What role should clerics play in Nigeria’s political environment? – Tola Adenle

April 4, 2015


First published on this blog on April 7, 2011 as:

Nigerian clerics are already at it again: want citizens to prepare for rigged elections! – Tola Adenle


“Let us pray that Nigerians will accept whatever the outcome of the elections is”, a Nigerian man of God exhorted last Sunday.

Last Sunday, the first votes had hardly been cancelled and re-vote days fixed when a pastor made above supplication to God at a non-pentecostal church.

Born and raised a Christian, I knew the man could not have been making a supplication to the God of equity and justice that Christians worship. It was almost enough to make an unbeliever of a Christian. While the likes of retired Bishop Gbonigi of the Anglican faith and Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie of the Catholic faith represent a dying breed, most Nigerian clerics these days are arrayed with those in power against the masses. I am sure God cannot accept that kind of prayer because, among many reasons, it is a prayer for evil. And to preach docility put that pastor in the same class of Nigerians’ oppressors as Saburi Bankole, speaker of the House of Representatives who put Nigeria’s woes at the feet of a “docile followership”. Why would a pastor lead this kind of evil prayer? It must apparently be for the same reason that a top cleric announced after the General Obasanjo charade of 2007 that “Soyinka never sees anything good in government”.

During American slavery, the clergy was firmly on the side of the slave owners and sermons were tailored towards letting enslaved Africans believe the institution was God-ordained and total obedience and docility would guarantee them heaven. Well, this may not be the 17th or 18th Century America but 21st Century Nigerian clerics seem not much different.Justice and equity are the only criteria that can lead to peace.

After the last general elections in 2007, however, the role of pastors – old churches and Pentecostal – was worse than disgraceful. The Anglicans, Methodists and Baptists were in the forefront of urging that Nigerians accept the evil of rigging. Of course, no one expects preachers to go on pulpits and preach war, violence, etcetera but the following excerpts from the words and acts of church leaders in 2007 are in line with the new submissiveness and docility being prayed for by a pastor. He could have acted alone, though.

As there were very close similarities in the communiqués of the three churches in 2007 and they were issued within a day or so apart, I wondered aloud in one of my rested NATION Sunday essays if there was cooperation in drafting them! Here are a few of the Baptists’ incredible assessment of what the whole world did not see as elections: “We must thank God for answering the prayers of His people all over the nation, particularly members of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, who sought God’s face regarding the recent elections. So many foreign nationals and some of us here were skeptical about our ability to organise and hold elections … We must thank God that in spite of the various short-comings in our political dispensation, and of the recent elections, Nigeria has proved to the entire world that we are getting out of political aberrations; …We therefore salute the resolve of the INEC to keep the faith with the nation, in spite of their short-comings and inadequacies…” The Church also embraced its own: “We must put on record that the Nigerian Baptist Convention is proud of one of our distinguished members, outgoing President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. There is no doubt that the Lord has used him greatly to bless our dear country. We must commend him for his dogged spirit and deep devotion to the Nigerian project; the spirit that endeared him to put his very best these past eight years. We are thankful to God that in spite of his weaknesses and short-comings, he scored a high mark as a leader who loves Nigeria … He has been used of the Lord to lay a solid foundation for the democratic process …”

The Methodists also praised Obasanjo “for fighting corruption and empowering women and youth.” Perhaps not forgetting its real goal, the Church asked Nigerians to “trust the judgement of the tribunals as the nation’s judiciary has proved that it is above board.” I wonder what Dr. Makinde, who intoned these words back then would now say about rigged-in governors who spent over seven years in power, or about those who got away with the crime, no thanks to a judiciary that saw to the dismantling of justice purportedly for fat fees at the same tribunals that the retired Prelate glowingly recommended.

Theapparent position of Anglicans was stated by the Bishop of Egba Diocese, Rt. Rev. Matthew Owadayo who reportedly agreed that “there were some fraud and irregularities” but chided Buhari and Atiku not to be “desperate” but “to accept the victory of Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua as the will of God” and the losses “as an act of God.” The Bishop did not stop there. He reportedly said it was Yar Adua’s “manifestoes” that won him the election!

