By Bolanle Bolawole
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When the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, announced the creation of the Office of Directorate of Politics and Governance on March 10, 2022, the decision raised a lot of dust as it was interpreted by many as a scantily-concealed ploy to campaign for the vice-president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who is a senior RCCG pastor touted to be very close to the RCCG General Overseer. RCCG and Daddy G.O, as Pastor Adeboye is fondly called, were heavily criticised. Some of the criticism came from known RCCG members and pastors. Dele Momodu, the publisher of Ovation, a soft-sell, led the way firing on all cylinders. But many vouched for our dearly beloved Daddy G. O, saying the Daddy they knew cannot be so flagrant and unthinking as to throw his hat in the ring of partisan politics. If politics is a dirty game, Nigeria’s more so, it was unthinkable that a revered man of God like Adeboye would descend into the murky – and muddy – waters of partisan politics. I was one of those who rose in stout defence of Daddy.
In “Adeboye: Stirring the hornets’ nest?” which went viral, I defended Daddy on many fronts. First, that it was high time for Christians, encouraged and even pushed by notable Christian leaders, to begin to take active interest in politics. Christians should make their numbers count as they begin to participate in the politics and affairs of their country. You cannot be politically passive and yet complain about bad leadership. You cannot abandon the political space and expect angels to come down and rule over you. The angels who abandoned their station in times past to poke-nose into the affairs of men learnt a bitter lesson (Gen. 6: 1-4; Jude 1:6)! From my own personal experience, the level of political apathy in the Church is embarrassingly acute and needs a surgical operation. Therefore, I concluded that the RCCG’s Office of Directorate of Politics and Governance was a right step in the right direction.
Secondly, I said the Daddy G. O that we all know cannot be naive as to think he can lead all RCCG members – not to talk of all Christians – by the nose to vote for Yemi Osinbajo or any other politician for that matter. To start with, no one has even told us that Osinbajo is Adeboye’s candidate in the 2023 presidential election. For another, there are many RCCG members, sympathisers, and covenant partners in the 2023 presidential race; so, how can Adeboye be seen to be rooting for one against the other? What if he backs the wrong horse? What if, in so doing, he triggers unrest, revolt or rebellion right in his own fold? Adeboye is a brand that looms large over the whole of Christendom, home and away. Many of those who entrust their spiritual wellness to him and accept him as mentor and leader are not even RCCG members. Christians of other denominations come to his God-given fountain to quench their spiritual thirst. I once heard Daddy say many of his covenant partners were even Muslims! So, those in the RCCG cannot even lay an absolute claim to Daddy. To God be the glory, Adeboye has become the Daddy of all!
But I did also admit that a paragraph in the vexatious Office of Directorate of Politics and Governance document was badly worded and could, in fact, be interpreted as harbouring the intention to promote and or serve the political interests of a (certain?) RCCG pastor turned politician. The wider interpretation of the entire document, however, is its goal of sensitizing Christians to their civic duties, obligations and responsibilities as responsive and responsible citizens. The document could have been more professionally couched. The gap thus created left much to be desired and became a potent weapon in the hands of those who suspected foul play, like Dele Momodu did, thereby causing them to ventilate their grouse in the public domain. There were suspicions also that there could be persons or powerful influences around Adeboye feathering their own nests and who could play monkey games with the Office of Directorate of Politics and Governance.
Sensitive and responsive to such complaints, Daddy G. O came out on Sunday, April 3, 2022 in his sermon to RCCG members every first Sunday of the month, to debunk claims that the Office of the Directorate of Politics and Governance that he created was a vehicle to promote the political interests of any politician. He went further to speak truth to power in a way that resonated with many Nigerians.
Daddy said: “If I vote for anyone, I would be unjust to the rest of my children; I am the father of all and I like it that way…You were Nigerian before you became a Christian. As a Nigerian, you have a duty to register, to vote and make sure your vote counts. You have a duty to belong to any party of your choice; you can’t refuse to vote and then complain about the government…As of now, I still do not know whether or not there will be an election next year. Do not say that Pastor Adeboye said there will be no election next year; that is not what I said… Adeboye does not know yet…You cannot go to Kaduna by road, air or train. That brings so many questions to my mind as a man of prayers. Why Kaduna? Who is trying to isolate Kaduna? Why? After Kaduna; which next? …It is in the news – and nobody has denied it – that as of now, more than 80 per cent of the oil we are producing is being stolen… that leads me to several questions: Who is stealing the oil? Where is the money going? What do they want to do with the money? Who are the foreign nations buying this stolen oil? How many of these nations of the world are your friends?…It is an open secret that more than 90 per cent of the money Nigeria gets from crude oil sales is being used to service interest accruing on debt. We are borrowing more and, according to a friend of mine, we are moving steadily towards a state of bankruptcy…”
The explanation from Daddy firmly and effectively ended the controversy. They must be very few, indeed, who would not give Adeboye the benefit of doubt. Not only did he give assurances of his non-partisanship, he also spoke truth to power, touching on issues that have brought Nigerians untold pain, misery and suffering. Yes, he spoke truth to power like the prophets of old – like Samuel, like Elijah, like Micaiah. And that refreshed our soul – until one RCCG pastor came from nowhere, as it were, to badly foul the air and pollute the fountain. The man’s name is Pastor Timothy Olaniyan. He is not just an unknown quantity but the Pastor-in-charge of Lagos Province 12. Olaniyan is not also a little-known pastor; he is, in fact, the man Daddy G. O had placed in charge of the controversial – if we may now say so – RCCG’s Office of Directorate of Politics and Governance.
