How we'll change church music in Christ Apostolic Church –Elder Abidemi Oyesanya, New Music Director


Newly appointed Music Director of CAC Nigeria & Overseas, Elder Abidemi Oyesanya (SAN)

ELDER THEOPHILUS ABIDEMI OYESANYA(SAN), is the new Music Director of Christ Apostolic Church, Nigeria and Overseas. His appointment was announced at the recent General Council meeting in March 2024. A member of the Inner Bar and a prolific Church Musician told the combination of PASTOR ADE ALAWODE, EDITOR AND EVANG. GBENGA BANKOLE, Correspondent, recently that he was born into Church Music. His father used to take him to Choir practice from the age of 4. He actually began to robe in the choir at 7. He read English at University of Lagos and after his National Youth Service, he went back to the University of Ibadan to read Law. He has reached the pinnacle of his Law career having been conferred with SAN title since 2012. He told the CHRIST APSTOLIC MAGAZINE TEAM how he escaped the phobia for Law and Medicine by CAC adherents. How the first SAN ever produced by CAC, Elder Sogbesan, resolved never to practice Law until Chief Obafemi Awolowo dragged him back into the profession. He revealed why EbuteMetta Assembly, where he worships fund itself in the interim arrangement in the early 90’s. He spoke of his plans for Church Music and how he would cope as the Music Director and a top flight Senior lawyer. Excerpts: 


Tell us briefly about yourself: birth, education and choice of career

My name is Elder Theophilus Adekunle Abidemi Oyesanya. I was born a little over six decades ago into the family of late Pastor Caleb OluyinkaOyesanya and Mrs. Oyesanya from Ikene, Ijebu, Ogun State. I always tell people that I am practically born into the choir pews. Our church, CAC Ebute-Meta was founded in the year 1944 through the revival programme of late Prophet D.O. Babajide. My father was 12 years old when the church started and he was one of the foundation members and the choir started the following year which is 1945 and my father was also a foundational member of the choir. I have been accompanying my father to choir practice at age 4. When I was 7 years old I was inducted into the choir and I started robing. I have been in the choir for over 50 years of my life. Grew through the ranks in the choir; I was once the Librarian, Organist etc. Until this new appointment, I was the Director of Music of the Choir after my late brother, Pastor Ayo Adeusi passed-on in 2011. I was his assistant. My father was the Choir Master until he retired and handed over to Ayo Adeusi. By profession, I am a lawyer. I read English first at the University of Lagos from 1978 to 1981. After my National Youth Service Corps in 1981/1982 I went back to read law at the University of Ibadan and I graduated in 1986. I was called to the bar in 1987 as an Advocate of The Supreme Court of Nigeria. I've been to court all my life. And by the grace of God, I was conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2012. That's 12 years now. I've been a member of the inner bar, as we called it. I have a wife and three children. Two of my children are lawyers also. I have two girls and one boy. The boy is also a lawyer and an organist. It is only my last child that decided not to be lawyer. She read Communication Art at a University in England.


In those days, when you went to study law at the University of Ibadan, parents in CAC didn’t encourage their children to read law. How were you able to defy them?


In fact, that issue you raised predates my own days of going to read law. Okay. It happened in early beginnings of the church. I practiced under an uncle of mine who was the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria that CAC produced.


Cuts-in: What is his name?

It is the Late Elder Abayomi Shogbesan (SAN). His father was the first District Superintendent of Lagos District when the whole of Lagos state was one district under Ebute-Elefun in the ‘50s. In those days like you rightly said, our fathers didn't allow their children to read law or medicine. Medicine because of our belief in ‘divine healing’ and they also believed that all lawyers are liars and they will go to hell. It was a big struggle between Elder Shogbesan and his father when he wanted to go and read law. In fact, his father was suspended, according to what we heard, by the church authority, because he allowed his son to go and read law. Elder Shogbesan had to promise his father that he will not practice law when he finishes from school. After the end of his law programme, he went to study Law at London School of Economics in the United Kingdom and Yale University,USA. He came back to Nigeria to lecture at University of Ife. It was Chief Obafemi Awolowo who called him to come and help him run his Law chambers when he wanted to go back to politics in 1978. That was how he came back to practice law, otherwise he was lecturing in OAU. If not for him, it would have become very difficult for people like us to read law. Eventually, our fathers in CAC saw the benefits of letting their children read law. When I was practising under my late uncle in the late ‘80s, I used to see Baba Olutimehin, Baba Medaiyese and others come to him to tell him the church has been sued to court. They will come to solicit for his help to be the Counsel of the church in court. And I used to laugh that if my uncle didn’t read law, would they benefit from the free legal service (he laughed)? By the time some of us will go to read law, the sentiment has gone.


