The Redeemed Christian Bible College, which was established in 1980 as a training arm of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, has not only passed through several metamorphoses, it has also become an enduring academic and spiritual hub.
With an affiliation to the University of Ibadan and Redeemer’s University, the college continually strengthens its tradition of birthing a generation of leaders that are well equipped to rightly divide the Word.
Beyond the academic and spiritual essence of the College, is the recent emergence of a Chapel and a gargantuan administrative block on the campus.
The administrative block is reputed to be the tallest building in Redemption City. It is the cynosure of all eyes.
The building is a landmark in the evolving story of the Bible College and a testimony of an institution with a unique trajectory.
In the Beginning
In an interview, the RCBC Deputy Provost cum Registrar, Pastor Akinola Ogunsola Stephen, recounted how the school came into being.
He said the founder, Rev Josiah Akindayomi, who was a mentor to the duo of Pastor Enoch Adeboye and Pastor Williams Kumuyi, founder of the Deeper Life Bible Church, had wanted ministers in the RCCG to attend the Bible school of the Deeper Life Bible Church.
Akinola said Pastor Kumuyi and the General Overseer of the RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, were both informal Bible students of Pa Akindayomi.
According to him, the duo of Kumuyi and Adeboye were usually thrilled by the way Pa Akindayomi quoted scriptures offhand despite his educational deficiency.
“They were excited by that skill and were motivated to want to learn more. One of those days, Pastor Kumuyi said to Pa Akindayomi that Deeper Life Church was going to float her Bible College. Then Papa Akindayomi said if Deeper Life would float a Bible College, ministers in RCCG would attend. But Pastor Kumuyi said no, that the RCCG deserved to have its own Bible College.”
The suggestion went well. Pronto, Pa Akindayomi, according to Pastor Akinola, handed over the project to Pastor Adeboye who started work on the school almost immediately. That was the genesis.
The early days
In the 43 years existence of the Redeemed Christian Bible College (RCBC), the College had been presided over by five different administrations. Reverend S. A. Akinpelu was appointed the pioneer principal of the College between 1981 and 1982. Late Pastor S. A. Awobajo was the Principal between 1982 and 1988. Baton of leadership was handed over to Pastor D. A. Ilori for fourteen straight years (1988 – 2002) emerging the longest serving head of the institution. He was succeeded by Pastor J. A. Bolarinwa, principal between 2002 and 2014 (12 years).
When the nomenclature of the office was changed from Principal to Provost, Pastor Bolarinwa served as the pioneer Provost for one academic year (2014-2015). The outgoing Provost of the College, Pastor Prof. Babatunde Aderemi Adedibu, served from September 2015 to August 2023.
PastorAkinola stated further that the Bible College project was the last official function of Pa Akindayomi. “The Redeemed Christian Bible College started in 1980 under the tutelage of Pastor Enoch Adeboye; he was the anchor man who had to look for who and who to put together for the Bible College.
A Lecturer I officer in the College and Head of RCBC Youth Ministry programme from inception till date, Dr. Dare Ajayi, said the pre-2015 period of the college was like building the foundation for the school by the former Provost, Pastor Josiah Bolarinwa.
“During Pastor Bolarinwa’s tenure, he commissioned five solid projects: The library, administrative block, the postgraduate school, the chalet and the building known as the Apartment.
“So, the college had a record of structural success. By the time he was going to leave, Daddy G.O. approved the initiation of the process of affiliation with Redeemer’s University and the University of Ibadan. The moment the current outgoing Provost came in, he built on those foundations.”
Pastor Bolarinwa confirms Ajayi’s observation. He however expressed satisfaction with his successor in office. “I feel so good. More so the adage says, there is no success without a good successor. The fact that I laid the foundation to a certain level before I took my exit and he continued from there is something to cheer about. If he had abandoned what was initiated during his tenure, the school will have nothing to talk about today.” Bolarinwa said.
Anybody taking over from Prof Adedibu in Bolarinwa’s view, “should keep the flag flying. The Holy Spirit has given us the template for this college. The fellow taking over should look at the template and follow it religiously so that we can always achieve the reason why this college was established in 1980.”
