A Synopsis:

The much derided immunity inherent in Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution is not applicable once the individual protected under the section ceases to function in an immune capacity. Period. Also, in rendering our judgment on whether to amend or expunge Sec 308 from our Constitution, we should take cognizance of the fact that not all Governors are corrupt. Adding to that, the section does not protect or immunize serving members of the National Assembly from criminal or civil prosecution for unlawful conduct committed while in active capacity as a legislator. Finally, Section 308, as written and intended, does not extend to Legislative or Parliamentary Immunity, referred to as Speech and Debate protection. Therefore, the section should be left intact. Executive immunity enhances harmony in a democratic political system that would, no doubt, be eroded, if the President and Governors are exposed to the vagaries of our judicial system. Most importantly, arrest and trial of those protected under the section, would paralyze activities in the affected states or at the federal level, as the case may be. That was the rationale and legislative intent of section 308 of the 1999 Constitution – defined as the thinking of the drafters based on public policy considerations. On the question of whether the immunity follows a Governor to the Senate or House of Representative, the answer is a capital NO. Immunity, for all intents and purposes, is office specific. It is neither perpetual nor inalienable. An ex-Governor who is presently a Senator or a member of the House of Representative is subject to investigation, indictment, or prosecution to the full extent of the law for any fraudulent conduct authorized by him or executed at his command. In sum, corruption, embezzlement of public funds and squandering of riches in Nigeria are seemingly insurmountable, because of the unwholesome and, if I may add, unwritten collaborative resolve of those in the judicial branch – a monumental national crisis compounded by the inability of those vested with law enforcement power (AG, Police, EFCC, and ICPC) to develop new mechanisms with a view to combating abuse of discretionary power (adjournments and injunctions) by judges, as well as, the procedural rigmarole (delay tactics) perfected by defense counsels. We must be bold, resolute, and creative in our search for real justice. And our approach to assets forfeiture and recovery must be purposeful and nondiscriminatory.


To Amend or Not to Amend:

At the just concluded retreat organized by the Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitutional Reform in Port Harcourt in River State, on May 27, 2012, Sec 308 of the 1999 Constitution that deals with immunity came up for discussion, and as expected, there was a demand for its review, amendment, or a total repeal.  For the purpose of record, Sec 308 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, does not by any stretch of the imagination shield or immunize any serving member of the National Assembly from indictment or prosecution for any crime committed before and during his or her term of office. 

And on a more disturbing note, the habit of Governors who have already completed their two terms, rigging and buying their way to the Senate or the Lower House with a view to evading civil or criminal prosecution for fraudulent conduct committed as Governor is outright ludicrous. Because there is no immunity covering past misconduct. Simply put, the immunity as it is in Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, is not about the person or the conduct. It is specifically speaking, about the office. In other words, the beneficiary of the immunity clause is subject to investigation at the cessation of the protected period – as long as there is probable cause to do so on the part of law enforcement agencies. And the conduct can be revisited and reviewed to the extent of its inconsistency with established laws and orders governing the office.

Similarly, the over-hyped immunity allegedly enjoyed by serving members of the National Assembly from criminal or civil prosecution for criminal wrongdoing or fraudulent engagement is a complete fiction. Because the immunity, in the context in which it is perceived by Nigerians, is non sequitur – it does not exist as such. Therefore, the brouhaha surrounding the alleged immunity enjoyed by “lawmakers” is grossly misplaced, and the assault on Section 308 is unwarranted.

Our law enforcement agencies (Attorney General, ICPC, the Police and EFCC) should wake up to their responsibilities. Section 308 does not shield any member of the National Assembly from prosecution. Period. This is not a matter for debate; it is a statement of fact. Executive immunity is unrelated to Speech and Debate related Parliamentary Immunity. Also, it does not preclude law enforcement agencies from investigating those protected under the section (President, Vice President, Governor, and Deputy Governor) for involvement in unjust enrichment.


For ease of understanding, I would like to reproduce the entire Sec 308 of the 1999 Constitution verbatim. The Section provides:

(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, but subject to subsection (2) of this section –

(a) No civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against a person to whom this section applies during his period of office;  

(b) A person to whom this section applies shall not be arrested or imprisoned during that period either in pursuance of the process of any court or otherwise; and

(c)  No process of any court requiring or compelling the appearance of a person to whom this section applies, shall be applied for or issued: Provided that in ascertaining whether any period of limitation has expired for the purposes of any proceedings against a person to whom this section applies, no account shall be taken of his period of office.

(2) The provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to civil proceedings against a person to whom this section applies in his official capacity or to civil or criminal proceedings in which such a person is only a nominal party.

(3) This section applies to a person holding the office of President or Vice-President, Governor or Deputy Governor; and the reference in this section to “period of office” is a reference to the period during which the person holding such office is required to perform the functions of the office. 

From the language of Sec 308 above, there is no part of it that tends to shield a member of the National Assembly from indictment for crime committed while in office as a member of the National Assembly or in a previous office as Governor or Deputy Governor. Specifically, Sec 308 (3) reads: “This section applies to a person holding the office of President or Vice-President, Governor or Deputy Governor; and the reference in this section to “period of office” is a reference to the period during which the person holding such office is required to perform the functions of the office.” Emphases mine.

That is Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution for you! The Section applies only to “period during which the person holding such office is required to perform the functions of the office.” In other words, a Senator or a member of the House of Assembly is not that “person” and does not need to perform the functions of a Governor while serving as a member of the National Assembly. Therefore, Sec 308 does not by any stretch of the imagination shield any of them from prosecution for criminal wrong doing that took place while serving in an earlier immune capacity or while they were in office as Governors or Deputy Governors.

The same is true of President and Vice President. In that case, you could conveniently, and rightly so, indict and prosecute any of the today ex-Presidents or Vice Presidents, if you have probable cause to do so. But first, a prima facie case for unjust enrichment must be established. That’s it. It doesn’t take rocket science to accomplish that, knowing full well the antecedents of Nigerian thieving Governors. So, the problem is not the law or the constitution, but application and the attitude of those vested with power of enforcement.

