“God does not answer the prayers of wicked people. Although wicked people may appear to be prospering, this is not necessarily an answer to prayers as such people would still spend an eternity of pain and punishment when God decides to eventually judge wicked people for their callousness” – Revd Dr S.T. Ola Akande.
IBADAN DECLARATION — In 1987, when Revd Akande was Africa’s Regional Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and he hosted the Global Consultation on Missions sponsored by the BWA in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. Baptist Conferences from about 39 countries drawn from the five continents of the world attended the event. “In his presentation to the conference, Akande looked straight into the eyes of his audience and declared that Africans would now be the ones to send missionaries to Europe and America. That pronouncement was tagged ‘Ibadan Declaration’ and has come to fulfilment.”
We received the news of the sad loss of Rev. (Dr) Samuel Titilola Oladele Akande officially through the president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention and Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev Dr Samson Olasupo Ayokunle who announced the demise of Rev Dr S.T. Ola Akande, the former General Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, at the age of 94. Making the announcement, Ayokunle wrote: “Baba S.T.Ola Akande, former General Secretary, Nigerian Baptist Convention, has changed address today at a ripe age of 94. Rev Dr Samuel Titilola Oladele Akande has answered the Glorious Call! Baba relocated to the great beyond a few minutes ago after a brief illness. GOOD NIGHT BABA. May God console and comfort the Nigerian Baptist Convention and his immediate family.” Very able Bayo Oladeji, Special Assistant to CAN Chairman first broke the news on his Facebook page.
We felt bad not because Baba S.T. Ola Akande was not old enough to go meet hs Maker, but remembered his immense contributions to Christendom as a fiery outspoken cleric who combined brilliance with oratorical skills. Baba Akande was one of the Christian leaders who took exceptional interest in my book publication titled: NIGERIA’S LEADING LIGHTS OF THE GOSPEL – Revolutionaries in Worldwide Christianity and recommended the book as resource material locally and abroad. Others fathers in the faith who demonstrated encouraging interest at the stage of compilation are Prelate Sunday Ola Makinde, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo and Prophet Gabriel Olubunmi Fakeye. Below, read an excerpt on the genius as published in the book named above. You will read in the present tenses because it was published a few years ago.
Baba was fondly and teasingly called THE ‘’ARCHBISHOP OF THE BAPTIST CHURCH OF NIGERIA’’ by his colleagues in his active service years. Baba S.T. Ola Akande drew my assistant, faithful Bunmi Kehinde very close and created a very special interest in him and my publication under reference. Only God knows the level of anointing Bunmi has now acquired, particularly from the Patriarchs with whom he related on my behalf. Perhaps – more than I have been able to stock for my Christian journey through Planet Earth. But I am not envious because faithfulness has its rewards, and covetousness of the anointing is NOT an offence. Elisha adamantly stood with Elijah for a double portion of the Spirit deposited in him. You could be doing one or two things far away from people empowered by God to pronounce His blessings on you as you covet spiritual gifts that could even descend miraculously. Halleluyah!
Rev. (Dr) Samuel Titilola Oladele Akande is conceivably one of the most popular and widely known Baptist ministers of God in Nigeria and abroad, having contributed his quota in a dynamic and versatile manner to the growth of the Baptist Church and Christianity in the country and overseas. He was the third indigenous General Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention and served the Convention meritoriously in various capacities from 1952 – 1991, a period of forty (40) years, with the last twelve years spent as the General Secretary of the Baptist Convention in Nigeria. To his many admirers, he is a dutiful minister, courageous preacher, a talented teacher and the “best Nigerian Baptist leader ever produced and a man who during active service in God’s vineyard was fondly referred to by some of his friends as the “Archibishop of the Baptist Church of Nigeria.’’ 273 Akande is held in very high esteem by the Baptist communities in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. His pre-retirement service was regarded as one of the finest periods of the Baptist Church in Nigeria that coincided with the time the Scripture Union recorded massive growth, with many of its members worshipping in Baptist Churches. One of the very notable traits of Akande has been his versatility which won him the seat as the President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention between March 1977 and April 1979. He was to later serve as the General-Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, a feat which gave him ample opportunity to contribute his quota to the growth of Christianity. As a reformer and an agent of change, he was determined to leave, and indeed left his marks on the sands of time as a facilitator of positive development in the Nigerian Baptist Convention. Akande is a highly skilled orator and preacher with deep and penetrating messages from the pulpit. He combines his oratorical prowess with an excellent spirit and good human relations. His messages were punchy. Akande will also be credited with fearless preachings and speaking the truth to power. His tenure as the administrative head of the Nigerian Baptist Convention would be credited with major positive developments for the Baptist Church in Nigeria.
