Some ministers of God in Nigeria have come down hard on former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, over his recent statement that pastors in the country were aiding corruption in Nigeria.
Though some pastors declined comment saying, Apostle Johnson Suleman was being harassed by the powers that be for opening his mouth, yet, fiery ones did not mince words in telling Obasanjo that he perpetuated corruption as Nigeria’s president. Obasanjo’s statement that some Nigerian Pastors/ preachers preach that one can acquire wealth without labour triggered sharp reactions from clerics across the country, who felt that OBJ goofed by singling out the men in the collars.
They argued that corruption is prevalent in every segment of the nation’s life.
According to the respondents, the elder statesman failed to take cognizance of the fact that pastors had been doing a good job of teaching morals, good character formation and raising good citizens. Founder of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Oke- Afa, Lagos, Primate Elijah Babatunde Ayodele (JP), described the corruption accusations levelled against Nigerian men of God by the former President as unwarranted and unfortunate. In an exclusive interview with Sunday Telegraph, the respected man of God said, “These accusations are rather unfortunate coming from someone as high ranking as the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Maybe Obasanjo has forgotten that he started it. Obasanjo called himself a pastor when he was in Aso Villa.
He has a church in Ota, and that church is not for tomato sellers or bread sellers. It is only big and wealthy people that can have access to that place for church service and these big men brought money to that church then. Did Obasanjo ask them any question like, ‘where did you get this money’? So, if at all churches are not doing that, then, it is what Obasanjo laid down that they are following.
But I can tell you that the churches have not been corrupted. Have they penciled down any big man of God that defrauded anybody or stole government money? Has any pastor occupied any political position? The only thing I can say is that we do not have good leadership in Christendom. If not, Obasanjo should be the one accused of corruption.
This is because he is the one that brought who is who to his church and they made donations because they were looking for his favour as the President then. So, Obasanjo should not talk of corruption; he should just keep quiet. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have people in the Christendom, who will come out to talk on this issue.
Obasanjo started it from the beginning when he was in government for eight good years! He used his church to make money. When you go to a President’s church, how much will you donate before they will even recognise you? Is it one thousand dollars or 100 thousand dollars before he will even recognise you? Obasanjo should not even talk at all.’’
For Rev James Akinadewo of Motailatu Church, it was wrong for Obasanjo to single out the church for such attack, especially as the church had not ceased in its duty of moulding believers to become good citizens. “The church in Nigeria has been doing its duty of teaching good morals, character reformation, justice and fairness and has not ceased to provide the guiding light for all to become good citizens,” said Akinadewo.
However, Akinadewo admitted that there are few bad eggs among church leaders, just like there are in other vocations. His words: “It is common knowledge that the problem of Nigeria, over the years, is government. And bad government is the worst form of corruption. Obasanjo is not in a position to point accusing fingers at servants of God in the manner he did because he perpetuated eight years as President of a corrupt administration in Nigeria; not to talk of the years he occupied the apex political position in the country as Head of State.
“During his eight years as a civilian president, billions of naira were pumped into electricity; yet the power situation in Nigeria remained unresolved till date. It was also during Obasanjo’s regime that half third majority vote was used to elect governors, contrary to two third majorities as stipulated by the Nigerian constitution.
Definitely, Obasanjo is not in a position to call men of God corrupt,” Akinadewo added. For the President of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Nigeria, Rev Dr. Jeremiah Gado, the fight against corruption should start from the top because the people in position of leadership were exposed to embezzlement of all money that had so far, been made public. Gado said: “People from the grassroots work hard on their farms, in their business and what have you, but corruption cuts across sections of the populace.
Yeah; leaders have a responsibility of leading right and of being exemplary in what they do. “You have to be clean to clean; if you are not clean, you cannot clean. We have been fighting corruption since time immemorial in Nigeria, and people, who are corrupt themselves talk about fighting corruption. It is a chorus that even the corrupt people sing; but the church in particular is supposed to be the light. We church leaders, true have to start with ourselves. If we cannot adhere to the message we preach, how can those we preach to listen to us? Obasanjo’s message is timely. What he said is true and it is not only true of ministers, it is true of every Nigerian.”
“May be he knows what he said. He knows whether he has given bribe or corrupted any minister of God. As far as I know, he knows me, I know him and I go close to him.
He cannot accuse me of corruption,” said the Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Kanu Uche. “You know that not all that glitters is gold. In every twelve, there must be a Judas. So, I don’t think that he made a blanket statement that every minister of God. He has his facts.
Some of us have resolved that rather than cut corners, we better die and go to Christ,” he stressed. The fiery founder of God’s Kingdom Christian Centre, Rev John Kome, exploded: “Obasanjo goofed; he is proffering medicine after death. Baba should not play the role of King Ahab in the Bible who allowed Queen Jezebel to destroy the nation of Israel, which also attracted severe recession in those days.”
Kome added: “OBJ knew that certain ‘men of God’ were teaching and preaching errors and wrong values capable of destroying morals and breeding corruption among Nigerians, yet did little or nothing to stop such decay when he held sway at power for eight undisputed years.
“Baba has, after all, graduated from theological training, we beg him to come and mount the pulpit at this critical period when we need righteous and holy preachers in our nation, Nigeria. I shall personally lead a campaign to plead with Baba to take up the leadership of the Christian association of Nigeria (CAN) just for one year.
Baba will discover that there isn’t much difference between ASO Rock and CAN or any other religious organisation in Nigeria. I want the world to know that there are several godly, holy, righteous, morally upright men and women of God everywhere in Nigeria whose integrity before God is unparalleled.
”The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Dr. Adewale Martins, however expressed surprise that the elder statesman picked on servants of God, who, according to him, had been at the vanguard of character moulding in society.
“I will be surprised if he accused ministers of God of aiding corruption in the country. He will have to find a way of expressing what that exactly means because the job of a minister of God is not to aid corruption but help to develop human person and how to live according to the values of Christ. If he said ministers are aiding corruption, there must be a context to it which is interesting to know,” Martins pointed out.
The presiding Bishop of Aba based Christian Fellowship Group and legal luminary, John Ogbansiegbe, noted that the presence of bad eggs in all the facet of our national life had made everyone guilty of corruption.
His words: “Ministers of God in Nigeria are contributing more than the government, the police or any other law enforcement agency in curbing and fighting corruption with the weapon and instrumentality of the word of God. “I wonder what this nation would have been without the ministers of God and the Gospel they preach. It would have been totally bereft of light, divinity, righteousness, peace and unity. It would have been an epitome of cannibalism, barbarism and anarchism.”