Rationale and Public Policy Arguments:

In spite of everything, the immunity under Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution is well-meant. The President, or as the case may be, a Governor, is not suitably placed to enjoy the luxury of time defending lawsuits, whether frivolous or meritorious, while in active duty as Governor or President.

Our proclivity for lawsuit knows no bounds; removal of that immunity clause from our constitution would in all probability end up doing more harm than good to our fragile constitutional democracy. Every Ademola, Usman, and Okechukwu, as well as members of the opposition parties would, through frivolous lawsuits and spurious petitions, incapacitate sitting President, or Governors as the case may be, without regard to judicial ethics or the concerns of Nigerian voters. And in the process, take them off course from real and purposeful governance.

In essence, executive immunity enhances harmony in the political process that would, no doubt, be eroded, if Presidents and Governors are exposed to the vagaries of our judicial system. Adding to that, arrest and trial of those protected under the section, would paralyze activities in the affected states or at the federal level, as the case may be. That was the rationale and legislative intent of section 308 of the 1999 Constitution – defined as the thinking of the drafters based on public policy considerations.

There is no doubt that the benefits of the Immunity Clause outweigh the defects. The defects, if at all, are traceable to the inability of those empowered with law enforcement obligations to make the Constitution live up to its true purpose as the supreme law of the land.  To that extent, it requires diligent performance (prosecution) as expected of true fiduciary (EFCC, the Police, ICPC, and the AG). It’s all about the interpretation, audacity, and genuine intent to fight and surmount the ills of corruption and unjust enrichment that irredeemably wrecked a supposedly great nation-state.

We should not act on the impulse of the moment and abrogate a constitutional framework that is imbued with the right ingredients to serve worthy national purpose – growing our democracy and  simultaneously, ensuring stability in the political system.

Granted, our core leadership team is made up of some of the most vile, greedy and shameless opportunists you could ever find on the face of the earth; be that as it may, we cannot embark on constitutional amendment just to accommodate our idiosyncrasies and every unfortunate aberration. That’s retrogressive political evolution. What would you do, if God willing, we are fortunate to have selfless and honest leaders at the helm of affairs? Amend the constitution once again to align with the new reality? No. We can do better.

We must be proactive, creative, and sincere in our approach to war against corruption and assets recovery or forfeiture. Those who are known to be corrupt should be apprehended, prosecuted, and made to forfeit their illegally acquired wealth to the state as soon as they cease to function under the protection of Section 308. According to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), “Many criminals are motivated by greed and the acquisition of material goods. Therefore, the ability of the government to forfeit property connected with criminal activity can be an effective law enforcement tool by reducing the incentive for illegal conduct. Asset forfeiture takes the profit out of crime by helping to eliminate the ability of the offender to command resources necessary to continue illegal activities.”

Today, there are thousands of fraudulent Nigerians out there on the street, including former Governors and former Deputy Governors, as well as former Presidents and former Vice Presidents, known to have fraudulently enriched themselves with public funds. They are living free and living large on our wealth. And we watch. They have no immunity and they enjoy no immunity. But we watch. They are yet to be apprehended and prosecuted by the law enforcement agencies, in spite of the fact that these fraudulent Nigerians and ex-political leaders do not enjoy any atom of immunity.

It is indeed very sad that some sections of the Nigeria political establishment, including opinion leaders and public affairs commentators so gotten embroiled in that perverted notion that once a Governor or Deputy Governor ceases to function as Governor or Deputy Governor, or is elected to the Senate or House of Representative,  he or she is still immune from arrest and trial for the unjust enrichment perpetrated as Governor or Deputy Governor. That is complete baloney. The immunity is office specific – it is over at the end of the protected period. The same rules apply to President and Vice President.

Therefore, the Section should be strengthened in order to serve the intended purpose, and not diluted by any means. Immunity and unjust enrichment are mutually exclusive. That we want to strengthen our democratic values via some constitutional mechanisms doesn’t translate to encouraging official misconduct. The rationale was to engender purposeful governance, to ensure uninterrupted governmental activities at the state and federal levels consistent with fundamental principles of democracy and rule of laws. The major constraint is the nonchalant culture prevalent within the judicial branch bordering on procedural rigmarole – unnecessary adjournments and frequent injunctive orders, without reasonable excuse or a show of irreparable harm or injury to the defendant.

Moving Forward:

Fellow Nigerians, whatever we do, we must not lose sight of the underlying imperative, designed to engender consistency and robust democratic values in our troubled political system that Section 308 represents. Therefore, we must be bold about consolidating those democratic values, without regards to the race or the social status of the culprits before and during trial. That is the first step to renewing Nigeria. It is about equal rights and justice.

You steal, you steal! Period! Availing your client with the defense of interim or permanent injunction in a clear-cut case of embezzlement as perfected by our reputable and highly respected lawyers is overtly aiding and abetting malfeasance. Injunctive relief is a discretionary (equitable) remedy – it is not a judgment on the merit with respect to the substantive case. He who comes into equity must come with clean hands, goes a legal maxim. Not exactly in Nigeria. What is so irreparable a damage about standing trial to defend allegation of fraudulent engagement against you?

If your hands are clean, and you rightly believe that you are innocent as charged, then, be willing to stand trial and defend the allegation of unjust enrichment instituted against you, instead of resorting to procedural mumble jumble to circumvent real justice. And that, my friends, is our real problem; not Section 308. This is the time we should all stand up and demand for curtailment in the grant of injunctions and other discretionary reliefs by our Judges. It is now left to EFCC to train its lawyers on how to surmount any of such motions in our regular courts. Because there is a threshold that the movant must meet to sustain any motion for injunctive relief. That, of course, is outside the scope of this essay.

