Dr. (Mrs.) Chioma Daukoru Olukole is a lecturer at the Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State. Apart from her lecturing job, she pastors the First Love Assembly, Yenagoa alongside her husband. In this interview, she told DAYO EMMANUEL about their project called ‘Sex and You,’ which addresses marital issues and dissuades unmarried people from cohabiting outside wedlock. According to her cohabiting is widely accepted in some communities in the Niger Delta while some Churches have no problem with that. The Olukoles have recorded some successes with their campaigns in Rivers and Bayelsa States. Excerpts:
What is Sex and You program all about?
Sex and you program is an interdenominational vision given to us by God. When we got to Bonny Island in River State where my husband went to start a Church we started and the vision was to make the youths get closer to God. The culture there is surrounding immorality because they believe they can cohabit as unmarried couples living like married people. They believe they can have sex, they believe a girl can just go and live with a man, they are not married and after five years the man can walk the girl out. But when we got there we were able to address that and to God be the glory a good number of them changed. In fact there was a prostitute who got united with her family after attending the teachings.
What are the challenges you encountered initially on this ‘strange’ project?
I remember there was an article I wrote titled ‘What is this Bonny bug,” it actually raised so much dust on the island. Pastors and a lot of people called me and said I should not talk about that. We started the program in 2007. It is about ten years now.
What is the response of the Church to this culture of cohabiting?
Before we came it was acceptable to them because some pastors were cohabiting, workers in the Church were cohabiting and when we started it what they told us was that your Church will not grow. They said cohabiting is a culture here but we told them Christianity is also a culture and we are there to impose the culture of God on the society. We said if we are not going to do it we should not just be making noise because we should be a voice that should lead them to the way of God. So the Church was not opposed to whatever will lead the people to cohabitation but when we began to teach it the pastors of other Churches began to teach it. In fact there was a particular Church that took it up. They gave their members in the practice a deadline that whoever was doing that should go and pay the girl’s dowry and if they don’t have the money they offered to assist. We are happy because initially they were very comfortable with it but when we began to preach it and people began to embrace it they now accepted it and made it mandatory.
How do you compare the problem and the need on Bonny Island with that of Yenagoa, and mainland Bayelsa State?
Bayelsa is mainland, I think I will say they are almost the same if not that the level of enlightenment in Yenagoa is more than what they have on the island. There are some good Churches in Yenagoa that have actually been saying the same thing we are saying. They are happy that we are saying same thing they have been saying too.
Can you explain more on this cohabiting culture?
It is a practice among the people where a girl and a man not legally married live together as husband and wife. If the woman dies before the man pays her dowry the man will now go and pay the dowry to the family. For me that is striking a covenant with the dead. While God says marriage is till death do them part, co-habitation says death has actually brought them together. We started preaching against cohabitation and several pastors were against us. They told my husband this message your wife is spreading will not go anywhere, we actually suffered from pastors not even from unbelievers. I still remember the first program we did in a hotel. Everywhere was filled up and people even stayed by the window, they wanted to know how would a Church be preaching about sex, the title was ‘Let’s Talk About Sex.’ They wanted to hear how the Church will teach them about sex. Before I started the program we asked the people their expectations and one of them said when the handbill came, he wanted to see because it was coming from a Church. He said what is the Church going to teach us about sex? But to their surprise when they came, a good number of them began to sob. I still remember a militant who carelessly strolled in. He was to go on a raid with his cousin but he said I beg I want to hear what the Church wants to say about sex and he gave his life to Christ. To the glory of God he became the chief usher in the Church. His cousin unfortunately died in that raid, they would have both died because we learnt the military sent a rocket launcher that cleared them. The man is married now. He now has a job. Then he was cohabiting with his fiancée and we insisted they should get married and go to their families to do the necessary things. They are married now and they have two or three children. I’m so excited.
So we can confirm that God has sent you to that place?
Yes, God sent us to Bonny. I remember I didn’t want to join my husband in Bonny, I was in Port Harcourt I felt it was going to take me away from my career I just started my PhD then and again by what I have been hearing about Bonny. I heard it is a closed place and you will be far from family and friends because there is no road but by the time I entered the island God confirmed I was to be there. My husband now pastors First Love Assembly in Yenagoa.
What are you looking up to more on the program in the near future?
We want to trust God to get the program into the higher institutions. If there is anything the devil does to catch the youths, it is getting them into immorality and get them comfortable in it. We have done some work. We trust God to go deep into other places because there are still people in Yenagoa who don’t know about the program. There is a place they called down Yenagoa where they don’t know about it. We want to move Sex and You into such places. We do it bimonthly now we hold it in Bonny Island and in Yenagoa for now.
Can you tell a brief about your background?
I am the only daughter to the late Reverend Dr. Nwokoro from Imo State. My father was a missionary who loved God. I remember one of his friends used to say he knows how to take people to heaven but he doesn’t know how to make money, he loved God and he exposed us to God early. My mother told me at age six I led someone to Christ who is a pastor now. I can’t remember all that but I know that I rededicated my life to God in year two during my secondary school. I became the Bible Study Secretary in secondary school at Ovim then in Imo State now Abia State. It has really been wonderful because God structured my life to be the way it is. God led me to IMT Enugu. Jesus had to go through Samaria, I believed God caused me to go through IMT Enugu because it was from there I got baptized in the Holy Ghost. There was this fire that sparked off in me I could be on a bus and preached the gospel. I later went to Jos. Jos too was a place God ordered my step. It was a place of moulding for me. The vision God gave to me actually became clearer. I studied Botany with Microbiology at the University of Jos.