What inspires you to join the choir in the early stage of your life?

I told you it was not a choice. My father was in the choir since the planting of CAC Ebute-Meta. My father really inspired me.  He always takes me to choir rehearsal and I sit down in church looking at them. It really inspired my interest in the choir. My father was a composer of so many songs. To the glory of God I have been able to compose many songs as well. 


When I was in Lagos I was attending CAC Amazing Grace in Ikorodu and a member of the choir. We have performed many of your songs. Can you recall how many songs you have composed?

 I can’t count the songs but I know it will be over 100. I can’t even remember some of them again, while I have also lost some manuscripts. I have started collating them together. I want to publish them in a book.


Which of these songs will you regard as your best?

(He laughed) All those songs came from inspiration. My compositions are not from human effort, but from divine inspiration. Circumstantially, one thing leads to the other. I can give you examples of how many of them came to be. There's a story behind most of them. I have a composition titled ‘Oluwa S’alabo mi.’(Lord be my protector) It is one of my duets. I was struggling in an airplane from Abuja to Lagos many years ago. There was turbulence and I was sitting just by the window. I think it was raining. Everybody was afraid and we were praying powerfully, I noticed that anytime I look at the cloud through the window I felt some calmness. But anytime I look back at people in the flight I will be afraid. I decided I would stick my eyes on the window. I now heard a voice and that was how I got the first line of the song. ‘B'aye ti le dudu, ti ko s'ire ti mo,Oluwa s’alabo mi.’ (Though the world be darkened, and hope is lost, Lord, be my protector). That was what kept coming to me and I held on to it that ‘Oluwa s’alabo mi’ and gradually there was calmness. I got my pen immediately and I wrote down the first two lines of the song and the date. The song is now popular, many choirs have performed it. I have stories like that and some of them are funny. There is an Ijebu song I composed. The song came when I went to my friend’s house in my hometown, Ikene in Ijebu. His wife who is from Ilisan always speaks in Ijebu anytime she wants to communicate with me. Before then, something tells me that I should compose a song in Ijebu dialect but I was not in total agreement with it. When I got to my friend’s place, it was his wife who opened the door. Immediately she opened the door, she started speaking Ijebu dialect to me and immediately I remember that something tells me to compose a song in Ijebu dialect. And I sat her down and asked her that if ‘I want to say the following in Ijebu, how do I say it: ‘Jesu Oluwa wa, bo tile je Oluwa lo je fun wa, sugbon o waye bi omo.’ (Jesus Our Lord, though He is Lord, but He was born an infant) She said it is not difficult. She immediately told how to say those words in Ijebu and that was how I got the song. It was December period and the song is a Christmas song. All my songs have stories behind them and most of them come by divine inspiration. I can’t sit down to write any song, the inspiration will not come. It is God who brings the inspiration when He wishes.


Do you have any professional qualification in music?

No. like I said, I grew up in the choir, and it was not until 1985 or 1986 when my late friend, Ayo Adeusi came to Lagos to join us in Ebute-Meta that he trained everybody in the choir. Ayo Adeusi was a very proficient, fantastic musician, brilliant organist and multi talented instrumentalist. He practically trained the orchestra himself. He trained everybody in violin, double bass and how to lay some other instruments. He was the one who started teaching me music formally. You know what I mean? He would teach us music. He would enroll us for exams. I did exam in the Royal School of Church Music in England. I think I did up to grade five or so. Under the Late Ayo Adeusi every Saturday we go to class and they would prepare us for exams. I didn’t go to University to read music but I learnt music in the choir. 


Being a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, you have a tight schedule already. How do you think you can balance it with your new appointment as the Music Director of CAC Nigeria and Overseas?