As an addendum, I want to make it abundantly clear that I am not against capitalism or private ownership or private acquisition of wealth. However, I am unequivocally against over-leveraged capitalism and the prevailing culture of impunity and blatant abuse of political office by those vested with political power. To keep enriching yourself with public funds that you and your children cannot exhaust, buying cars you cannot drive or landed property you barely use shows stupidity. It is not fair. It is not right. And it is morally repugnant. If you have no idea of any capital project deserving funding; let education be free at all levels, because quality education, by any standard, is the best investment in the life of a child. Or, if that is not good enough, connect Marinna, across from Tafawa Balewa’s Square, linking Apapa and Mile Two to the Lagos/Badagry Expressway in Lagos State by an over-head bridge or an underground rail system. That is a bold project. ‘A good transportation network is important to all societies and it is vital in sustaining economic success in modern economy.’ 

Thank you.

Alex (Ehimhantie’Aiyo) Aidaghese


If you are here reading this very paragraph, it means you are now one of the thousands intellectually curious Nigerians who made this article the number one on this Blog – the most searched and the most read piece of legal opinion and constitutional review piece within the Nigerian social media scene in the past three years. On October 21, 2014, the Conference Committee of the National Assembly on Constitutional Review retained Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution as it was originally written. We made the case – a compelling case for retention – you spread the news, the Conference Committee concurred, and the rest is now history.  AA May 15, 2015


INTRODUCTION TO JUDICIAL ACTIVISM: Making a Distinction Between Criminal Wrong Doing and The Profits of Crime, Otherwise Known as Unjust Enrichment

(By the way, what you are about to read is not part of the article. It is simply an academic exercise for those who care. For a start, the likelihood of its happening in real life or in this generation in Nigeria is very remote).

The question is: Can we indict and prosecute a sitting President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors for fraudulent and unjust enrichment perpetrated while in office under the premise of “a nominal party” pursuant to Sec 308(2)?

The answer is not absolute. But first, you must be ready to engage in semantic war with the presiding judge and the defense counsel (the lawyer representing the defendant) with respect to the definition or meaning of a nominal party.

We could, in all sincerity, institute a civil action to recover or recoup the fruits of crime or unjust enrichment, if we are, applying preponderance of the evidence standard, able to prove that the owner of a specific property or bank account (e.g. President, Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor) is only a nominal party – someone not directly involved in the case. But he or she is nevertheless connected to the case by virtue of his or her ownership of the property or bank account in question.

In other words, they are immune, but not their illegally or fraudulently acquired wealth. EFCC is within its power to seize and forfeit their properties and bank accounts to the State as long as we can prove that they are fruits of corrupt enrichment. Thus, it is probable to conclude that Sec 308 (2) does not shield or immune a sitting President, Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor from forfeiting to the Nigerian people, landed properties or Bank accounts fraudulently acquired, if a civil action is instituted against such landed property and bank accounts. Once again, Sec 308 (2) provides: “The provisions of subsection (1) of this section [that is the immunity] shall not apply to civil proceedings against a person [that is President, Vice President  Governor and Deputy Governor] to whom this section applies in his official capacity or to civil or criminal proceedings in which such a person is only a nominal party [not directly connected].”  Emphasis mine. It is the same thing as arguing: since you are not directly connected (a nominal party), invariably your houses and bank accounts are not immune from seizure and forfeiture, because the suit is after your property, and not you as a person. 

To that extent, owners of a fraudulently acquired property or bank accounts – for example, President, Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor – cannot avail themselves with the defense of immunity under this section, if they are only indirectly or tangentially connected to the action – a nominal party. Thus, Subsection 308(2) provides cover for EFCC, ICPC, and AGF, if they want to go after the loots of a serving President, Vice President, Governors, or Deputy Governor. Provided the action is in rem (property) and not in personam  (the person).

I want to reiterate that the action is only after the fruits of crime and not the crime itself. Adding to that, the case is not against the perpetrators of the crime or fraud, but just the loots. If you want to call it prosecutorial activism, so be it. As I said earlier, you must be ready to do battle in English Language regarding who “a nominal party” is. So it is not just establishing a prima facie case for unjust enrichment, but being able to establish by preponderance of the evidence the extent of the disconnect between the perpetrator and the unjust enrichment (bank accounts and property) that would justify civil trial or forfeiture.

Finally, given that it is a civil trial, you do not need to prove anything beyond reasonable doubt. Even if that is the standard (proof beyond reasonable doubt), you do not need to crack your brain worrying if you can prove your case beyond reasonable doubt, when trying to convict a Nigerian thief. Evidence are readily available. He is a stupid thief who rightly or wrongly believe that he cannot be convicted, even when caught in the act – he has substantial accumulation of your money – our money – to hire the best of lawyers to pervert the justice system through laughable motions for adjournment. 

(Be that as it may, it requires legal erudition and a willing court to be able to argue a motion based on the above premise. By the way, this is simply an intellectual voyaging or a fishing expedition, because no Attorney General or IGP would in his right sense institute a case against a sitting President or Governor in Nigeria to recoup illegally acquired wealth).

Thanks once again for coming this far.

Mr. Alex (Ehimhantie-Aiyo) Aidaghese*

President & CEO Alex and Partners

Skype: ehi samuel (Skype)

FB: Alex Ehi Aidaghese

Tel: =1 234 708 695 1511

Abuja Nigeria

As a student of history, politics, and strategic foresight, I am convinced that there are four alternative future scenarios before us. The actions, inactions,
decisions, or the lack thereof, of our leaders will determine where Nigeria will be 10-20 years from now.

The choices we make are collectively ours.
SCENARIO 1: “Status Quo Jaga Jaga” – All we need to do is continue to live, lead, and govern the same old way, with no tangible changes at all. The end result will be the same status quo jaga jaga that we have become accustomed to for decades.

SCENARIO 2: “Rumble in the Jungle” – If Boko Haram and their Fulani militant cousins are not effectively disarmed and completely defeated, and if the religious mindsets and ideologies of our political and traditional elite remain the same, it essentially means Nigerians can no longer live in the same space as a united nation. Ultimately, if the killing sprees continue unabated, at some point, there will be a tipping point that forces Nigeria into an abyss from which it will be difficult to come out of.

