The business and men of God – Part 2
Continued from yesterday
Then how come so many of our religious leaders have their own planes? The Pope flies Alitalia; the Archbishop of Canterbury, flies BA, as the Queen, who is the head of the established Church of England does. What is it in the Nigerian that pressurises him to these measures? When I asked these questions someone rebuffed me by asking, why not? I could not answer him objectively: I just said that it did not feel right for a pastor to own planes, it smacks of a love for filthy lucre. All hell broke loose: I was called Lucifer for merely raising a question. Did I not know that God’s work was not to be impeded by mere inconveniences like flying on scheduled airlines; the work being done was so serious and the money of the Church so transparently collected, how dared I question its disbursement?
I said that I thought Lucifer was a woman, a fallen angel, etc. I received even greater abuse; my soul was due for eternal damnation. On the question of Lucifer being a woman, I was impaled as a misogynist. When I said that in fact the traditional deity of the Ijaws was actually a woman, Akaso, so I could not possibly be a misogynist. My audience was aghast that I was now even an idol worshipper – Akaso is never represented by any physical object, probably Africa’s first and only belief in a formless monotheistic deity, ( not unlike the Jewish – Yahweh – the Word). Under this heavy barrage, I had to confess to my audience that all may not be lost for my soul. I have four pastors in my household, my wife and three sons. Would that be enough? No!! The matter was a personal one – no substitutes.
A conversation between a Muslim religious leader, an Imam, a Jewish religious leader, a Rabbi, a Christian Reverend and a Nigerian Evangelist leader – on what they do with contributions from the congregations went like this:
Reverend: “After collecting the Sunday offerings, I draw a line on the floor and throw all the money up in the air. Any money which falls north of the line belongs to God, anyone which falls south belongs to me.”
The Mullah: “I draw a circle (he did not say how big the circle was) I throw the money collected after the Friday prayers up. Any money which falls inside the circle belongs to God, anyone which falls outside the circle belongs to me”.
The Rabbi: “I throw the money collected after the Sabbath service up towards the sky. Any money which God wants he takes while the money is in the air. Any money which falls down belongs to me.”
The Nigerian Pentecostal Evangelist: “I throw the money up. Any money up in the air may be blown away by my plane. Anyone which falls on the ground is taken by me. But because God has sent me on a special mission to save Nigerians and because he knows how difficult that task is, all the three of you, Reverend, Imam, Rabbi who have one day a week for worship – Sunday, Friday, Saturday respectively – on the other hand, I have 24 hours a day call, 365 days a year; so I have a programme everyday; repeated periods of fasting, demon demolition weeks, Spiritual Revolution days, continuous retreats, first fruit days, washing with the blood of Jesus days, Holy Ghost fire days, witchcraft cleansing days, poverty not your portion and, illness not your portion days, miracle days; youth days, all resulting in establishment of schools, universities, worldwide congregations, television stations and appearances – at all these events I collect money on behalf of God to build churches and buy planes. I am God’s accountant, treasurer and beneficiary on Earth. God is not a Poor God. There are a lot more I cannot tell you because the devil is busier in Nigeria than anywhere else. Every day he brings in many problems; and I have to meet the devil problem for the problem, bumper for bumper. But I am ready for him.”
I had started this piece acknowledging the greatness of several religions over time in history. The magnificence of that legacy in knowledge – science, medicine, mathematics, astrology, etc. I merely noted that there was a commonality in acquiring massive wealth by all these religions. It would seem that in Nigeria that tradition holds. I hope the new Churches would painstakingly be recording our history, progress, civilisation for future generations to read before Armageddon.
A very wealthy Nigerian couple went to Israel for pilgrimage. Unfortunately, the husband fell ill and died.
The Israelis started making burial arrangements but stopped. They asked the wife whether they should continue and have the husband buried in Israel. The lady said, “No. I will take him home and bury him there. The last time you buried a man here, he woke up after three days”.
• Dr. (Ambassador) Cole is an Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR).