Ifeanyl Odedo

Arc. Ifeanyi OdedoNear - Success Syndrome

It all started like a blaze during the award giving night, an important part of the 1979/80 Convocation ceremony of the University of Nigeria held at the main campus at Nsukka. As I sat with my fellow graduates in the back of the auditorium, when the proceedings got to my Faculty, I was called up as the winner of the prize for the best graduate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies. I walked majestically down the aisle and received my certificate and prize.

As I headed for my seat, half way down the aisle, I was called up again for a second award as the best graduating student in the Department of Architecture. Again after receiving the award as I was returning to my seat I was called up a third,  fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh time for various awards. The auditorium became electrified with the standing ovation and applause of the academic staff, fellow graduates, and visitors.

As I acknowledged the cheers with handshakes from admirers, my eyes suddenly became heavy with tears. Tears of joy on one hand for carting away the seven faculty/departmental prizes, and a regret on the other hand because I did not receive a First Class Honors degree for reasons peripheral to my academic program. I ended up with a Second Class Honors [Upper Division] instead. It was a shattered dream and a hard pill to swallow.

Little did I know that I had become a victim of a pathological case of "near- success syndrome" master-minded by unknown evil powers. Each time I got close to receiving the ultimate success in any life endeavor, these forces would deprive me. I traced the recurrence to the several sign posts in my life.

Primary/Secondary Schools

At the end of my primary school education, contrary to the expectation of my teachers, fellow pupils, and parents for a "Distinction." I came out with a "Credit." This marked the beginning of disappointments at the edge of ultimate success.

At the end of my secondary education in 1973, the expectation of my school was that I would come out with at least six distinctions (A-1), but that was not to be. I had distinctions in five subjects, and the sixth was a disappointing credit. It was a heart-breaking experience.

NYSC

After my graduation from the University of Nigeria, I was posted to Borno State for the National Youth Service program. At the end of my primary service as the Acting Head of Department of Architecture at Ramat Polytechnic Maiduguri, I was reliably informed by a senior staff of the NYSC State Secretariat that I had been selected for the State Governor's Merit Award for distinctive service. My name was suddenly omitted from the honors list before the program was passed out.

Career

In 1983, I had a gentlemen’s agreement to be admitted as a senior partner after a length of faithful service. When this did not occur, I quit my job as a senior architect at a firm at Owerri.

In the same year, I had an interview, in Kaduna, with the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Abuja. After the session, the erstwhile Director of Architecture and Planning who chaired the interview panel invited me over to his residence at Suleja, where he congratulated me for an exceptional performance at the interview.

Thereafter he offered me a partnership with him, to float a joint-firm in which he would be the passive director to source jobs for the firm with his position, and ensure prompt payments, while I managed the firm. That sounded irresistible so I jumped at it with a sense of pride.

Two weeks later, I relocated from Owerri to Abuja. At the Director's request, I rented an apartment and an office apartment out of my meager savings. Sadly, instead of executing our plan, he turned me into an object of domestic entertainment, engaging me with all kinds of indoor games -- Scrabble, Ludo, Monopoly, Draft, and Chess, one game per night, for three months.

At the end of the third month, a military coup d’état took place leading to the dismissal of some of the old directors in the FCDA, including my partner. This closed a chapter of my dreams to hit success.

Notwithstanding, I went ahead to float a firm and several times my company was shortlisted for contracts. Each of them ended with "I regret to inform you...” This began to affect my self-esteem. I was destined either to fail or remain average in life. Many times I was cheated, relegated, deprived, swindled, maltreated, and frustrated in my quest to break even. Life suddenly became very sour, bleak, and miserable.

Quest for Solution

In my dejection, people advised me to go after the forces contending with me lest they destroyed me. I heeded their advice. My first port of call was an induction into the occult school of a host of others. That evening, it was as though there was an opera between the toads and frogs in the pool.