SCENARIO 3: “Danfo Gedegbe Breakaway Republics” – Since 1960, Nigeria’s tribal and regional groupings have never had a truly honest discussion about the way forward. In the event that such a discussion takes place, it could lead at best to increased regional autonomy within a federating unit, or at worse, breakaway republics signifying the breakup of Nigeria. It has happened in the Soviet Union. It has happened in Yugoslavia. It is happening before our eyes in Libya, Iraq, and Syria. There is nothing to suggest that it cannot happen in Nigeria. Only a fool would suggest otherwise.

SCENARIO 4: “The Nigeria of Our Dreams” – the Nigeria of our dreams is one that is devoid of violent conflicts, tribal/religiously motivated killings, political oppression, corruption at the highest and lowest levels, justice, equal opportunity, brotherliness, good governance that benefits all and not a few; and a nation in which our faith in God brings out the best in us and compels us to be our brother’s keeper even though tribe and tongue may differ. Seeing the future before it arrives is not rocket science.

Simply put, Nigeria’s future will be pre-determined by the actions and decisions of our leaders. The future is simply the culmination of all the political, economic, religious, military, and security plans, strategies, decisions, and actions that we employ and deploy in the days, months, and years ahead.
May God Bless Nigeria and grant great wisdom to those who have been thrust into positions of authority.

Train it up.

Posted: June 21, 2016 in Uncategorized



Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

It’s the responsibility of parents to train up their kids in the way of the Lord. That’s what the Word says: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Some parents would say, “We try not to impose anything on our children; we just let them make their decisions themselves.” What an error! The Bible says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). Children aren’t allowed to make their own decisions; they need to be trained and guided. Parents have a responsibility to know through the Spirit of God, what their children should be, and raise them in that direction.

Some parents act as though God said, “Leave the children to me, and I’ll determine how they’ll grow up”; He didn’t say that. Rather, He said parents should train up the child in the way he should go. If you already have children, let the Holy Spirit guide you in bringing them up in righteousness. Keep training them in the Word. Even when it looks as though they’re not imbibing the culture of the Word, keep at it, and don’t despair. Give some time; the results of the training will be evident. Soon enough, they’ll come into the right place, and be all that God destined for them to be.

Dear Father, I thank you, for your Word has in it, the ability to make me what it talks about, and
produce in me, and in those you’ve placed in my care, an unalloyed commitment to you. We’re yielded to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and to the guidance, and tutelage of the Spirit, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Proverbs 23:13 NLT
Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Proverbs 29:15

Acts 9:32-43, Ezra 1-3
2 Corinthians 7:1-8, Isaiah 8

Read, share and also Leave comments on today’s devotional, let’s know what thought came to you…God bless you. http://www.rhapsodyofrealities.org

Build The Hedge: A call to Action

“Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none”.

I was greeted one  morning by the words in this scripture, then it dawned on me, how eager The Lord is. How urgently someone needs to make up the hedge and stand in the gap.

The failures we see today as a nation is simply because some people saddled with the responsibility of mending the hedge, decided to break it instead. We can’t continue to wait on them, we must start up the work they abandoned. Our future doesn’t rest on their shoulders anymore, it is our responsibility to shapen it as we deemed it fit.

Will we be the generation that sings; “we are a Choosen Generation, called forth to show His excellence”, and then fold our hands and watch Non-challantly as Apathy steals our future from us. If I may ask, ” Where is the excellence in that?”. We must rise up to the occassion and rebuild the Walls and stand in the gap for our Land.

Incase you don’t know, 97% of the problems in this country affects us directly. From ASUU/ASUP strike to the “Unsure SURE-P” funds, even the failing aviation sector, the Lingering Fuel crises, the battle between the Dollar and our currency and the unfulfilled promises of steady Electricity, all affects us directly and we must do something about it or we will regret it in the nearest future.

The present brookers of political strenght and economic schedules are not our age mates, so they won’t even know how it feels to be us. The only opportunity they have to feel our pains was suppose to be the educational sector, but we all know where their Children School. So they escaped it and we are still here, waiting for them to react. What a waste of time.

I can’t begin to express how annoying it is to see young people treating the problems in this country like its a “right of passage”. It is not. Some Old fowl failed to lay the right eggs now we can’t have omlets. That’s what it is. God has a far more better plan, that ensures a sweeter and more fulfilling life, but we must have to activate it with our actions.

It is time to rise up from the slumber we have been forced into and find solutions to our problems.

This is the time to awake and Pray, it is time to call upon The God you Serve, it is Time to Let the Devil and his cohorts know that you mean business, it is Time to Prove that all the Religious rights, Sacrifices and Reverences are not falling on deaf ears, call on your God and make sure He answers. Afterwards take up your hoes and baskets let’s rip the harvest.

It is time to rise and save our Land. The salvation of our Land is in our Hands, don’t be slow to save yourself and others too. Be the one that would be found, be that trail blazer and Build the hedge and stand in the gap for our Land.

Secure your future on your knees and rise up to the challenge. If you know who God says you are, where He says you’re at, what He says you will be, then you will know that you are working in power for a purpose, which is to make your Supernatural Manifestations beat the expectations of the world.

Its Simple: its Pray, Act and Subdue.

Egypt has been disqualified from
participating at the 2017AFCON after it was learnt that 2 of her players tested positive to the use of drugs While Salah tested positive for the anabolic agent nandrolone, Elneny tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinole (carboxy-THC), a metabolite of cannabis, after the game in Alexandria.
Following this development, CAF has now issued the AFCON 2017 ticket to Nigeria who finished second behind Egypt in group G, after Tanzania joined Chad to withdraw from the competition.
Check your calendar immediately after reading this. Happy April 1st .

