OPINION: Jail is too good for Nigerian pastors – Abimbola Adelakun

Published:22 Nov, 2012

OPINION: Jail is too good for Nigerian pastors – Abimbola Adelakun

Recently, the Daily Mail, UK, had a feature on Bishop David Oyedepo. He was accused (alongside his son who ‘manages’ the UK branch) of fleecing worshippers by making “spurious claims” and “cynical exploitation of the gullible”.

The undercover journalist who visited the British church and the British MP who condemned him acted ignorant of the antithesis of faith and logicality when they expressed surprise about how people were urged to give more money in return for blessings that were neither guaranteed nor cognisant of the realities on ground.

The feature also talked about how much of the money creamed off these worshippers are being repatriated to Nigeria (which, in a perverse sense, is a positive development!)

The same Daily Mail, weeks before, ran a feature on another Nigerian pastor in the same UK, Alex Omokodu, (who claims on his website to have raised the dead twice) and another Pastor Mbenga of the Victorious Pentecostal Assembly who scam worshippers by selling olive oil and black currant drink at double the market rate as “miracle cures”, capable of curing terminal diseases.

Like Oyedepo, Omokodu lives large, far removed from the mess he makes of peoples’ lives.

My visceral reaction at those articles was to defend my countrymen against a searchlight that might have been beamed with a racist undertone. I mean, Daily Mail suddenly woke up and realised religion is exploitative? Wow!

Isn’t that what religion has been all about for many centuries? How can we say that what Oyedepo and Mbenga are accused of peddling different from the Pope’s selling of Indulgences in the 16th Century? Religion plays on fear to rip-off poor and miserable people in the name of God. And the irony is, the more people are deceived, the more devoted they become. So, what’s new? From appropriating people’s money to shoplifting condoms to forcing youths to have sex, what have church leaders not done?

If people have refused to read History books that teach us that religion came to us riding on the back of exploitation and politics, why, with the celebrated cases of Jim Bakker, Eddie Long and Benny Hinn among others, do people still throng churches and sponsor their pastors’ excesses out of their poverty? Why has the case of financial scandals involving the creators of TBN Channel -some of which are so disgusting- not caused a mass boycott of these hawkers of falsehood? Why does it spur people to defensiveness instead?

Why did somebody like Jesu Oyingbo have followership in the first place and why didn’t people walk out on Pastor Chris Oyakhilome when he charged gate fees before one could attend service? Seriously, who should take the blame? The person who sells snake oil or the one who finds a psychic relief (however temporary) from buying?

Take the case of Pastor Enoch Adeboye: On his church website, Adeboye claims God told him He had no choice but to keep Covenant Partners alive for 10 years because they were giving to Him within that period. This takes ideas of bizarre and outlandish to another height entirely.

One, a god is meant to earn his keep but Adeboye’s is one whose services people have to pay for, never mind that billions who are not his covenant partners are not only alive, but live considerably better lives elsewhere. Two, can Adeboye, personally, account for every single one of his covenant partners and that in those last 10 years, not a single one died? Can he? We are used to Nigerian judges and politicians saying that their hands are tied, but God? That sounds like something from the mind of a freakish Nollywood screen-writer.

Since the news broke that Pastor Ayo Oritsejeafor has joined the league of Private Jet-Owning Pastors, there has been, thankfully, a sense of outrage at the excesses of Nigerian pastors.

For the record, let me state that Pastor Oritsejeafor is not a good poster boy for Christianity (never mind the various caps he wears, anyone can be anything in Nigeria’s Pentecostalism). I make this point – debatable, of course- not just because of his Bling Bling jewellery like 50 Cents or even his bond with the present occupant of Aso Rock Villa; there is something about him –and I came to this conclusion after watching him raise an offering on Cable TV- that doesn’t seem to me would wait for God to supply all his ‘greeds’ according to his riches and glory.

His private jet was presented while he was sandwiched, like Jesus between two thieves, in the presence of a President who bizarrely declared he couldn’t see how corruption and road accidents are interlinked and, a governor whose public morals fall below average. Rev. Fr. Matthew Kukah could not have put it better: Oritsejeafor’s moral authority is undermined by these dalliances.

The issue is, religion, exploitation and subsequent scandals will not go away. Not in this generation. Not even in this world. As long as there is that primitive instinct in man to seek the supernatural, to seek God and the fear of death is constantly shaken before our eyes, people will continue to subject themselves to exploitative pastors to use as they like.

But the good thing Oritsejeafor has done for us is that he created a conversation; Oyedepo, Omokodu and other sellers of 21st Century Indulgences keep exposing the underbelly of these merchant-pastors; but whether this will translate into a rationality that will cause Nigerians to slow down on the ill-logic of tolerating these pastors’ shenanigans remains to be seen.