The 2011 that Bishop Owadayo counseled was around the corner back in ’07 when the combatants would get chances to win voters based on so-called manifestoes is here now but the monster of election manipulation seems all grown beyond controllable, ready to trample all in its path. The odds of the elections being free and fair are very slim. Opponents of the ruling PDP have their campaign posters defaced or removed; their paid political jingles are rejected by media owned by state governments all across the country and such candidates are denied the use of public buildings or grounds even though these should be available either for fees or free to all in the state. A greater ominous sign of the impending doom that these elections may lead to is the assassinations and blood-letting that have characterized the campaign period.

What role should churches and other faiths play in situations like these? As the first votes are waiting to be cast and counted, shouldn’t churches be in the forefront – if they want to take a stand – of warning those in power the dangers that lie ahead IF the elections are rigged again instead of issuing sermons that ask Nigerians to lie down and roll over to die at the approach of the marauding rigging machines?


FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2015. 12:05 a.m. [GMT]

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5 Comments on “What role should clerics play in Nigeria’s political environment? – Tola Adenle”

  1. Naijamum Says:

    Nigerian clerics have no doubt left us confused.

    I can speak for the Christian clerics whose body language, acts and speeches do not follow the prophets ( Elijah was a good example) of old in the Bible. They have however succeeded in putting us in check with the Bible instruction of ‘Touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm’ 1 Chronicles 16.22. If you disagree with their position, you cannot object publicly, or you would most likely be ostracized from the church. The best you can do is to express your disagreement among your close friends and family members



    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Naijamum,

      Thank you very much for this contribution.

      I think it’s this kind of fear – or reticence – to “touch not” God’s “anointed” that has made these mostly men of Nigeria’s god stronger and bolder in demanding more and more of their followers’ obedience. We must never forget that just about all these “pastors”, to use the generic Nigerian name, anoint themselves. They OWN churches – which are entrepreneurship undertakings, anyway – that answer to none but unfortunately, the corruption in the land and the poverty of the people have rendered our people so prostrate that they believe a “pastor” will help solve their financial problems. They merely snatch the little the followers have on the promised premise that God would rain blessings on them. Their sermons skew the Bible to suit their purpose.

      In Nigeria today, the richest people are found among politicians, “pastors” and top civil servants, all of whom work in tandem to trample the masses while maintaining stupendous lifestyles. Why would the head of a church need jets – yeah, multiple – to minister to his members the majority of whom live hand-to-mouth, and what contributions do these so-called churches make to the improvement of their members’ lives?

      The major Pentecostal churches run private high schools and universities: Adeboye’s Redeemed; Oyedepo’s Winners, etc. I’m not aware that the kids of their followers have special reduced rates even though these institutions were founded with funds contributed by church members. Neither am I aware of social contributions that these churches make to the under-privileged in society.

      On the other hand, we see these men wine and dine with different leaders, including the despicable act of one of them, Oritsejeafor, whose plane was found reportedly to smuggle $9.3 million to South Africa for Jonathan who was not the first to be close to one of these pastors.

      As for being afraid to speak out, I know it is difficult to be socially ostracized but if one is not pleased with goings-on in a church as most of them are run like cults where you either belong or you are out, I believe it may be easier on one’s mind to just walk away and join a mainstream church which may have a few problems and “dull worship” – in the words of most young people – than stay where you do not belong.


      Liked by 1 person


      • Naijamum Says:

        The consolation most of us have is that ‘God sees our heart ‘and that God does not need any help, He can deal with them if He deems fit.


      • emotan77 Says:

        Dear Naijamum,

        As long as one can live with the choices one has made, all is well. God sees our hearts, you are very correct.

        Thanks, and my regards,

        Liked by 1 person


  1. Obit: Mrs. Ebun Gbonigi, wife of Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, goes home – Tola Adenle | emotanafricana.com - May 22, 2016

    […] What role should clerics play in Nigeria’s political environment? – Tola Adenle […]


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