Handle with Care

Posted: April 1, 2016 in Uncategorized


developing dad

I sometimes take a picture of you because you’re just so adorable and amazing and beautiful. And sometimes I catch a hint of fragility in what the camera catches. Other times I see huge heaping mounds of it. Giant reserves of delicate. Like you’re a crystal chandelier in the shape of my beautiful boy. And then, in my minds eye, I see all the thousand ways you’ll be disappointed by the realities of life you can’t even fathom at this point. Sculpted from this thing of beauty into another thing of beauty to be sure. But still, that journey is treacherous and full of potential. Potential harm. Potential fortune. Potential damage and grace.

Maybe it’s you. Maybe I’m not just a proud dad that’s just insanely obsessed with my kids. Maybe your specialness, your perfectness is not a function of my pride. Perhaps you are magical and I’m afraid of…

View original post 736 more words


Trip Lee is a 27-year-old rapper, husband, and father of two. He’s also planting a church in Atlanta — yes, he’s a pastor — and late last year he released his fifth studio album, Rise, which quickly hit #1 on the iTunes charts. And he’s just published his second book.

Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story, the companion book to his latest album, comes out today, January 27. I caught up with Trip to talk about Millennials leaving the church, his relationship with John Piper, and why he felt like he had to write about sex, lust, and porn.

You released an album by the same name late last year — how are the two connected? Do the two serve distinct purposes?

I thought of the concept for the book first because when I was thinking about doing a project I thought about what I wanted to communicate to the people that I have influence with, and one of the things I really wanted to communicate was the need for us to not wait until later to take our lives seriously.

With the album, what I wanted to do was introduce those things, and then with the book, that’s where I really wanted to dive deeply. A song captures emotions in unique ways, and a song helps you to celebrate things in unique ways, but at the same time, you only get three or four minutes, so you can only communicate so much. So I wanted to use the songs to do the celebrating, to connect emotionally, to really get people excited about those things, and then use the book to go really deep into those things and help people think about it further.


Who has inspired you as a rapper, pastor, and author?

In terms of music, I would say probably the most influential on the way I approach the art form is Jay Z. He’s a guy who is arguably the best rapper of all time. The way he uses metaphors and double entendres and the way he’s able to connect with an audience — he’s just really good at what he does. But, obviously, I do it differently than him, because I have a different worldview. I would disagree with some of the things he says, but really respect him as an artist.

In terms of as a pastor and preaching, John Piper is a pastor in Minnesota who I heard a lot of his sermons early on that really inspired me to really want to continue to preach and proclaim God’s word.

As an author, that’s really hard. I would say one: C.S. Lewis. He’s a guy whose writing doesn’t read like sermons, but they’re so engaging and he answers questions before you even ask them and he argues so well and he understands culture well and understands scripture well. He’s a guy who’s influenced me a lot as an author.

How have you been able to blend, as John Piper writes in the introduction, reverence and relevance? The two can seem almost oxymoronic.

I think the main way I do that is just by trying to be myself. So, one thing I could’ve done is I could’ve read John Piper books and I thought, “Man I need to write like him. I need to preach like him.” That’s not me. He’s a white dude in his sixties and I’m a young black dude, a rapper, in my twenties.

I think it does Christianity a disservice if we feel like, “Hey, if I’m going to be serious about my faith, I have to look like this and dress like this and talk like this,” as opposed to, “Hey, when I put my faith in Jesus, he changes me from the inside, so that who I am culturally can stay the same, but I can still talk about deep things.”

Though God is going to call us to grow and change, it’s not going to be change like you have to wear suits now and you have to speak in King James language. No, no. You can still be yourself and be young and be cool, all those things — some people ain’t cool to start with, so you don’t get cool — but God can take you where you are, you can be yourself and you can be changed in a way that matters.

Speaking of, there’s this unique relationship between veteran Reformed guys like Piper and Mark Dever and younger rappers like yourself. Can you talk about that?

I do think it’s unexpected. I think what we’re seeing there is that even though we don’t have a lot in common culturally or age-wise — and maybe these are guys I never would’ve even known or had any kind of relationship with — what we do have in common is that we believe in the same Jesus and that makes us passionate to see the same things happen in the world.

And those are guys who I think get it in a way that they want to pour into people who have influence in different realms. For instance, John Piper, he’s always been incredibly kind, he sought to understand what we do, and then he’s gone out of his way to be really kind to us and love on us.

I think that’s powerful even as we think about some of the racial issues going on. I want people to see that there can be unity, and I’ve seen that unity come in Jesus. We believe in the same Lord — there are a lot of different things that are different about us, but we believe in the same Jesus and that’s what brings us together.

You call out a lot of people — kind of the lukewarm Christians, especially — in the book. Were you nervous about that or do you think it just needed to be done?

I think one of our core values as a culture right now is not ever making any comment on anything anybody else does. The only scripture passage that a lot of people know is that Jesus says, “Don’t judge lest ye be judged,” though of course we know from the context of that passage and other passages, he’s not saying never make any judgment. Scripture commands us to help each other along. I don’t think it does anybody any good if we are afraid to help each other grow.

That’s part of what it means to be a Christian, is to let other people in your life in such a way that you can help each other to grow. I think the problem comes when we’re very self-righteous about it. What in the book I always try to be very open about the fact that, even from the introduction, I do not have it all together. I have issues. I am a Christian not because I have it all together but because I need Jesus desperately.

You write about sex and porn and lust — you don’t really hold back. Were there parts you struggled to write or that were particularly uncomfortable?

Yeah, I mean, I know I’m going to get some emails this week saying, “Hey this may have been a little too real for my teenager,” but these are issues that, especially when you begin to talk about porn, plague us as a culture. It is very rare for me to meet a young man, Christian or not, who hasn’t at some point or is presently looking at porn regularly. And I thought, if I’m writing a book for young people, I cannot not address this particular issue because it’s such an epidemic for us, and something that so many of us struggle with, something that I struggled with in the past.

