Reno Omokri’s Adeboye is guilty
The idiocies of the 21st century are huge, with postmodern notions being the guiding principles that nudge people to question the assumptions of rationality, thereby rejecting the idea of objective truth. Whereas very many societies have been caught in liberalisation of socialisation, with a category of Nigerians, mostly revolting youths, tilting towards the avant-garde orientation from the North, a few others are still responsive to the religiously and moralistically-tainted familiarisation that is meant to dislocate the defamiliarisation found in the new social dispensation.
Conversely, the implications of these contentions between the two orders are as complicated as the variegation in the horizon. To this end, as entrenched as religions are in Nigeria, there are palpable tendencies that boldly interrogate things that were once considered as sacred. The church has been worse hit as profiteers have evidently commercialised the Christian religion. Given the resources available to churches, particularly personally-owned ones, reactionary forces have identified the church for scrutiny and scathing vituperations, mostly on matters that relate to money. Political prophecies and predictions are new deflections that portend inappropriateness.
‘Men of God’ are today at the centre of one controversy or the other, with the posturing of some suggesting greed, recklessness and negation of the basic teachings of the Bible. It is no longer new that attempts have been made to dilute the content of the Bible, not only due to the challenges of languages, but doctrinal approvals and disapprovals, which help one denomination distinguish itself from the other. Even though Paul warned against the segregation of Paul and Apollo, the compartmentalisation of the Christian faith in Nigeria has opened it to more criticism than Islam, which is just going through its own variations.
It remains a fact that religion and spirituality are different sides of a coin. While spirituality hints at the idea of supernatural that is experienced by the natural man, religion continues to function as’opium of the people’ that Karl Marx believes is used to distort reality and numb the pain of the proletariats oppression. Notwithstanding the denial and pretensions found in people, religions and spirituality are accessed differently today, for both individual and personal benefits. Little wonder that arms funds were also used to organize prayers against terrorism in Nigeria.
One of the Christian priests that still enjoy considerable respect from Nigerians is Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. The Ifewara-born unassuming disciplined mind has not been spared by some critics though, may be as a sign of fallibility of mortality or deliberate incursion at demystification. It is on record that Daddy Freeze and a few others in the past criticized him for his opinions on tithe and offerings, which they believed were strategies to rob members. I have had reasons to wonder also why some people should be fixated on the personal right and decision of people to pay tithe and offerings as religious obligations, when those interlopers enjoy the liberty of spending their own money on relatively useless things like drugs, women, ‘designers’ wears’, sex toys, houses, drinks etc. We must remind ourselves that religious leaders, in the modes of the Pope and Imam, were also vilified by Fela Anikulapo, as part of his vociferous poetic regeneration of the society. Even though Fela earned the criticism of Christian preachers as well, he lived his life to the fullest, with his smoking habit, queer stage behaviours and retinue of women. One wonders why Nigerians are not guided by the dictates of postmodern relativism to respect the decisions of others!
In his many homilies, Pastor Adeboye narrated the unique traits in his existence, detailing how he grew from grass to grace, with an ambition to be the youngest Vice Chancellor in Africa, after taking a career in teaching in the university, with a PhD in Applied Mathematics. This enigmatic preacher and respected bridge-builder had also privileged his listeners with the information of how he got inspired by God, through the Holy Spirit, to resolve the nutty Mathematic equations in his PhD research, using the Mathematical principles of the parting of the Biblical Red Sea. The decision of God to ‘hijack’ him, and make him the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, has brought phenomenal growth to the church, with the church having a parish in about 199 nations of the world, from the obscured Lagos space.
The recent social media letter of Reno Omokri, the Nigerian diasporic self-appointed sociopolitical activist, was another needless attack on somebody who spiritually and contextually requested his members to pray for the embattled naira to regain its value. Apart from the referential reinforcement found in the story of positive reversal and plenty in Biblical Samaria, after huge famine, it is also very clear that the fall of the naira against the dollar is due to deliberate artificial manipulations, added to the non-productive nature of the Nigeria economy. Omokri rather, under the harsh tag ‘GrowNairaBuyNaija’, asked Pastor Adeboye to prevail on his members to patronise locally-made goods; go to farm than attend church always, while decrying the building of large worship places, instead of manufacturing plants.
Omokri should be reminded that Adeboye did not kill Nigerian industries; rather he has made good efforts to offer physical and spiritual rejuvenation of the economy. The ruling class that Omokri served and is patronising killed the industries. Adeboye is not a dictator that he would legislate that his members should stick with local products, when members of the political class that should live by example are spending scarce foreign exchange on sophisticated automobiles and other consumables. Omokri should know that the various church programmes people attend are meant to provide succor when the nation has failed to offer basic helps. This is more so as the church is a clinic of a sort, where various ‘maladies’ are attended to. It is only a moribund hospital that would close his doors to the patients. This is not to forget that Adeboye’s members are not loafers and vagabonds. They are resourceful and skilful men and women.
Adeboye does not require Omokri to teach his members not to reduce raining season to a period of copulation, as he has for the past few years, under his agricultural revolution, mobilised his members and the functional structures in the church to set up farms across the country. This initiative is well entrenched in Adeboye’s farm at Ifewara where produces and livestock are brought to the Redemption City during major programmes to feed congregants for free. The pepper and vegetables grown in these farms bring turnovers in millions. The Adeboye that Omokri does not know, in a great feat, turned a mangrove forest, infested by armed robbers, between Lagos and Ibadan to a city, which also catapulted several developments along the axis.
The Redemption City, Omokri should be reminded, contrasts with the cities built by the political class, as it is self-sufficient in roads, electricity, security, sanitation, physical planning, etc, with a Teaching Hospital sitting massively to complement trainings in medical sciences that are provided by the award-winning Redeemers’ University, Ede, to which Adeboye is a Chancellor. The many primary and secondary schools, some of which are fee-free to indigent people, are robust basic foundations for a tertiary education that is made accessible to members’ children and wards, through discounted fees. Encumbered but not battered by the Nigerian content that would kill a glowing vision, Omokri should advise his political class to go and learn from Adeboye that made his turbines to work, his university to thrive, and his roads to be passable.
Omokri should note that Adeboye has led his people to donate equipment to ICUs at UNIMED, Ondo, University of Jos Teaching Hospital, etc. Omokri should be reminded that Adeboye’s international programmes (Special Holy Ghost, Convention, Congress) attract foreign exchange into the country, with attendees from across the world. This contrasts with the spending of scarce foreign exchange by Nigeria governments on pilgrims to Israel and Saudi Arabia. Omokri should concentrate his acerbic attacks on the political class that failed in their commissioning, as against Adeboye that has succeeded beyond his calling. Government should fund education, and academics should be positively challenged to take Nigeria on the journey of technological development, like Japan and China that Omokri referenced.
Arguably, the Adeboye Omokri knows is guilty, unlike Pastor Adeboye, the GO of RCCG, that he does not know, who has sufficiently demonstrated to us how a system could work, amidst many challenges, using donations of willing adherents. Omokri’s thieving and greedy members of the political class are guilty of the needless accusing finger he is pointing at the Adeboye, who is simply a pride to humanity. We should not also miss the point that spirituality exists in the domain of the supernatural, where ideas and initiatives are birthed for societal growth. One hopes the ruling class would emplace a better nation soon, that religion or spirituality would no longer be an instrument of escapism!