by Eromo Egbejule
Truth be told, the average Nigerian generally accords clerics maximum respect and superhuman status, sometimes elevating them to the level of infallibility. Pastors, imams and babalawos all have an unspoken immunity handed to them by their respective followers. One only needs to visit certain blogs and gossip havens on the Internet to read the downright ridiculous excuses that netizens offer on behalf of some of these religious leaders who are enmeshed in scandals.
It is arguably okay based on certain metrics, to label the duo of Pastor Tunde Bakare and Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, superheroes or overlords (on Twitter, however, they unfortunately do not measure up to He-Who-Must-Be-Mentioned, the reverred Yabiswacko 🙁 ). As expected, they have the accompanying contingent of Voltrons, Vextrons and “Awon ‘Aters”.
Bakare, preacher, politician and activist, has for long been a fierce critic of the government, right from the Obasanjo regime. During the #OccupyNigeria protests last February, his Save Nigeria Group caucus was a major stakeholder and together with Femi Falana, has been attempting to fill the oversized Louboutins of Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
Joshua, who reportedly predicted the deaths of Malawi’s Bingu wa Mutharika and Ghana’s John Atta-Mills, consistently doles out food and money to the widows and orphans who throng his church daily. The Arigidi-born leader of The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) and star presenter of his own cable network channel, Emmanuel TV, has without a doubt impacted millions.
Thankfully, the duo do not, unlike some of their preacher colleagues, author get-rich-quick pamphlets like 50 Shades of Overnight Prosperity, or wear a cape like Batman. But like the Sergeant Fury’s crew, both are primarily working to save a of people – in this case, Nigerians. They have the clout and authority to change things on a large scale and chose to do it differently.
On the one hand, T. B. Joshua who almost never prophesies about the political state of the country, despite his many political affiliations with foreign heads of state, continues to heal the sick and generally perform miracles even if they generally seem impractical. The lame walk, the mutes hear and speak and the blind-from-birth see and readily identify colours and even HIV is supposedly cured, all at The Synagogue. He even sent a team of medical personnel to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
Flip the coin and there’s your Bakare, a former Muslim who does not shy away from condemning the actions and inactions of the government and even went as far as being running mate to veteran presidential aspirant, General Muhammadu Buhari on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
All this he does, in addition to leading his congregation, winning souls and also working signs and wonders (albeit the latter has been less publicized). And he actually fraternizes with leaders of other religions in the country, bridging the gap.
So I ask, is it okay for the church to interfere in the matters of the state or to stick to tending the flock alone? To prepare them for heaven or to make Nigeria heaven on earth for their followership or possibly attempt both? Should the Nigerian clergy leave unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and instead heed the Yoruba adage, A kìí ṣòwò méjì kẹ́ran má jẹ ọ̀kan (One cannot be engaged in two trades and a goat not eat up one of them)?
Who of Bakare or Joshua, is PRECISELY doing what Jesus would do, in this mess of a country?
Surely, this will follow the way of other long-standing controversies, like the inconclusive debates over who the more skilful player is between CR7 and Messi; the better rapper of Eminem and Jay-Z and more importantly, what the sweeter snack is, roasted corn or roasted plantain.
Eromo Egbejule is a journalist by day and web developer at night, even though he studied engineering as a first degree. For food and travel tickets, he will do almost anything. He tweets @Helvetika_EE
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.