Of Erastus Akingbola, Enoch Adeboye and 8000 Instant Elders

by Ihechukwu Njoku

It is with a heavy heart I pen this piece, not with the intention to embark on a blithe smear campaign or spread unfounded rumours, but to tackle an issue that has been overlooked and under addressed.

Nigerian news is agog this week with Sanusi’s bombshell sacking of five banking giants, Erastus Akingbola, the erstwhile CEO of Intercontinental Bank, inclusive. With a purported ‘lending’ of N250 billion to his associates flying in the face of professional ethos and ethics, allegations of siphoning significant amounts into personal coffers, gross mismanagement of loans, “poor corporate governance practices, lax administration processes and the absence or non-adherence to the banks’ credit risk management practices”, it is certainly not the best of times for the smiling banker cum Redeemed Pastor. Just last week he was spotted with Cecilia Ibru at the Redeemed Camp, spouting tongues and binding enemies in specially provided front row seats – his petitions evidently not swaying the stony heart of Sanusi who sacked him days later. His mathematician mentor, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has also not enjoyed the best of press lately, questions raised to whether politics as opposed to principle led to Pastor Ighodalo’s forced dismissal, this coming on the heels of the ‘private jet’ debacle.

With another prominent name added, the list of Redeemed Pastors embroiled in scandal or ungodly controversy of varying sorts continues to unfold in alarming fashion. In the banking sector alone, Akingbola joins the likes of Shola Adeoti of City Express and Chika Mbonu of Assurance Bank, such high profile incidents continuing to cast aspersions over the process through which one joins the Redeemed pastors’ fold. The question I pose – was it Akingbola’s pocket or his person that endeared him to Daddy G.O? What are the criteria for those desirous to come under the banner of ‘Redeemed Pastor’ – charisma or character, politics or principles?

I read aghast the figure of 8379 new pastors/elders ordained at the recent RCCG Camp, as though the pulpit be a position one can occupy like a farmer or trader. Can Adeboye personally attest to the integrity of all those appointees? How sure is he that another dubious or devious character is not among the new recruits? Is pastoral work something anyone can wake up and decide to pursue without divine assigning and commission?

Handsome physique, eloquence of tongue, the ability to inspire people with cumbersome rhetoric or coerce cash from large crowds are certainly not the criteria for God’s work. What of divine calling? What of internal resources? What of godly character? Have we forgotten what the Almighty said to Prophet Samuel: “Man looks at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”?

In the same anointing ceremony, Adeboye instructed the female aspirants to desist from unruly and revealing dressing, threatening God’s wrath on those who refused to comply. But is that not the tuition they should receive and imbibe before being inducted into the kingdom business? Can Adeboye entrust a flock into the hands of one still struggling with such worldly enticements? Can someone still dealing with external issues said to be competent from the internal level?

The term ‘pastor’ has been commercialised to the sad extent that almost anyone can don the holy title with no qualms or queries. This is the reason our local media runs amok with stories of scandalous, adulterous, murderous and counterfeit pastors unreservedly disgracing the name of God – because the process to become one has been so abused and confused. I recall when Adeboye was heavily questioned at an airport some months back, forced to produce his Bible to confirm if drugs were hidden therein. It is ironic to think his own pastors were likely the cause of such brazen assessment, the correlation between Nigerian Pastors, fraudsters and drug dealers far too close for comfort.

The ease with which one achieves clerical status aside, the emphasis on money (source regardless) is another major point of concern. In the light of the recent revelations of Akingbola’s activities (one of Adeboye’s jets financiers), it could well be inferred that Adeboye’s private jet was the product of dishonestly gained money, not uncharacteristic considering RCCG was one of the major beneficiaries of OBJ’s dubiously motivated tax waivers. Besides, Adeboye recently floated a millionaires club to rake in another N1.7b for his cathedral project and then taxed his members before they could use the public toilets at his Redeemed Camp. Men such as Gbenga Daniel, Bola Tinubu, James Ibori and OBJ sit in the front at his meetings and drop fat offerings, their questionable characters and record of thieving public money notwithstanding.

What is all this? Why do the headlines concerning RCCG, and indeed much of Nigerian Pentecostalism, tend to reflect the pursuit of money and material wealth, not the quest for justice, propagation of Christ’s Gospel and providing of charity for the less privileged? Time and circumstance continue to paint a picture of an orchestrated business acting as a religious organisation – with money and material gain more of a focus than the eternal and external wellbeing of the teeming worshippers.

Is this what Jesus lived and died for? Is this the supreme price the early disciples paid to bring to us? Is this the heart of the Gospel? The very priorities and intentions of our churches and their pastors’ reasons for coming into spiritual work need to be seriously examined. If not, we forlornly await who next will drag the name of ‘pastor’ to the mud.

