as the mobile wing of the institution. Just as you have UNILAG Consult or UI consult, where they run other courses apart from the core ones they offer, we also have these leadership courses under the Maranatha Bible Institute.
Repositioning Bible colleges in the country
Senator Chukwumerije, for instance, was my colleague. He came from the Bible school and we can see that he is doing very well in the National Assembly. There are so many others like him. In Lagos State, there are people within the Governor’s office who are products of Bible School and they have not soiled their garment. The duty of the church is to reform the society. It is quite unfortunate that the church is conforming to the society. That is why we intend raising the standard in Bible Schools. Most General Overseers are not cooperating with the Bible schools. They don’t want anybody to regulate them.
Saving the nation’s university system
It is a problem of frequent changing of policy. University of Ibadan used to be the best in Africa and Second Best University in the Commonwealth. That means the university was ranked ahead so many universities in the United Kingdom and other commonwealth countries. What happened? Policy changes by the government. When you don’t have consistent policy, there will be deterioration in what you do. We all know that secular university is being funded by the Federal Government. What is the percentage funding accruing to these universities from the federal budget?
There was a time when OAU had the best structures in Africa.
When you look at the output, what went wrong with these universities? The reasons are policy changes and underfunding. When the university is not well funded, definitely, the output will be affected. The lecturers are not going research any longer. Here I mandated all my lecturers to be doing research. I set up Maranatha Institute of Biblical Research. Every quarter, each lecturer must produce one research. If you don’t produce it, there will be no pay for you. Today, they are doing it. If you don’t do your research and workshop, you will not be reckoned with. One of my staff spent four years on her Master’s degree and she is a senior lecturer. That is the standard and we don’t compromise it. Not only that, I sent all of them for further theological studies in order to become certified. Four of them are going with me to South Africa for exposure for research. We are going to be there for one month. It will impact on the student. What budget do we have for research in Nigerian universities? It is killing the students. They keep recycling what has been done before. It was not like that during my own days. I researched and researched and I am still researching till today. If we can do all these, it will help the Nigerian universities.