My father was very interested in politics and governmental affairs. He was a civil servant, but later he resigned to go fully into politics. He contested and won an election as a Local Government Chairman. Looking back, I realise now that his inclinations were sentimentally partisan.
Our home ran mostly on his terms, so he made us do whatever he felt was the right thing to do per time. And because we had to be obedient, we had to do whatever he said. One of such obligations was to avail ourselves as soon as it was 9 PM, for National News. We had to do this almost every day, no matter how sleepy we were.
While we watched these news broadcasts, he’d run commentaries and express his sentiments regarding changes in government and policies. He’d rage and hold hateful positions about these changes, regarding the major tribes in Nigeria and our minority Annang Ethnic Group.
Those “9 PM News Moments” were our only common ground as a family, and we were keenly indoctrinated to despise most tribes (especially the Ibibios, and the Igbos by extension). I was taught to hate them, while maintaining, as much as possible, a superficial relationship with them.
We were not to marry them or have anything serious to do with them. I remember, while I was in the University, most of us from Akwa Ibom stayed within our tribal lines. I think our parents did such great jobs at indoctrinating us and ensuring that we stayed divided! The Ibibios insisted that an Annang man could never become a governor of the state, and the Annangs would fight back with daring words and dispositions. We took these things so personally that we would mock each other and say mean things against the other side.
When Mr. Godswill Akpabio, an Annang man, coasted to victory as Governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2007, I went to my (Ibibio) friends at the time, with a bottle of brandy to sarcastically celebrate. This angered them so much that we have not been in good terms since that day! I grew up with these erroneous concepts, and I loved to express them. I gathered facts (however false they were), and was always ready to dish them out.
The above are my earliest memories of this defilement. Until sometime in 2019, I knew nothing about “the Yeast of Herod”. I came to understand that the Yeast of Herod is the leaven of politics. Jesus warned about it in Mark 8:15… It is a partisan spirit that doesn’t seek the will of God concerning matters of government; it is fueled by selfish ambition, lies, division, and hatred.
The Bitter Root Grew…
I didn’t learn from my father to hate the Hausas and Fulanis, maybe because he had lived in the North. He believed that they were a better group of people, compared to the Igbos and Yorubas.
My deep-seated disdain for the Hausas/Fulanis started from my regular contacts with various news blogs, especially on Twitter, Facebook and a church group to which I belonged. They usually spread news that demonised the Hausas/Fulanis. The church group added “scriptural backing” to support their hateful position and to emphasise the rage and anger that they taught. I learnt later on that such behaviour (especially in the church) is unscriptural, and does not reflect God’s will.
When I was appointed the youth leader of that church group, I would organise night prayers (before the 2015 general elections) for our people to pray against the presidency of General Buhari (at the time). There was a prophetic word given in the church where it was prophesied that he was not to rule Nigeria. So, we leveraged on that (under the claim of praying according to God’s will), and prayed vehemently against the advent of President Buhari’s government. My friend, Margaret, told me that they had prayed in her church group (God’s Lighthouse), and received prophetic words that were contrary to ours – to the effect that President Buhari would win the elections. I immediately disregarded what she said, and continued my fasting and prayers against the “evil Fulani man”.
My hatred for the government increased exponentially after President Buhari won. Instead of questioning the misleading prophecy that fuelled my prayer points, I went on to hate the newly constituted government, accusing it of running on a stolen mandate. How foolish!
I remember visiting Akwa Ibom State from Lagos, shortly after the elections. I met with Margaret at the University of Uyo, and our conversation resulted in an argument. It was a very intense and bitter argument. Then, she shared a prophetic word that she had received for me: “You’re not going to get any benefits from this government if you continue in this hatred of its existence.” She tried to get me to repent, but I ignored her. It was supposed to be a happy visit, but the disagreement ended it, and I left very sad. My tongue had a terribly bitter taste, which I could not understand.
I was already very consumed by my hate for the government and was actively praying against the government. My former church group went as far as organising conferences, in liaison with as many leaders of diverse Christian congregations as possible, in an attempt to sensitise Christians to ‘pray out’ the government and institute what they believed was “God’s will”.
How My Deliverance Began
When I finally came to God’s Lighthouse, the Pastor preached against abusing the government, and insisted on the need to pray for those in authority.
The highlight for me during this season was when he asked that prayers be offered for the rehabilitation of Ikpa Road in Uyo, which had multiple potholes. It was the part of the road near the University, by the junction, which we had to pass through on our way to church meetings. Rather than curse the government for not fixing the roads, the Pastor told us to pray that the road be fixed. That Wednesday evening, the prayer took less than thirty seconds, but I couldn’t pray; my heart wasn’t right. I didn’t believe in praying for the government, so I just stood there, moping at others in discontent as they prayed.
