What seems like a brotherly war is gradually looming in the household of God over the recent acquisition of private jet by the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria-cum-founder of Word of Life Bible Church, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and other eminent pastors in the country.
Oritsejafor recently acquired a Canadian-made Bombardier jet with US registration number N431CB, manufactured in 1994.
It was presented to the cleric at an elaborate party that commemorated his 40th year in the vineyard of God. The jet is worth $3.5m, making him to join the likes of Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church, famously known as Winners’ Chapel who own private jets.
While some Christians maintain that the Apostles of the Most High have committed no crime in their acquisitions, others are saying that it is quite unreasonable for a cleric whose members are living from hands to mouth in the church to acquire such an expensive jet, describing it as ‘signs of the end time’.
In his reaction, Convener of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) and founder of Later Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunder Bakare recently lambasted Oritsejafor and other men of God with private jets, saying that they should give account of their wealth or be ‘jailed and burnt in hell’.
Hear him, “I am not inciting the public against the church and the mosque, but the congregation must demand explanation from their leaders. They must demand to know where they are getting the money. If it is not from the church offering, then it is from Abuja. All general overseers must go to prison. If the revolution does not begin in the church, it cannot spread; if it does not begin in the mosque, it will not spread, because they control the population.”
However, chairman of the Northern Christian Elders Forum, Evangelist Matthew Owojaiye, said Bakare’s comments should be ignored. The cleric said Bakare is a confused and frustrated preacher.
Also throwing his weight behind the ‘Nigerian Jet Owners Pastors Association’, the General Overseer of Jos-based Evangelical Bible Outreach Ministries International, Apostle Isa El-Buba said that there’s nothing wrong for pastors to own private jets, stressing that Bakare’s condemnation of these labourers in the Lord’s house was blasphemous.
According to El-Buba, “There is nothing wrong for a preacher to own a jet. If people in the secular world can acquire jets for chief executive officers of big private enterprises, there is nothing wrong in giving gifts to a man of God of Pastor Oritsejafor’s standing. This is a man of God that travels across the whole world. He deserves what he has been given.”
In the same vein, the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Musa Asake, thrashed Bakare, saying: “What is wrong with giving a gift to Pastor Oritsejafor? Did Pastor Oritsejafor embezzle church money? Did he collect somebody’s money? Some people came together and bought it for him so as to ease his work. This is to help him to continue with the work of the gospel. Oritsejafor is a man of God. He is doing everything for the work of God… It is a welcome idea. I support people who help ministers of the gospel in their work. He did not go out to lobby for it. It was a surprise for him. I was at that occasion. I saw things myself,” he argued.
Also, a renowned Christian leader and President of the Delta State Baptist Conference, Reverend Gideon Oyibo, backed Pastor Oritsejafor, saying there was nothing wrong with such gesture. According to him, “The environment influences the way people talk. If you come from a family background of poverty and a member of the family is rich, people will conclude that he is a ritualist. They will conclude that he has stolen money, because in that family, the members do not expect anybody to be rich… In Nigeria, we have a traditional environment in which a pastor is expected to operate by our own evaluation. Whenever a pastor is living above our own evaluation, then we can say anything about that person… The question we should ask is that: did Pastor Oritsejafor ask for the jet? Did he beg for it? Or was it that certain people gathered together under the leading of God and decided to buy it and present it to him as a gift?”
Flaying Oritsejafor and other men of God who own private jets, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev Matthew Kukah recently said acquisition of private jets by preachers weakens the moral voice of the church in the fight against corruption in the nation.
According to the bishop, “The stories of corrupt men and women being given recognition by their churches or mosques as gallant sons and daughters and the embarrassing stories of pastors displaying conspicuous wealth as we hear from the purchases of private jets and so on clearly diminish our moral voice.”
“CAN has become more visible in relation to national prayer sessions, pilgrimages, alliances with state power and so on.
“Unless we distance ourselves, we cannot speak the truth to power. We cannot hear the wails of the poor and the weak. We should not be seen as playing the praying wing of the party in power.” He added.
Meanwhile, the Concerned Northern Nigerian Christians (CNNC) on Tuesday rose in support of Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah who described the acquisition of private jets by Christian leaders as an embarrassment to Christianity.
CNNC in a statement through its spokesperson, Peter Yahuda said lampooning Bishop Kukah over his stance on the acquisition of private jets by Christian clerics is not fair.
It said: “As concerned Christians of Northern Nigerian extraction, we find it expedient to respond to the unbecoming words credited to one Elder Sunday Oibe, who claims to be speaking on behalf of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) as its Director of Research, Planning and Strategy.
“Oibe denigrated Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah over recent views he expressed regarding acquisition of private jets by some Nigerian Christians leaders, which he described as an embarrassment to Christianity considering the perilous times we are in.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Sunday Oibe acted wrongly and grossly confirms our fears as to the relegation of our honest, unifying and most coveted association (CAN) and her true ideals as carefully laid down by her founding fathers,” he said.
When the founder and General Superintendent of Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor Kumuye was asked on his stance when Pastor E.A Adeboye acquired a private jet a few years back, the respected holiness preacher and teacher said: “It depends on individuals, if a church says their need is a private jet, why not? For our ministry, private jet is not yet our priority . When the need arises, we may go for it, but not now.” He said.
DailyPost spoke with some Nigerians who aired their views on the matter.
Yusuf Adio (student)
For me, I’m not a Christian and I think it is not right at all. Does that mean the church doesn’t have other pressing needs. Are there no widows or orphans in the church? These men of God don’t do other jobs elsewhere, they live on church’s tithes and offering, so how do they make their money?
Dem go thief? It is not right. I think the government should call them to order.
Pastor Emmanuel Echeija –Assistant Pastor, Jesus the Way of Salvation Christian Church International, Lagos:
I’m not surprised because bible says in the end many false Prophets shall arise. The end-time is absolutely here and we should be prepared for the Lord’s coming. It is uncalled for and absolutely wrong for a man of God to acquire a jet. Is that what the white men who brought Christianity to us did or still doing? This is fraudulent at the highest order. Just like Pastor Bakare said, they should be jailed.
Suleman Babatunde: You are asking if it is wrong for a man of God to acquire a private jet? I think you are a Christian. Do you even have a bicycle? I think you pay tithe and offering regularly? Leave the rest for your conscience to judge you.
Joy Chijoke (Tailor):
I’m a member of Living Faith and I see nothing wrong with it. Do you know how many times they travel? So you want pastors like Daddy Oyedepo, Daddy G.O (referring to Adeboye) to go to the airport and board a plane? To hell with critics, if it takes selling my clothes, I will do cause these men of God have touched my life in several ways.
Saide Olaitan (Vulcanizer):
I don’t have any right to condemn any man of God. We shall know who is who on the last day. I’m not a Christian and I don’t want to say anything.
Jenifer Arowosegbe (Student)
We should stop covering up in this country. How many members does Oritsejafor have in his church? We all know that President Jonathan bought him the jet. They should stop confusing us in this country.
Rachel Adikwu (Banker): If e dey pain you go buy your own and leave men of God to enjoy their lives before God go strike you with thunder.
Esther Adams: Judge not so that you won’t be judged.