And then thinking of sex and temptation, I mean that’s such a huge thing for us while we’re young, even more than when we get older. So I just didn’t see a way that I could write an honest book that tried to speak to the unique challenges of following Jesus while we’re young without touching on those topics. And I think, because we don’t have a lot of honest discussion about those things, I think those will end up being some of the chapters that help people the most, because we try to ignore it like it doesn’t exist sometimes, and I don’t think that’s a helpful way to move forward.


I saw you perform at BET Music Matters in New York. What’s it like when a guy on stage before you is rapping about strip clubs and then you come on and rap about Jesus?

I love that stuff, man, I love that. I love when I get to do at a church and everybody there’s a professing Christian, but I love doing stuff like BET Music Matters because it’s an opportunity for people who normally wouldn’t be exposed to it. I love that, because one, their brain explodes for a second. Because they think Christians could not possibly be good rappers. They’re assuming that I’m about to come up there in choir robes and my rap name is going to be Kanye Blessed and it’s going to be something real corny.

Then I love the fact that they’re getting exposed to something different even if they weren’t expecting it. It’s an opportunity for me to be a light in places where there’s often not a lot of light.

There’s much written about Millennials leaving the church. Why do you think that is — and what do you think the church can do there?

There is one chapter where I talk about this very briefly in the book. It’s a chapter about going deep with God. I think one of the reasons so many people leave is because they’ve only been given really shallow ideas of the faith. When the only thing you know is “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so,” and when you’re only around people who also believe that, it’s not really challenged. But then people go off to college and then they’re getting challenged in class and they’re being exposed to other things, and because no one’s ever helped them to dive deep into scripture, they’re not firmly rooted. Some don’t really even understand what the gospel is, so it’s very easy to be knocked over. It’s nice to give folks pizza and high fives, but that’s not going to be enough if we want to give them the kind of faith that will be sustained.

We’re also just at a time in culture where it’s not respectable as much to be a serious Christian anymore. So, I think what it’s going to take is just the regular thing that God calls Christians to do in the Word: to love people and to tell them the good news about Jesus.

Can you talk about the Christian rapper label?

It’s so funny to me this has become such a huge conversation because normally this is almost always a question that we’re asked, not that we bring up most of the time. I want people to see me as a rapper. It’s very clear I’m a Christian from the way that I live my life and the music that I do — you hear it in my music. I just don’t want people to think of Christian hip-hop as its own genre, like there’s regular hip-hop and then there’s this hip-hop over here for church people.

Instead, I want people to say, ok, here’s a rapper. Is his music dope? Ok, I’ll check it out. And he’s coming from a particular perspective in his worldview. I just don’t want people to put it in a corner somewhere like it’s its own genre. I do hip-hop. I’m a Christian man. So that’s going to be clear in my music. So I think it gives people an idea about the music that’s not true. That’s why I don’t prefer it.

Rappers don’t know what to make of you guys and some Christians don’t know what to make of you guys. You’re kind of stuck in the middle.

Exactly. I think it’s ok to be kind of stuck in the middle. That means we get to carve out our own trail, which in some ways is cool, because there’s nobody who does it quite like we have.

All of you avid Hillsong United followers will know and love this song already. It is called Oceans (Where Feet May Fail). It is a beautiful and breath-taking song. Not only is the music a masterpiece, but the lyrics paint a vivid picture of the way Peter felt when he walked on water. Here is the story if you do not know it…

Matthew 14:25-33

25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

There are a couple things I get from this story. The first is that Peter had the faith and trust in God to walk out on the water… WOW. That is scary and intimidating and unknown. And of course he walked out into a storm. It was windy and the waves were coming from all directions, but he still decided to take a step of faith trusting that God was going to guide his steps. I felt like this most times in Years past. I felt like I was walking into something scary, intimidating, and unknown. So I had to trust God with all my heart and know that He was going to take care of me along the way. Are you taking a step of faith towards God’s will for your life? Are you trusting him as you walk on the uneven water?


The second thing I get from this story is that when Peter walked amongst the waves and the wind, for a split second, he lost sight of Jesus. He lost sight of the one who was keeping him above the waves, and that is the moment he started sinking. But as soon as Jesus came back into Peter’s vision, Peter was lifted to the place of calm and security again. Are you keeping your eyes on Jesus? Are you keeping your gaze above the waves? If this is true in your life, then your persective should be shifted. You are no longer focused on the scary-intimidating-unknown around you, but you are focused on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.

Put yourself in Peter’s situation… ask yourself some hard questions…

Is there a new reformation sweeping the Church today, a reformation as radical and important as the Protestant Reformation that rocked the world 500 years ago? According to a growing number of Christian leaders, the answer is emphatically yes.

Pastor Clark Whitten, author of Pure Grace: The Life Changing Power of Uncontaminated Grace, claims that, “Little has changed in the Protestant church in more than 500 years” – until now, that is. He believes that Luther and Calvin “got it right concerning justification, or how one is saved. . . . But they missed it on sanctification, or how one is perfected into the likeness of Christ.”

Whitten states that Luther and Calvin, followed by the Protestant Church ever since, taught a doctrine of “saved by grace but perfected by human effort,” an approach that has produced “a Church that is judgmental, angry, hopeless, helpless, dependent, fearful, uninspired, ineffective, and perpetually spiritually immature.”

Because of this, Whitten claims, we have failed to impact our culture and have become a laughingstock to most “casual observers.” And Pastor Whitten contends that this doctrine has also brought, “personal devastation” to countless believers who have consequently checked out on Church (or on God Himself).

John Crowder, in his book Mystical Union, claims that, “Just as there is a new mysticism on the rise, I believe it is coupled with a new reformation. The good news will be preached with such clarity that, even the days of Luther will seem utterly primitive in its concepts of grace and faith.”

Indeed, Crowder writes that “a clarity is coming to the preaching of the gospel like has not been heard since the days of the Apostle Paul.”