To my amazement, as I drove through the road to attend the next meeting on Friday, all the potholes were filled! Although this did not overhaul my prejudice against government, it was a major turning point for me. I left that meeting determined to attend as many meetings as I could, hoping to learn a few more things.
Yet, my bias against President Buhari’s Government remained intact. Somewhere in my heart, I still found reasons to hate his ‘regime’, and I struggled with it. I believe that for this reason, my Pastor didn’t stop speaking the truth about our disposition towards the civil government.
People who were in the church meetings during that season may recall that those sermons against the ‘yeast of Herod’ went on for weeks. Each time I showed up for a meeting, the Holy Spirit (who loves me deeply) would divinely nudge the Pastor to start talking about the subject. Every time! My Pastor would drift from whatever topic he was teaching from the Bible, and talk about this ‘yeast’. Of course, he had no clue about what was happening or who the message was for. He simply yielded to the leading of the Spirit. I am very grateful that the Lord kept ‘leaving the ninety-nine’ to rescue me from that strong bondage.
Following these meetings, I witnessed an interesting change in my thinking. I forced myself to pray for and bless the government, as well as the nation. I would feel a bitter taste in my mouth whenever I tried to pray, and it almost discouraged me. Any time I wanted to pray for the country in obedience to Scriptures, negative and hateful headlines and comments would come to my mind. The Holy Spirit later drew my attention to the fact that my lingering bias against the government was largely due to my continued interactions online.
Fruits Worthy of Repentance…
1) I Left All Fake News Platforms
I had active Twitter and Facebook accounts where I would bash the government from time to time and congregate with people who shared similar sentiments. Talk of ‘bad company’! Through these accounts, I had access to tons of fake news websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter handles that I would read through and interact with for several hours. In this process, the information I received would effectively fuel my rage.
One of the things my Pastor had instructed us to do was to stay away from false news and social media in general. It was because these media were the major doorways to most of the yeast that was spread across the nation, teaching people to be sentimentally partisan. I practised the little obedience that I could and got off Twitter. I deleted the Twitter app from my phone and disconnected my Facebook account from all news websites and pages. This brought a lot of peace to my life. I was no longer obliged to respond to silly posts, tweets, and baseless criticisms against the government.
2) I Practised Obedience
I did a lot of repentance in private as I kept listening to my Pastor’s messages and tried to repent about anything the Holy Spirit would point out to me through them. This was a humbling experience, and I often felt rather foolish obeying the Scriptures; I still struggled with my opinions. My attitude generally was, “If it is commanded in Scripture, I have to obey, regardless of how I feel.” It was so difficult, but God helped me.
After we returned from the Youth Prophetic Conference held in Jos (August 2019), my Pastor continued with his warnings about speaking against the government. These sermons simply wouldn’t end! At this point, I had come to a place of acknowledgement.
During one of the Bible study meetings, Pastor was at it again, rebuking and teaching against the abuse of government, and I started to feel rigour in my legs. The sensation intensified as the sermon went on. I tried to stay calm and in control, but I was losing it! I felt a fever rush through me. I also began to sweat profusely. I had a pounding headache and severe nausea. I felt really sick, in the space of about 5 to 10 minutes. Although I tried to look calm and collected in my seat, I was partially knocked out and could barely keep it together.
Then, I saw a vision of a small and stout-looking demon come out from me and stand before me. It had a gavel in its hand and hung a shawl coloured ‘green-white-green’ (like the Nigerian flag) around its neck. It looked so angry that I couldn’t hold a steady gaze at it. I saw it drift furiously in the direction of my Pastor at the lectern. As soon as I could get a grip of myself, I ignored the vision and rushed to the restroom to throw up.
To my shock, the colour of the vomit was ‘green-white-green’! It was the same bitter taste that I felt on the day I had that argument with sister Margaret. I remembered it because it was clearly brought to mind while I was in the restroom. No coincidences there! This episode left me very weak and sick. I could not stand for a long time, I couldn’t sit upright and much later, I couldn’t drive back home. I didn’t know what had happened to me, because I had almost no understanding at the time.
What I know for sure is that after the episode, I felt lighter when I recovered. I started feeling unusual compassion for the President. My Pastor had added me to a group on WhatsApp where good news was shared about developmental strides in the government and across the nation (the Issachar Group). Though I used to read the information on the group, I still chose to live in self-denial. I didn’t want to believe that all the good things posted on the group were true. But after the episode, I would read and enjoy the achievements of this government, and even offer thanksgiving from time to time. Since then, I have not found it in me to speak ill of the government or post anything negative, because I obeyed and was delivered!
I have been completely freed from the Yeast of Herod, and for this, I am very grateful to God. I should add that I have gone on to reap so many benefits and favours from this government in my business than I ever have in other regimes; God kept His word to me as I repented and obeyed. Praise be to God!
25th December, 2021