You have asked a big question. Let me answer that question by giving you my testimony which I shared briefly with the President this morning. I was not consulted before the appointment was made. I wasn't told that I will be appointed as the Music Director. Even though my boss and immediate Music Director, Pastor Tope Dada hinted me and each time he hinted I always said ‘no’ because I don't have the time. The last time he hinted me was when we were in Ikeji Arakeji last year for the Music Ministers’ Conference. All of a sudden I got a letter from the General Secretary of the Church through WhatsApp. He told me that not that we are considering, the church authority has appointed you as the Music Director. It was immediately I fired back that General Secretary, sir, please, I beg you, I can't do it. I'm not interested. I cannot, I don't have the time. I travel a lot as a lawyer. I don’t have the time. But immediately I sent the message I heard a voice like somebody talking to me right in my office. I had the voice saying, ‘did you even pray about it before you said ‘no’ to the appointment?’  I got convicted. Barely two or three minutes after, I got two phone calls from two senior pastors. Apparently the secretary had shown my response to them. They told me that: ‘Do you think the fathers are that flippant? The fathers knew what they were doing and they didn't just come to that decision. You can’t do that.’ One of them said ‘do you pray about it?’

I was so afraid. I quickly sent another message to the General Secretary. I told him not to forward my initial response to the President and I deleted it from my own end. I told him that I want to pray about it and I started praying. One and two weeks gone, I didn’t hear anything. Then the Wednesday before the General Council week, when I wanted to sleep, I prayed that God should speak to me about the appointment.  I want to hear Him speaking to me personally. After 5:30 in the morning I had a dream. Not only dream, I was like almost getting awake. A man came to me (I can't figure out who he was) and started singing:

They that trust in the Lord are secure,

Tho' the storm rages dark o'er the sea;

For this anchor of promise is sure

''My grace is sufficient for thee''.

My grace is sufficient for thee,

My grace is sufficient for thee,

Oh, matchless, boundless grace of God,

My grace is sufficient for thee.

He now began to repeat the chorus of the song. I sang the chorus from that dream to life. It was my wife who came to me and said ‘you are singing I didn’t know you are awake.’ I said, ah, I'm singing? I told her I was having a dream. She told me it’s God talking to me. She said ‘God is telling you that His grace is sufficient for you.’ It occurred to me that truly God was speaking to me about the appointment. Yes, those busy schedules are there; my business schedule and all that, but His grace is sufficient.

Another point is this; CAC Ebute-Meta has been very instrumental to music in CAC. My biological father did a lot of work and other fathers particularly in the composition of CAC hymns. My father at a time was the Chairman of the committee that compiled the hymns. CAC Ebute-Meta has done a lot of work in CAC Music. It later occurred to me that if I reject the appointment it will be a disservice to the memory and work of those fathers. If Ayo Adeusi was to be alive, he would have become the Director of Music. I accepted this appointment in his honour. I have put my busy schedules behind me no matter its significance. 

I believe that no matter how busy I am, God will find a way for me. Some of my colleagues in the music ministry have been calling that they know I don’t have the time, but they are available to work with me. I should send them anywhere I wish. I enjoy a lot of supports from them over the years and I thank God for that. I now understand when God says ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’


What are the things that you want to improve in CAC music?

Well, quite a number of issues which I don't want to reveal now, but I've had a meeting with my immediate boss, Pastor Tope Dada. We're going to have a meeting of the Regional Choirmasters. I don't want to begin to unveil anything without talking to them. I will like to meet with them. I have a lot of ideas some of which Pastor Tope Dada knows about. I believe God that within the next one year, we'll see a lot of changes. The grace is available to us and with the cooperation of our fathers, the president and the authority, I’m sure we will have a lot of innovations that will appeal to the music of the church, to the glory of our God.


We all know that there is exodus of youth leaving their parents’ churches, including CAC, particularly the working population and majority of them are members of the choir.  What do you think could be done to ensure we retain our youths?

It is part of my plans. One of my plans is to target the youth in order to sustain their interest in the church. Even those who have ‘japa’ (relocated abroad) when I go abroad, I'm going to try and link them up. Luckily for me, I know quite a number of them. They know me. Most of them who passed through me over the years or who have heard my name are still in touch with me. They called me ‘Bros B’. Some of them despite the fact that they have left CAC are calling to congratulate me on the appointment. I sent them messages that I am going to need their support and they said they are ready. One of my plans is to bring them back and give them a platform that they need. Some people were surprised that I am a CAC member and a member of the choir and I always tell them that I’m proud of CAC. You will always see music files on my table in my office. I carry my music files around. For me, it's something that I do with ease. It's something that I grew up with. I was born into it. It's not a burden and it doesn’t conflict with my work. 


Until this appointment as the Music Director, you were the choirmaster of CAC Akinyele Region. Are you still going to retain the position or you have handed over to another person?

Elder SesanTaiwo has been appointed already as the substantive Choirmaster of Akinyele Region and his Deputy is Elder SegunAkinloye. He was our treasurer before he was appointed. These are great people. I’m still a member of Akinyele Region even though I am no longer the Choirmaster. 


