‘We have made our stand known to government that the church is a spiritual entity’
Reverend Felix Omobude Is The National President Of Pentecostal Fellowship Of Nigeria (PFN) And General Superintendent Of Gospel Light International Ministries (GLIM) A.K.A New Covenant Gospel Church. He spoke on the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) of Nigeria (FRCN) Act that removed the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye and other related issues.
Why the controversy over the law that removed Pastor Adeboye, as the General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God?
The controversy only came to the public after Pastor Adeboye resigned his position as the General Overseer of RCCG Nigeria, but the controversy had been on, because we met the former President Jonathan on the issue. We have articulated our position on the FRC, as it were, on a number of occasions. It is just that our voices were not heard.
Why the uproar now that the law is being implemented, and not when it was made?
We have made our stand known to government and the regulatory body. We are not opposed to government carrying out its official duties. We are not opposed to laws for good governance of the state. We are only concerned that there seems to be a spirit of vendetta in the pursuit of this law.
We have made our stand known to government through the appropriate agency, that church is a spiritual entity. While we live in this world subject to the laws of the land, it is not for them to tell the church who to hire or fire. It is a call from God; I think they went too far.
But why was there no controversy, when the same law was applied in the removal of some bank chief executives?
I don’t know anything about how chief executive officers of those banks were hired. I don’t know the law that governs their activities, but the church was registered under a law called CAMA and the law that registered us is open. It didn’t involve all these. The law under which a non-profit organisation is registered is not the same law with which banks and companies get registered.
It seems the controversy trailing Adeboye’s exit was orchestrated by other church GOs, who are afraid that the same fate will befall them…
You journalists can be funny. Were the other leaders there, when Pastor Adeboye took the decision? When he announced it, we heard through the media what had happened. The media is the chief driver of all these things. Why is the media trying to rope in other people? I have not heard that any of them spoke anything or whatever. Why would you people say they are the people driving the controversy? The media heard it and blew it and people are reacting.
There is no truth about that, and let me make it abundantly clear, the church of Jesus Christ will continue to thrive. While we appreciate laws that curb excesses, please let people stay away from the internal affairs of any local organisation. The church belongs to God and the organogram comes from heaven, from God before it gets to the Pastors and then members. It’s not ruled from the bottom, unlike democracy.
It is Theocracy. Someone had a vision, which informed establishment of the church, and someone is driving the vision. You don’t wake up and ask people for an act of government to say bring X, Y, Z from a particular company to come and lead the church. You don’t do that.
We have nothing to be afraid of. The church will continue, but government comes and goes, just like regulations. If you go into history, people fought against the church, and did everything, some governments made laws, but the Bible is still on. I want to stress that we respect the laws of the land, but every attempt to pry into our freedom of worship will be resisted.
Are you not worried that you may be affected?
No, I have nothing to worry about. I’m aware I won’t be on planet Earth forever, but the church will continue. Many founders or church leaders are gone, but the church is still going on and that is the way it is. It is not government’s duty to tell us who should be the leaders of our churches.
If church founders are sincere and open, why are they afraid of leaving at a point in their service?
Afraid of what? We are not afraid of anything. I am for the PFN’s stand. For accountability, the government has right to set a template, because people contribute to the church. I agree that government has the right to ask the church and those working in the church to pay taxes. I pay my personal income tax, and I have the receipts. We have schools and all our workers pay taxes. If government wants to look into our books, we will present them. But concerning who rules the church and the tenure of church leadership, the government doesn’t have such right. They should leave us alone.
Why the personalisation of the church as a family business?
If you read your Bible, why is it that the priesthood was exclusive to the family of Aaron? Why is it that kings in the Bible produced kings? Those are questions you should ask. I am not saying if a General Overseer passes on, somebody automatically from his family should assume his position. It doesn’t work that way, but it does not preclude someone from the General Overseer’s family, who has a call. It should not be thrown away, just because he came from the family, and that’s our stand. At any point such vacancies occur, and in most cases the leadership should have groomed many people around him that are capable. So, at the point of exit, the existing leadership sits down, they know what is good for the entire ministry, both locally and internationally, so they take a decision, which is not done by legislation.
How do you mean churches as family business? In what way? So, because I founded New Covenant Gospel Church, does it make it Omobude and Co? It does not. I am an employee of the church and by the act through which we are registered; we have a Board of Trustees and a constitution, which we follow. I agree that there might be some excesses somewhere, but people should not make sweeping statements on this issue. It is not anybody’s business, if a General Overseer has a family member, who has been called to serve God, someone who has been there and understands the passion and vision of the ministry and after the GO passed on, the Eldership and the Trustees of the church, who are not all members of the family decide that he should take over, must he/she be excluded?
Are you in support of President Buhari’s sack of Jim Obazee of FRC, and the suspension of the law?
Our faith forbids us to rejoice at the calamity of anybody. We don’t rejoice that a young man has lost his job, but we also do know that Jim Obazee was an employee of the Federal Government, which has the right to employ and sack. We only wish he listened to us, when we cried to him. The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) welcomes the decision by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to suspend the Corporate Governance Code issued by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), one of the parastatals under its supervisions, pending what it calls “a detailed review, extensive consultation with stakeholders and reconstitution of the board of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria.”
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) had consistently expressed its concern at the non-inclusive process that brought about the code and the all-pervasive nature of it, especially as it relates to activities of the not-for-profit sector, whose activities are already regulated by provisions of the law under which they were registered.
The PFN had maintained that in view of the inability on the part of the Financial Reporting Council to achieve the necessary buy-in from concerned stakeholders on the code of governance and address legitimate concerns raised by many, it was wrong for it to have proceeded to enforce its implementation.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria notes the concern among many with respect to portions of the suspended Code interpreted by some to have limited the tenure of Pastors and other Spiritual leaders. We are confident that all the contentious issues will be reviewed under the process ordered by the Government. While the PFN respects the right of the appropriate government agency to make laws for the good of all, PFN states emphatically that it will not sleep on its rights, especially as they affect our freedom of worship.
The PFN appeals for calm, restraint and understanding on the part of all Christians and for continued prayers for the year 2017 to be one of greater peace and prosperity for all Nigerians.
Was the sack not a confirmation that the Presidency has succumbed to the pressure from the Christendom, especially the Pentecostal wing?
The Presidency should be asked whether its action is tantamount to succumb. When Pastor Adeboye resigned, he did not appeal to the Presidency, he only announced it in his church. I believe that government must be a government of the people and they have the right to do what they want to do. The church has not carried placards, or made any presentation to government on the issue.