national-ecumenical-centre-abuja
National Ecumenical Centre Abuja

There is a great anger against Churches and Pastors in Nigeria. It started from tithes – exploded by Daddy Freeze – extending to everything else.

Take it or leave it, that anger is understandable. But just like anyone could have predicted, the anger became muddled, resulting in an online church, foolish rants and so many baseless blame games.

Few days ago, gunmen stormed a Church in Benue State, killed close to twenty people including priests. The attack was barbaric, causing nationwide shock. But it was expected that the President, Commander-In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the State Governor, Chief Security Officer of the State, would take urgent and forceful actions – but they didn’t seem to. Rather than direct immense anger at them, the Church hate squad said Pastors did not do anything. Really!

It is easy to cast blames if you have hate in your heart. Even if Pastors fulminated, lobbied authorities and went there, they don’t have the political and military power for necessary security actions. But they should at least go or speak or do something. Almost all major Pastors have at a time spoken out against killings of Christians, and some visited, but how far could speaking or visits go? If they had spoken, some would have said do something else, in the end, the Church hate groupies want to make hypocrites of Pastors.

Tithing is a freewill contribution in a place you go of your own volition, voluntary/voluntary. In recent years with springing of new models of Churches, it is so easy to change Church. Some Churches use envelopes; you can return it empty if you don’t want to give – tithes or offerings. But a truth is you either believe, or you don’t. You want to be a Christian – you do, you don’t want – you quit. Or you come back when you need it or when you’re ready.

“But without faith [it is] impossible to please God”. Daddy Freeze and company wants everything in black-and-white. To believe, they want to see. The first temptation in the Bible was successful in part, because of confusion, did God really say? They fell, but tempting Jesus, He refused to be confused by the author of confusion and disorder.
No need grumbling behind feeling you are cheated or robbed, when it was you who went there yourself and put your money. Don’t pay tithes because you don’t believe, but if others did and you say they are brainwashed, then you are a confused person, aimlessly agitating over personal decision of others.

Daddy Freeze said speaking in tongues in Nigeria is fake, and that because one prophesy has not come to pass means all the Pastor says is wrong. There were delayed or cancelled prophecies in the Bible. Genuine Christians, like the apostles, can speak in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.

In any industry, or sector, when a leader has a large following, that leader or star, or famous person will likely become rich and have access to luxury. Majority of fans can be poor, in part, because majority of the country is poor, but there are rich fans too, high paying events, endorsements, bonuses, support fund, gratitude payment, etc. For a second, we can spread the argument of Pastors are rich and members are poor – everywhere else: movies stars are rich, majority of cinemagoers are in debt; Fast moving consumer goods executives are rich, most of their consumers are poor; some state governments – north or south – are really rich, many of their indigenes are so poor; Bet and Lotto owners are rich, (fill in the gap); Emirs, Sultans and Imams are immensely wealthy (oh, oh, sorry!).

Daddy Freeze wants to make Church members hate prosperity, or plant confusion so that whatever progress is made in Church or whatever the pastor acquires will be viewed as church members money, so that Christians will feel cheated. Not everyone is poor, and genuine prosperity for Pastors or members is not a bad thing.

Prosperity or poverty is not the essence of being a genuine Christian or a true Pastor. Poverty may be the biggest problem in Nigeria, but it is not the mission of the Church to taper it. So if a true pastor is lucky to get gifts from righteous members or non-members who genuinely made money, great, if they support the work too, great!
But rich or poor, if you do not have or have faith in giving to the Church, ignore, and if possible don’t go there again.

Do Churches in Nigeria, especially the massive ones, need changes and adjustments? The answer is ‘Yes’. Is there an urgent need for journalists across Nigeria to reform journalism in Nigeria? Yes. Banks too? Yes. Universities; Church or not, federal or state, too? Yes. Medical sector, housing, entertainment, technology, electricity, water, agriculture, roads, transportation and everything else? Yes.

There have been powerful investigative journalism work reporting corruption in Nigeria, but they have not made lasting impact. Reporting corruption makes no difference and does not move people, so is it irrelevant, or do journalists have to find new ways to do their work to make a difference? I say ‘Yes’.

Every sector you look not under the direct power of government can do something about themselves and how they can better develop Nigeria. But some people will say there is already Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); sorry but there is no passionate CSR in Nigeria for development. It is, maybe, CSR with resentment, just like government projects. Do it and abandon it, don’t do better next time. Repeat same after two years, four years – somewhere else. Passionless CSR is mostly limited; building of schools, renovation of libraries, building of hospitals, fixing of bad roads, etc., by churches or others is hardly impactful.