What is expected of such a man is for him to tread gingerly. He is expected to think before he speaks and to look before he leaps. He is expected to be mindful of the controversy that welcomed the birth of the organisation he heads and the assurances of neutrality and non-partisanship that the highly revered Daddy G. O had given to douse the controversy. He should never have done anything to tarnish the image of the RCCG, a covenant church greater and higher than any individual. He should have been mindful not to make Adeboye sound or look like a liar – God forbid, our Daddy is not a liar and never will be! Olaniyan should have been careful not to drag in the mud the reputation that has cost Adeboye decades of toil, blood and sweat to build!
Caught pants down, Pastor Olaniyan was quoted as campaigning for Osinbajo! A news medium reported the matter thus: “2023 Presidency: RCCG pastor under fire for endorsing Osinbajo, Says he spoke for only himself. Olaniyan, at the weekend, had said that Osinbajo remained the only child of God and a pastor that could change the narrative of governance in Nigeria. Pastor Timothy Olaniyan, the Head of Politics and Governance of the Redeemed Christian Church, RCCG, has reacted to criticisms from different quarters over a comment he made regarding the candidacy of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo for the 2023 general elections. Olaniyan, at the weekend, had said that Osinbajo remained the only child of God and a pastor that could change the narrative of governance in Nigeria. Olaniyan was quoted to have said: ‘Money politics in this country has led us to where we are now. People will promise heaven and earth, and at the end of the day, you see them giving N1000, N2000 to eligible voters. After the election, you won’t see any of their promises being fulfilled, and the people they gave money (to) will not have access to these notable politicians. It is high time our eyes were opened. What we want is not those baits, we want somebody that would make a promise to our children and (would) fulfil it. If you tell me education is going to be free, I want you to get there and make it free so that we would not continue to build up youths who have no future. As of today, Pastor Yemi Osinbajo is not just a pastor; he is still a child of God. There are many pastors who can decide to do rituals with a human skull and still claim to be a pastor. I am talking of a child of God’. However, clarifying the statement which he made at the event organised by New Era Nigeria, Olaniyan said he did not speak for the church but for himself”.
Bunkum! Is this pastor a baby, an illiterate or is he, I beg your pardon, daft? After all the controversy that trailed the birth of the organisation that he heads and over the same issue on which he opened his mouth too wide, confirming in the process the apprehension of skeptics and rubbishing the assurances given by Daddy G. O – how can this pastor, if he has a modicum of self-worth left in him, stay in office a minute longer than the moment he made the offending statement? He said he spoke for himself; no, he should have spoken for the whole world! Tell him to tell his cock-and-bull story to the Marines! Maybe those ones will believe him! If Pastor Olaniyan did not know, sitting in and pissing in is what he did. He has made his position tenuous and his continued stay in office insufferable. He has to quit and can then continue to exercise his fundamental human rights of being Osinbajo or anyone else’s campaign manager. This is not even to ask, judging by what we have seen with our naked eyes, whether Pastor Olaniyan’s preferred candidate has also not been sucked into the fiery furnace of Nigeria’s money-for-votes politics!
In conclusion: More than any commitment to person or persons, Pastor Adeboye – I respectfully call your name, Daddy – has the overarching duty and responsibility, which must not be shirked, to protect the integrity of the RCCG without electing to do nothing – God forbid! – about his own personal reputation, image and good name that took him decades of hard work, toil, blood and sweat to build. Pastor Adeboye said – and everyone heard him – that the Office of the Directorate of Politics and Governance was not any politician’s campaign outpost; the head of that office proceeding afterwards to campaign for Osinbajo rubbishes Daddy. Olaniyan’s effrontery cannot, therefore, be allowed to stand!