Mark Osa Igiehon: Committed to Nation-building

From his foray into the oil and gas sector, to his remarkable feat on the pulpit and now his movement towards nation-building and good governance, Dr. Mark Osa Igiehon, founder, Success of Nation and Governments and consultant to oil industry under Aberdeen Commercial Strategist Solution is constantly on the move. He told Funke Olaode his  vision and mission to ensure that Nigeria becomes a prosperous nation

“The non-challant attitude of the youth worries me. The non-participation of religious leaders in governance gives me sleeplessness at night with the popular mantra that ‘politics is a dirty game’. But if the righteous don’t get involved, who will?”  he asked rhetorically.

From all indications, he is burdened. The last seven years have seen him stepping out of his comfort zone with a clear mission. His initial desire is to get the youths across the continent minds’ retrained on integrity, uprightness and accountability, and above all to seek leadership roles. He is already achieving that through his Success in Nations and Governments (SONG), a non-governmental organisation. And his second mission is how to get religious leaders involved and governance by denouncing the notion that ‘politics is a dirty game’.              

For close to two decades, he reigned supreme in the oil industry, Shell Petroleum to be precise and even served in both the Nigeria and Scotland office before he left to pursue another calling on the pulpit as Pastor in the RCCG City of God, Aberdeen, Scotland. Fast-forward to 2022, he is on a nation-building through his movement tagged Disciplining People for  Good Governance. Dr. Mark OSA Igiehon, Founder, Success of Nation and Governments (SONG) and Consultant to oil industry under Aberdeen Commercial Strategist Solution said his vision and mission to ensure that Nigeria becomes a prosperous nation.

No doubt, there is a connection between his past, present and the projected future. “My childhood in the city of Benin in Edo State was fantastic,” he recalled.   “I did my primary and secondary school there and university in the same state. It was called Bendel State University and we were the second set then before the school was renamed Ambrose Alli. This was between 1982 to1986.  From there I went to law school in Lagos, did my mandatory one year service in Ibadan before heading to Kano where I practiced for many years with a friend called Mustafa Wali.  We did a lot of litigation and corporate work. It was very fascinating living in Kano, I made a lot of friends and I was also seeing how the culture was. And Kano then was very lovely. I don’t know how it is now because I have not been there for many years. It was a very interesting place for me.”

For Igiehon, Nigeria was promising and they couldn’t have wished for a better place. 

“I had a promising future in Nigeria and my going abroad was for self-development academic wise. I went to London to do my Masters.  At that time I just wanted to do my master’s and come back. Part of what I did in my masters was oil commissioning, and oil and gas installation. When all these oil and gas installations are finished, what do you do with it? I asked myself. It becomes a big problem for many of the countries because of a lot of waste and destruction.  This was what took me to Southampton Solent University where I did a PhD in oil and gas.  After my doctorate degree, I returned to Nigeria and practiced law for sometime before Shell invited me to come and work because I didn’t apply. So, I went to work with Shell in Warri. I was in Warri from 1996 to 1999. Warri was then very peaceful until the crisis erupted.”

He was later posted to Port Harcourt, and in 2003, redeployed to its Aberdeen office in Scotland.

“I was raised Baptist as a young man in Benin. But my way to the pulpit began in Port Harcourt where I was made a Minister in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. I was ordained in 1999 and later became a Pastor of a church in one of the Redeemed churches.  I continued the mission work in Aberdeen and I am currently a pastor RCCG City of God.”

In 2013, Igiehon was invited as a presiding Pastor of RCCG, City of God, Aberdeen to offer prayers at the opening of Edinburgh Parliament Session. A successful technocrat, an accomplished disciple of God, he had experienced a better Nigeria and his desire to see a better future constantly draws him or rather reminds him of Nigeria of ‘old’.

“I will always take you back to my early years when Nigeria was everything we had. Benin City was so beautiful then. We didn’t have light problems, water and all of these things. We had light, we had water. I remember the tap used to come from the Water Corporation. So, sometimes when it is blocked, we go to a pipe near the road to unblock it and sometimes you call the plumber. I remember we had a phone in our house and they were working. And life was so sweet. And remember during holidays at the Benin Library, every Saturday was a children’s day. They would show free movies, all the Tom and Jerry’s, and for most of the children, they would go there on Saturdays, and everybody would come together. Even when we went to university, everything was still okay for the first one year or so. We used to pay 50 kobo for three course meals, on Sunday they give you three courses, chicken, and other meals. So, it is a mystery how things are now.”

With the success of SONG, why is the latest movement tagged ‘Disciplining for Good Governance?’

