Veteran comedian and master of ceremonies, Abiodun Olapade, aka MC Abbey, speaks ENENAITE BLESSING about his career, achievements and other topics
What influenced your decision to become a master of ceremonies and comedian?
My journey to becoming an MC and comedian was triggered by an experience. During that experience, I was given the opportunity to host an event at Church of God Mission, Warri, Delta State by the Gordons (well-known comedian). He was supposed to anchor but he had an event in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. So, he asked me to represent him in the church, I did it reluctantly, because I didn’t know that I would go into comedy. While I went and anchored the event, I saw the joy it brought to the people there. It was a defining moment for me. If it was just what I felt in my spirit, I said that I would love to create such a moment in people’s lives, and also to be able to properly coordinate the events. That was the defining moment for me. That was in 2002.
You have also immersed yourself in the ministry. Why did you choose this path?
It is God who chooses one’s path. I started in 1985 before comedy started. I was in primary school then. Then I was born again and started a scholarship at my school. When I got to secondary school, I was the head of the fellowship, all the way to Anambra State University, Awka, where I pioneered the Word of Life Campus Fellowship and was the first national president.
I have always led my life around the church. When I left school, I thought I would go straight into the ministry, but God told me to hold on until the right time, which He would tell me. By God’s divine direction, I was led to host events and comedy, which I didn’t find funny at the time because I wasn’t interested. That decisive moment convinced me to do it and I thought it would be for a few years. Then I was going to do ministry, but (the comedy and anchoring act) went on for another 30 years.
Every time I felt a push inside me, I asked God what was going on and He kept telling me to hold on. There was a time when I was in Lagos and I wanted to start my ministry and I prayed but God seemed to have gone on vacation in my mind that day. I woke up the next day and asked everyone to forget.
It was burning me up but I couldn’t express it. God asked me to hold on. That’s when I decided I was going to throw my weight behind my comedy and MC work until God was ready. In 2019, God told me to be ready and I prepared myself mentally and spiritually. When God was ready, I asked Him to give me one more year because I wanted to focus on my comedy. God said it was time and I surrendered. I am currently running an online ministry and with God’s guidance, we will evolve. A year has already passed.
Some have said that some pastors go into ministry because of the money. What do you have to say about this?
Well, that’s a misconception. People generalize things. There is not an iota of truth in that. A true man of God called by God is not in it for money. It is there for the purpose of the gospel. I have been the one spending my money in the ministry. We are not looking for funds either. I still go to my church, House on the Rock, and I’ve told the pastor I’m not going in a hurry.
What have you accomplished so far as the Lead Pastor of Destiny Ways International?
I used to tell my people that we may not be where we want to be but we are not where we were before. Many lives have been touched, not only locally, but globally. We have a lot of people listening to us from all over the world in the UK, Canada, USA, France, South Africa and Ghana. We have their testimonies and how they came to light. Our mission is, practically speaking, to reveal God to man, to raise up true worshipers to God, and to manifest God’s love to a dying world.
The three pillars of ministry are the word, worship and outreach. We preach God’s grace and love. Once we received a missionary call from displaced people in the insurgency-affected North and the outreach arm of my ministry sent relief materials including food, clothing and money. In Lagos we have also tried to reach a few people to the best of our ability. For some, we had to pay school fees and hospital bills. We hope to do more, including going to prisons where we will target inmates and see how we can help from where they are.
Our motto is to reveal the love of God to a dying world. No one wants to know the God of love until they know the love of God. Showing love is believing that people are loved by God. My team is not many, but we have been able to touch lives with the little we can.
You have been in the entertainment industry for a while. What are the factors that brought you here?
People say I’m humble. However, I don’t like the idea of pride when one feels that someone has arrived and no one can talk to that person. That’s not me. I have always projected a life of humility, care and helping people. There are certain people who come into one’s life because of what they can get from that person. If it is in my power to help that person, I will. I limit my commitment to them. I think that has helped me so far.
How would you describe your early years in the industry and now?
My first few years in the industry were tough. I grew up organically. I wasn’t one of those people who went through a platform and became famous. I started from the bottom when I was in Warri. Then I came to Lagos. Thank God the likes of Ali Baba, Teju Babyface, Basket Mouth and Tee A were growing in my journey.