As we anxiously waited for the next instruction, a boy suddenly shouted 'oya-now!' in Pidgin English for "hurry and get going." I turned to my guide who explained that the boy said to strip naked and jump into the pool for a bath. The motto of my Alma mater, the University of Nigeria Nsukka, "To Restore the Dignity of Man" flashed through my mind. My dignity was about to be buried in a filthy, unhygienic pool, at the command of a dirty, malnourished lad. How wicked Satan is, not respecting one's credentials or status. I became angry instantly. In my fury, I gave my friend who brought me two minutes to get into the car or walk back home. He got the message, and we raced back home.

The last stop in my expedition was a visit arranged by another friend to one Fulani woman called Malami, in Dikko, Niger State. The woman was over 100 years old and spoke through an interpreter. A director with a government ministry had sat on my file for months, and I was informed that most contractors found solutions from visits to the old woman. After consultation, she gave me some wraps of a powdery substance with the instruction that I go to the city of Abuja at noon time, take off my clothes, stand at the intersection of a cross-road, open the wraps, and blow away the powder in the four cardinal directions. I wondered what Abuja residents would think of me if anyone saw me. This was insane of course! At my plea, she asked me to do it at night and I did. Thereafter, I went to see the director in respect of my file, but I was shocked to my marrow when he shouted at me and literally ordered me out of his office. I staggered out in dejection with tears, completely disappointed.

After that, I decided to turn away from further fetish activities. Along with some friends, I started an all professionals elite social club we named "The Saints Membership Club." I was elected the Chief-Saint [head]. Membership admission was by some process of initiation. We would stand by one another in the face of any challenge using every resource at our disposal. Our leisure was alcohol, tobacco, girls, and exclusive parties. Yet this did not stop my ordeals. Fear gripped my heart and oppressed my life. There was this spell of failure all over me and a vacuum inside of me that no vice could fill.

 The Turning Point

It was at this juncture in 1987 that a friend and his wife stopped by my residence, on their way to Jos for a National Convention of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International (FGBMFI).

That night, we got to talking, and I shared with my friend some of my plights, and my efforts to find solutions. From his Bible, he shared the love of Jesus Christ with me. Some of the striking texts he read were Mathew11:28 "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and, I will give you rest." and Proverbs 23:18 "Surely there is an end and the expectation of the just shall not be dashed."

I was so pierced by his words that I excused myself, went into my bedroom and wept like a baby. I repented of my sins and I asked the Lord Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. Joy unspeakable and peace like a river flooded my heart in a moment leaving me lighter than I had ever experienced. My burdens were lifted, my curse broken, and my yokes destroyed. Confidence and assurance returned to my life. I felt like a brand new man.

The following week, by the counsel of my friend, I attended a meeting of FGBMFI at Agura Hotel, Abuja, and I publicly pledged my life to Jesus. Unlike the Saints Club, I found in FGBMFI, a circle of loving and caring friends with a radiance of glory and a clear sense of direction. Indeed, they were the happiest people on earth. Thereafter, I got committed to a local church where I was baptized by immersion.

The next thing God gave me was the gift of a priceless sweetheart, my wife, Nnedi, a chartered accountant. and the mother of our three children: Victor, Gift and Arinze. She has been my richest treasure, pillar of support, strongest companion, and the mother of our three children – Victor, Gift, and Arinze. She is my greatest inspiration after the Lord. Her prayers and wise counsels have kept me burning for the Lord. I used to feel I did not deserve her love. But all thanks to the Lord, together we are committed to fulfilling our ministry, and leave a memorable legacy for posterity.

Delivered From Plane Crash

In 2008, I was invited to Port Harcourt City Outreach as the main speaker, and I planned to attend with my wife. On getting to Sosoliso Airlines desk at Sheraton Hotel and Towers Abuja to purchase our flight tickets, the lady attendant could not as much as lift her head off her desk to greet or speak with me. She was busy writing some tickets for over 30 minutes. When I tried to enquire if I could get two seats, she became very irritant and quarreled over my interrupting her work. At that point my spirit went down, and I decided to walk away. I later picked the only ticket left at Chanchangi Airlines with the assent of my wife who decided not to go.

