The former minister says T.B. Joshua was close to many
world leaders but kept it close to his chest, never flaunting
his connections and relationships.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, a former Minister
of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, discusses his relationship
with the late Prophet T.B. Joshua, who died on Saturday at
57. He also provided insights about Mr Joshua’s persona
and why he was not liked by some Nigerian pastors.
PT: You seem to be close to late Prophet T.B. Joshua.
What kind of man was he?
Femi Fani-Kayode: He was my friend and brother and a
great man of God whom I had the utmost respect for and
who I hold in high esteem. He was deeply courageous,
kind, compassionate, gentle, faithful to his own, intelligent,
humble, selfless, generous and enlightened. He was also
very accommodating of contrary views. I learnt a lot from
him and we spent many hours discussing current affairs
and the state of our nation. He was a profoundly good
man. He was one in a million.
PT: When was the last time you spoke to him and what
did he tell you?
Femi Fani-Kayode: Two weeks before he passed. He told
me that we should pray for Nigeria.
PT: What were his fears? Why did he ask you to pray for
Femi Fani-Kayode: He was a man of faith and he always
prayed for our country even at the best of times.
PT: How did you guys become friends?
Femi Fani-Kayode: It was in 2016. I was in detention. In an
underground cell and all alone. I had been detained for the
second time and it was quite an ordeal. I had been in for 3
months and was later transferred to a facility in Kuje
prison where they keep only Boko Haram terrorists. It is
like Guantanamo Bay and I was there with only Boko
Haram suspects and convicts.
The place was built by the British Government and it is
almost like a secret facility away from the main prison. It
was terrifying and a clear attempt to intimidate me and
endanger my life. I was sure that they would either maim
or kill me in that place because the people there were all
Boko Haram except one Okah who was also accused of
I prayed to God to give me strength and courage because I
would rather die than bow or break before my enemies. I
also asked Him to watch over my family in case anything
happened to me. The following day one of the wardens
came and told me someone wanted to talk to me on the
phone. He gave me his cell phone. I asked who it was and
he said Prophet T.B. Joshua.
I said but I have never met him and I don’t know him. I
thought it was another set-up or that the man was lying.
He said that it was really him and that even though we
had never met he insisted on speaking to me. I took the
call and we spoke. He encouraged me and assured me
that all would be well. That I would come out soon and
even stronger. That even though we had never met he had
been following my ordeal in the hands of the Government
and that he was inspired by my defiance and courage. He
said he knew that I was innocent of what I had been
accused of and that it was nothing but persecution
because of my strong stance against the tyranny of the
government. He said that he wanted me to know that he
was praying for me and that he loved me with the love of
He was humble, compassionate and kind and he showed
me so much love in those few minutes on the phone.
Before he dropped the phone he also told me that he
would reach my family and keep an eye on them for me so
I should not worry about that. That really moved me
because that was my greatest concern. I didn’t really care
what happened to me but was worried about how my two
wives and children were coping. At such times everyone
usually abandons you and yours. People you thought you
could rely on and trust will stop taking calls from your wife
and family members and shun you out of fear of the
Government. You know I have been detained several times
over the years by different Governments and this is what
always happens. Mostly we were abandoned by friends.
However, TB, who I didn’t know, reached out to me and
my family and stood by us throughout.
I was really moved by his call and though we never spoke
again whilst I was in detention he honoured his word, kept
in touch with my loved ones and encouraged and stood
by them too. The day I was released I called to thank him
and that is how we became friends. From that time our
friendship and love for one another grew from strength to
strength until we became almost inseparable. I spoke with
him on the phone virtually every day and I saw him at
least once a month from 2016 until 2021.
T.B. Joshua was my brother and virtually everything he
told me concerning my future and life has come to pass.
Do you know that he actually told me the day I would
eventually get bail and be released and he was right. It
blew my mind. He was more than a friend: he was a
brother. I learnt a lot from him and I will never forget him.
I will do all I can to honour his memory. Most people live
for their pockets and their stomachs but T.B. Joshua lived
for God and humanity. He was very different to most. He
was a great man who always looked out for the weak, the
despised, the vulnerable and the oppressed. It was an
honour for me to be considered as one of his friends.
PT: Can we say he was your spiritual mentor?
Femi Fani-Kayode: He was my brother, my friend and my
confidante. There was nothing we did not discuss. Our
relationship was not really based on spiritual matters. We
were simply brothers and that is worth more than anything
PT: A lot of people consider his death to be sudden. Did
he struggle with any ailment?