EARLY LIFE Fondly called Revd Dr. S.T Ola Akande, the priest was born in Awe town, in the present Oyo State of Nigeria on March 31, 1926, to late Pa Daniel Oladele Akande and mother, Olanbiwonninu. He was the first offspring of a Baptist father, while his mother was from a Christian home. As was the practice at the time of Ola Akande’s birth, his parents moved over to Ghana in search of better livelihood and it was there that young Ola commenced his elementary education. He attended the A.M.E. Zion primary School, the Salvation Army School and the Aggrey Memorial Primary School in Secondi after which he relocated to Awe to continue his elementary education at the Awe Baptist Day School in 1938. He was in this institution until the completion of his elementary education in 1943. In quest of further education, he returned to Ghana in 1943 to attend the Addissadel College, where he passed his London Matriculation Examination and the Cambridge School Certificate Examination in 1949. Following the unexpected death of his wife, late Pa Oladele Akande (Revd Akande’s father) decided to relocate to Nigeria. That incident almost cost Revd Akande an opportunity to further his education but providentially, the Baptist Mission in Ghana offered him a conditional scholarship that made him to serve the Mission in Ghana as a teacher on bond, on completion of his studies.
EARLY YEARS IN THE VINEYARD OF GOD S.T. Ola Akande has made lasting impressions on so many people as a forthright and vibrant priest whose sermons were not only punchy but have always been inspiring. As a musician, Akande cultivated the habit of treating his congregation to melodious tunes as a practical way of bringing down the glory and presence of God. His love for music dates back to his formative years even before his training as a priest at the Baptist Seminary, Ogbomosho. One of his close associates in the seminary, C.C.T George recalls that “Akande came into the Baptist Seminary, Ogbomosho in 1952 with a musical instrument called ‘mulele’ and sang and conducted himself with an unusual patience, pleasant disposition that made people got attracted to him”.274. While serving as a teacher with the Baptist Mission, he felt the urge to go into the pastoral ministry and this necessitated his return to Nigeria and enrolment into the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary Ogbomosho in 1952, so as to be trained as a Baptist minister. At the seminary, Akande was a very brilliant and popular student. From 1953 – 1955, he was elected the Editor of the seminary’s magazine,” The Theologue”, and as a good athlete right from his primary school days, he also participated in sports. He completed his theological education with a Bachelor’s degree in Theology (B.Th) in December 1955. He was invited to the pastorate of the First Baptist Church, Fiditi in the present Oyo State of Nigeria on January 1, 1956.
Soon, the Nigerian Baptist Convention awarded him a scholarship for further studies at the Wayland Baptist College, (now Wayland Baptist University) the United States where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts Cum Laude degree majoring in English. Between 1959 and 1962, Akande acquired more knowledge at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, also in the United States. It was from here he obtained a Bachelor of Divinity degree. Revd Akande returned to his home country – Nigeria – to pastor some Baptist churches after which Akande went back to the United States in 1969 for his postgraduate studies on the scholarship of the Union Theological Seminary of Broadway, New York. There, he was awarded a Master of Sacred Theology degree in New Testament at the institution in 1970. His Ph.D degree in New Testament was earned in 1973. An evidence of his versatility was his appointment and service as associate professor at the Nigerian Baptist Seminary, Ogbomoso from where he was moved to Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan, one of the Baptist churches at that period that was populated by elites and youths just charged with the ‘born again’ experience, to pastor the congregation. It was from this duty post that he became the Convention’s General Secretary, first in an acting capacity on two occasions at the behest of the then incumbent. Back home, before assuming positions of prominence in the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Ola Akande served at some foremost Baptist Churches like the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Lagos, and the Ago-Owu Baptist Church, Abeokuta, Ogun State of Nigeria where he left indelible marks as a fiery and fearless preacher who dared to confront negativities. The Baptist churches he was privileged to pastor witnessed tremendous physical and spiritual growth as a result of God’s move which enabled his ministerial service to influence so many people and also bring him in touch with several prominent people. He distinguished himself as a very committed servant of God tendering highly enlightened and sophisticated congregation. It was from Abeokuta that Ola Akande was moved to Lagos to pastor the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Campbell Street, Lagos, which was founded in 1888, and which was one of the most prominent Baptist churches in Nigeria.
