BY SIMON REEF MUSA
How time flies! It is hard to believe that Rev Dr Musa Asake, the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has been away from this mortal ken for over 12 months. One year after his demise on May 11. 2018, we, the living, can only remember him for what he had done, while sharing mortality with others. This man of God and cerebral personality whose prowess in Bible exposition carved a niche for himself was many things to many people.
To some who share his ecclesiastical calling, he was one of the brightest Nigerian preachers that was far-famed in preaching the gospel. He honed his expertise in the exposition of the Bible when he acquired a PhD in that field. After a ten-year sojourn in the United States of America, he was filled with the unquenchable zeal for the spiritual upliftment and emancipation of his people. In his eyes, he saw God in humanity and worked fervently for the transcendent and physical development of the Nigerian people. The late CAN’s scribe saw the scriptures, not just as a spiritual guide for the attainment of eternal residency in Heaven, he applied the scriptures as an effective tool in fighting inequality, injustice and reconciling feuding communities to embrace peace and understanding for mutual cohabitation.
As Secretary General of CAN, Asake knew his onions and fought to tackle issues confronting Nigerian Christians. He bore on his body the scars of religious persecution and became that voice that pricked the conscience of power wielders across the political spectrum. In fighting against forces that seek to subjugate and oppress the downtrodden through inappropriate policies, he refused to be drowned into the ocean of despair. He saw a flicker of hope in the vast space of oppressive tendencies that have weakened the Nigerian project.
He knew those advocating religious discrimination were not true Nigerians in search of peace. He accused them of hiding under the shadows of questionable platforms to undertake nebulous and selfish intentions. He refused to be drawn into following the crowd; he stood his ground and was never afraid to walk alone on the lonely path of righteousness. He had sublime faith in the ultimate victory of good over evil and went about doing good silently. Asake was not a rebellious personality but one who believed in absolute loyalty to superiors. In the performance of his functions, he carried everyone along. His death last May 2018 brought tears to many staffers of the CAN Secretariat who lamented his sudden and shocking exit.
The late CAN General Secretary was fearless in expressing his opinions and was always on the side of truth. As ECWA General Secretary, he undertook various reforms that changed the face of clerics and workers of the church. He introduced various welfare programmes that banished despair to retiring clerics and other church workers. It is to his adroit disposition that his footprints on the various reforms as ECWA administrator that many still remember him, long after his tenure and eventual elevation to the enviable position of CAN General Secretary.
As a preacher, he was endowed with oratorical powers that moved recalcitrant minds to repentance. His special gift of counselling and reconciling feuding communities was clearly demonstrated during the mindless crisis that erupted in Ikulu Chiefdom between the Bajju and Ikulu ethnic groups. Sometimes in 2001, the Bajju and Ikulu people were enmeshed in crisis over the naming of a town. While the Ikulu people insisted that the town be known and called KAMURU IKULU, the Bajju people stood their grounds that it must be KAMURU STATION.
The crisis came to a boiling point when a letter, bearing KAMURU-IKULU, was addressed to the church. The Bajju members of the church revolted and locked up the church. The Ikulu members removed the doors in order to access the church for Sunday service. There and then, hell was let loose and the crisis degenerated into a bloody conflict that led to loss of lives. Months later, Asake moved and reconciled the two ethnic groups, with most of the people shedding tears after he delivered a sermon on the title: ‘Who has bewitched you?’
While serving as CAN’s scribe, he was forthright and never a double-speak on any issue. He spoke against the killings of Christians and urged the government to move fast and tackle the monster of insecurity ravaging the country, including incessant attacks on Christian town and villages by herdsmen in the North. He refused to be silent and confronted men and women in the corridors of power with the bitter truth.
The young child that would later be named Musa was born in 1952 to the family of Malam Asake Tunzuwang and Malama Dada in Zakwo village Unguwar Rimi Bajju, Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Early in life, the young child would later embrace education to broaden his world perspectives. Young Musa started his Educational career at the then Sudan Interior Mission Primary School (SIM/ECWA), now known as LEA Primary School Unguwar Rimi Bajju in present day Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State between 1961-1967 where he passed out with a First School Leaving Certificate.
