By Tochukwu Ezukanma
Frazzled by the power politics, financial dishonesty and lechery that pervade many of the one man owned Pentecostal churches I disengaged from my last church. I have since not been a member of any church; I visit any church of my choice every Sunday. This has taken me to both the older and orthodox, and nouveau and trendy (usually one man owned) Pentecostal churches. At the invitation of a lady friend, on this particular Sunday, I visited the Christ Dominion Church at Oregun Road, Ikeja Lagos. I was impressed by the array of worshippers resplendently attired in their Sunday-bests, and the choir’s rousing and inspiring symphony.
To the deafening silence of the sanctuary and the rapt attention of the congregants, the pastor preached. As usual in most one man owned Pentecostal churches, the preaching was not on the tenets of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but on prosperity. In total disregard for the biblical pre-conditions for the wealth and material well being of a believer, the preacher dwelt on wealth and its accoutrements: mansions, luxury cars, jet-planes, etc. He limned the splendor and glamour of wealth, and gushed on the benefits and importance of being wealthy. He elaborately illustrated the evils, deprivation and gloom of poverty. He said that Jesus became poor so that we can be rich. Believers must therefore dread poverty and strive to be rich.
According to him, the secret of prosperity is in giving – your money – to God, of course, through the pastors. The more you give to God, the more you prosper. God blessed Abraham exceedingly because he was ready to give all he had, his only son, Isaac, to God. So, if you give God all you have, your blessings and prosperity will be ineffable, just like those of Abraham. As an example, he talked about an American pastor that is indescribably wealthy to the point of buying jet-planes and sowing them as seeds in different churches. He is so wealthy, and keeps getting wealthier and wealthier because he keeps giving and giving to God.
Although the most routinely quoted verse on tithing in the Bible, Malachi 3:10 to 12, specifically stated, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, …and prove me now herewith …if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it; and I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes” and “all nations shall call you blessed…”; the preacher said that paying your tithe does not bring you God blessings. It only rebukes the devourer for you. It is after paying your tithes and offerings that you start the giving that will bring about the financial blessings of God. Although his preaching was diametrically contradictory to the teachings of the Bible, it still impressed his listeners to the point of periodically applauding him.
He said that the smirch of poverty is indelible that, even after death, and the poor believer goes to heaven, there will still be the lingering evidence of his earthly poverty on him. He made reference to the Bible story in Luke Chapter 16 of a rich man that “fared sumptuously everyday”, and the beggar, Lazarus that “laid at his (the rich man’s) gate, full of sores”. After death, Lazarus went to heaven and was in the bosom of Abraham, and the rich man was consigned to hellfire. From hell, the rich man cried out to Abraham, and asked him to send Lazarus “that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame”. The preacher said that despite his being in heaven, Lazarus earlier earthly poverty was still evident on him. And that was why the rich man in hell, could not ask Abraham, who was rich on earth, but Lazarus, to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue.
By then, I have heard enough of this deliberate, unabashed convolution of the Bible aimed at goading the gullible and timid into emptying their pockets into the offering boxes, as offerings, tithes, first fruits and seeds. It was time for me to go. I picked up my Bible and walked out of the church. Just before the gate, an usher accosted me, “Oga, why are you leaving so early”. I replied, “Yes, I have to leave because your pastor is lying. He is talking nonsense”. He screamed, “Wow! How can you say that a man of God is lying, talking nonsense? It is wrong. You cannot say that. Though shall not judge”. To which I retorted: but you just judged me by saying that my statement is wrong.
Prosperity Doctrine is falsehood. It distorts the Gospel of Jesus Christ by disregarding the central themes of Christianity and dwelling on sowing seed and getting rich. The object of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ was not to make us rich but to reconcile us unto God, and transform us into living a Christ-like life. The wealth of a Christian is contingent on being a true Christian, as stated in Matthew 6:33, “Seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” – which is the object of Christianity – “and all these things shall be added unto you”. So, according to the Bible, wealth does not come from sowing seeds, but by seeking the kingdom of God and all his righteousness. To ignore the motifs of Christianity, such as salvation, love for our neighbor, faith in God and being Christ-like and just talk prosperity is tendentious mendacity.
The aim of this purposeful falsehood is to line the pastors’ pockets, build their financial empires and maintain their awe-inspiring life style. It enables them to dwell in magnificent mansions, continually spruce-up their lavish wardrobes, maintain their fleet of luxury cars, buy private jets and indulge their other fancies – all – at the financial strangulation of their congregants. Just like the political elite, the religious elite are a major source of the problems for the Nigerian society. Both elite groups are obsessed with power and money. They both reinforce their powers and bolster their personal bank accounts by the intimidation and exploitation of the people. The only difference is in their methods: the political elite through their perversion of the political process, and the religious elite through their perversion of the Word of God.