All entertainment or sports sponsorship – for CSR – also pass for marketing, so they are not useful development CSR. Billboard message by Asian car companies in Nigeria for road safety is not CSR.

All major organizations in Nigeria should have what can translate to National Development Unit, so they have passionate projects for National Development of Nigeria and continue to improve on it. No exemption, so long they have staff above a hundred strong, there should be that Unit. A start-up can monitor their work; collect reports from individuals on who is doing what or who is not doing what etc.

That way, the Church, universities, energy companies, telecommunications, etc. can contribute to development in Nigeria. There is an Asian smartphone company that sells units, in the millions to Nigeria and Africa; what have they done? Aside noise on the street and blue painted shops? Bet and Lotto companies, what have they done too? There are so many of them like that. [Oh, Churches!]. Also, is playing bet or lotto brainwashing?

All the true churches in Nigeria should have Suggestion Offering Sundays. To get from members suggestions and letters on what the church should be doing. There will be some out-of-line suggestions, but there will also be really thoughtful ones to make a difference for the Churches of GOD.

The same applies to Nigeria. To develop, Nigeria needs 100 – 500 great ideas, collected from an open entry, where up to 5 million submissions are received. There will be repetition and zero submissions but there will be thoughtful ones, which will be pursued. Corruption may not let some ideas thrive, but ideas and projects that will excel in spite of corruption will be prioritized.

There will be slow progress projects and there will be fast-paced ones. The slow progress and small impact ones will not be focused much on, or must be changed and iterated, so that no one wastes time – going in circles.

Governments are powerful and have the most resources. How will they become more functional, more useful and more helpful? Don’t just suggest technology, or national conference, or true federalism, or all the things that have not done much since. But bring all your ideas into the suggestion database, towards how Nigeria will grow.
This can be coordinated from outside the government as well. So there is something to hold on to and pursue, not just voting, or PVC, or one very arrogant candidate, or one idle one, or say all, without any public passion revolutionary projects since, all of a sudden – Presidency.

When the Church begins to reform as with National development unit, Daddy Freeze may want to take credit, but that will make him, like several of his teachings, a false prophet. It is not his idea. He only hates Churches. He suggests nothing – only negativity and sees everything true Churches embark on as wrong.

Part of the changes the Church may also make is to change some of the ways instructions are passed. Not everyone believes the Almighty GOD like the General Overseer, not everyone has faith like true Pastors, so sometimes, if some people don’t come to certain realization themselves, they become disgruntled. For this reason, it is advisable for men of God to let followers know nobody is compelling them to do certain things. Tell the followers, “If you are not convinced, don’t give, and don’t become a worker” – make it known to them.

Some genuine workers understand they have business with the Almighty GOD, so a local pastor or anyone may behave or not, they focus on Jesus. It was said “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”.

Nigerians in several countries around the world are desperate for asylum. In Nigeria, the condition for Nigerians is bad, abroad for many same, it does not seem there is any foundation laid for progress that will be reaped in a half decade or beyond. Remember, no foundations for development were laid in the 70s, 80s and 90s and 2000s, now this.
But today the focus is church hate, Pastors Pharisee, pastors wrong, etc. All these attention debates hold nothing significant for development projects needed in Nigeria. Some marriages are in a crisis, they are getting help from the Church. Government has no major rehab centres, but Churches are helping many.

If Redeem Church gave a third of their parishes earnings to the government, corruption will take over all the places given; because governments are currently not doing any useful programs, or facilitating SMEs, to need spaces, so what is the point? How about others organizations too?

The States in Nigeria where the most beggars come from have state governments and state governors, some of those states have few Churches, and so would we blame the Church too for them?

Nigeria needs serious help. Underdevelopment of Nigeria is an emergency; everyone should play a smart part for development. Even as there is no development yet, this kind of thinking, pointing fingers at the wrong place shows Nigeria is not a serious country, at all, to develop.

How come only Presidency is the focus of leadership in Nigeria? Not governors or senators or reps or others? Mace was taken, distraction took the country. Dino Melaye arrested – distraction. Entertainment and sports – are distraction. Bet and Lotto games – false hope. Daddy Freeze – confusion, distraction, distortion, backwardness, despair, cheap, negativity, and hate. State governments are mostly doing nothing; instead some will say Churches are the problem, not governors. Nigeria is now comfortable with young men of internet fraud wealth, but to some the future or lack of it is not the problem, it is Church Parishes that are to be blamed. If you criticize true churches and pastors alone – which is so unfair – listen to yourself and measure how smart, look at your choices, look at your influence, look at the country and rate yourself.

– An opinion piece by Nneka Okumazie