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There is a popular saying among Nigerians, ‘No go dey drink Panadol for another man headache.’ Panadol is a popular painkiller used for body pain and subsiding injuries. The context in taking panadol for another man’s headache signifies those who like to delve into issues concerning other people. The media was recently abuzz when the founder and General Overseer of Salvation of a popular Pentecostal church in Nigeria, Salvation Ministries Pastor David Ibiyeomie lambasted popular OAP, Ifedayo Olarinde (Daddy Freeze) during a Sunday sermon.
Daddy Freeze, who is popularly known for criticising Nigerian pastors, took to his Instagram page to attack Bishop David Oyedepo of Winners Chapel for saying women should submit to their husbands. According to Daddy Freeze, Oyedepo’s advice was a misquote of the scriptures.
Pastor David Ibiyeomie who didn’t find this funny, minced no words as he lambasted Daddy Freeze during a Sunday church session.
In his words:
He said: ‘I can’t be alive and you insult my father. The day Daddy Freeze insults Oyedepo I will deal with him and arrest him.’
‘Who gave birth to you? Do you have a father? Show us his picture.’
‘Oyedepo will not talk but I can’t be alive and you insult my father. I curse the day you were born.’
‘I will tear you into pieces you bastard. He is insulting him because he has no father.’
‘You can never insult a father if you have one, be warned. A man whose wife left him, has no good job will be insulting my father and people will be laughing online. I will never be alive to see such and do nothing again.’
The irony of this scenario is the fact that these statements emanating from a so-called Minister of the Sermon who sees himself as someone high and mighty. There’s a Bible verse in James chapter 1 verse 26 that says ‘If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, this person’s religion is worthless.’ This makes one wonder if Pastor David Ibiyeomie has ever read this part of his Bible. Because if he has, then he ought to realise that his religion, in this case, Christianity, is not complete if he cannot guard the words that come out of your mouth.
In his outburst, he talked about killing Daddy Freeze. In the Nigerian constitution, this is a crime in itself but if not that the Nigerian Police are currently busy collecting 50 Naira from bus drivers and harassing people wearing dreadlocks, Pastor Ibiyeomie should be cooling his heels in prison.
Everything Pastor David Ibiyeomie said was wrong, but the encouragement of his congregation is, perhaps, more worrisome. The fact that they agree with him cursing someone repeatedly on the pulpit is worrisome.
Pentecostal churches are wildly popular in Nigeria and are increasingly rich, as they run thriving businesses empires on the side and exploit the faith of gullible people. An increasing number of Nigeria’s 70 million Christians are followers of the prosperity teachings – the belief that prosperity is a sign of spiritual blessing. Services are held in megachurches that hold thousands, with multimillionaire pastors preaching the Bible.
Evangelical churches in Africa appeal to traditional beliefs in miracle cures as charismatic preachers use electronic media to spread their powerful message to millions and fill church coffers with donations. There are nearly 60 million followers of evangelical churches in Nigeria The huge metropolis of Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria, is not just one of Africa’s most prosperous and populous cities. It is also the seat of the continent’s fastest-growing Christian missions.
From the most obscure, tiny district church to the high-tech cathedral and shopping area in the heart of the city, the charismatic appeal of Pentecostal churches is ever-present. One of the main features of this kind of church is the use of broadcast, print and the Internet in spreading its message. Another is the practice of incorporating elements of traditional African culture, such as upbeat music, loud sermons, and above all, reinforcing deeply held beliefs in witchcraft and demons. Every day, hundreds of thousands of followers seek the purported spiritual enlightenment which in reality is actually a hoax
Take for instance: Bishop David Oyedepo, the founder of Winners’ Chapel; Matthew Ashimolowo, senior pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre; Bishop Daniel Kolawole Olukoya, the founder of Mountain of Fire and Miracles; Pastor Lazarus Muoka, the founder of The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement; Bishop Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG); Prophet T. B. Joshua, founder of the Synagogue, Church Of All Nations – SCOAN; Pastor William F. Kumuyi, General-Overseer and founder of Deeper Christian Life Ministry; Chris Okotie, founder and the General Overseer of the Household of God Church; Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, founder of the Believers’ Loveworld Ministries and many other successful Pastors who oversee big churches.
These are all well-known ministers whose net worth have been known to have exponentially risen since the Genesis of their ministries. These Church leaders take huge pride in silently competing among themselves when it comes to wealth and discipleship, doing this at the detriment of their church members. They erect massive church buildings in every state and then create smaller branches which in turn has other smaller branches thus greatly increasing the number of churches in Nigeria especially in Christain states. After all, it is all a business enterprise. These churches are then managed by other younger Pastors (Regional manager), who report to a higher ranking manager (State Manager) who in turn report to the main General Overseer. These pastors help in collating and disbursing funds gotten from their various situated regions. A recent study has it that in Nigeria, at least 10 Church buildings are opened on a weekly basis. The churches earn money from sales of books written by the pastors, and CDs and DVDs of the sermons, but the bulk of their revenue is said to come from donations from the congregation in form of Tithes and offerings.
This large wealth inadvertently turns them into demi-gods whose followers grovel at their feet, blindly lapping up every single word they speak. These pastors arrogantly instil false gospel messages to their members twist the gospel whichever way that best suits their fancies. These beliefs clash so strongly with each other to the eyes and ears of an external observer, it becomes so difficult to assimilate. This is because most of these pastors who have very notorious pasts now masquerade as gospel dispellers to preach adulterated Bible sermons, perform fake miracles with paid actors and give false prophecies revealed to them by fake spirits all in a bid to convince the gullible minded and run their pockets dry with various ‘holy’ schemes and rites to salvation.
Nigerian pastors and their followers alike operate under a sect-like movement. The followers rever these pastors and always defend them whenever and however they can, while these pastors take advantage of the gullibility of their followers to intimidate people, commit obvious crimes and escape the justice system most of the time. The incident with Pastor David Ibiyeomie and the 2011 incident involving Bishop David Oyedepo who physically and verbally abused a teenage girl in the full view of his members show the zombie-like relationship these pastors have with their members. there have been numerous other controversies which include; theft, fraud, money-laundering, rape allegations and even murder scandals involving many of these pastors. But because they are seen as ‘anointed’ ones, they are usually left off with a slap on the wrist.
In one way or the other, Nigerian celebrity pastors have contributed to the downward spiral in which the country has found herself in. They carefully avoid preaching on topics with political interest, openly coalesce with well-known corrupt politicians and cunningly ignore vital situations in the country for fear of Government backlash or probe panels being set in the country for fear of Government backlash or probe panels being set against them. Christianity in Nigeria is completely riddled with hypocrisy and false self-righteousness. The earlier people realise the true damage religious fanatics are meting out on Nigeria, the better it would be for the country.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK