INTERVIEW! How I started my ministry from Nigerian Army- Ayewa

It is not every day one finds a man with 15 years’ experience in the military, dumping his career for music. Pastor Joseph Adebayo Adelakun, a.k.a. Ayewa, one of the pioneers of gospel music in Nigeria, who enlisted in the army in 1968 and left in 1983, and who recently marked 40 years of his Ayewa group, speaks with NIGERIAN TRIBUNE, on his life in the army, ministry and music. Excerpts:

You recently marked the 40th anniversary of Ayewa. How do you feel, especially with the calibre of people that graced the event?

Firstly, I give glory and adoration to God for the grace and golden opportunity. Why I am so particular about the grace of God is that all what I have enjoyed, as well as gained in this industry, as a music minister, is by the grace and mercy of God. The 40th anniversary of Ayewa was awesome and those who attended the event witnessed the surprise God gave us, most especially, our father, the General Overseer (Worldwide) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, who graced the event and my mentor and dear father in the Lord, the president of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) Worldwide, Pastor Abraham Akinosun. I really thank God for making the event a reality and success; my greatest joy is that God took absolute control. Though the event has come and gone, I will continue to thank God for the success it recorded in the history of my life. Another thing that made the event special to me was that it became a confirmation of the revelation I had in 1997. In the revelation, I saw myself in agbada (white regalia) sitting with Baba Adeboye and I was told he is the great man of God carrying the modern call of Prophet Babalola, but I didn’t take it serious then because I felt that it couldn’t come to a reality, especially as I was neither learned nor influential. Besides, I am a member of the CAC. But I thank God that the dream I had 20 years ago came to pass when I sat side by side with Baba Adeboye at the event. I would also like to appreciate Evangelist Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade for their unrivalled support. What I am driving at is that no one knows what the future looks like, but one will reach the promise by faith.

How has it been these past 40 years?

It has been a journey filled with mixed experiences. It has taken the grace of God to still stand firm in the journey of 40 years.

How did the ministry begin?

It started when I was in the military, with the then Colonel D.O. Ajayi. I was posted to the Nigerian Army engineer in Kaduna in 1974, because my boss, the senior late Ya’radua, General Buhari, and three others went on course to the United States of America (USA). I would say the birth of my ministry was the main reason I was posted to Kaduna, because at the time, Southerners didn’t really like to be posted to the North and vice versa. I was even advised to bribe the clerk not to post me to the North, but I refused to do that. I thank God that I followed my heart by insisting on the posting. I was there from 1974 till 1976. We started singing in the church in 1975 and in the military, we didn’t constitute a choir. However, we sang a song at the CAC, Kaawo which went thus: ‘Akuku yewa oo Akuku yewa oo, baye gbogun be esu di te Jesu onigba, akuku yewa oo…’ which was widely accepted by people and became a slogan around January and February 1976. Gradually, the group took off and some elders, who loved what God was doing through us advised us to be careful to prevent sanctions. We were placed under watch and the elders eventually discovered that the ministry was real and they decided to pray for us, when five people joined me, and that was how we started the Ayewa group professionally.

Later in December 26 that same year I had a call that stated that I had been posted to Lagos. My boss requested for me when he returned from the US; I left Kaduna and I worked with him for seven of my little-over-14 years’ experience in the army. In fact, the group was blessed and approved in my absence, because I left immediately I was posted to Lagos. Afterwards, precisely in 1978, my boss’s friend, Pastor Peter, who came on visitation, fell in love with some of the songs I played. He asked whether I had heard about the Good Women Choir in Ibadan, noting that the Ayewa group was not different from what the Good Women were doing. He encouraged me to do a record and I told him that would not be possible, since I was in the military. He eventually told my boss. As God would have it, what I thought would be impossible, was made easy, as my boss gave me a four-day break to do a record with other members of the group who had come from Kaduna to Lagos for the recording.

You spent 15 years in the military; what was the experience like?

Honestly, the military experience changed my entire life to the extent, such that I still see myself as very young and active, in spite of the fact that I am above 60. I still love and respect the military, because I gained a lot during my service, especially in the area of discipline. You don’t talk anyhow as a military man. We love and respect one another, as well as live in harmony. Irrespective of time and chance, the principles and responsibilities of the military will continue to stand. Though, I have left the army, I am still in the army, because I still relate with the military directly or indirectly. I can tell you authoritatively that nothing, even coup, can take place in this country except solid retired military men know about it. These are intelligent people, who would pretend as if they knew nothing about what would happen. Personally, I don’t believe in coup and I don’t pray for it. I believe the way we are moving on as a democratic country is better. I don’t see a coup succeeding in Nigeria again, because it is not the will of God. Despite the fact that I am now a prophet, I still maintain military tactics, which is one of the reasons I don’t talk anyhow.