Other modern grace teachers share similar sentiments. In his book GRACE, the Forbidden Gospel, Andre van der Merwe writes, “Once again in the church there is a struggle for a theological reformation that will liberate believers to break free from the yoke of bondage that has been put on the children of God by people who may have had good intentions, but that have only taught the religious doctrines and traditions that they themselves have been taught.”

His prayer is that his book will “destroy the religious arguments and doctrines of demons forever,” referring to whatever teaching contradicts this allegedly new revelation of grace. That’s why the full title of his book is GRACE, the Forbidden Gospel: Jesus Tore the Veil. Religion Sewed it Back Up, and that’s why Pastor Joseph Prince, perhaps the best-known modern grace preacher, calls this a “Gospel Revolution.”

Could it be, then, that there really is a grace reformation sweeping the Body today? Could it be that the Church has been so stuck in legalistic religion for the last 500 years that nothing less than a radical reformation can get us out of the rut?

It seems clear that many believers have been caught up in externally imposed religion (which is the essence of legalism), seeking to please God by following an endless list of “do’s” and “don’t’s,” never being certain of the Father’s love and looking first to their own efforts rather than looking first to the cross. Consequently, they are always falling short and never walking in the abundant life that Jesus has for them.

Within a two-day span, I heard from two women, both friends of our family and former students in our ministry school, both married with children and active in God’s service. One wrote this: “I am one of many who have been changed drastically and fantastically by the ‘grace message.’ Judging by the amazing fruit of it in my life and my family’s life as we have gone through some very hard times, it is the fruit of the true grace message.”

Speaking of one well-known, modern grace teacher, she explained that while she only agreed with about 80 percent of what he taught, she said that “I feel like I have taken a bath and glimpsed the beauty of Jesus and what he did for me almost every time I hear him.” This is wonderful to hear, and I do not want to tamper with something so sacred and liberating.

The other ministry school grad wrote this: “I can say for me, I sure tried, and worked, and failed. Finally, almost three years ago, I finally had a ‘Grace encounter’ that changed my life. Can honestly say I’m freer, more confident, and more ‘sin-LESS’ than I’ve ever been. If that makes sense.”

This is from the Lord!

Sadly, I have met many believers who have struggled with legalism and performance-based religion, and when I hear today that, through a revelation of God’s grace, they are now living in intimacy with the Lord and overflowing with joy at His great love for them, I am thrilled.

That is truly wonderful news, and it indicates that, for many, there is a need for a fresh infusion of anointed teaching on the beauty and glory and wonder of God’s amazing grace.

At the same time, I constantly hear stories from believers and leaders concerned about the modern grace message, like this one: “I have seen the effects of this message on my own loved ones. It has ruined our family and caused many of them who loved the Lord to stray.”

And this, “We have seen this up close and personal with some of our family members. Very destructive things are going on.”

And this, from a pastor, who spoke of “the three close male friends I have had in the past, all three from the grace side; two were unfaithful and then left their wives and the third just left. I have had no one close in the grace group (forgive my terms) displaying good lasting fruit.”

One young man, who had served together with a well-known hyper-grace leader wrote to me at length, wanting me to understand just how bad things were: “I heard more ‘F’ and ‘S’ words in that movement than anywhere else in my entire life. After all, you’re ‘legalistic’ if you EVER tell someone to ‘not’ do something.”

Is this simply a matter of the modern grace message being abused?

Honestly, I wish that was the case, since I love the message of grace and it would be a shame if pastors and leaders drew back from preaching grace because it was abused.

But the truth is that the modern grace message is quite mixed, combining life-changing, Jesus-exalting revelation with serious misinterpretation of Scripture, bad theology, divisive and destructive rhetoric, and even fleshly reaction. And, in all too many cases, it is being embraced by believers who are not just looking for freedom from legalism but also freedom from God’s standards.

There is no doubt in my mind, then, that the notion of a “grace reformation” (or “grace revolution”) is highly exaggerated, that some of this new grace teaching is unbalanced, overstated, at times unbiblical, and sometimes downright dangerous – and I mean dangerous to the well-being of the Body of Christ.

In short, I do not believe that we are witnessing a new grace reformation. I believe we are witnessing the rise of a hyper-grace movement, filled with its own brand of legalistic judgmentalism, mixing some life-giving truth from the Word with some destructive error.

And that’s why I wrote Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message, a book for grace lovers, not grace haters, a book for those who embrace both grace and truth (John 1:14, 17). Does that describe you?

(Excerpted and adapted from Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message.)

Many wonder why, if Africa is growing, as the “Africa Rising” story claims, large numbers of Africans are still desperate to escape to Europe at great risk to their lives.

The “Africa Rising” story is a tale that is being told virtually everywhere, and which even the Afro-sceptics are gradually coming to terms with.


However, at the same time, it is a story that has its dark side, such as the growing levels of economic inequality that have accompanied Africa’s “rise”.

Africa is the second-most inequitable region in the world, after Latin America. According to a 2012 publication of the African Development Bank, “inequalities have not diminished over time. In 2010, six out of the 10 most unequal countries worldwide were in sub-Saharan Africa, and more specifically in Southern Africa”.

While the rich are getting richer, the poor are wallowing in need, and the backlash of this trend may threaten not only the little progress our continent has made, but our collective sense of humanity and decency which defines Africa’s ubuntu philosophy – of community solidarity, care and responsibility that seeks expression in the phrase, “I am, because we are; and since we are, therefore I am”.

The benefits of economic growth have been skewed and disproportionately shared. A tiny group of less than 4% captures a large chunk of the income and wealth in Africa’s changing tide of capitalist progress. In this landscape, a nouveau niche has arisen, a transnational capitalist elite class who are the primary beneficiaries of Africa’s economic growth.

Out of Nigeria comes Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote; while in South Africa, as Ben Turok rightly noted in his latest book (With My Head Above the Parapet), the number of dollar millionaires grows. From 2007 to 2013, the numbers swelled by 14% from 2007 to 2013 even as the value of the South African rand depreciated markedly.

Addressing inequality can be a win-win situation both for the powerful and powerless in society.

