My style reflects the new generation –Adegboyega, UK-based pastor 

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By Agatha Emeadi

The Senior Pastor of the Salvation Proclaimers Anointed Church, popularly known as SPAC Nation, Toby Adegboyega, believes that youths should be encouraged to develop and deploy their entrepreneurial abilities to create employment and wealth for themselves and others.

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Interestingly, he has been walking the talk through his non-governmental organization (NGO), Wealth Nation. Coupled with the sound ministration in their church, their lives are being positively impacted.

 You are passionate about youth development and empowerment. What plans do you have for Nigerian youths who are not resident in the United Kingdom?

My plan for Nigerian youths who are not resident in the United Kingdom is what we have been doing for more than a decade. We started ‘Wealth Nation’ by empowering and giving financial support to youths, randomly and quietly. I believe in entrepreneurship and that is what Nigerians need the most. If people are empowered to become financially independent, crime will definitely reduce and it will impact their families. This year, we have given out over N30 million. We plan to do more because our goal is to see how N1 million can be multiplied into millions with proper mentorship.

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How did it all start, given that you are a preacher and do not live in Nigeria?

My father was a preacher. I am a second generational preacher who came into the UK at the age of 25, after studying Law at Ogun State University in Nigeria. When I got here, I realized there were issues with the youths. Young people were going astray including the ones that grew up in the church. I took it upon myself and started talking to them. I drew the attention of my uncle who had a church. The young people were said to be stubborn and they were not connecting with the church. I saw the need to stop the deaths of teenagers among the black community. Young people aged 13 and 14 were dying on the streets of London. I felt it could be stopped, so I started gathering people in Queen’s Road and Peckham which were very notorious areas then and took up a job to wash plates. Whatever I got was given to that community, to encourage them. Gradually, the work started to grow, that was how I became a preacher. It was almost by default, though my father was a pastor, but we grew up in community houses. VCI felt I would reach the community through church, not music and football. When I got saved, I knew my heart follows what is right and I am doing what I feel helps humanity. The grant I give to Nigerian youths is to empower the ones that are financially challenged in their various small-scale businesses, so they can expand. With the support and mentorship, it will lift many out of poverty and provide employment for the society. When we give out N1 million to 1,000 recipients, be rest assured that over 10,000 will be affected, directly or indirectly. Apart from getting them out of poverty, it will also boost the economy of the nation. I am doing this as a way of giving back to society, and helping to ensure that these youths do not lose faith in Nigeria. I left Nigeria in 2005 for the first time and have a feeling that most people who would want to be like me do not have the opportunity. I strongly believe that we can build the country together. I go out to the streets of London, pick up abandoned Nigerian youths and turn their lives around by giving them a purpose and hope to look forward to life each passing day. I also believe that empowerment reduces crime. Creating jobs helps keep criminally minded youths better engaged.

There appears to be a clamour by youths to take over political governance. What is your view on this?

Honestly, when we talk about Nigerian youths trying to go into politics, I just believe that Nigeria needs good leaders. I am not sure age is a factor in deciding who a leader should be. A leader should hear the cries of his people and proffer solutions. One who can provide jobs, security, quality healthcare, sound education, good road networks and make life easier for Nigerians. That is who they need. So, if a young man or an old man is willing to bring this kind of change to Nigeria, so be it. We need someone who has a good track record; such a person, we will support.

How long have you been empowering youths?

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I have been in engaged in transforming and empowering young people for over 15 years through my NGO. I understand how to execute the idea of empowerment which was birthed from a place of love and support for young entrepreneurs, who are already striving on their own, especially in the area of farming and livestock. These two businesses attracted me because it brings families and societies together. From my little knowledge, assisting young people is the core focus of ‘Wealth Nation’ and their works in Europe gives credence to this. The NGO transforms lives by taking abandoned residents in a community, teach, empower and turn them into empowered youths in Europe. Wealth Nation is also aware that not all the young people who are empowered will thrive, yet, they are ready to support.

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Who is ‘Wealth Nation’ meant for?

It is meant for young men and women who are business owners, but struggling to finance their businesses adequately. The programme is aimed at raising at least 1,000 successful businesses in the country, and this is aimed to be as frequent as possible. The scope of Wealth Nation covers monetary support and mentorship from the top five companies in Europe. I am committed to supporting fellow Nigerians.  

How are the beneficiaries selected?

The beneficiaries are selected through a transparent process that involves them  sending in their business ideas first. Then the organization looks out for small scale industries that have been registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission. Once it is established that the small scale enterprise has reasonable structure, then it is qualified for the support to expand the business and scale up.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about your style and approach to issues. Some feel that you are not truly a minister of the gospel. How do you feel about this?

I think people have simply stereotyped me because I am a man of God, therefore, there must be a dress code or a particular outfit I cannot wear. Far from it, I didn’t know that there is a dress code for ministers of the gospel. That is the problem with Africans. Jesus dressed according to the order of his day as a Jewish man. So, for me, I dress according to my generation and the people am trying to reach. It is a wonder how people process thoughts. I deal with a generation that wants to follow actors and 4rappers and if we are going to change them to God’s glory, we have to look like them. Do you remember the scriptures where Paul said to all men: ‘I became all things that I might win them for Christ? My style reflects the new generation. I also wear things that people in our microeconomy, church and nation promote. Companies make me brand ambassadors, want me to wear and promote their brands, should I reject such offers because I am a man of God? I want to ask my detractors, how many Nigerian youths have they gotten off the streets in UK? Do you know the number of people who have dropped their hidden knives and guns at the altar where I preach and decided to follow Christ after hearing the gospel. When we started, we grew from 150 to 1,000 members within a year and we are now in tens of thousands. We don’t advertise miracles, but God has been moving.

Why do most pastors not buy your idea of empowering members like you do?

I might not answer for them, but I believe that if the issues that affect individuals on a day-to-day basis are addressed and taken care of properly by their pastors, it will lead to tremendous improvement in their lives. If you help people by giving them meaningful life, they will listen and absorb better when the word of God is being preached. It will be easy to teach them, the Christlike life.

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