TACN Expansion in the North

Chapter 14

 

Origin and Expansion of TAC in the Old Northern

Region of Nigeria:

African Indigenous Efforts and European Missionaries’

Participation

 

By

Samson  A. Fatokun

 

The Apostolic Church in Northern Nigeria has its origin dated back to the Faith Tabernacle era of the movement in the 1920s. Faith Tabernacle (F.T.)  churches were established in the north through the missionary activities of some key members of Faith Tabernacle Church  in Lagos. The principal centres of F.T. churches in the north then were  Kaduna, Zaria,  Jos,  Kano,  Markurdi, Kafanchan and Minna.

The leaders of TAC in Northern Nigeria were  Pastors G.B. Ghansah (also spelt as Chansa)[1]  S.A. Mensah and E.G.L. Macaulay  (two of the seven great pioneer pastors of Nigerian Faith Tabernacle Congregation and The Apostolic Church Nigeria respectively). F.T. church in the north can be said to have been pioneered by Pastor Ghansah (a Ghanaian) who was then working at Kaduna in Nigeria under the Colonial Government’s Audit Department. Much is not known of his initial labours as he in later years left Nigeria for Gold Coast (now Ghana), possibly upon retirement from civil service.

Pastor E.G.L. Macaulay pioneered the F.T. Church in Zaria as a staff of Railway Department upon his transfer from Minna to Zaria. Pastor S.A. Mensah who was equally a staff of Railway Department had worked in several places in the north and through that had been very instrumental in the establishment of F.T. churches at those different places he served in the north.

In 1926, Pastor S.A. Mensah retired from Civil Service with the Railway Department. Upon his retirement, he relocated from Minna (his last station)  to Lagos to work fully as a Faith Tabernacle pastor under the supervision of Pastor D.O. Odubanjo, the founding father of Nigerian Faith Tabernacle in Lagos, who also doubled as the Missionary Correspondent (Secretary) of the Faith Tabernacle in Nigeria.[2]

Between 1926 and 1929, he was frequently sent from Lagos as a full time minister of Faith Tabernacle to overseer the churches in the north, owing to his initials labours there. In 1930, he was officially transferred to head the F.T. churches in the north, with Kaduna as the headquarters. The Kaduna church was

headed by G.B. Ghansah;  Zaria was headed by Pastor Macaulay (one of the seven pioneering pastors of F.T.),  Jos was headed Pastor Epelle (also  one of the seven pioneering pastors of F.T.); the  Kano church was under the leadership of G.B. Ogunji, while Makurdi church was headed by J.O. Akinsanya, who was later transferred to Kaduna  in April 1931 as a staff of  Posts and Telegraph.[3]

The Faith Tabernacle churches in the north joined their counterparts in southwestern Nigeria in the affiliation with  The Apostolic Church of Great Britain  in 1931. Earlier in July of that same year, Pastor Odubanjo  had written to the committee of the churches in the north headed by pastor Mensah, of the plan of the F.T. churches in the southwest to drop affiliation with F.T. in Philadelphia, U.S.A.,  with  cogent reasons, and enter a new affiliation with The Apostolic Church with headquarters in Great Britain[4]. After much deliberations and prayers by the F.T. church committee which met in Kaduna, it was unanimously agreed to join the F.T. churches in the southwest with headquarters in Lagos, to affiliate branches of F.T. churches in the north with The Apostolic Church, Great Britain.

Upon the arrival of the TAC delegates from the United Kingdom in September 1931, telegrams were sent to the two leading pastors of F.T. in the north (Pastors Mensah and Macaulay) to join other leaders of F.T. in Lagos for deliberations and consolidation of affiliation agreement with the new body. After the perfection of agreements, Pastors Mensah of Kaduna and Macaulay of Zaria were formally ordained with the five other leading ex-F.T. pastors into full pastoral office by TAC delegates from  the United Kingdom as a token of consolidation of affiliation[5]. T.N. Turnbull gives a report of Zaria Area in its formative days as follows:

To the North of this vast country of Nigeria lies the Zaria area of our missionary work with its headquarters at Kaduna. Great difficulty has been experienced in preaching the gospel in the north of Nigeria owing to the hard strong grip of Mohammedanism on the people, and consequently the work is slow in increasing. The work here is also hampered by certain restrictions, for we cannot go into at all. Hence the work is hindered, yet we are happy that there is an Apostolic testimony in the land where Islam reigns. … The work is under the charge of the superintendent of the Lagos Area. These assemblies mainly cater for immigrant congregations, the Yorubas, Ibos and Efiks being transferred under government work to these places, and our

