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In this exclusive I interview with Don Peter Okoro.

Nigeria’s Foremost Social Worker, Clergy, Successful Businessman, Publisher and Philanthropist,Rev. Dr. Austine Ifeanyi Epunam goes down memory lane to reveal how he found himself in the midst Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and other Movers and Shakers of Nigeria after doing a simple act of Charity to a stranded Nigerian lady who took to “hustling” after many failed attempts to join her husband in far away Germany.

It’s such a moving Story that can be easily adapted by Nollywood Producers/ Directors. Sit back and enjoy the narrative. Introduction.I’m Rev. Dr. Austine Ifeanyi Epunam, the CEO of SweetHome Africa Humanitarian Foundation and the National Champion of OCI Foundation.

Tell Us About Your High Level Contacts and Connections.

Well it’s quite true, right from when I got the Vision to establish a Foundation, we have tried to build bridges with the Powers that be.

Though,we are Non Governmental, but you cannot do much without involving the Government.

What we do is to build bridges with the Government in order to help humanity and the number of people we have positively affected is too numerou through: job opportunities, contracts, influence, fighting injustice and generally helping people.

There are things you can use the instrumentality of Government to solve. So many NGOs roll without Government and say they are Non Governmental, but it is a disaster.

As an NGO which is into the services of God and humanity, you should know the various Arms of Government and their Formations.

An NGO should be aware of the Security Architecture, at least to be able to rescue people from danger. Can You Tell US More About Your Phenomenal Contact And Connection With Ex President Olusegun Obasanjo. How Did You Get To Know Him So Closely?

And How Did You Gain Entrance Into Aso Rock Presidential Villa?

It all started in Europe where I normally live, because of my Importation Business.

I do export artefacts, sculptors and so on and bring in cars and autospare parts.

It was in Germany that I had my first financial breakthrough and established a Multi-million naira Tourism Business called ZUKKY Travels and Tours which I used in helping many people in tourism business.

In those days, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the President of Nigeria visited Germany. He met with us who were members of the Nigerians In Diaspora Organization ( NIDO). He spoke to us on the need for us to come back to Nigeria and support his Government to help build the country.

He literally wooed us and I took it personal. I just kept that at the back of my mind because I didn’t even know where to start from even when I visited Nigeria. In 2003, things began to take shape.

I had a very good rapport with the German Ambassador to Nigeria and I was billed to help some Nigerians trying to go to Germany. These were people from very poor families, many from Nnewi here.

I had about 50 from Nnewi and from my village, I had 30 of them. I decided to liberate them from poverty, because most of them didn’t even have the money to travel out.

It was through that Tourism business that I came to Abuja to pick up some Visas. I was in my Hotel and the Hotel people were mocking one young and beautiful girl.

They were mocking her of being a Hawker ( Call Girl). I sent for her and was shocked that she is an Igbo girl and was overwhelmed with emotions.

I tried to find out from her why she would do this and she narrated that she was married, but her husband had left for Germany and all efforts for her to get Visa to join him in Germany had proved abortive and out of frustration, she had no choice but to start “hustling” to make ends meet.

So I prayed a simple prayer that says: “What God has joined together, let no Visa put asunder.”. I told her she would be with her husband soon. She didn’t even know I was into Tourism Business.

I now brought out some Visas and showed her and she started crying because they have duped her several times in Abuja.

I told her to do her Passport and she did it and brought it to me and before you know what is happening, someone offered to pay for her Ticket,.

I got the Visa for her and she flew to Germany in Europe to meet her husband who had paid her dowry back in Nigeria.

After meeting the husband in Europe they went for a Special Thanksgiving in a Local Church in Germany. It was during the service that she started crying profusely and the Pastor asked why she was crying and she said there is one Reverend they should call and appreciate for her.

The Church Committee later met and called me from Germany and asked if I am Reverend Epunam? I said yes. They said anytime I am in Abuja I should let them know, that one of their Pastor Friend in Abuja would like to see me and have a handshake with me.

That he is the Pastor of the lady I helped to Europe, his name is Pastor Amedu from Kogi State. Fortunately, the Pastor was one of the Pastors hired by the then First Lady Mrs. Stella Obasanjo for Prayers in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa. So I was in Abuja on a particular Friday and he persuaded me to stay till Sunday.

I said for what? He said he wants me to stay so that I can worship with the First Family. That was all! On Sunday morning,by 7:30am, they came to the Hotel where I lodged and drove me straight to the State House Abuja.

That was the very first time I entered the Aso Rock Presidential Villa Chapel. Before I knew what was happening, The First Lady Mrs Stella Obasanjo came in.

I said Wa oh! Is this where I entered? Before I knew it, Obasanjo himself came in wearing babaringa. After that, there was friendship and I was Registered in the Villa Chapel. So, it was out of Service that I got into the Villa. People are always asking what I’m doing in Aso Rock all the time. Having gained access to the Villa Chapel, it became very easy to gain further access into the Presidency, because the Chapel is directly under the Presidency.

Since then, I have been with every Government in power. It is God, because if it were to be man, it would have been broken. Every good thing in life is gotten out of service.

And our Records in Aso Rock Presidential Villa is there for all to see. We have served every Government with passion, integrity, honesty, commitment and selflessly contributed to the growth and overall well being of the country.