Africa’s bubbling white-collar middle class has not been left out in the growth trajectory. The new consumptionist culture in African cities, with the mushrooming of shopping malls and large supermarkets, suggests that purchasing power is increasing, if only for a small, yet important part of the population.

This is good news because without a national capitalist class, which in the Marxian parlance is referred to as a national bourgeoisie, and without a thriving middle class, neither capitalist transformation nor liberal democracy can be achieved or institutionalised.

But this is where the good story ends. Beyond this, the large majority of Africans are disconnected from whatever we call economic growth in our countries; they do not see it; they do not feel it; and they do not live it.

Many wonder that if Africa is growing, why are some Africans desperate to escape to Europe by sea, at great risk to their lives. To add insult to injury, some see the Western media reports of these desperate migrants as containing an element of sarcasm. If Africa is growing, one would have thought that the incentive would have been for its people to stay at home and contribute to its transformation.

If Africa is growing, why are conflicts escalating on the continent? In classical economic theory, growth is supposed to open up economic opportunities, stimulate economic and social empowerment, and thereby reduce tensions in society.

Conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, Libya, and Nigeria remind us that Africa is not yet out of the woods. Those conflicts, though mostly context- specific, have varied reasons, which include the growing problem of deprivation.

Deprivation and inequality

Spatial, gender and income inequalities all coalesce to deny people their basic socio-economic rights and a stake in the system, which sometimes fuels political conflict.

The warped motive of the Boko Haram insurgency may not relate to inequality, but its combustive elements may be. Ignorance and deprivation are two factors that may have made it possible for the terrorist group to recruit young people to kill and maim their fellow citizens.

With good education and decent jobs available, Boko Haram might have been denied the young foot soldiers that it deploys in its heinous crimes.

In the CAR, Christians and Muslims who have lived together for generations in relative harmony are suddenly at each other’s throats as enemies. Scarcity, deprivation and inequality, the triplet sisters, breed hatred, anger and conflict amongst friends, brothers and communities.

The problem of inequality in Africa is not an unregistered one – many important groups have acknowledged it. The African Progress Panel led by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, in its 2013 report had this to say: “Some resource-rich countries have made impressive strides in improving the lives of their people. But overall progress has been uneven – and in some areas it has fallen short of expectations.

“After a decade of strong growth, several of Africa’s resource-rich countries remain at the bottom of the international league-table for human development. Others register some of the world’s largest inequalities in wealth and in wellbeing, as captured by indicators such as life expectancy and education”.

Africa displays an uneven pattern in terms of the scale, trend, sources and impact of economic inequality by countries and regions on the continent. For some countries that experienced settler colonialism, the problem is more deep-seated, with the legacy of segregation and group denial, lingering on.

For some other countries that made great strides at addressing the problem at independence with huge investments in the public goods of education, health, and other social services, however, the years of structural adjustment in the 1980s and 90s not only rolled back the gains made, but also instituted a new logic that made social policy irrelevant in economic decisions.

Underpinned by a Hobbesian logic of “fend for thyself”, the state sought an exit from the provision of public goods and social safety nets. The consequences were dire; poverty intensified, inequality deepened, and the strong and powerful trampled on the weak in society.

Africa’s growth pattern, driven by a commodity boom, provides only limited opportunities for employment and inclusive economic progress. It enriches the state, but does not transform the lives of the citizens.

Indeed, de-industrialisation is the flip side of Africa’s growth pattern as more cash-fuelled greedy imported appetites, of goods from China, Brazil, Singapore, South Korea and other new emerging economies.

In South Africa, the textile industry is struggling to breathe, let alone survive, as the country is awash with cheap clothes from other parts of the world.

The textile industry had long collapsed in many other parts of the continent in the late 1980s under “structural adjustment programmes”.

Cheap imports dwarf, if not destroy, local industries, export jobs, stunt diversification, and exacerbate poverty and inequality.

The global phenomenon

But let’s concede that inequality is now a global phenomenon, and that it is not only an African challenge. Other parts of the world are equally grappling with it. The Occupy Wall Street campaign is no different from the agitations of young people in Tunisia and Egypt or the service delivery protests in South Africa.

The difference is that given limited resources and opportunities, Africa’s capacity to absorb those shocks and the pain of inequality is limited, hence, it is more visible, with greater impact on the continent.

As global capitalism grows, it breeds its own discontents. Global capitalism, in its unabashed neo-liberal form, continues to appropriate and consolidate wealth for a few, and poverty for the rest.

Capitalism, as Karl Marx once noted, is the most progressive social system ever invented by man, but it lacks a face, a conscience or a heart. It can be daring, ruthless and enslaving.

For it to recreate itself, it has to mitigate its negative consequences by expanding opportunities for the weak and powerless in society, showing care and affection to the vulnerable, and including everybody in its growth process, even while giving more to
some, than others.

This has been the strength of the Scandinavian model of capitalist development.

As Africa seeks to claim the 21st century, it must do more than the present. It should diversify its economies from commodity production to the industrial sector, and to small and medium scale industries that create jobs and add value to the production chain. The focus should be on unleashing creativity.

This should include the agro-allied sector and beneficiation in the natural resources industry. Training and skills development should also be attuned to the modern economy.

The educational system inherited from colonialism cannot keep pace with the drive and technology of the 21st century; it requires a drastic overhaul.

Finally, the state must take its rightful place not only in driving development by creating policies and regulatory regimes, it should be the force to mitigate poverty and inequality in society.

Inequality is not only an economic malaise; it is also a social and political liability to any society. If it is not tamed, it can consume whatever gains that the capitalist system might have accumulated.

Addressing inequality can be a win-win situation both for the powerful and powerless in society. It can create social harmony, mutual trust, and confidence between the haves and have-nots. It is a step towards a collective dream that another world – fairer and just – is possible and desirable for us all!

Prof. Adejumobi lives in Lusaka, Zambia. The views expressed here are personal and in no way represent the views or opinion of any organisation.