Men of God or priests of Hermes?

Clem Oluwole

Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, stirred the hornet’s nest the other day when he admonished church leaders to expose and/or shun corrupt elements in their congregations. The erudite professor of law, himself a pastor, just told us all that is in the public domain. So, he did not just choose the occasion of this year’s Father’s Day to shout wolf where there is none. In fact, there are ravenous wolves gnawing at the body of Christ everywhere in Nigeria.

At first, I kept my cool because I did not want to be dragged into the issue. All I know is that the learned professor spoke the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. However, my prayer is: May God help the congregants of the body of Christ which many new generation pastors have turned into the den(s) of thieves to know the truth and do the truth that would set them free from the bondage they have found themselves in without even knowing it.

However, I lost my cool when the Director of Legal and Public Affairs of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kwamkur Samuel, in an interview with the Punch published on June 25, this year, declared that the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was trying to distract Nigerians from his government’s glaring inability to fight graft. He was right in a way. If the Buhari administration had extended the probe tentacles to the body of Christ which has been tarred with the brush of sleaze in the build-up to the 2015 general elections, most of the leaders would have by now been serenading like canaries in the cage of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

You have not forgotten (have you?) that it was the immediate past governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi, who first blew the whistle over the alleged sharing of a whopping sum of N7bn by the leaders of CAN and PFN or Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. Later, an insider, Kallamu Musa-Dikwa, a pastor based in Borno, echoed the incredible sound of the whistle.

Then, not too long after the general elections, another insider and the Archbishop in charge of the Enugu Province of the Anglican Communion, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, emerged with a threat to open the CAN of worms, insisting that it was high time anti-graft agencies swooped on these wolves in sheep’s clothing whose god is their belly.

Dr. Chukwuma had questioned the integrity of the leaderships of CAN and PFN, saying the two influential bodies had soiled their hands in the murky water of politics and must be ready to face the consequences.

The Archbishop said he had credible information to the effect that prominent members of the two associations benefitted from the controversial $2.1bn fund meant for arms purchase and would soon be named and shamed.

He noted that when Christian leaders and members of the powerful Christian bodies begin to visit offices of anti-graft agencies for probe over the sharing of slush funds, over which Dasuki and other beneficiaries are being dragged all over the place,  the integrity of such “men of God” and the associations they belong to would be questioned.

He said Nigerians would be shocked to the marrows when the anti-graft agencies begin to entertain them with the names of prominent members of the CAN and PFN and the amount they collected under the guise of rendering “spiritual consultancy” to the then government of the day.

However, it is close to a year now that the vocal archbishop issued the threat. And he has not made good the threat. Two things must have happened: either he is searching for a tin cutter to open the CAN of worms. If that is the case, let the archbishop see me. I have dozens of tin cutters here. Or the CAN leadership of which the Anglican system is a strong partner has threatened him with expulsion if he spills the worms.

The legal adviser made some desperate attempts to defend his association. Space will not permit me to recall them but the one that amused me was his argument that the allegation was baseless and that Christianity was under persecution on account of an admonition coming from someone who is not only a Christian Acting President but also a fellow ordained pastor. What would he have said if Buhari were the one that spoke?

How I wish it was Pastor Tunde Bakare, the founder of the Latter Rain Assembly, that was privy to the CAN of worms. He would have spilt the worms! Bakare is neither a CAN nor a PFN member. So pissed off was he with the leaderships of the two bodies that he once described the PFN leaders as Pentecostal rascals!

Most of the churches in Nigeria especially the new generation ones do not belong to the body of Christ as they claim. Rather, they belong to the body of Hermes! The Pentecostal system has morphed to the money-spinning arm of the body of Christ. Statistics have revealed that of the over N4trn circulating within the church system, which is more than half of Nigeria’s annual budget, about 90 per cent of it, I make bold to say, belongs to the Pentecostal system. And by the way, who is Hermes? Hermes is the Greek god of COMMERCE, INVENTION, CUNNING and, wait for it, THEFT.

Having been well schooled by Hermes, his priests in turn transform their churches to COMMERCIAL enterprises, where they INVENT all manner of programmes and CUNNINGLY rob their gullible followers of their hard-earned possessions such as landed property, cars, businesses through sowing of seeds (akin to lottery) in exchange for miracles and more breakthroughs with questionable origins. These are the hallmarks of Hermes. Under Hermes’ watch, there are no free prayers. You have to sow a seed or make a pledge.

During the OBJ era, a cashier fiddled with his employer’s account and ferried N30m as donation to one of the top-flight Pentecostal pastors based in Lagos. He did not question the source of the huge cash coming from an ordinary cashier. When they were found out, the pastor was asked to return the booty but he bluntly refused, insisting that he had already passed the loot to God. He lied… even against God! However, when security operatives breathed down his neck, he turned to Hermes, retrieved the sleaze and handed it over to them. The drama was widely reported in the media.

Also during the Jonathan regime, a high profile political appointee bought two armoured cars valued at N30m each. He kept one for himself and gave the other one to his (Pentecostal) pastor here in Abuja. The priest of Hermes collected the gift, bombarded the (corrupt) giver with prayers and added it to his fleet of cars competing for space in his expansive compound. What else do you call these gestures? So long as church leaders encourage the practice through preaching and collection of filthy lucre, such guided missiles like the one fired by the Acting President Osinbajo would continue to fly in their directions.

I can go on and on but I am constrained by the limited space here. Methinks the government should unleash the anti-graft agencies over the Amaechi/Kallamu/Chukwuma allegations. It would help to separate the men of God from the priests of Hermes and force Samuel to eat his humble pie.

It is so sad to note that Pentecost, from where the money-making arm derived their names, has lost its true meaning. This has led to the flight of the Holy Spirit from most latter-day churches!

Finally, let me state here that some Pentecostal and orthodox churches doing the right things the right ways still exist in our midst. But those ones are like a needle in a haystack.

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