It takes more than throwing pastors in jail for their followers to be set free from the mind-prison they are ensconced in. Religion and political power are intertwined in many ways that make this impossible to begin with at all. History shows that, for instance, with an Industrial Revolution, the process creates a ripple effect that bleaches people of primitiveness to transcend religious superstitions while forging a better society that is not predicated on dogmatic concepts of theodicy which religion propagates. When that day comes in Nigeria, and even Africa, these pastors will wilfully choose jail as rescue from irrelevance the times would banish them.

But here’s the problem: These pastors know that with Nigeria’s developmental progress comes their end. And they are actively complicit in the dysfunctionality of Nigeria to extend their own longevity.

 

Abimbola Adelakun (aa_adelakun@utexas.edu)

  • Chris

    Too simplistic my friend. Faith and religion have been confused. Religion based on dogma, greed and the belief in supernatural result without work, is bound to fail. These pastors did nt start this way, they became so when power began to make them drunk. Impunity is the result of a society which does nt study nor know its place vis a vis God. Your idea posits that God does nt exist, the fundamental unknowns prove that He does. Your science just flatters to deceive by believing in theories which substantially tally with what religious books say.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Brazil inmates dug three tunnels out of Alcacuz jail

Police searching a prison in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte say they have found three unfinished escape tunnels. The discovery comes just days after at least 26 inmates were killed in a riot at the jail in the city of Natal. Officials said inmates at Alcacuz jail had taken advantage of heavy rains to dig the tunnels in the softened ground. But they insisted that none of them had been finished and that no prisoner had managed to...

I’m ready to help Gerrard become the best manager he can be – Klopp

Jurgen Klopp has labelled Steven Gerrard’s decision to join Liverpool’s Academy staff as “wonderful news for football” as he builds a base to enter management. The 36-year-old called time on a stellar playing career last November and will help shape his boyhood club’s next generation as a coach at the same youth system that developed his talents. The former Reds skipper will begin his duties at Kirkby in February, initially in a floating role, and Klopp commended Gerrard’s willingness to swerve...

Why Buratai Sued Premium Times – Army

The Nigerian Army on Monday said the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, sued the Nigerian online newspaper, Premium Times, for libel after it failed to retract a story published on its medium. In a statement on Monday by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman, the Army explained that the suit “is between the person of Lieutenant General TY Buratai and the Premium Times and not the Nigerian Army” adding that the case had...

JUST IN: LAUTECH receives N500 million to pay salaries – Vice Chancellor

The Vice-Chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso, Suleiman Gbadegesin, on Monday said the institution had received N500 million from Osun and Oyo State governments to pay the salary arrears owed workers.   Mr. Gbadegesin disclosed this in Osogbo when he appeared before the State House of Assembly to defend the university’s N9.9 billion budget for 2017.   He said the institution received alert of N250 million each from the two owner states.   While thanking Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun and his...

BREAKING: Donald Trump withdraws US from Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that covers 40 percent of world’s economy

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order formally withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, following through on a promise from his presidential campaign. "We've been talking about this for a long time," Trump said as he signed the executive order in an Oval Office ceremony on Monday. He also called the order a "great thing for the American worker". In the same ceremony, Trump also signed an order imposing a federal hiring freeze and a directive...

Moses Doing Great Job For Chelsea – Alonso

Chelsea wing-back Marcos Alonso has paid tribute to Super Eagles forward Victor Moses for his impact for the English Premier League leaders so far this term. Moses has been a regular in the Chelsea team this term and has been one of the key performers in Antonio Conte's 3-4-3 formation. The Nigeria international had previously struggled to make much of an impact at Stamford Bridge but seems to have blossomed under the former Juventus manager, scoring three goals in 21...

Zambian police married to foreigners warned: Your spouse could be a spy.

Police in Zambia have been banned from marrying foreigners, according to a memo by police inspector general Kakoma Kanganja circulating on social media. The memo, dated 11 January, said those who were already married to foreigners should declare this within a week. It said failure to do so would "attract disciplinary action". Police spokeswoman Esther Katongo said: "Issues of security are delicate. If not careful, spouses can be spies and can sell the security of the country." Ms Katongo told the BBC...

Okorocha Urges Igbos To Join APC.

The Imo state Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has urged his fellow citizens and Igbos in the south-east to register in large numbers with the All Progressives Congress (APC) during its ongoing nationwide registration of members. The Governor made the call at a meeting with APC members and state development council members at the Sam Mbakwe executive chambers in the government house in Owerri, the state capital.   He said that the All Progressives Congress in Imo state was hoping to register not less...

Nigerian Manufacturers Demand Review Of Government Polices.

The President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr Frank Udemba, has expressed concerns about some government policies which he says may hinder the development of the economy.   He said this at the Presidential Villa where government officials, manufacturers and members of the private sector met to discuss issues on how best to make the economy work in the interest of ordinary Nigerians.   Speaking the mind of most businessmen and women in the hall, Mr Udemba listed the Central Bank’s...

Ogun Police Arrest Suspected Serial Burglar.