This is what has made the Federal Government of Nigeria to recognize us even by writing. I have survived over 3 Chaplains including:Prof. Yusuf Obaje, from Kogi State who is the pioneer Chaplain. Rev. Williams Okoye from Agulu, Anambra State, then, Venerable Onwuzulumba from Ufuma, Anambra State and the incumbent, my dear friend Pastor ( Barr.) Seyi Malomo who is a Redeemed Pastor.

He served under Osinbajo as the Head of the Christian Chaplaincy in the Villa and he did very well. And our Foundation has created a good Record and Image before these Chaplains.

My advise to Nigerians is serve, because from service, you don’t know who you will serve, it could be a mad man, but you don’t know what will come out of it. Imagine! Helping a stranded lady on the street of Abuja is what led to all these.

But I never even thought of Villa when I was helping her, but my major concern was how she could be rehabilitated. One of our Vision is to fight for the oppressed.

One More Question About That Lady, Didn’t You Knack Her Before Helping Her?

Noooo!! God saw my heart that it was purely a Christian affair Then, I was a young Evangelist. Back in the days, I used to organize Crusades and Christian Programs.

People who know me know that I used to sponsor Christian Programs even here in Nnewi and outside Nnewi and I train Pastors who go out to preach the Gospel, because we were vibrant and young then.

The money was coming and we were using it in the service of God. It is dangerous when God opens a great door of Financial Breakthrough for you and you begin to use the money wrongly. It will kill that person.

That person will crash because he is young. Before you know it, the idiot will start smoking grass or one thing or the other and he will crash.

But we were channeling our money towards one good cause or the other and towards Evangelism. People can testify that there are many Pastors we have brought up.

We were doing all these before establishing the SweetHome Africa Foundation. I started Partnership In Kingdom Ministries long before SweetHome Africa Foundation. It was not a church, but a Non Denominational Ministry. From there, we had Zukky Travels and Tours Ltd and later IGOCIN Nig.Ltd. and now metamorphosed into SWEETHOME AFRICA.

It is a total package and a bundle of experience. One of the things that has kept us going is Experience and Good Moral. You can vouch for our integrity. Like Peter Obi my School Mate would say Go and verify. I was mentored by the same Reverend Father that mentored Peter Obi., Rev. Fr. Tagbo, a Disciplinarian.

I have the same Anointing and the same Teaching with Peter Obi at Christ The King College ( CKC) Onitsha.

Let Us Look At Another Breakthrough That You Are Having Which Is The SweetHome News-Magazine Which Is Presently Making Waves.

How Did It Start?

I like Media, right from my Secondary School days, I have been publishing things in Champion and Concord Newspapers. Meanwhile, I read Mass Communications at Anambra State Polytechnic ( Now Federal Polytechnic) Oko, before I travelled abroad. I have always had interest in the Media.

It came hard on me when I met a Whiteman in Holland and tried to explain the philosophy behind SweetHome Africa to him. The first thing he asked for was my Flier.

He told me I couldn’t do an NGO without the Media and advised me to go back to Nigeria and advise the younger ones on the dangers of unplanned trip and unplanned living abroad.

Whitemen believes so much in documents. And I found out that there is no way I could successfully run this without the encouragement and support of Media Practitioners.

That is how friends like Don Peter Okoro a well known Fearless Journalist in Nigeria and a friend of almost 20 years came into the picture. Being a Media man, he was there to encourage me. Whether we made money or not we just forged ahead. We sometimes borrowed money to publish.

At a time, I sold some of my properties just to raise money to invest in the publication until we started collaborating with the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other Institutions.

But it was a hard fight. We have done 12 Editions and the 13th Edition will soon come out. Today, SweetHome News-Magazine has become a hot cake because of the Quality of the Content and Production.

And we’ll be Launching it for the first time on the 28th of September 2023 at NICON Luxury Hotel Abuja. It is very important to have the right people around you. Let me tell you one secret which is an advise to other NGOs. Publication is very important.

All your activities should be Reported and Documented. Now that s new Government is in place,it is the same Magazine that we will use to showcase ourselves and tell our storie.

Your Advise To The President Bola Tinubu’s Administration .

I must tell Nigerians that all powers belongs to God. God is not a Democrat. He is Autocratic. No one can question Him. Even if you are not qualified, He can qualify you and give you a Certificate.

If you have no dress to wear on the big Day, he can give you an Agbada. He is searching for people who are ready to be used.

You can’t peg or pigeon hole God. He is the God Almighty. He can even use a devil to bless you. So, it’s not about he is my brother or he is my friend. Do you know why we pray amiss? Because we don’t pray the mind of God.

What we Christians and Moslems should be praying for is:” God impart in me a changed spirit for Nigeria” Not praying for the choice of a Leader. The choice of a Leader is irrelevant. He is Almighty and He knows what He wants to achieve at the end.

If God has chosen President Bola Tinubu good and fine. One thing I will always say is that I respect that Family.

A Family of religious tolerance. The most prominent Family of Moslem/Christian living happily and peacefully. It is a track record.

So many men will not allow their wives to practice their Faith. President Bola Tinubu has a large heart and his Religious Tolerance goes a long way to show the extent of his patience. Thank you.

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