Opinion: The local and global franchising of 419 Nigerian churches

by Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu

To say that Nigeria is a 419 republic would be an understatement.  Practically everywhere you look there   is a scam. Whether in the government, the private  sector and nowadays even in the once hallowed churches,   there is an ongoing  scam every second of the day.  In the last few weeks alone, we have been regaled with a pension scam, the oil subsidy scam and the Farouk Lawan scam. To make matters worse, scamming has progressed to the trillion Naira era.  But of all these heinous scams, the most sinister that should bother every right thinking person is the descent of the church and other religious organisations into barefaced fraud.  Scamming people in the name of God is the most vile, unconscionable and despicable crime that can ever be committed and serves as a pointer that the larger Nigerian society is fast becoming the biblical “Sodom and Gomorrah” which ended up in total destruction.

Nigeria has more churches than any other country on the planet. In practically every street there is a church. They sing, they preach and most importantly they extort their church members who pay generously in the hope of getting a better life.  The first sign of the fraudulent nature of Nigeria’s churches is the corruption, deceit, greed, lack of charity, lack of humility, hatred, bigotry and vices that pervade a society in which you can find a church in every street.  Because the churches exist only for the purpose of extortion, none of the values of honesty, love, charity or modesty ordinarily associated with the church can be found in the larger society.

In other parts of the world, churches preach and practice love, charity and other general   values which are immediately noticeable in those societies from the leadership to the common man.  Churches also engage in extensive charity not only locally but internationally, using some of the donations they get from church members to feed  the poor, build free or subsidised hospitals and schools for the under-privileged, build feeding centres,  hostels and houses  for the poor and homeless, provide quick relief for disaster victims,  give grants to students amongst others.  Indeed, the church historically started the payment of social welfare benefits to the poor and unemployed in the United Kingdom sometime in the 19th century before the government took over that function in later years.  In other climes, churches also act as social critics, criticising the government and fighting for social justice. It is on record that the church led the struggle for the abolition of the slave trade; they also led the civil rights movement in America and campaigned vigorously for the cancellation of the debt of poor countries amongst others.

Nigerian churches are exactly the opposite of churches elsewhere.  In Nigeria, churches become or aspire to become megabucks 419 businesses. The pastors are millionaires-billionaires and many of them ride on private jets, all from the money duped from vulnerable citizens.  Some pastors even have more fleets of jets than the presidency. They build the most expensive schools and hospitals and run them as elitist business institutions that most of their church members cannot afford. They build housing estates for the super-rich.  They wine, dine and collect contracts from monumentally corrupt, evil, wicked, unconscionable, sadistic, psychopathic and satanic Nigerian leaders who preside over the pauperization, oppression, dehumanization and genocide of their own citizens.

Unlike churches elsewhere that used social criticisms to free their suffering masses and bring change in their respective nations, Nigerian churches are in bed with the very destroyers   of the nation. They never criticise nor stand in opposition to the government, rather they play along and partake in the corruption that has crippled the nation and impoverished the masses.  In spite of Nigeria recording the highest levels of poverty in the world and in spite of the billions the churches make, they provide neither charity nor aid to the poor masses. They build neither hospitals nor schools for the poor. Like every fraud, the ultimate aim of these churches is not to help the poor, propagate love and charity, nor to practice what they preach but to use deceit to dupe the hapless citizenry and profit themselves at the expense of the poor masses and wretched of the earth.  Once they make the money, true to type they join the oppressors, wearing the most expensive robes, suits and jewellery, flaunting flashy cars, flying private jets when even the Pope owns no jet and living in vast opulent mansions reeking of luxury while their church members and the larger society throng the streets in abject poverty.

The 419 Pentecostal church businesses have now become so profitable that it has become a franchise locally and globally. All kinds of shady characters are given licenses to operate and extort the gullible public and pay remittances to the head office. Across every street in Nigeria and across the world, in the UK, USA, CANADA, Ireland amongst others, these franchises are popping up increasingly, manned by fraudsters.  They engage in the usual hullabaloo and make a handsome living from the proceeds of the scam while paying remittances to the head office.  It is now time to callout these fraudulent churches and serve them notice. Thankfully, the awareness is growing.  It is either they reform and practice religion the way it should be practiced or face attacks and be run out of town!

Editor’s Note:

Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

This piece was first published on SaharaReporters.com

Comments (5)

  1. Well there might not be known sources for these "facts" but when i was growing up, in the early 80's, we had a church on my street (there are like 3 there now and that is Osogbo, Osun State) , when I was in the University, we had over a hundred campus fellowships (OAU), when i was serving (Aba), there where 5 churches on my street and where I now stay in Lagos, there are like 4 churches on my street alone. I know we have many churches (People, Buildings or whatever) in Nigeria and I know the real impart of having churches in not very evident in our reputation as a country, Church charity is rarely heard of around here but I know some very expensive schools owned by some of these churches and yes, I also know of some very wealthy Men-of-God that do nothing else but pastoring churches. Well it is all in the bible: End time warning, "for many shall come in my name….". How I wish we can read the Bible ourselves and believe we can understand the content rather than depending entirely on my pastor says this and my pastor says that. That way we can know the real ones(yes there are some real ones) from the pretenders.

  2. I generally agree with the general sentiment but the article is full of a lot of wholes. "More churches in Nigeria than anywhere in the world?" Nigeria has the highest levels of poverty? Where are your sources to back this up?? Sahara Reporters' writers are infamous for anecdotal bullshit but this is just plain ridiculous. You're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts dude.

  3. Chill man…so much bitterness. A few churches/church leaders misbehave and that's an indictment on the whole church institution? If I believe this writer, then 'all' Nigerian churches are evil…be objective man.

    And you wanna run the church out of town? Apparently you don't know that the church isn't physical structures but people…the true church of the living God will not be stopped the false ones you refer to will be but not until they've deceived many. Its the reality of the end time, the bible predicted it.

  4. On point. I thought I was the only one who sees most Nigerian churches in this light..

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