After concluding his primary education in 1967, he took up a job with the now rested Arewa Textiles Limited, Kaduna. After spending about five years at the company, he was convinced of his pastoral call, and in 1972, Musa applied and secured an admission into the famous Kagoro Bible College, Kaduna State, where he graduated with a certificate in Theology in 1976. After completing his theological training at the Kagoro Bible College, Musa was assigned as an Assistant Pastor at the ECWA Church, Ungwan Rimi Bajju, where he served until 1979 when he was later licensed as Pastor.
For Pastor Musa, he saw the need to advance his education early in life and never wasted any opportunity to realise such dream. Realising that the future belongs to the educated, his quest for further theological training led him to be admitted at the Jos ECWA Theological Seminary (JETS) in 1980 as a pioneering set member. His leadership qualities were displayed when he was elected as the pioneer president of the students’ union of the institution where he graduated in 1983. After his graduation from the seminary, he returned to the church where he was ordained a Reverend in December, 1984.
In 1984, he was elected as the Secretary, ECWA Eastern Zaria District Church Council (EZDCC) where he served until 1986. Never letting down his dream of academic development, his theological training took him out of Nigeria in 1986 as he was admitted at the Grace College, Winona Lake Indiana, USA, and graduated in 1987 with a BA Biblical Studies. Completing his first degree on record time, Rev. Musa got enrolled for a Masters programme at the famous Dallas Theological Seminary, In Dallas Texas, USA 1988. He was later to graduate in 1991 with Masters of Theology ((ThM), with specialization on Historical Theology in 1991. To cap his academic dream, he later enrolled for a doctoral programme in 1991. He successfully completed the programme and graduated with Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Bible Exposition in 1996.
After 10 years in the USA, Asake returned to Nigeria and was assigned as Pastor in Charge, ECWA Headquarters Church Jos, Nigeria where he served from 1996 to 1999. Thereafter, he was elected to serve two-terms of three years each as ECWA General Secretary, Jos Nigeria, from 1999 to May 2005. One of the highpoints of his tenure was the evolution of some structural reforms in ECWA that are still being appreciated by the church. After serving as the General Secretary of ECWA, he was later assigned to be the Senior Pastor, ECWA Gospel Church No. 3 Apata Street, Jos, Nigeria where he provided the desired vision for expansion and development from 2006 to 2008. From there he was transferred to ECWA Gospel 1, Tudun Wada Jos, as Senior Pastor where he served from 2009 – December 2012. He was appointed as General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in July 2012.
Apart from his clerical duties, he was appointed into several boards where he served as either member or chairman. They include, among others, Joint ECWA Seminary Board of Governors (1984-86); ECWA Community Health Board (1984-1986); Board of Governors, ECWA Bible College, Kagoro (1984-86); ECWA General Church Council (1999-2005); ECWA SIM Joint Board (1999-2005); Member, Nigeria Inter- Religious Council (NIREC) (1999-2005); Chairman, ECWA/ SIM Scholarship Board (2000-2005) and Member, Bingham University Implementation Committee (2001- 2003).
He was also Chairman, Plateau State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board (2003-2005); Member, Board of Trustee, Bingham University, Karu Nasarawa state (2004-2005); Elder of the Grand Prairie Bible Church, Dallas Texas, USA, (1993-1996) and Chairman, Global Leadership Submit, Willow Creek Church USA (2009 until his demise).
He was widely travelled and lived in the USA for a decade, just as he also visited countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Singapore, Thailand, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Zambia.
One year after his demise on May 11, 2018, the vacuum he created is yet to be filled. Those he things he fought against are still confronting bot the nation and the church community he represented. Insecurity and injustice that has become the bane of our nation is still on the rampage, with security forces almost being overwhelmed. The unity of the Christian church which he advocated is still on the edge, with yet another CAN election around the corner to test this harmony. In his death, Nigerian Christians lost an indefatigable soldier of the cross who was committed to justice and equity. Whence cometh another Asake?