As a prophet, you have a duty to share revelations. How does that align with your military stance?

You are right, but I am always diplomatic with what God reveals to me and that is why I chose that prophetic style of singing. I usually use wisdom to share revelations, because God can change His mind anytime. This is why some clerics are seen as fake pastors or prophets. I am always very careful with revelations. It is painful that some men of God can’t differentiate from the words of the Holy Spirit and God’s revelation. I prefer to pray over situations or persons God reveals to me than making it public or calling people’s attention to it, because God particularly revealed the secret to me. I would not deliver revelations for financial gain. I believe so much in my integrity and, so far, God has been rewarding me, even beyond my imagination.

When did you receive the call of prophecy?

It was in the military, though I had been receiving some revelations about it for a very long time. I could remember that Baba Abiye, whom I love so much also told me one fateful day in 1978 that I could not escape doing God’s work, as he put it. I laughed and didn’t take it seriously. I never envisaged that I would finally find myself in the vineyard, because I felt that I was comfortable as a military man. However, the pressure was so much in 1982 that I had no choice but to do the will of God, even when I was considering completing my 15 years in the service. A prophet told me to fast for three days because I was afraid to tell my boss that I was leaving the army. I did accordingly and on the last day when we returned to Kuru, Yar’Adua, who was a close friend to my boss, came to visit him and later left late in the night. Afterwards, I summoned courage and went to him, knelt before him and told him that I wanted to leave the army for the work of God. To my surprise, he did not contradict my decision, but instead, encouraged and assisted me till I left the army in 1983.

You’re a prophet, pastor, and a musician. How do you create a balance?

It has been the grace of God, but I feel the military experience still helps me. I was also very determined to do the will of God. I was used to praying on the mountain, before I embraced my calling as a musician. I thank God for grace even in old age. I wake up at 3am every day to thank God, since the moment I discovered that I carry a special grace. I knew nothing about music from the onset. It would interest you to know that I didn’t go to music school. You can imagine the experience of a Muslim-turned-Christian, who knew nothing about rhythm, but whom God gave the gift of music to the extent that I teach music professionals now.

What is the secret of your youthful look?

I don’t have any special secret. One will age gracefully if one plans to live well. I don’t believe in ‘eye service’ and will never give room for gossip. I don’t care what people say about me, because God warned me strongly that my glory will drown if I entertain the spirit of jealousy. Also, I have made things easy for myself through division of labour and I will deal with anyone that fails to do my assignment instantly, and move on with life.

Was the situation of the country worse than now when you released your hit song Amona Tete Mabo?

Unknown to many, this song is in my Volume 4 and I would say that it was a prophecy. My baptismal name is Joseph, and like the biblical Joseph, the dreamer, I receive revelations through my dreams; even when I was in the army. One day, God told me to rework the song, which I informed the members of the group, but they frowned at it because they felt people would think we were running out of songs. We argued till we got to the studio and recorded the song in that state of mind. The drama that happened in the studio the day we recorded that song would have made the song a failure, but God made it interesting when it came out. The argument that ensued in the studio also led to the composition of other two songs entitled: Waba Mi Gbe Rumi and Satani Oluwa Bao Wi.  I would say that Amona was our worst recorded album, but it became the watchword for many people and a covenant with God. This is why God used it as our breakthrough.  The revelation was timely, because dollar was 4 to 1 back then. This was one of the things that informed the song then. You will also agree with me that the song is still relevant even today, especially with the present state of the country.

How do you think the country can overcome its many challenges?

Nigeria is the Israel of Africa and God really loves us as country. Our major problem is that there is no unity and, without unity, we cannot grow. We no longer need payers in the country; what we need is deliverance.

As a pastor under the leadership of the CAC, what is your advice on restoring unity to the church?

The main reason that has kept CAC from collapsing is the covenant of its founding fathers. That is why I feel sorry for those that constitute problems for the church and are leaving the fold, without proper restitution. If we go by the Bible, many people may not make heaven, except only through God’s mercy. The problems facing CAC is similar to that of Nigeria. We need God’s intervention to solve all these problems and I want to urge Nigerians to start praying for the will of God to restore the church and the nation.
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