Pastors with private jets an embarrassment, says Bishop Kukah

The acquisition of private jets by Christian leaders diminishes the moral voice of the church in the fight against corruption, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, declared yesterday, the Nation newspaper is reporting.

Mr. Kukah, according to the paper, spoke against the backdrop of the presentation of a private jet to the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, by members of his church during the celebration of his 40th anniversary in the ministry penultimate Saturday.

Bishop Kukah, who was guest speaker at the annual Founder’s Day Anniversary lecture of Providence Baptist Church in Lagos, described exhibition of such opulence by church leaders as embarrassing.

The fiery cleric who spoke on ‘Church and the state in the pursuit of the common good’, said: “The stories of corrupt men and women being given recognition by their churches or mosques as gallant sons and daughters and the embarrassing stories of pastors displaying conspicuous wealth as we hear from the purchases of private jets and so on clearly diminish our moral voice.”

Mr. Kukah, who was represented by the Administrator of Holy Cross Cathedral Lagos, Rev. Monsignor Pascal Nwaezeapu, also expressed displeasure with the perceived closeness of the CAN leadership to the corridors of powers.

He said such alliance will weaken the ability of the church to speak the truth to elected public office holders.

According to him: “CAN has become more visible in relation to national prayer sessions, pilgrimages, alliances with state power and so on.

“Unless we distance ourselves, we cannot speak the truth to power. We cannot hear the wails of the poor and the weak. We should not be seen as playing the praying wing of the party in power.”

He challenged the church to speak against corruption in low and high places, saying such responsibility must never be jettisoned for any reason.

Apart from Orisejafor, other church leaders who own private jets include Founder of Living Faith Ministries, Bishop David Oyedepo; General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye; Founder of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Bishop Mike Okonkwo and Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy Church.


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  • Enemona

    Here comes the real man of God and an astute intellectual. I doff my hat.

    • tata tata

      an embarassment of riches…

    • Monday

      Really. Father Kukah is never known for frivolity and careless statement. But on this one I disagree and considered this as playing to the gallery. I am not sure many so called comentators know how extensively some of these pastors travel to cater for members in other countries. A means of transportation is a means of transportation. Having a car or jet is not necessarily a luxury but a necessity in my opinion. If a man is to make over 160 nations on commercial plane that is a big task. The pope for obvious reason does not even travel that much so may not need a jet as a first class will do. If you calculate how much people spend in a year on flight you will agree it can almost buy you a jet. A man can be hugely corrupt without having a jet.

  • Dr. ADEFIRANYE Adegbenga

    I do not understand why the issue of buying a jet should become an interesting topic among us.We have many other things, more important to discuss and talk about than this ‘JET thing’.
    Corruption is a good topic to discuss though, but we should not attach this with the purchase of JETS.It says a lot about the Country,come and see what is going on in the embassies abroad and you would understand what i am talking about.

    • Enemona

      Buying a jet should not necessarily become an interesting topic but a ‘man-of-god’ buying a jet should become an issue. In a society ravaged by official and non-official corruption this can be seen as a problem.

      The questions to ask is: how was it funded? If it was funded by the church members, how many of the church members consented to such gifts and if it was an individual congregant, what is the source of his/her wealth? It is quite possible that such gifts are obtained from ‘church funds’ – tithes, offerings and other contributions. These funds are meant to contribute towards propagating and ‘doing’ the work of God which, from my little biblical knowledge, does not in any way, involve acquisition of luxuries. If an individual congregant footed the bill, is it not possible that this individual is one of the corrupt public officials pillaging the country, those set of individuals that have, through their actions, thrown millions of helpless Nigerians into poverty? such monies should be condemned as ‘blood money’ and any gift deriving from such wealth should be absolutely rejected. If such gift were accepted, as in the case of the pastors mentioned, it sends a strong message that they accept and welcome corruption and are even complicit themselves.

      On a moral ground, men of God should never live in opulence in the midst of their impoverished followers, that is entirely ‘unchristlike’. The pastors with lots of money should establish schools and hospitals that are affordable to the poor people in the society, just like the earlier missionaries who lived in villages and built schools, hospitals, places of worship, and fed poor people. This is simply the right thing to do since the money, in the first place does not belongs to the men of God, it belongs to the congregation. There are too many people to be fed and catered for. As the money come in, so should men of God continue to give back to the people.

      The need for transportation can be met with cars and commercial airplanes, that argument of need is a lame one. If the Queen of England and the British Prime Minister, despite their heavy commute, do not have private jets then no Nigerian pastor should think about one, it’s simply not needed.

      We are where we are today because we allow so much impunity from our elites. Is the issue of pastors buying private jets to be discussed? Yes, it should be placed in the wider frame of the discourse on corruption, excesses and insensitivity in our society.

      • Peacepreacher

        Your discuss is full of assumptions. Is it not better to cross check your facts first? Why spread hate based on assumptions? If the church members gave under duress or cheerfully or whether the man needs it or not, or should have rejected the gift or not, leave Him who knows everything to judge.
        I agree with you though on the proper use of church funds but this is supposedly not official church funds but individual gifts. Can’t you buy a private jet for your father if you have the means and he needs it?