The following day I flew to Port Harcourt. About ten minutes after leaving the airport my protocol staff received a phone call informing him that the same Sosoliso flight my wife and I would have hoarded just crashed. I then realized that what that lady was trying to tell me at Sheraton was that there was no room for my wife and me in that 'coffin.' God's mercy snatched us away. What a mighty God we serve!

Saved from Hoodlums

Sometime after my baptism in the Holy Spirit, I was travelling to Warri with my now late mother. Along Benin — Sapele Road, a Peugeot 504 car with four young men in National Youth Service uniforms suddenly overtook us just before the River Ethiope Bridge and blocked our way. The guys came out of their car and headed straight towards us. In a twinkle of an eye, four pistols were pointed at us. I just shouted at the top of my voice "J-e-e-e-sus" and a mind- blowing miracle happened: All four guys with their guns fell backwards simultaneously. Our car was literally lifted up over their car and landed with a bang on the other side, my hands still glued to the steering wheel. As my mum continued to shout the name "Jesus" endlessly, I regained control and we sped off.

One night in 1991, my wife and I had retired to bed. I was awake with our new baby. Our house help came to our room and announced the presence of thieves in the compound. I woke and informed my wife. We began to pray. I observed that they had not yet gained entrance, but they had opened the windows, and were seeking ways of removing the burglary proofs. Suddenly, the Lord spoke to me "Get up unto the rear door where the thieves are, open the door with a bang and shout." I thought that was crazy, but I summoned courage and obeyed. At the simultaneous bang of the door and the shout in tongues, came the drama of the year: Five hefty men armed with dangerous weapons, ran and jumped over the fence because of a harmless man, armed with the Holy Ghost. The last man to jump over the fence landed with a long scream of pain, very likely he had broken his leg.

Few months later, a man with a lot of lacerations came into my office. He announced that he was one of the robbers that made several attempts to burgle our residence, even though they had successfully raided other houses in the neighborhood. He said that after they had fled my house at their last attempt, confusion set into their midst leading to an exchange of gun fire in which some of them died while others, including himself, were arrested. While in prison, he accepted the lordship of Jesus. Weeks later, the Lord set him free from prison with instructions that he must report himself to me, and plead for forgiveness, or else he would return to prison and die there. I forgave him and prayed for him.

Prosperity Was Added

After my disappointment with floating an architectural consultancy firm, I was almost stranded. I went into farming in Suleja. Thieves would not let the crops mature, let alone be harvested. I shifted to Bwari in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where I was cultivating about ten thousand heaps of yam intercropped with maize and high breed cassava stems. From farming, I raised some capital to start a small-scale building construction work. The first set of contracts I got was to construct septic tanks/soak-away (toilet) pits for houses in Wuse District. I had to buy from those who had links with the government. It was a very humbling experience but it kept me on.

Grace Brought Me Into His Rest

One day after a chapter meeting, the Lord gave me a prophetic word through a sister. She said to me: "My son, I know your works, your love for me, and your commitment to do my will, your diligence in giving and desire to execute my counsel. I have come to lift you up, and I will bless you. I will take you unto the height of my glory where you will be the envy of many. I will defend you. They will not hurt you at all for your righteousness is from me." As I prostrated on the floor wondering how this would happen, she further said "Am I not the God of all flesh, the Father of all spirits, is anything hard for me'?" I then burst into tears and began to sing "Lord I believe, Lord I believe, all things are possible, Lord I believe...."

From that day, I ceased from my works and entered the Lord's rest. I stopped laboring to live, but started trusting Him all the way as my shepherd, receiving instructions from Him. Shortly after, in 1991, a man offered me an allocation letter for a shop in Wuse District Centre, and I bought it by God's leading. Though I didn't have the money, God made a way through a brother He directed to me, I bought the shop for only twenty three thousand Naira. A few weeks later the lawyer that executed the transfer of ownership deed arranged for the same shop to be rented at fifty-five thousand Naira per annum for three years. I got a total sum of one hundred and sixty-five thousand Naira as rent, and I later sold the shop for four million, five hundred thousand Naira. I got two other shops in similar circumstances and made handsome profits.

Enlargement Followed

With the gains from the Wuse shops, we bought two plots of land at Wuse, Abuja. Then I commenced the development of a twin duplex on one. With constant rent increases and threats of eviction by my landlord, we increased the pace of construction to roofing level. I took one of our trustees, Dr. Olu Ajolore, to the site for prayers. After a short prayer he spoke by the Lord that we should turn the building to a guest house. We converted it into an 18-suite guesthouse named Sharon International Hotels.

In 1998, a brother offered us a plot at Wuse II at a give-away price. We embarked upon the development of a block of flats thereon. When we got to roofing level the Lord directed us again to convert it to a second phase of the Sharon family, this time, a 45- room Sharon Regency. It was a difficult task because, earlier in 1996, we had commenced work at our Area HI Garki site for a 120-room four-star hotel, which we had suspended on God's instruction.

In obedience, we accepted the divine wisdom to convert the Wuse II property to a hotel. The Lord made a way and it was completed. From inception, we resolved to operate by the tenets of Christian ethics, prohibiting smoking, alcohol, gambling, and prostitution in all our branches. Friends raised an alarm, counselling us to rethink or face liquidation. But we insisted on honoring God instead. Today rather than liquidate, we have excelled, waxing from strength to strength.

The third stage was the 120- suite Sharon Ultimate Hotels. We took a term loan at an interest rate of 32% from a commercial bank. Before long the loan became a great burden because of the compound interest. As a nascent business, returns were not enough to meet the bank's repayment plan. The bank went to court threatening liquidation. A demand had earlier been made on us to pay an instant sum of twenty five million Naira or face litigation.

At that point, a man approached us with an offer to lease the hotel hall for a three-year period for twenty five million Naira. I thought we had hit a breakthrough, but when we enquired about the purpose for the lease, his answer was a casino. This was a direct contravention of our policy of running the enterprise according to Christian ethics, even though the offer was extremely tempting in view of the pressure from the bank. When we turned down the offer, the man would not understand but rather called us fools. We suffered for a while but God was faithful, He stood by us until we paid off the loan. Today, we are free of debt. That same hall serves as a venue for many local and international Christian meetings and events. Incidentally, two friends of ours who took similar bank loans at the same time and opted to run their hotels by worldly standards had them liquidated and sold by the banks.

Forgiveness and Debt Cancellation

While I was still indebted to the bank to the tune of about three hundred million Naira, I attended a fire conference by Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke where the Lord spoke expressly to me demanding that I forgive an Architect friend of mine a debt of five million Naira he owed me. It was a tough decision but I struggled to obey.

A Few weeks’ later, divine favor located me, compelling my creditor bank to write off one hundred and fifty million Naira from my debts, and spread out the balance of one hundred and fifty million Naira over twenty four months, which we have long paid off. When the Lord turned us out of our captivity, we were like those that dreamed!

Ministry

I joined the FGBMFI in 1987, and this has given meaning and direction to my life and family. Job 36:11 says "If they will serve and obey me, they will spend their days in prosperity and their years in pleasure". When I saw this I keyed into it and I laid my life on the altar of God's service in the Church and FGBMFI.

In 1989, I was elected President of Suleja Chapter of FGBMFI. From there I was appointed Field Representative, National Director, and District Coordinator in quick succession. In 2009, God picked me as He did with King David, from the wilderness of a humble but faithful service. I was elected the National President of the fellowship in Nigeria.

Within three years in office, we experienced a giant leap in the fellowship from 1,400 chapters when I took over to over 3,500 chapters. Some of these chapters are in other countries of the world. It could only be God!

The decision I made several years ago, to surrender my life to Jesus Christ has turned out to be the wisest and most rewarding step of a life time. I have laid my hands on the plough to follow Him and by His grace will never look back until I see Jesus in glory. His love and His mercies endure forever!

Arc. Ifeanyi Odedo, fnim, mnia, serves as the current National President of FGBMFI Nigeria.

Arc. Ifeanyi Odedo Hearing His Voice Testimony