One memorable occurrence was his announcement to the congregation that polygamists in the church must not partake in the Holy Communion after breaking the bread which was to be followed by the taking of the wine. The polygamists defied the directive and participated in the exercise, not minding the anger shown on the priest’s face. One of the dissenting polygamists had the effrontery to confront Revd Akande and demanded to know if the bread and the wine served for Holy Communion which symbolically represented the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ belonged to our Lord and Saviour of Revd Akande! Some young men at the church also resented the idea of Akande preaching to them not to consume alcoholic drinks but he was undaunted and refrained from getting provoked to a demonstration of anger. At the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Revd Akande gained prominence as a minister who preached consistently against membership of the dreaded secret cults, particularly the Reformed Ogboni Fraternity.
THE TURNING POINT It was while in Ghana that the opportunity to get deeper into the Gospel Ministry was developed by Akande who combined teaching with church activities. “In 1951, he came in contact with the Late Reverend J.T. Ayorinde from Nigeria, who later headed the Baptist Convention. This was at a Baptist convention at Tamale in Ghana. Late Revd J.T Ayorinde, a prominent Baptist leader’s sermon had a great influence on Akande. After the sermon, he felt within himself the urge to go into the ministry. He therefore met the speaker and told him that he would like to join the ministry. The priest gave him all the support he needed, as a result of which he returned to Nigeria in 1952 and got enrolled at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomosho, to commence a course of training as a Baptist minister.”275. Providence, as it were, had a hand in the emergence of Revd S.T. Ola Akande as the General Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. He had a taste of the general administration of the affairs of the Convention in June 1977, and sometime in 1978, when he was requested by late Revd Dr. Emmanuel Ajayi Dahunsi to act as the General Secretary following his commissioning (Dahunsi) to translate the New Testament of the Bible from the original Greek to Yoruba language by the Bible Society of Nigeria.
Dahunsi had described Akande as “one of the most promising Pastors of the Baptist Convention” when recommending him to act in his place as the General Secretary of the Convention. Revd Akande was then the President of the Convention and Pastor of Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan. Following the death of Revd Dr. Dahunsi in a ghastly motor accident, Akande who had been President of the Baptist Convention for three years was appointed the General Secretary of the Convention and functioned in that capacity for twelve years. Although Dr. Dahunsi’s death proved to be a sad loss to the Nigerian Baptist Convention generally, it created some ripples which took several years to fizzle out. Revd Akande paid the usual price of leadership which ranged from false accusations to damaging rumours which needed extreme caution, divine wisdom, and Christian virtues to handle. During his service years, Akande was reputed to have demonstrated unparalleled courage, compassion, friendliness and courage as a minister of God. For ten years, he held on to a sppech he was to deliver at the funeral of late Dr. Emmanuel Ajayi Dahunsi but which he could not present as a result of a charged atmosphere following what was considered the ‘untimely’ death of Revd (Dr) Dahunsi. An opportunity to speak on the subject later arose after ten years of the death of Dr. Dahunsi during which Akande eulogized Dahunsi as a devoted prophet and Convention worker who still very much lives in the minds of adherents of the Baptist faith especially in Nigeria. As pastor of Oritamefa Baptist Church, he delivered a sermon that was regarded as one of his landmark messages in 1977, in which he attacked secret cults. “Some members of the congregation were afraid of what might happen to their pastor given the viciousness with which cultists were believed to have dealt with pastors who dared to openly expose their secrets”.276. Akande was told that he would die within seven days for his effrontery but he was still living when this compilation was put together 38 years after that event.