 

Apostolic members meet in our churches. When the Missionary Council in the United Kingdom was convinced of Late Pastor Adegboyega’s capability, integrity, sincerity and steadfastness in The Apostolic Church Vision, he was mandated to take over the Superintendent-ship of The Apostolic Church work of Zaria Area after the death of the European Missionary there in person of Pastor A. Taylor.[6]

 

However, with this strong British connection, much dynamism was brought into the spread of TAC work in Northern Nigeria. More assemblies were established in numerous cities, towns and villages in the north. All the numerous TAC assemblies in the north were re-orgainsed into a Centre with the creation of Zaria Centre in 1933 through prophetic ministry, and the subsequent transformation of ‘Centres’ into ‘Area Headquarters’ in 1936 (with Pastor Mensah as the leading African Apostle). However, the head church in Kaduna located at 12 Abeokuta Street was retained as the headquarters of all TAC assemblies in the North, now under the name Zaria Area, partly owing to the long and strong historical and commercial significance of Zaria as the central city of the north in the Colonial era. Thus, the old Zaria Area significantly became the pioneer Area of TAC in the north from which many other Areas have been created in the north. Pastors G.B. Ogunji and J.O. Akinsanya (who later became the first and second indigenous Superintendents of Zaria Area) and some other leading pastors (who served in the north) contributed in a great deal to the spread and consolidation of TAC in Northern Nigeria.

 

The roles of the resident European missionaries who laboured in Northern Nigeria cannot be over-emphasised.  The pioneer European missionary to Zaria Area was Pastor A. Taylor, who later became the first European Area Superintendent[7]. After his demise, he was succeeded by Pastor Grabham. He (Pastor Grabham) was later transferred to Enugu. During this period, Pastor F. Odunaike deputized for him.  During this time, Pastors Odunaike and I.O. Ojobe, together with Overseer Agboola[8] (who later pioneered an assembly in Ibadan that today became Sanngo Area) worked relentlessly to continue the work by winning more souls as well as establishing more assemblies[9]. Pastor Pitan was eventually transferred to replace Pastor Grabham in Kaduna. When Pastor Pitan himself was later transferred to Lagos in 1962, he was succeeded by Pastor Ogunji who emerged as the first African Superintendent of Zaria Area[10].

 

 

Figure 1: TACN, Kaduna Area Headquarters (Courtesy: Pastor Olootu)

 

With the demise of Pastor Ogunji in 1968, Pastor J.O. Akinsanya who was in charge of Zaria District took over as the second African Superintendent[11]. Among the Area Prophets who laboured in Zaria Area were Pastors Adebayo and A.M.O Osinowo. Pastor I.A. Ojobe worked once worked as Zaria Area Secretary between 1946 and 1961. Pastor Awonuga at a time succeeded Pastor Akinsanya as Zaria District Pastor on his appointment as Area Superintendent[12].

Other individuals whose contributory roles cannot be under-mined included Elders Aiyere, Ajayi, Adetoro, Bajulaiye, and Messrs Forson and Cooky – who together served as members of church committee in  1931 on  Kaduna/Zaria F.T. and T.A.C affiliation consultation and afterwards.  Overseer Agboola equally served as Zaria Area Treasurer[13].

 

Further Expansion of TAC in Northern Nigeria   

From the Old Zaria Area as the pioneer Area of TAC in Northern Nigeria was carved out two additional Areas in 1979, namely, Kano and Jos Areas.

Furthermore, in 1984, the number of Areas in Northern Nigeria became five (5) with the creation of Maiduguri  and Minna Areas[14].

 

Apart from Kaduna and Zaria as pillar assemblies  of TAC in the north, other key assemblies established in the earliest time  included Kano, Jos, Minna, Markurdi, Abuja, Sokoto, Bida, Maiduguri, Mubi, Numan, and Yola. A number of these started as F.T. churches before affiliation and adoption of the name ‘The Apostolic Church’.

