Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Who is afraid of Oyedepo? By Victor Ehikhamenor

Published:

Victor Ehikhamenor

Every week, pundits, columnists, bloggers, “twitterists” and  so-called intellectuals sink their teeth into an issue like dog on a ragdoll.

This past week, it was on the news of a new airline by Bishop Oyedepo, the super rich preacher of wealth and hope. And there is barely any man of God that heats up Nigerians more than when Oyedepo lifts his finger or slap somebody. Old and budding atheists, Nigeria’s Christopher Hitchens and Tai Solarin wannabes set their eyes on the man and he never fails to deliver; no pun intended.

And each time Oyedepo pulls a business stunts, it’s interesting how we do a crazed puppet dance, some praising him while more yell ‘crucify him’ for enriching himself with his followers’ money. And may I quickly remind you that every ten minutes you spend discussing Oyedepo is 10% removed from an hour of other things you were supposed to be doing, that is tithe. That’s beside the point, I just want to scratch the surface of how Oyedepo is not the problem.

As much as I do not subscribe to sleazy men/women and con-artists posing as men of God to steal from the unsuspecting and not contributing anything to society, I think Oyedepo as a bishop should be studied differently. If we want to really be forward thinking, universities and business schools should fashion courses after this man and have him teach his business model of how he gathered a large audience and monetize it successfully. What else can be said of a man who sells hope to millions the way MTN sells airtime. And as much as he has been on the news, I am yet to see anyone come forward to accuse Oyedepo of holding a gun to his or her head to pay tithe and offering.

For those “crucify him” critic, have you ever thought about the fact that  Oyedepo is just filling gaping vacuums after vacuums that are there in our society. Let’s start with the latest news  of his proposed Dominion Airline. When he bought his private jets, people almost set themselves on fire in protest: how can a man of God be riding private jets, while his poor followers trek from Umuahia to Badagry. Now that he has decided to open an airline for public use, the outcry has changed to his followers can’t afford air tickets. Since when did air travelling become the mode of transportation for all Nigerians? Oyedepo is one of the smartest businessmen in the country right now and that leads me to the next question, if there was any government owned airline operational and flourishing, do you think he would venture into that business?

Before the airline, it was about Covenant University been too expensive and unaffordable for some members of his church. I have no idea how good the university is, but good education is not that cheap anywhere in the world. So he might be charging appropriately for it so he can run it and not have it go to the dogs like our federal and state owned universities. And the next question again is, if government owned universities were well funded with our petro-dollar and tax payers money, will Oyedepo, been the savvy business man that he is, think of starting a university? Same goes for his Faith Academy, the secondary school arm of his educational business. Every time a stone is thrown at this man, take a look at the rot in our institutions and ministries created by thieving past and present leaders.

And that leads us to the next issue of Oyedepo condoning all kinds of fraudulent Nigerians. For those who say politicians pay tithe to Oyedepo’s church with stolen money, don’t you think we should alert EFCC, ICPC and other moribund, God forsaken, money guzzling, non-working, toothless bulldog corruption fighting apparatuses set in place? I think we should actually all commend Oyedepo for helping us recuperate some of our stolen money and reinvesting it in the Nigeria economy.

If  it is true that our slimy politicians pay tithes and offerings in Winners Chapel, is it not better for us to not have them hide that 10% in overhead water tanks while unemployment sink it’s teeth further into Nigerians? I  would rather a pastor create employment locally than a crooked politician carting money away to an unknown Swiss bank account. If all the mega pastors in Nigeria re-invest their profit in the country, we will have a working society.

Pastors have thrived where elected leaders fail us. Many Nigerians have tuned out from their president (both past and present), and turned to the prophet of hope. Even the president himself has gone to prostrate before a man of  God in search of the hope that has eluded us in the face of depravity.  And when we run the Oyedepos of this world out of town, then we would really feel the wrath of the dispossessed and displaced as we have seen in some other parts of the country.

Today, I will play Pontius Pilate in this unfolding drama of ‘crucify him’ not because Bishop Oyedepo is my pastor or I am afraid of his legendary slap but because he is a man we should borrow a playbook from to be winners in moving this country forward.

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