The giant leaps
Giving further insight into the trajectory of the Bible College, Akinola who spoke earlier about the early days of the college, said since Professor Adedibu came on board in 2015, the Bible College has taken some strategic giant leaps.
He said Professor Adedibu invested a lot in the landscaping of the college and ensuring there is proper drainage in place.
“He helped in reshaping the look of the school by changing the doors leading to the offices, rebuilding the chapel, and above all, the construction of a gigantic administrative building. The administrative building started on a low key, but now, it is the tallest building in Redemption City of God.” Akinola noted.
Professor Adedibu, according to Akinola, also introduced some strategic committees that have helped to enhance the operations of the school.
While noting that Adedibu liaises with the Assistant General Overseer (Education & Training), Pastor E.A. Odeyemi, in many of his moves, he said, “to the glory of God during COVID-19, no staff was sacked and there was no month any staff could say they were owed salary.”
Beyond ensuring regular payment of staff salary, “Adedibu also ensured salaries of staff were enhanced. He encouraged self-development. The Provost is very compassionate in many areas, he does not want to see his people suffer. But he does not condone laziness. The college under him helps to subsidise the educational pursuit of staff.” Akinola concludes.
Gatemen turned lecturers
The Dean of RCBC School of Post graduates’ Studies, Dr. Olujobi Adeleke (who is the incoming deputy provost), corroborated Akinola’s assessment of Prof. Adedibu’s tenure adding however that 98 percent of the staff of the school have been encouraged to pursue one academic programme or the other.
He added, “There is the exceptional case of the school’s gateman some years ago who has become a lecturer in the Bible College. The gateman went back to school, earned his first degree, earned a master’s degree at the University of Ibadan, and became a lecturer in the place where he was opening the gate for people.”
Adeleke, who is also the Chaplain of the RCBC, said further, “I must say as the Chaplain of the school, it is the spiritual dimension and spiritual experience in the school that enthralls me. I see to the spiritual activities of staff and students. Today, we have vigil; staff and students and everybody come to pray together.
“Students have theirs and the staff have their prayer every Wednesday from 11-12noon. Every Thursday, the students pray between 11-12noon. So, we brought in some spiritual activities to help us grow spiritually because we can’t be doing academics alone.”
He noted that the Bible College was set up to mobilize the workforce for the church and also to grow Christ ambassadors. “We do everything possible to also make sure we are not lacking anything in spiritual activities. The chapel is not just for the student or staff, it is open to members of the public. We just completed an auditorium that can host 2,000 people. So, we want to give God all the glory for what He has done in this administration; it is a very pleasant experience for me.”
The gateman who became a lecturer that Adeleke spoke about is Olajide Damilare. He is also the school’s director of works.
In a later interview, Damilare confirmed he was employed as a security man, manning the gate. But through the motivation of the Provost, he was able to further his education. He earned both his first and second degrees.
Damilare said, “The global face of the Bible College does not start today, and I don’t think it started in 2015. But the reality is the positive changes that this tenure has witnessed is tremendous. We did not have the number of scholars coming into our space the way we have from 2015 till date. There is a programme we have called ICAP.
“It is an academic programme and we invite people across continents. So, this has actually added value to the Bible College and it has actually communicated the vision and the mission of the RCCG to the wider space than we’ve ever experienced before the commencement of this tenure.”
Another gateman turned lecturer, Oluleye Ezekiel Olalekan, who hails from Ekiti State, recalled how Prof Adedibu impacted his life. He said he was initially taken aback when he realised he was to work as a security guard in the school. He however recalled how a meeting with the Provost changed the trajectory of his life.
“One of the amazing experiences is that someone introduced me to the Provost and told him that I would like to further my education. I was then given the opportunity to further my studies at the University of Ibadan. I studied the philosophy of religion. When I graduated, I was absolved into the system fully as a lecturer. So, the RCBC has been a wonderful place.”
Olalekan said he wrote about Prof. Adedibu in his dissertation abstract “that he is a man that loves greatness and not just greatness, he also loves people to come with him. If not, I wouldn’t have been in this place. That is just the truth. People have been saying this man is not from Nigeria because if you see the progress going on in the college, you will discover that this man has little time to spend here. He is a selfless person.”