Before this memorable encounter, Revd Akande had successfully utilized his diplomatic instincts to fully convert to Christ some members of the Baptist Church who were members of the Ogboni Fraternity, a notable dreaded secret society in the South-West of Nigeria. “These men had been ex-communicated from the church by his predecessor. But Rev. Akande on becoming the pastor of the church believed that they could be properly counselled with scriptures on the evil effects of cultism on their Christian life. He, therefore, invited the affected members back into the Church. His effort yielded positive results as these men later renounced their memberships of the cult. They then thereafter lived for the Lord Jesus Christ and died committed to His cause. In all, Rev. Akande served the Ago-Owu Baptist Church in his capacity as pastor from 1962, a period of three and a half years”.277. Akande is noted for his oratorical skills, courage, candour and incisive sermons. It did not take too long for Akande to be widely recognized for his sermons such that churches of other denominations invited to as guest speaker in their churches in the 1960s even in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital. He was regular guest preacher on television and radio stations and was loved and greatly respected as a servant of God. Ola Akande’s boldness is further exemplified by another encounter with a leading member of the occultic group cited above. While pastoring Ebenezer Baptist Chuch in Lagos, he preached a message that centred on the Ogboni Fraternity and the need for members of the group to repent and turn to God so they would not incur he wrath of God. After the service, one of the leaders of the group left the church in annoyance. Later in the day, Akande visited the disgruntled man and discovered that his host indeed belonged to the Ogboni Fraternity which he had attacked in the church through his sermon. Akande’s host confronted him on the vitriolic sermon against the confraternity. Akande’s reaction was to rebuke the member of Ogboni Confraternity and once again invited his attention to the need to repent so that he would not end up in hell. Similarly, the Baptist minister was in 1983 invited to preach at the Legal Year service of the Oyo State Judiciary in Ibadan, capital city of the state. After preaching his usual message with candour, one Chief Olaniyan Alawode, a prominent politician (now deceased) who also attended the church service visited him in his office a few hours later. Akande initially thought he was being sought for preaching a message that condemned secret cults. To his amazement, Chief Alawode, on entering Revd Akande’s office at the Nigerian Baptist Convention in Ibadan demonstrated penitence and disclosed that Akande’s strong message really touched his heart and promised to turn a new leaf. From then, Revd Akande became Chief Alawode’s spiritual mentor and they became good friends until Alawode’s death.278.
The policy of the Nigerian Baptist Church as the first independent indigenous church in Nigeria is to ‘’guard jealously the freedom inherent in us, which we always exercise judiciously. It is our policy to support and uphold any progressive Christian measures while we will as well not fail to condemn and reject any such measure not conducive to the growth and progress of the church.”279. It added further that the Baptist Church of Nigeria, “as members of a developing nation, we concede to individual members the right to any private political belief but strongly depreciate the propagation of any such belief that will deter God’s work.”279. One of Akande’s teachings emphasize the efficacy of prayers in a good Christian’s relationship with the Creator. But at times, God may not answer prayers for several reasons. These, according to S.T. Ola Akande in the publication cited above include “not making requests according to God’s will, volubility in prayers, failure to genuinely repent of wrongdoings as well as selfish prayer requests. More importantly, Ola Akande says God does not answer the prayers of wicked people. He asserts that although wicked people may appear to be prospering, this is not necessarily an answer to prayers as such people would still spend an eternity of pain and punishment when God decides to eventually judge wicked people for their callousness.
The policy of the Baptist Church which encourages transparency and accountability earned Revd Akande a subtle warning by members for him to steer clear of preaching against polygamy and memberships of fraternities. In the publication cited above, these were issues that Akande confronted during his tenure. He was reminded by several members that he could not just impose decisions reached at the Annual General Conference of the Baptist Convention. He had to educate members on this position that although the Convention recognized the independence of every church, yet they were a part of the Convention. It is to be noted that the policy of the Baptist Church did not allow for a dictatorial approach by any pastor. In the Baptist Church’s congregational polity, democratic policies guide church administration hence pastors are held accountable to the congregation in the belief that this order promotes transaparency and accountability. Another occasion recounted by the same source quoted above in the same publication occurred in 1987, when Revd Akande was Africa’s Regional Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and he hosted the Global Consultation on Missions sponsored by the BWA in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. Baptist Conferences from about 39 countries drawn from the five continents of the world attended the event. “In his presentation to the conference, Akande looked straight into the eyes of his audience and declared that Africans would now be the ones to send missionaries to Europe and America. That pronouncement was tagged ‘Ibadan Declaration’ and has come to fulfillment.”280.
A smooth and motivational speaker, Akande is credited with several reforms and achievements during his service years as the General Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. Among the staff welfare schemes introduced during his tenure are a self-administered pension scheme which enabled retired Baptist personnel to collect reasonable gratuities at retirement and an upward salary review for pastors, a move designed to forestall the exodus of pastors from the Convention, into the civil and teaching services. In addition, Akande pursued with vigour evangelism by the Baptist Convention (NBC) and the promotion of intellectualism within the Convention by contributing to the education of many pastors and young students. He encouraged many a good number of them to further their studies. To make this easier, he marched this encouragement with action, by pursuing and securing scholarships for many of them. In 1980, he initiated an exchange programme between the NBC and the Quachita Baptist University in Arkansas, United States. This programme gave many pastors of the NBC the opportunity of overseas studies. Surely, those who benefited from these programmes will never forget his great contribution to their lives in this area. He used the scholarship programme for the development of staff who would take up the positions previously held by the Southern Baptists Missionaries in Nigeria.” 281.