About three years ago when you came to lecture at the Pastors’ Leadership Retreat (PLR) organized for the Principal Officers and Regional Superintendent of the church, the General Evangelist gave you the assignment to gather CAC children who are legal practitioners. How far have you gone with the assignment?

Baba Hezekiah is a true prophet of God. It was not flesh and blood that inspired him to do that, it is the spirit of God because shortly after that I was appointed the chairman of the church legal advisory committee. And I discovered that we had lawyers in CAC and I never knew some of them to be CAC members. One of them is Mr. Samuel Olugunorisa. Samuel and I were called to the bar in 1987, but he was called into the inner bar before me. He became Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2011, I in 2012. I never knew he is a CAC member until the formation of the Legal Advisory Committee. The Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of Jos, Prof. JoashOjoAmupitan (SAN) is also a member of the committee. We also have Justices in that committee. I was just privileged to be the chairman of the committee. I told Samuel Olugunorisa that he should be the chairman of the committee, not me. We have started working to ensure that the church is not shortchanged legally. There are so many cases in court that we are trying to study and we want to meet with External Lawyer of the church, Mr. Lana. We have told our fathers that they should always consult out committee before they take some important step and I must commend them because they have been doing it. We have told them they shouldn’t take steps without asking questions and they shouldn’t sign documents without crosschecking and they have been doing that. 


Initially, CAC Ebute-Meta was in the opposing side of the CAC divide, but the churchfatherslater came together and settled with the GEC, why was there division in the first place?

Let me correct an impression: initially, CAC Ebute-Meta has always been part of the church, but in the early '90s when the crisis broke out, what we then knew as the General Executive Council was one side and Supreme Council was another side. GEC was led by Baba Obafemi and Supreme Council by Baba Adegoroye. It's on the Supreme Council side we have Baba Obadare, Udofia and others. On General Executive Council side we have Baba Obafemi, Baba Olusheye who was the General Superintendent then. There was a meeting of Elders that was called by a particular Baba Ige in CAC Olugbode. Baba Ige was the most senior Elder at that time and he was well respected. He called the meeting with the motive of resolving the crisis. CAC Ebute-Meta and Olugbode became prominent due to the meeting because meetings were held there. CAC Ebute-Meta, Olugbode form an interim government with the aim that both the GEC and Supreme Council should reconcile. We want both of them to form a new administration whereby they can come together and become one. The interim government we set up becomes a problem to the extent that both the GEC and Supreme Council started threatening us. But both of them used to send their representatives to our meetings. We held one of the meetings at Oniyere and Olugbode. My father used to take me to the meeting and I was the recorder on the interim side. The meeting made me to know most of those fathers. We continued with the interim until the late '90s when we now decided to come back and rejoin the GEC. After we came back to GEC, personally, I have made many efforts to bring back the Supreme Council.


Now that you're part of the administration of the church, what effort will you make to bring back our brethren from other side?

One day, I was in the Federal High Court in Lagos, I saw the late Governor of Ondo State, who before becoming the Governor was one of the lawyers of CAC, OgbeniRotimiAkeredolu and I said 'I gathered that you are one of our lawyers in CAC' and he said yes. He asked me that 'amI a CAC member?' I told him I was born and bred in CAC. I implored him that we should have a meeting with the lawyers of Supreme Council. He was very happy with me when I said it. He asked me to speak with Mr. Olujimi, his partner who is based in Abuja and I went to Abuja to talk to him. He was very excited. Luckily for me the lawyer of the other side is someone I know very well. We held a meeting with them in their chambers in Ibadan. Baba Akinosun was still the President of CAC then. He used to sendrepresentatives to the meeting, while the Supreme Council also did same thing. We made some recommendations in order to accommodate our people from the other side. We suggested that new offices should be created. They agreed with us, but all of a sudden everything scattered. It was very painful. I used to come to Ibadan every week for six weeks because of this. Everybody, including the lawyers were disappointed. However, we won't stop. We will continue to make necessary effort to unite the church.


Some people have said we should have executed the judgment of March 1 2011 which says that Supreme Council has ceased to exit, and that all Church properties are too be vested in the Church’s Trustees, what is your view?

It's one of the things we want to discuss with the church lawyer, Mr. Lana. We will look at it and see what exactly we can do. We will study all the court documents and see what we can do.


Is there still a hope that the church can be united?

Why not? It is possible and I believe God will help us.



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