He said Prof. Adedibu would be remembered for his high taste. “He has high taste because of the premium he places on good academic qualifications. When I came here, some of the staff didn’t have a first degree. He was the one that encouraged everybody to upgrade their academic qualification. He often checked on me to ask how my project was going on. The quest for success and the dream he has for this college is so high.”
Dr. Ajayi, who had earlier talked about the impact of Pastor Bolarinwa as the Provost of the college, said, a youth programme was created in the RCBC, ratified and affiliated with the Redeemer’s University.
He said he was saddled with the responsibility to head the programme. “The youth ministry is the heartbeat of the mission at this point. The RCCG is concerned about raising and developing youth leaders that will eventually take over the leadership in the mission to make the mission better.
“Many leading pastors have enrolled in the programme. Many youths have also enrolled in the programme. We hope more members from the Pastor’s Seeds Family will join after our conversation with Pastor Leke Adeboye. The program has been very interesting.”
Asked to give an assessment of Prof. Adedibu’s tenure, he said, “Every leader has their style. But the personality and temperament of a leader make the difference. We had policies that had to be reviewed, we had structures that had to be made better. As an academician, he made a lot of impact. He also did excellently well in human management.
“Whoever is taking over may find strength in human management more than what has been accomplished. I pray someone good takes over from Pastor Adedibu and that the good news of his investment will also come to light, that whatever he will do will only bring colour to the good he has done. That is how life works, the best of Jesus was never found when He was alive until He ascended to heaven.”
He said Adedibu would be remembered for his human capacity development. “He built on the existing structure. He also initiated the Life Insurance Policy for all the staff in the college. So, if anything were to happen to your family, God forbid, Insurance knows they have those millions to pay to your family to kick start first. He is a prudent manager of resources. He has also demonstrated he has the milk of human kindness.”
Ajayi said whoever takes over from Prof Adedibu must take out the time to study what is on the ground. “I’ll rather expect the person to be better than him in policy execution, human relationship, mental health, management of staff.”
The school’s Bursar, Taiwo Osoba, whose job is to advise the school on its income and expenditure, described the outgoing Provost as a man that has a listening ear.
“We rub minds together and agree on projects and whatever he wanted to do on campus. He is not dictatorial. God has been helping us, we are not owing any staff. When he resumed as the Provost, he discovered that what we were earning is nothing to write home about. But he ensured the staff salary was enhanced. That is one thing he will be remembered for.
“He has been able to interpret better the vision and the mission of the Bible College. And we are able to manage the little resources we have. One of the secrets is that, we don’t award contracts. We execute projects by ourselves so as to save cost.”
The President of the school’s Students’ union, Jeremiah Ezenagu, who joined the school in 2020, said the school-student relationship is dynamic. “As students’ leader, I have this feeling of being part of the management in a way because of the role of a go-between that I play between the school and the students. It has been a learning process for me.”
Ezenagu, who hails from Anambra State, said the school has done its best to meet up with the welfare of the students.
He noted, however, that “there are a lot of things the students would need in terms of welfare which they don’t have presently, but the school is trying its best within its limited resources.”
He said his first encounter with Prof Adedibu left a lasting impression on him. “When I met him in person, I was enthralled by the kind of aura he commands and his kind of person.”
Ezenagu said he was taken aback by the Provost’s academic attainment. “But then I was motivated. Then I realized that being a pastor does not mean you will be limited in your academic exposure.
“He was more like a motivation for me. Over the years, he’s been like a father, friend, teacher, and mentor. He disciplines us and teaches us always.”
RCBC Dean of Students Affairs, Dr. Oluyede Afolabi, on his part, gives a graphic account of how the school has been able to impact the students.
He said the Students’ Affairs has been responsible for the reorientation of the students and creating an enabling path for them to follow while in the school.
“During the orientation programme, we also bring in different professionals like doctors who advise them on how to take proper care of their health. The doctors also give hints on the processes and procedures that are required when they experience health challenges.