Growing juice organically. I studied and prepared my minutes. In my early days, space was not like it is now. It was tough and we were tough with it. We were ready to go all the way with him. I had to go to one last school to make the most of my craft and it helped me. Now it’s more work than before because we have a lot of new talent, very good, creative, smart and intelligent. That’s why one has to improve their game and be innovative. He puts fire to his feet to run.
What are some of your notable accomplishments as an entertainer?
There are so many and I can’t count them. I have used the platform in many ways to help the needy. I have arranged programs to arrive. In terms of helping marriage, we have helped in this aspect as well. At one time I was doing my one-mic show, which was mostly for singles and mature couples, and I was dealing with relationships. I organized the show until 2020.
I have used my platform to be a voice to talk to the government and they have been able to hear some of my input.
Some have condemned comedy performances inside churches. What do you have to say about this?
I will say that they lack understanding. They don’t understand the gift. So, because of that, they misinterpret it. I always tell people to examine what they don’t understand before jumping to conclusions. People should not make comments out of context. People want to be spiritual and don’t understand that the gifts we have are gifts from God. The devil has no gifts to give. The Bible said that every good and perfect gift comes from above.
One of the gifts of spirits is healing and humor is healing. It is powerful and brings healing to the body. It is medically and psychologically proven. If he is good in both these ways, why should he be condemned (in the church)? The reason they are condemned is because we have comedians who have abused them because they don’t understand the gift they have. That’s why when they are given platforms in churches, they take things out of context. They do not respect the ordinances of the church. Therefore, those who are condemning comedy in the churches capitalize and generalize these things, which is a big problem.
Don’t generalize something because of a few bad eggs. God is not against comedy, neither is the Bible against it. The Bible is only against evil joking. As long as the joke is not bad, it is acceptable (in the church).
Also, the gift in the wrong hand will be abused, but if the same tool is placed in the hand, its productivity and efficiency will be seen. It is important that while performing comedy in churches, it does not offend the sacredness of our faith or even the Holy Spirit. This is very important to consider. With comedy, the minister can give life and hope to the citizens.
In recent times, some pastors have been involved in some controversies. Do you live your life very carefully or do you live normally?
To whom much is given, much is expected. People are reading our lives. That’s why I’m very careful. The Bible says that all things may be lawful, but not all things are expedient. Therefore, it is very important to live one’s life within the boundaries of right conduct. For those who have led their lives outside of this boundary, this does not make them bad shepherds. It’s just a battle they have to overcome. Everyone has a struggle, but everyone must face it.
If one fights his battle before God, God’s spirit will help him. If one doesn’t do it, that’s where the problem will find itself. God will heal, shape and strengthen them. When one sees a brother fall, it is not only because they are men of God, they are children of God first. Seeing it fall, one’s duty is to recover. They should not be criticized or condemned. On the contrary, they should be shown love.
WWho are your mentors as a pastor?
I have a few of them. Among others, Pastor Paul Adefarasin and Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, who I depended on for a long time. I listen to other men of God from within and outside Nigeria, including Bishop Thomas Jakes.
How would you describe your relationship with the late gospel singer Sammie Okposo?
My relationship with Sammie Okposo was very deep. He was like my older brother. He was the first person who opened the doors to the international market for me, especially the UK. It was through him that I went to the UK for the first time. He took me on many tours to the United Kingdom, Ghana, the United States and many other places. He was so close to me. His death hurt me a lot and I was very shocked. My comfort is in the book of Isaiah 57 verse 1 which says that the righteous take us away and we don’t bother to find out why. We do not understand that God has delivered them from the coming evil, and God has called them to rest. Sammie has done her part and given her all to the kingdom.
Wherever he went, he always projected Jesus. No matter the crowd, secular or political, Sammie sang about Jesus. He brought gospel music to the mainstream. He paved the way and was a unifier.
What are your most memorable moments as an entertainer?
Being an entertainer has opened me up to many platforms, both political and corporate. I have done many corporate events in various sectors from banking, to telecommunications, healthcare, agriculture and more. I have also done things for the American embassy. I have also represented Nigeria outside the borders of the country and it has opened doors for me. Especially my presence at “The Experience” every year, being there and cracking jokes at the biggest gospel music concert is a pillar of memorable moments for me. I have met with presidents, leaders and I don’t think there is anyone who will threaten me with prestige and presence, because I have met with many.
What are your other areas of interest?
I like to sing. Songs flow in my spirit and I write them quickly. One day, I will go to the studio and work on them properly.
How do you disconnect?
I like to relax at home with my family, watch TV and discuss things with my wife. I am more of a family person.