The Kano Church had one Brother Adelaja (a trader by profession)  as its pioneer in the early 1920s. He was one of the earliest foundation members of F.T. in the north. He was later joined and assisted in Kano church by Okunuga (a teacher by profession) and one Okudulu (an evangelist). The F.T. Church in Kano came under the headship of Pastor S.G. Ogunji consequent upon his transfer to Kano as a staff of S.C.O.A.  On his transfer later by S.C.O.A. to Funtua, he seized the opportunity to pioneer another branch of the church in that place, while Adelaja, now ordained a pastor, took over the leadership of the Kano church.

Branches of TAC were established in other places in and around Kano. This made Kano to be upgraded to a District Headquarters[15]. Among the ministers who laboured in Kano as District Pastors/Apostles were: Pastor Z.A. Alabi (1956-1962), Pastor S.O. Alalade (1962-1968), Pastor A.M.O. Oshinowo (1968-1979). During the tenure of Pastor Oshinowo, Kano was further upgraded to the status of Area Headquarters (in 1979), and he subsequently emerged as the first Area Superintendent[16].

The Jos Church was established in the F.T. era and later adopted the name TAC.  The first church was located at 28 Sarkin Mangu now No. 2 Church Street. Apart from Pastor Epelle (who was among the pioneer F.T. leaders made pastor by Clarke), the church in Jos had one E.E. Emma as its first evangelist. Pastor E.O. Arokodare equally worked as an ordained pastor in TAC Jos till 1968 when he was transferred from Oshodi Assembly. Jos later became an Area Headquarters in the year 1979 with Pastor G.O. Oladele as the first Area Superintendent.

The Church in Minna had its origin dated to the F.T. where Pastors Macaulay and Mensah had earlier worked on transfer as Railway staff, however, owing to movement of these individuals on transfer, there were some difficulties in managing the church earlier pioneered. On the other hand, proper TAC work in Minna can be said to have begun in the 1960s with the transfer of Deacon J.A. Adelaja from Zaria Railway Department to Minna in 1962. He seized this opportunity to start TAC Assembly with the assistance of a brother by name, Jacob Ayo (who later became an ordained Elder in the church) in the house of one Brother Segun. Pastor Jaiyeola (then a  ‘Worker’) was later posted to head the Minna Assembly as the first minister of the church. Today the small assembly in Minna has grown to the status of Area Headquarters.

TAC Maiduguri, which today is an Area Headquarters, started with the planting of TAC assemblies in places like Maiduguri, Mubi, Numan and Yola. This was done through the efforts of Zaria Area. Pastors Ogunji and J.A. Adebayo contributed immensely to the establishment and spread of TAC in the North-eastern Nigeria. Maiduguri later became a District Headquarters[17]  under Kano Area, and later an Area Headquarters in 1984 with Pastor J.O. Oladunjoye as the first Area Superintendent[18].

 

Figure 2: TACN, Maiduguri Area Headquarters (Courtesy: Pastor I.I Shehu)

 

T.A.C. in  Makurdi had its origin in the assembly  earlier established at Otukpo by TAC Ilesa Area.  However, owing to some administrative challenges created by distance barrier which affected the growth of the church, Zaria Area took over  the administrative leadership. Pastors Jaiyeola  and J.A. Akintola (who were then ‘Workers’- later ordained apostle and prophet respectively) were among those who laboured indefatigably in the re-organisation of the church which eventually became a District Headquarters as more assemblies of TAC were established in and around Otukpo, including Makurdi.  In 1969, owing to administrative importance of Minna as the seat of the Resident Colonial District Officer, the authorities of the church decided to move the District Headquarters to Makurdi for a more effective administration of the church[19]. It thus came under Kano Area. Makurdi District Headquarters eventually was graduated to the status of an Area Headquarters in 1984 with Pastor   S.O. Obafemi as first Area Superintendent[20].

TAC in Abuja has its origin in the year 1963 consequent upon the transfer of Elder J.A. Longe (a staff of  P.& T.) from Kaduna to Abuja. As a devout members of TAC in Kaduna, he took the initiative of starting a TAC  assembly in Abuja few days after his arrival, in the house of one Mr. Samuel Fatorotu with whom he was staying at that time. Pastor J.A. Akintola (then a

 

‘Worker’) was later posted to head the church as the first minister of TAC assembly in Abuja[21]. The church in Abuja is today an Area Headquarters with many assemblies and District Centres under it.