“We enlighten them on the school’s core values and the rules of engagement as well as our curriculum and the different programs available so that they are able to acclimatize into the school setting. We are also involved with their accommodation spanning the period of their stay on campus.
“We provide counselling services for those who have issues with coping with the system. We encourage them to actively participate in sporting activities both within the school and outside the school,” Afolabi said.
While noting that the student’s union of the school is not like what obtains in government-owned tertiary institutions, he said, “The school staff nominate students who they deem fit to rightly fit into leadership then the students democratically cast their votes, making the most suitable choices. We have student directors in charge of sports, welfare, chapel activities, labour, as well as the hostel.
“We also have some supporting student leaders, like the class governors and the hostel administrator. They meet with the directors once a month. They come with their observations then we look at it together and come up with an agreed line of action.”
He said students of the school are encouraged to cook their own food because they are ministers of the gospel. “They are Pastors in training, they can be posted anywhere so if you don’t know how to cook, you’ll be at the mercy of anybody. We don’t want them to have that problem in the future, so we encourage all of them to learn how to cook. For indigent students who have financial challenges, there is an arrangement to help such students with foodstuffs.”
The student council, according to him, has a functional welfare system that also helps to support indigent students.
Afolabi said the graduates of the school are not left to their fate after graduation. “After their course of study, there’s a programme we call Induction Ceremony. It is a three-day programme during which we bring some of our leaders from RCCG from the national headquarters who are in charge of the finances and administration.
“We also bring senior pastors who have been on the field for years so that whatever students learn in the classroom can be associated with the current reality in the field.
“The induction is one of the interesting things in RCBC; an innovation brought about by Prof. Adedibu. This induction ceremony ends with an anointing service after which the students are then launched out into the field.”
Graduates of the Bible College, according to Afolabi, are also absorbed into the workforce of the RCCG. “Provincial pastors write to us asking for our graduates that could be employed. We often get more requests than the number of students available for allocation.
“We are using this medium to plead with the provincial pastors to send us more students for training and then they can in turn be useful to their respective provinces. After posting the students to various provinces, we liaise with the respective provincial pastors so as to inform them about the necessary provisions that need to be put in place to ensure the establishment of a suitable work environment for them.”
Director of Academic Planning (who is also the incoming Provost), Dr. Rotimi Alabi Oti, has been in the school for almost 21 years said the school has trained thousands of ministers that are doing very well in the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
“I want to believe that we have made a tremendous impact on the church by improving the quality of the ministers and the way they function. It is good for ministers to be trained. Gone are the days when somebody will just wake up and tell people they have been called without having the training.
“Training is so essential so that the pastors will not be fumbling in the church and when you look at many of the things that are happening these days, you will know some pastors are not even trained because ministerial work is the most abused work in the world.”
He said the plus for the outgoing administration is its organisational strength and the expanded academic programme that it started.
“We started some courses during this outgoing administration that have been affiliated with the Redeemer’s University. It was also during this administration that the affiliation with the University of Ibadan was perfected.
“The contribution of this administration to the school generally both in administration and academics is huge and cannot be forgotten. Things are now properly structured. Anybody coming now will have to follow the structure. Gone are the days when people will just change things.”
Relationship with UI
A Professor of Philosophy of Religious Studies of the University of Ibadan, Helen Labeodan, said the relationship between the University of Ibadan and RCBC has been quite cordial. She said RCBC has been supportive especially in the area of organisation of conferences.
She explained that the affiliation of UI with RCBC is still at the undergraduate level. “It’s just the affiliation and I think the affiliation just started. For instance, I did my sabbatical at RCBC. One of my colleagues (Dr Samuel Okanlawon) did his own there too. RCBC is a good place to work. The atmosphere is conducive, they are friendly, the Provost is awesome, they have a vibrant library. That is what we are interested in.”
Labeodan said she experienced the progress of the school on a semester basis during her sabbatical in RCBC.
“The Provost made that possible through collaboration with the Registrar, Librarian, Lecturers, even with the students and with RCCG as a whole. But he is the one wearing the unique crown.
