by Lekan Olanrewaju
Nigeria’s richest pastor by many accounts, Bishop David Oyedepo has made a new addition to his business empire by starting an airline called Dominion Air.
Listed by Forbes as Nigeria’s wealthiest pastor with a net worth of $150 million, Oyedepo, has been the subject of much debate over private jets, of which he owns four. He is also the owner of Dominion Publishing House, Covenant University and an elite secondary school called Faith Academy.
The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the agency in charge of business registration in Nigeria, confirmed the registration of Dominion Air with David Oyedepo as its chairman.
Not surprisingly, this hasn’t come without setting its fair share of tongues wagging, as people have begun to speak out against it. “Pastor Oyedepo by his choice of businesses has severally demonstrated a disconnect between himself and hundreds of thousands of poor Christians who he claimed to have come to deliver.” said Lawrence Ofili of the Save Nigeria Group. “About 90 percent of public schools in this country were built by early Christian missionaries; today Oyedepo has Covenant University but it is for children of millionaires.”
The Save Nigeria Group was founded by Pastor Tunde Bakare, who has been critical of Bishop Oyedepo’s ministry in the past.
“Even with the high school called Faith Academy, I am aware that most children in his congregation dream to be educated there but their parents who probably pay tithes and offerings cannot afford the school fees,” Ofili continued. “His Faith Tabernacle accommodates 50,000 worshippers every Sunday; how many of them are going to fly Dominion Air? Honestly this project is not for the poor. He should have settled for mechanised farming to engage unemployed men and women.
Is this valid criticism? Does the bishop have a duty to run businesses for the poor and unemployed?
UPDATE: Representatives of SNG have indicated that Mr. Ofili is a member of a faction. Mr. Ofili, known as a founding member of the group, however spoke to press as representative of the group.