The Ogun State Police Command has paraded a 40-year-old man suspected to be a serial burgler responsible for many robbery operations in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital. Items found in his care include many television sets, generators, mobile phones and other items suspected to have been stolen. Parading the suspect, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Abimbola Oyeyemi said that the suspect was arrested after a tip off from members of the community. While assuring members of the general public of the...

Lawyers Protest Arrest, Detention Of Members By DSS

A group of lawyers under the aegis of Lawyers in Defense Of Democracy are protesting the continued detention of their members by the Department Of State Services (DSS).   They have called for the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).   Apart from asking for the release of their members, the group also called on the commission to ensure the disbandment of the Police probe panel into the Rivers State re-run elections killings.   According to the coordinator of the group, Agu...

26 Pupils Get Rewards For Excellence In Oyo State.

The Oyo State Government has rewarded 26 pupils from various schools who have represented the state in various National competitions for being good ambassadors. The State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Adeniyi, presented the gifts to the 26 pupils for their excellent performances in Mathematical Association of Nigeria (MAN), Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) competitions. He said that there as no amount of time, energy and money that could be regarded as...

Ogun State Declares 396, Others Free Of Lassa Fever.

The Ogun Commissioner for Health Dr. Babtunde Ipaye, has said that 396 people have been declared free of Lassa Fever according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard, after being placed under surveillance. The persons were said to have had primary and secondary contacts with the Assistant Chief Nursing Officer of Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Idi- Aba in Abeokuta, who died of Lassa fever in December 2016. Ipaye also revealed that 19 close contacts to another new suspected Lassa fever case, came...

Wenger Charged for Misconduct by FA

The Football Association has charged Arsene Wenger for misconduct for allegedly using abusive language towards the fourth official in Sunday's encounter against Burnley. More to follow...

Committee Commends ECOWAS For Restoring Democracy In Gambia

The Committee For The Protection Of Peoples Mandate (CPPM), has commended the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) for what they say is a restoration of Democracy in The Gambia.   The committee revealed this in a statement signed by the Executive Chairman, Nelson Ekujumi, titled: “Kudos To Ecowas For The Restoration Of Democracy In Gambia”.   It reads:   “The Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM) whole heartedly congratulates and commends the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for...

Australian Open: Serena Williams Defeats Strycova To Reach Quarter-Finals.

World number two, Serena Williams, has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open following a 7-5 6-4 win over Czech Barbora Strycova at Rod Laver Arena.   Williams was broken three times in the opening set and again when coasting to the finish line in the second.   However, she shifted up a gear when it counted to close out the match in one hour, forty six minutes.   Williams, bidding to win a record 23rd grand slam title in the professional era, has...

Gunmen kill man, injure another in Plateau.

Gunmen have shot and killed a man and injured another at a drinking pool in Alheri, Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State.   The spokesperson of the police in the state, Terna Tyopev, confirmed the incident in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.   Mr. Tyopev said the victim who survived the attack with bullet wounds revealed the identities of the attackers to the police.   “Information was received on the night of Saturday 21st January 2017 that Ifeanyi Ozue and...

Did Minister Babatunde Fashola Get It Wrong? – By Simbo Olorunfemi

We cannot, for the sake of some agreement and a rigid reading of the law, continue to short-change ourselves by not removing the hurdles in the way of off-grid solutions that will enable independent power plants set up, based on potential demand, to generate and distribute directly to customers without any go-between in form of a distribution company and an overbearing regulator. Starting out, Mr. Fashola seems to have gotten it wrong. From the outside, one would think his quick...

FG to launch free healthcare programme in Niger Delta – Minister

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, says the Federal Government will soon embark on a free healthcare intervention scheme in the nine oil producing states as from next month. The minister made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on Monday in Abuja. He said that the programme would be executed by his ministry in collaboration with the National Association of Urologists. Mr. Usani said the essence of the health programme was for the people...

N136 million fraud: Court reserves judgment in trial of NIMASA boss

A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday, reserved February 21 for judgment in a no case submission filed by ex-acting Director General of NIMASA, Calistus Obi, charged with N136 million fraud. The trial judge, Mojisola Olatoregun, fixed the date for judgment after hearing arguments from both defence and prosecuting counsels on an application for a no case submission. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had preferred an eight count charge against Mr. Obi Mr. Obi, who was also an Executive...

President Buhari re-nominates Magu as EFCC chairman

President Muhammadu Buhari has re-nominated Ibrahim Magu for confirmation as chairman of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, EFCC. Multiple sources knowledgeable about the development, including presidency officials, have spoken with PREMIUM TIMES on the re-nomination. The Senate had in December last year declined to confirm Mr. Magu as the substantive chairman of EFCC, ending months of delay and rancorous power-play involving influential senators, the State Security Service, SSS, and officials of the presidency opposed to Mr. Magu’s headship of the agency. The spokesperson for...