Femi Fani-Kayode: I spoke to him two weeks before he
passed on and he appeared to be fine. I was in Enugu at
the time. I wanted to see him in Lagos but needed to pop
up to Arewa first before coming back South. My plan was
to go and see him after my visit to Bauchi state after
stopping in Abuja to see my children. Alas in the early
hours of the morning on the day that I left Bauchi I
confirmed that he had passed on. The rumours started
from 1.00 am and I could not sleep. Even though a
relative of his lied to me that he was still alive at 3.00 am
and claimed that he was just feeling a little unwell. By 5.00
am, it was confirmed to me that he was dead and that
I left Bauchi later that day and went home to my children
in Abuja. I have been in shock ever since but I will see his
wife and children. I will always be there for them because
he was always there for me and mine. I do not know
whether he was ill or not but his passing really was
strange, sudden and devastating to millions of his friends
and followers all over the world. Many still cannot believe
it. I have had calls from virtually every continent in the
world over this issue. Everyone is so sad. I guess it was
just his time to go and when God calls you home there is
nothing anyone can do about it.
He was only 57 and would have been 58 a few days later
on June 12th. For goodness sake that was too young. He
was three years younger than me! It is very sad indeed
because he still had so much to offer the Church,
Christendom, Nigeria, Africa and indeed the world. I just
give God thanks for giving me the privilege of knowing this
extraordinary man who did such great exploits in the
name of the Lord, who put so many smiles on so many
faces and who did so much for God’s kingdom.
PT: You have painted the departed clergy in beautiful
colours. Then why was it that some Christian leaders
were sceptical of his ways and methods?
Femi Fani-Kayode: If that is so then it is misplaced. There
is no big man of God in this country that I do not know
and respect. Like all human beings they all have their
weaknesses and strengths. If they were sceptical about
T.B. Joshua, that is their choice and view. That is merely
their opinion of him and they are entitled to it. I do not
share that view. More importantly, I do not need anyone’s
validation to make me feel good about myself and neither
did T.B. Joshua. Let God judge us all. He alone sees our
hearts and knows what we do behind closed doors. He
alone knows whether we are truly good or evil.
All I know is that, from all I saw and witnessed, this man
Prophet T.B. Joshua was a good man who served a
mighty God to the best of his abilities and he did so well.
He shook the world for Jesus and he won many souls for
Christ. He was a star in Christendom and like all stars, he
was bound to attract a bit of envy and jealousy from his
peers. I am not sure any Nigerian living or dead has had
as much of an impact on the gospel worldwide as T.B.
Joshua did. Go to places like South America and South-
East Asia or Israel and you will be shocked by his
following and the impact he had on the lives of ordinary
He was also close to many world leaders but kept it close
to his chest. He never flaunted his connections or his
relationships. His legacy is outstanding and many of his
peers cannot handle that because they felt that his humble
beginnings did not warrant or deserve it. On his part T.B.
Joshua did not give a damn, he never defended himself
publicly and he just kept looking to God and doing his
work. And he did all this with the greatest humility, always
being polite and kind even to his greatest detractors. He
was much misunderstood, often misrepresented, often
falsely accused and often maligned but the truth is that he
was a very good man that was totally dedicated to his
flock, his family and to his work.
The same way in which the Jews hated Jesus is the way
many in the Kingdom hated T.B. Joshua. Even in death,
some have insulted him. I do not see or know the basis or
justification for such hate and I believe it is evil and
It is actually a shame and a disgrace for any Man of God
to hate another. The Bible says “who is he that lays a
charge before elect?” It says “it is Christ that justifies”. Our
Lord and Master Jesus Christ Himself said, “let he who is
free of sin cast the first stone”. Who are these people that
speak ill of T.B. Joshua and judge him? Are they God? Are
they angels? Are they infallible? Are they perfect?
Unlike many others, T.B. Joshua did not judge others and
he did not think only of his pocket. He thought of
humanity. And I do not know any man of God in this
country or outside this country that cared and catered for
the poor and needy like him.
Maybe that is why a few of them hated him. He reminded
them of what they ought to be doing but are not doing. I
do not know and I do not care. I respected him, I loved
him, I admired him and I always will.
PT: Do you have insight into how the work he started will
continue now that he’s gone? Who’s likely to step into his
shoes in the ministry?
Femi Fani-Kayode: I have no idea because I only ever
worshipped in his Church once. Our relationship was one
of friendship and brotherhood rather than me being a
member of his Church. I watched Emmanuel TV from time
to time but I know little about how his Church is run or
who is in charge now. What I know is that he has built a
great Church, a great legacy with a great and loyal
congregation and I have no doubt that his many disciples
and excellent team of Pastors will keep the flag flying.
PT: Thank you very much, chief.
Fem-Fani-Kayode: My pleasure