She counselled that those taking over from the present administration of the school must not go to sleep. “They must continue where the current administration stopped. Because for me, they have done well. So, whosoever is coming in must be ready to work.”
Relationship with RUN
Professor Anthony Enisan Akinlo who is the 3rd Vice Chancellor of Redeemer’s University and also a Zonal Pastor in RCCG Osun Province 7, said RUN has tried to strengthen the collaboration between Redeemer’s University and Bible College.
“Right now, we are running the two together; diploma programme and post graduate diploma programme. So, those are the two programmes we are running together. We conduct exams for them and issue certificates in the two names.
“We use the same criteria for the lecturers of the two institutions. As a matter of fact, the Provost in RCBC is a professor in religious studies and missiology at the Redeemer’s University. We are the sons of the same parents.”
He noted that “many lecturers at the RCBC have attended so many conferences. As a matter of fact, some of them have obtained PhD degrees. I think in capacity building, the Provost has done wonderfully well.”
The RUN VC said the Bible College and School of Mission were the main focus of the RCCG before the idea of the university came in.
The essence of the schools, according to him, is to produce the required manpower to the mission.
He disclosed that plans are ongoing in RUN to start a master’s programme in specialized areas of Religion. “We are waiting for the NUC to come for result verification. As soon as we finish that, we can be sure that those specialized areas like missiology where the Provost specialized, are added. Most of the RCBC staff will be able to come to Redeemer’s university for their masters and PhD. Right now, our Masters and PhD religious studies have already started. Some RCBC staff are expected to be part of it.
Deputy Rector of RECTEM, Dr. Timothy Olaniyan, said RCBC has been a great source of support for RECTEM. He said the school has borrowed some courses from the Bible college curriculum that are taught at the 100 level of the school.
He added that RCBC has also supported the school in terms of making available its academic gowns during their graduation ceremony.
Olaniyan, who also lectures in RCBC, said the outgoing administration of the school has done so well.
RCCG’s former National Overseer Emeritus, Pastor Joseph Osuolale Obayemi, said the support of the General Overseer of the Church for the RCBC has helped the school to get to its present status.
“This makes it possible for them to advance both in knowledge and structures that we have seen today. We thank God for the resilience of the Provost who is a man of vision. God will be with him wherever he goes in Jesus’ name.”
The National Overseer, Pastor Sunday Akande, however said, the administrative block of the school which was commissioned on July 4, is an indication that “our Bible College is moving forward because this beautiful building is not just a small project. And for this project to be planned, executed, and dedicated is a great thing. I salute the Provost, Professor Adedibu, for this great work because it takes a leader to achieve this kind of thing. My prayer is that God will continue to move the college forward.”
Pastor Ezekiel Odeyemi, Continental Overseer, Continent 2, as well as Pastor-in-charge of Training and Development (African Continent), was extremely delighted about the development in RCBC.
He said, “To the glory of God, we have this Provost who is a progressive individual. Apart from being a sound academic, with little supervision, he gets his job done. I thank God we were able to get him when we did and also, we pray we will be able to get someone like him to replace him.”
The commissioning of the Administrative block and the Chapel on July 4 attracted the ‘who is who’ in the RCCG.
In his speech at the event, Prof Adedibu said the construction of the building which began on the 19th of October, 2017, after the ground-breaking by Pastor Johnson Odesola, a member of the Church’s governing council, was designed by Dew Height Concepts. He said “The building was constructed using direct labour. Sense Ventures (Pastor Bosun Akintobi) was the Supervisor.”
The Chapel’s foundation on the other hand was laid by Pastor D.A. Ilori in 2013 under the leadership of Pastor Dr. Josiah Bolarinwa, the immediate past Provost of the Redeemed Christian Bible College. The work was given impetus in 2017 till date. The 2,500-seater worship centre boasts of a gallery, worship space, offices, and underground meeting rooms.
He expressed great appreciation to the General Overseer, Pastor E.A. Adeboye, and the Mother-in-Israel, Pastor (Mrs.) Folu Adeboye, for their financial, moral, and spiritual support. “Likewise, we appreciate the support of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Homeland Mission Emeritus, Pastor J.O. Obayemi, and several individuals and professionals.”