by Lanre Olagunju
Religious bodies should be thinking of more ways to eradicate poverty, speak truth to power rather than just eating and dining with the political class and then claiming that all is well!
The most controversial issue on my TL this week was the issue of Nigerian pastors and their new quest for private jets. Just like it’s said that there’s no smoke without fire, the CAN president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor’s jet gift was actually responsible for firing this controversy. On the occasion of the senior clergy’s birthday and the celebration of his 40th anniversary in ministry, he was given a private jet as a gift. It’s interesting to see Nigerians, most especially Christians get interested in issues that concern the extravagant lifestyles of their pastors. It proves that the days of “sidon dey look” are over. On the present issue of extravagant living, I earnestly think that God is actually speaking to pastors through the voice of their followers.
Though Pastor Oritsejafor’s jet was a gift, yet many argued that he could have rejected it. The past week’s controversy has revealed many other pastors who have quite a number, and the questions of “what’s the use?” keeps coming to mind. If we are advocating the need to hold our political leaders and office holders accountable, honestly speaking, pastors and Imams shouldn’t be excluded. To those who think it’s rude or ungodly to re-examine the things “men of God” do and say. I say wake up and take a cue from the Berean Christians in the Bible. This guys do not just receive the word with all eagerness, they daily, personally, search out the scriptures, to check whether the things the preachers said were actually so.
Many of the preachers obviously claim and want us to believe that they need the private jets to spread the word of God round the world. The question is what are some of them doing with two, three and even four jets? As a child who was brought up with the Foursquarian doctrine, where moderation is a watch word. I keep finding it difficult to see our recent day clergies struggling with the Biblical instruction of “let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” It’s okay to eat from what you do and be comfortable, be it circularly or in the religious circle but moderation is key.
During the #OccupyNigeria protest in January, Nigerians were clamouring that presidency should reduce the cost of running government, essentially when it became known to all and sundry that the presidency feeds on almost a billion Naira per annum. It’s sad that some religious leaders are also misplacing their priorities. The fact that Nigerians expects more from them than the dirty and heartless politicians is the reason why they purchasing private jets is becoming a bone of contention. Religious bodies should be thinking of more ways to eradicate poverty, speak truth to power rather than just eating and dining with the political class and then claiming that all is well! With all the money in display, they should build schools that are affordable in the real sense of the word “affordable” just like the missionaries of old did.
Over 70% of the people they lead constitute the poor in the society and realistically it’s from the financial donations of these people that they accumulate their wealth. The major challenge with leadership in this part of the world is that it’s void of sensitivity and human feeling. Or how else do you explain that a religious leader who; flies a private jet in the worth of billions of Naira, who pays the Pilots thousands of dollars per year, pays for hanger charges at least $4000/month, Insurance, maintenance, jet fuel and the rest… has many of his congregation hungry, jobless and even homeless . Even Jesus was mindful of the belly of his congregation; hence he had to miraculously use five breads and two fishes to feed the multitude. By the time the fearful revolution former president, Olusegun Obasanjo predicted during the week comes, I’m afraid the mass of unemployed youth, in anger, might not be able to differentiate political leaders from religious leaders, because you don’t widen the gap between the poor and the rich and say all is well.
Beside that some of these senior pastors with their quest for privet jets are fulfilling the prophesy of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, they are actually refreshing the relevance of some of his controversial sayings.
With this private jet issue, Fela’s suffering and smiling song , where he said “Archbishop na miliki, Pope na enjoyment, Imam na gbaladun” becomes much more than just a controversial song.
Lanre Olagunju tweets @lanre_olagunju
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.