TAC in Bida commenced in 1963. The first assembly was established by Ilesha Area  under the then Ilorin District through the labours of Pastor G.O. Ebire and one Brother Adebowale. This success eventually came after series of initial futile attempts by Pastor S.O. Komolafe.   Brothers Adeniran and Daramola were among the faithful who contributed immensely to the survival and  growth of the Bida church. The first minister to be posted to the assembly was Worker (later Pastor) Adefidipe. Bida Assembly later grew to become a District Headquarters with the establishment of more assemblies in and around Bida. However, in 1979,  TAC Bida District was removed from under Ilesha Area and put under Zaria Area for administrative conveniences[22].

The Apostolic Church in Sokoto, which today is an Area Headquarters, had its origin in 1969 through the pioneering works of Pastors J.O. Akinsanya, A.O. Awonuga and A.M.O. Oshinowo. The first church started in the house of  a family, by name Mr. & Mrs. Idowu Joseph.[23]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3:TACN Sokoto Area Headquarters (Courtesy: Sokoto Area Superintendent)

 

From these pioneer Area Headquarters in Northern Nigeria that stemmed out from the Old Zaria Area, assemblies of The Apostolic Church have been planted in all the States in the three geo-political zones in Northern Nigeria – North Central, North-East and North-West. Many more Area Headquarters have been created.

 

 

Figure 4: TACN Old Zaria Area Leaders in the 1970s

Front Roll from left- Pastors Osinowo, Akinsanya (Old Zaria Area Superintendent),  A.O. Awonuga, S.O. Alalade (Jos District Apostle), and Olujobi (Minna District Apostle)

Second Roll: From right -Pastors S.O. Folarin (Bauchi), Olabiyi (Prophet –third from right), & co.

Third Roll: Pastors Ibikunle,  D.I. Durodola (2nd to the last right) & co.

 

[1]  Compare J.O. Akinsanya, “ Brief History of The Apostolic Church in Zaria Area” in TAC Nigeria Golden Jubilee (1931-1981)  Souvenir Brochure, 1981, p.13 with TAC Nigeria, Zaria Area Golden Jubilee Convention (1935-1985), 1985, p.6

[2] See S.G. Adegboyega (1978), Short History of The Apostolic Church in Nigeria, Ibadan: Rosprint Industrial Press Ltd.

[3] J.O. Akinsanya (1981), “ Brief History of The Apostolic Church in Zaria Area” in TAC Nigeria Golden Jubilee (1931-1981)  Souvenir Brochure,  p.13

[4] Ibid., p. 13

[5] Ibid. , p. 13

[6] T.N. Turnbull (1959),  What God Hath Wrought (A Short  History of the Apostolic Church), Bradford: The Puritan Press Ltd.,  p.73

[7] J.O. Akinsanya (1981), “ Brief History of The Apostolic Church in Zaria Area” in TAC Nigeria Golden Jubilee (1931-1981), p. 8

[8] Overseer Agboola was equally among the earliest members of TAC in Zaria Area. In fact, he had been in Zaria Area since 1933.

[9] Akinsanya (1981), “ Brief History of The Apostolic Church in Zaria Area” in TAC Nigeria Golden Jubilee (1931-1981), p. 8

[10] TAC Nigeria, Zaria Area Golden Jubilee Convention (1935-1985), 1985, p.9

[11] J.O. Akinsanya, “ Brief History of The Apostolic Church in Zaria Area” in TAC Nigeria Golden Jubilee (1931-1981)  Souvenir Brochure, 1981, p.14

[12] TAC Nigeria, Zaria Area Golden Jubilee Convention (1935-1985), 1985, p.9

[13] Ibid. p. 9

[14] Ibid. p. 9

[15] The term ‘District Headquarters’ was later changed in TACN to ‘District Centres’ as used till date.

[16] TAC Nigeria, Zaria Area Golden Jubilee Convention (1935-1985), 1985, p.6

[17] The term ‘District Headquarters’ was later administratively substituted in TAC Nigeria with ‘District Centre’

[18] TAC Nigeria, Zaria Area Golden Jubilee Convention (1935-1985), 1985, pp. 8 & 9

[19] Ibid., p. 7

[20] Ibid., p. 9

[21] Pastor J.A. Akintola, Interview Respondent, TAC Ibadan Area Prophet. Interviewed May 2017

[22] TAC Nigeria, Zaria Area Golden Jubilee Convention (1935-1985), 1985, p.6., p. 8

[23] Ibid., p. 8

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