That Nigeria, the home to the greatest concentration of the extremely poor in the world, is also the home of the wealthiest pastors in the world is a powerful testament to how successfully the pastors are swindling the masses with their distortion of the Word of God.
Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You can reach him via email: email@example.com or phone: 0803 529 2908.
‘Mr. Thomas Osuji Tells The Greatest Lie About The Igbo’
By Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
I am from Owerri; I think that Igbos behavior has to do with our specific psychology. The Igbo is very competitive. He works for his self, not for the collectivity. He wants to succeed at all costs and does not care about other people. In Igbo society you are rewarded if you work hard and compete and succeed. If you fail you are considered a bush animal (anuohia), a no-body, so every person works hard to succeed and not pay attention to the rest of the people.
Mr. Osuji was born in Lagos, grew up in Lagos except for a few months spent in Owerri during the war. He went back to Lagos immediately after the war and went Lagos primary and high schools and from thence to USA. He probably lived in Igboland for a maximum of four years. And did not get any schooling (primary or secondary) in a school with majority Igbo pupils. And therefore very little street education. His further studies has been mostly science with occasional dabbling is philosophy and religion. But no Igbo studies not even as a hobby.
Having not studied Igbo formally or indirectly by living and going to school with his peers, Mr. Osuji often uses his “common sense” to tell incredible stories about the Igbo. Common Sense can be very much misleading. There are many real things that do not conform to Common Sense. The concept of “Evil Forest” is one example, but more on this at a later paper.
The great lie in the Osuji’s thesis (extract above) is this:
In Igbo society you are rewarded if you work hard and compete and succeed. If you fail you are considered a bush animal (anuohia), a no-body, so every person works hard to succeed and not pay attention to the rest of the people.
It is true that the Igbo society encourages hard work and success and rewards people accordingly. But it is absolutely false that Igbo people do not pay attention to the rest of the people.
The truth is that part of the measure of one’s success in Igbo land is “how much one contributes to the welfare of others”. Here are some proofs:
1. The first young people that went to secondary schools from my town and almost all other towns were sponsored by the Town Improvement Union.
2. Nationwide there was Igbo Improvement Union to take care of those living in faraway places like Kano and Lagos. Igbo Improvement Union (IMU) built and managed schools for every town resident in those faraway places for all Igbo or non-Igbo.
3. Most of the first Igbo university students were sponsored by the town unions or by a wealthy brother, uncle, or cousin of nth degree separation.
4. A successful Igbo merchant in Kano would be expected to take with him many from the village to teach them how to succeed and after several years of apprenticeship will “settle” them. To settle here means give them capital to start on their own.
5. Everywhere you go to in Nigeria one would see clusters of Igbo from one SE town. If you probe further one would see the “Big Brother” that brought them there. This applies to all major cities around the world.
6. A common Igbo title name is “O chili O zua” one who gathers (people) and trains them.
7. Many of the pre-war secondary schools in Igboland were founded by town union. There were levies (taxes) imposed on all able residents (at home and abroad) to fund such projects. Not just schools but also hospitals and Town Halls. In some towns there are age grade projects. It is still going on even in USA and EU.
8. There is a negative side to this. The Igbo is likely to support another Igbo even when the support is not merited. Most corrupt politicians are supported because of their contributions to town projects even when the money comes from the constituent budgets and not from the politician’s pockets.
I suggest that Mr. Osuji should do a little research on Igbo people before accusing them of selfishness. It will help if he would join the prominent Imo Organizations that abound in most US cities or even Owerri town union. He will see the serious competition that goes on as towns try to fund development projects. Of course sometimes a crook gets hold of the fund and the project will not be completed.
The Igbo is one of the most patriotic nations in Nigeria. I can attest to that.
~ Aduba writes from Boston, Massachusetts.
2023: South-East Presidency Or Igbo Presidency?
By SKC Ogbonnia
Since zoning of political offices has become the order of the day in Nigeria, an equitable consensus would follow that Southern Nigeria—the Igbo in particular—will produce the next president of the country, come 2023. But such zoning convention has begun to beg the question: Would the candidacy be open to the entire Igbo nation or would such opportunity be limited to the South-East zone of Nigeria?
The answer is a no brainer: The ticket ought to be open to the entire Igbo nation of the Southern extraction. Here is why.
The proponents of rotational presidency argue that the concept would ensure a sense of belonging among Nigeria’s disparate ethnic groups. Of the three Nigerian major tribes, namely, the Igbo, Hausa-Fulani, and the Yoruba; only the Igbo are yet to lead the country under a democratic setting.
The Igbo nation—that is, people sharing similar heritage, including culture, names, language, and religion—is beyond the South-East zone. But many political pundits understandably like to paint a marginal picture, and the gullible society, the Igbo not excluded, never hesitates to buy the gambit. This distortion has perpetuated because of the fleeting nature of memory in the Nigerian state, where true history has been tabooed.