As for Adeboye, after all the jet brouhaha I learned he prefers to fly on chartered flights now, the controversial public opinion concerning his luxurious air travel swaying his resolution, suggestive that he did not actually believe in what he was doing in the first instance. I advise he engage his profound resources and influence in more charitable activities and mind the source of his money.

And for God’s sake, stop commissioning ‘anyhow’ pastors.

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Fabunmi June 25, 2011 - 2:15 pm

So, ashaolu adeboye: exactly what do you do? Do you pay your taxes in full? Do you have retirement plans for your employees? Do you have a medical pogramme in place for your employees? Do you compensate them reasonably? If your God has blessed your business, and you’ve done so much and so well within seven years, wouldn’t it be right to do right by those who’ve assisted you on the way there? Or, was God also one of your employees?

Tunde Oladapo ONI March 8, 2011 - 3:30 pm

Nice article.The writer tried his best to be objective as possible.I must commend him for having the effrontery to write about such a sensitive issue in Nigeria where pentecostal churches tap into the deep veins of human desperation.Someone said we should leave our pastors and wait for God’s judgment.I totally disagree with that naive comment from a Redeem apologist.Nigeria is governed by the laws of the land(constitution) & not by the laws of any deity,so if anybody runs foul of the law he must face carnal justice which is the most objective on earth.No modern state waits for God’s judgement in order to dispense justice.Whether you are an agnostic,christian,islamist,bhuddist,taoist,atheist or a mystic individual,you are bound to obey your country’s laws.The application of the laws of the land is very sacrosanct in a modern state.So,nobody needs to hide under divine justice to perpetrate heinous crimes against humanity.

emeka October 18, 2010 - 9:02 pm

Its only God that can help us in this in this countrys penticostalism, every thing about them is materialism, i am back now to the old catholic

AR. October 17, 2010 - 12:45 pm

this article is a fact esp. Dat church goers equate prosperity – by any means to being Godly. i just pity this country called naija.

David October 16, 2010 - 8:26 am

Pastors or clergy workers should not be chosen on the basis of the size of their money bags or sweet talks. source of donations should be vetted where possible before acceptance by the church. Most churches nowadays are fulfilling the prophesies in the bible that men will be lovers of themselves and money that God.

Ola August 24, 2010 - 1:55 pm

So many accuse fingers were pointed to Jesus when He was on His earthly ministry. Little wonders why some guys can blast Adeboye as if he(Adeboye) is the creator of Akingbola and if Adeboye knows what lies in the belly of all the pastors. The facts that Akingbola falls into Sanusi’s net does not mean that RCCG is all about money and it does not means that all the pastors in RCCG are fraudsters. Pls stop condeming anybody or pastor because their judgement is in God’s hand not in your hand. I want to assure you today that almost 80% of what is happening in banking sector today is politically motivated, not because they really want to sanitise the banking. Very soon, you will see the truth of the matter.

simon stevens May 13, 2010 - 11:16 am

The fact of the matter is that most of thse Pentecostal churches are not more than money spinning and deceiving cults. Fake pastor Adeboye is not a real man of God. Let him live and behave like the saints then just maybe I might take him seriously. The problem with members of these cults is that they worship the church leaders instead of God. Then again it should come as no surprise, Jesus Chris did say “many will come in my name, but with evil intentions”. Goodluck to these mumus!!! Does RCCG stand for Redeemed Christain Church of Garri…lol

The Sherpherd January 29, 2010 - 8:25 am

The article is sound and the author is not biased. He spoke the facts.

ashaolu adeboye December 24, 2009 - 8:08 pm

jesus christ of nazareth. i am a member of rccg for almost 7 years now. i joined this church with nothing but today God has transformed my life.i now live in my house at ikotun. bought another one at jakande estate, have my own company with people working for me. about the question. in redeemed church u dont expect baba adeboye to take knife and cut all the pastors belly before knowing those that are sincere or not before they are ordained. u do not need to attack baba adeboye because of one banker turn pastor. we should all pray to God to purge his church. those that are accussing baba adeboye because akingbola was ordained as a pastor failed to carry out there research , was ordained when he has become on=wner of the bank or not. As a human being anybody can change at anytime. it is only God that will not change. i believe baba adeboye too will not be please about what hapopen to akingbola. what about other banks? dont u think there is more to this than what sanusi is telling the whole world about akingbola. i personally do not support bank thing. thank u

BSM August 19, 2009 - 8:55 pm

This is a silly article laced with conjecture and nothing else . So Adeboye is now suposed to personally attest to the character or thousands of pastors ?I wonder how many churches this writer has run hence his before ranting ignorantly . So news media is full of bad stories about pastors huh? That’s precvisely why it’s called NEWS . It woyuldnt be news if it was the norm . Fact is the vast majority of pastors are doing their best to live Gody lives but I guess as the adage goes “it takes one to know one”. Evil minded people only see evil in others . I guess all the good things Redeemed is doing arent worthy of a writeup onlty the perceived bad ones? Abeg carry your noise and go!!


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