He explained: “I was travelling from Port Harcourt to Benin in those days and when we got to Yenagoa junction, I switched on the radio. And that was when the law for 13% derivation for oil states was just passed under Obasanjo’s regime, which gave 13% to oil producing states. So, they asked one of the governors of South-south what he is going to do with the money.  The man laughed a long laugh and said if they give me all the money in Abuja, it is not enough to do what I want to do. He couldn’t mention one thing.

“That’s my story, that the problem we have in Africa is not just corruption. In fact most people who are in leadership have no clue.  They have no idea. They have no vision. He said, if you give me all the money in Abuja, it is not enough for me but he couldn’t mention one thing. That is when it just dropped in my spirit. They have not prepared for what they are going to do there. So, that has been the motivation over the years.”

The next motivation was to explore the kingdom and inspire Christians to embrace politics manifested while he was invited to preach at a Special Programme in Lagos.

“But I don’t have the people to use. I am not going to come down to become governor. I am not going to become a senator.”

A Pan-African movement began in 2016 and was launched in Aberdeen attracting people from all over Europe and Africa.

“What we do is that we want to see how collectively those who are outside and inside government can help our nation to be more successful because the problem concerns all Africa is not just here. Our Zimbabwean brother and sisters they are complaining. It is all the same pattern everywhere.  As far as they are concerned, Nigeria is the first born of the black race. If Nigeria is not getting it right, what hope is there for the others? Some countries are doing very well. Rwanda, Ghana, but largely speaking, the rest is bad.

“What the movement is doing is to create the platform for all of us who are not in government and those in diaspora. How can you move from complaining? So one of the mottos we have is, stop complaining, stop agonizing, and start organising because no matter how you and I murmur, we talk, we debate, and it doesn’t change anything. So we have to start organising, so we are giving the platform for those who are interested in governance in Africa.  There are lot of non-Africans who have passion about Nigerian, or to ask Nigerian and African, how can they contribute without being physically in government?

“So, we are creasing that platform for them, the collaboration platform. That is what one of the things SONG is doing. With the latest movement of ‘Disciplining People for Governance’ we are focusing on churches and faith organizations. One of the biggest advantages we have is that Africa is largely whether you are Christian or non-Christian, people are people of faith, generally.  People always talk about prayer and prayer. Yes, it is true. But it is not just enough to pray. We need to organize leaders on how to organize and impact government to be more successful. There is a principle called, disciplining people for governance so that when people move into government, they can do well.”

Igiehon’s impact is already being felt across Africa.  “We have done it in Nairobi, by the grace of God and in that election, it was so successful. What we are now trying to do is to knock on the churches to say, we are not asking for money, we just want to train you, so that you will know how to train others. So there will be training on leadership, the pastors, and the clergy to know how to disciple people for governance. Then how to hold them accountable.  And not only that to also orientate people that you can be a pastor or Christian and still be a successful politician. And above all, they must have vision.”

In the next five months, Nigeria will be going to the polls. But Igiehon is not interested in politics so as to contest. His role is to influence  those who are going to contest for various offices through various enlightenment programmes of accountability and good governance. 

“If half of them have a clue of what they want to do, then we are in a better place. So, that is the interest. I have to see how we can influence them. The other thing we are doing as well, which we are about to launch this October is called the blueprint programme in Nigeria and Africa. When I was growing up in the days of Gowon, we used to have what they call ‘Rolling Plan.’  

“So what we are doing with the Blueprint is to encourage Nigerians, Africans, both here and in diaspora. Instead of complaining and grumbling, why don’t we take responsibility, call the experts and say, you go ahead, just develop the blueprints for each of the sectors they are interested in. Nigeria, for example, develop a blueprint for the country.  So that way, we have those blueprints ready. Then those who want to go into government, even if they don’t have a clue, we call them and say ‘Bros, even if you don’t have the idea, this is an idea.’  So, everybody will see the idea. So you force them to make a change. Those are part of what we are working on. that is what we want to do this time, we want to help to train the people, we want to help to bring visionary and we want to force those who are going there, that this time they won’t just go there and it will be the same as usual. These are the things that they will have no choice but to do.

And on the type of President Nigeria should get come 2023? “I pray for good leadership. If we don’t get it right next year that is the end of Nigeria. Nigeria is nearly knocking its engine because you can’t survive three bad governments and another one.  So, we have to get the right person and the right people.”

Igiehon is a pastor at one of the biggest churches in the United Kingdom yet he remains humble.

“My faith in God has been my guiding principle. I believe every achievement that God gives to us is a platform. So, everything about me is about the kingdom of God. You focus more on not what you have achieved, but what is still ahead. When you realize how much there is still to be done, then there is no need to be proud.”

Related Articles