        • Enemona

          “leave Him who knows everything to judge.” That means no man should be judged, we should all do what we like and let God do the judgement unless you’re saying only non-pastors should be left for judgement.

          In a sane country, an investigation into this gift would be triggered and arrests would be made. Even the person(s) gifting this should be investigated and his/her (their) source(s) of wealth should be verified.

  • You did not add Sam Adeyemi.

    It is high time christians begin to mind how they contribute to church extraneous fundings.

    These people are vagabonds in the name of church leaders. They are not in anyway different from the Governors, NASS members and the thieveing civil servants.

    These profligacy is not different from what ceicelia, Erastus and co did. Afterall, tithes from the rogue transactions of the ex-bankers formed part of the free funds used for most of the reckless spendings.

    Let these people know that they are gradually driving the church in Nigeria to where it is in Europe today, where the man on the street see nothing good about christian faith.

    The pope’s church population is higher than any of the churches lead by these Nigerian rogue in priestly Garb. The Pope is actually the president of a nation in addition to the catholic population across the world. how many jets has he?

    Let the church be the church!

    • Peacepreacher

      Pastor Sam Adeyemi doesn’t own a private jet.

  • tukool

    Pastor Chris Oyakhilome doesn’t own a private jet,so I wonder what his name is doing there. Private jet or not,its God that’ll judge everyone including his pastors. So pls stop critisizing pastors,else u might have to contend with the holy spirit,u worship God in truth & let decide how to deal with those he has appointed to lead his flock.

  • Edo

    The pastors are planning to reach heaven in style. That is why they need jets, even in the face of poverty ravaging their congregations. I hope this explanation would put the controversy to rest.


    The blessings of God, same as justice are for sale in this country.There are too many Oppressors, Manipulators, Conspirators & Pretenders masquerading as apostles, prophets, as G.Os or Bishops in the name of God.They are obviously in league with some of the most corrupt & crooked elements in our polity, obstructing our journey towards transformation & greatness as a nation. Martin Luther King Jnr was a clergy & so was Abanathy, Jesse Jackson, Bishop Desmond Tutu & many others who led the Civil-Rights struggle in their respective countries. Our own “men of God” are engrossed in material acquisition , even more than the politicians . If Ibori had known, he would just have opened a church & those who are being deceived will start to sing about, “touch not my anointed”. I dare say, there is no difference between many self styled men of God & typical Nigeria politicians. Both bear the same fruits, hypocrisy, unbridled greed & lying tongue. Only God knows His men and people, and only Him can say.

  • Please examine Rev Kukah’s claim, which is that:

    “The acquisition of private jets by Christian leaders diminishes the moral voice of the church in the fight against corruption, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, ”

    and the news report:

    “Mr. Kukah, according to the paper, spoke against the backdrop of the presentation of a private jet to the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, by members of his church during the celebration of his 40th anniversary in the ministry penultimate Saturday.”

    And, you will see that there is a logical mismatch.

    1. Pastor Ayo oritsejafor did not acquire this private jet. It was donated to him by members of his church. So, logically, Kuka’s sermon has no relation to him.

    2. Assuming that it the Oritsejafor that truly acquired this private jet, how does that diminish the voice of the church in the fight against corruption?

    3. Is there only one church voice in the fight against corruption or many??? with some passive, some active and some merely onlookers?? while many churches are openly corrupt??

    4. Rev Kukah was very close to ‘powers’ during the regime of Chief Obasanjo. Note that the Obasanjo tenure is claimed to be a very corrupt tenure. Just today, the Vanguard Newspaper reported that Obasanjo collected the Halliburton bribes. Did that closeness diminish the power of the church in the fight against corruption?

  • Kaka

    Jobless people.

  • Oladimeji Olaposi

    Leave them alone, let’s watch their ends. I think the pastors and the Alfas (is there any yet?) are into Jetting business to designate that all is well with the country’s 99.999% poor population. I am sure none of them is aware of the everlasting and painful dooms that awaits them here and there, although they preach of it.

  • alfdu

    How rich are the members of his church to have bought him a private jet while some of the members of the church are wallowing in object poverty? Though some of the churches today are PLCs. The EFCC and ICPC should come in to equally investigate our clergy men. Anyway at the end, everyone will give an account of his stewardship.

  • Peacepreacher

    There’s so much bitterness in this country. Why? It seems people want everyone else to suffer and be in pain because they are suffering and in pain themselves. If your friend and colleague is prospering and you’re not, does it encourage you and give you hope that if he can do it, then you can, or you become filled with jealousy and bitterness that why should he prosper when you are not? You would rather everyone suffers? The CAN president should not be criticized for accepting the private jet gift; instead he should be criticized for flying in a plane at all to preach. He should have been going around the country and the world in a car, and not just any car, but a beetle. No, not even a beetle, but a bicycle as his forefathers. No, he should go around on foot as Jesus did and maybe use a donkey once, maybe on ‘Christmas Day’. That should satisfy our bitter brothers

  • david Odiba

    Kukah, with all due respect, has no right to condemn any leader with private jet. Is there anywhere God had ever frowned @ His children prospering?…… Wearing of suite is also a show of opulence too!!!!!!!!!