Besides Igbo indigenous communities in other states; the Ohaneze Ndigbo, the umbrella Igbo socio-cultural group, is a seven-state structure, denoting areas with sizeable Igbo population, namely: Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers states. The key offices are also distributed and rotated among the member states.
For example, while the current President General of Ohaneze, Barrister John Nwodo, is from Enugu State of South-East zone, the General Secretary (Barrister Uche Okwukwu) and Vice- President General (Dr. Sylvanus O. Ebigwei) hail from the South-South states of Rivers and Delta, respectively. Needless to mention that Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, an indigene of Delta State, was the Ohaneze President-General between 2009 and 2013.
A defining muddle is that, of the seven Ohaneze states, only Delta and Rivers are in the South-South zone. The implication is that the Igbo indigenous communities have found themselves in the minority among the ethnic nationalities that make up the South-South zone. Therefore, if the presidency is to be zoned based on the existing six zone-structure of Nigeria, a South-South Igbo of this generation cannot realistically aspire to lead the country, his or her credentials notwithstanding.
The foregoing hypothesis was tested in 2007 when the South-South zone lobbied for the presidency. The South-South Igbo, remember, were told in unmistakable terms to explore such ambition whenever it is the turn of their kith and kin in the South-East.
It is on such backdrop that Pa Edwin Clark, the Leader of the South-South zone, made the infamous (or rather the rational) statement that Dr. Peter Odili, a former governor of Rivers state, had no moral right to encroach on the turn of the zone. Even though Mr. Odili was arguably the most compelling presidential aspirant of in the 2007 electoral season, he was blackballed mainly because of his Igbo heritage.
The South-South Igbo must not be allowed to suffer a double political whammy. Having been sidelined by their South-South neighbors in 2007, based on ethnic orientation, it behooves the South-East Igbo to accommodate their kith and kin in the race for the 2023 presidency.
Make no mistake about this: The South-East is the only zone in Southern Nigeria that is yet to produce a democratically elected president. Therefore, embarking on the presidential project solely through prism of the South-East can be superficially plain. But the Igbo must be careful not to tempt a pyrrhic victory.
Politics is a game of number. We can take a cue from the political genius of our Hausa-Fulani counterparts. Despite their vastly disparate ethnic origins, the Fulani and the Hausa groups in the three Northern zones have molded into a seemingly homogeneous political block. It is not surprising, therefore, that they show a united front in the different political parties whenever it is the turn of the North to produce the president.
Though the North-West zone has dominated over the years, the people go the extra mile to ensure that the inherent zoning arrangement does not foreclose the aspirations of the Hausa or Fulani-speaking people from the North-East. That is how recent doyens of the North-East politics, such as Adamu Ciroma, Bamanga Tukur, Atiku Abubakar, and Nuhu Ribadu, were able to mount respectable presidential bids.
Broadening the Igbo political map is a win-win. It will offer Nigerians a larger pool of aspirants to choose from. Besides a galaxy of presidential aspirants from the South-East, it would also address the aspirations of the South-South Igbo, particularly those in their prime, for example, Patrick Utomi, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ifeanyi Okowa, Tony Elumelu, Peter Odili, Mike Okiro, Chibuike Amaechi, and Nyesom Wike, to name a few.
Unity is power. A united Igbo front has a better chance of winning the zoning debate, to begin with. Further, a Nigerian presidential project anchored through the entire Igbo nation has the potential to unite the people towards common purpose. It can halt the defeatist trajectory of postwar politics and de-Igbonization policy of successive national governments, which have combined to fracture the Igbo unity to the point where some never hesitate to deny their Igbo heritage either for post-war survival or in exchange of political porridge. It can equally instill commonsense to those who use mere political affiliations or boundaries to assume superior Igbo heritage over the others.
Igbo bu Igbo! The hint is that the South-East and South-South Igbo share a common destiny in the Nigerian experience. And they ought to share good fortunes, as they did past misfortunes. For instance, the South-East Igbo bore (or have continued to bear) the brunt of the first Nigeria coup, led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, a South-South Igbo. Similarly, the South-South Igbo were not spared by the actions of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, a South-East Igbo, who led the Biafran war. The bond between the two Igbo groups is not lost in the fact that they have sustained similar voting patterns in national elections, despite postwar feuds, orchestrated by successive national governments.
A Nigerian president of Igbo extraction will not only heal the wounds of the past, it is also a bold step in harnessing the country’s abundant potential towards the greater good. It is an opportunity for equity and justice. It is an opportunity to assuage the long-standing distrust against Igbo-speaking people of Nigeria. It is a profound opportunity for the Igbo to reverse the downward spiral of distrust created among themselves by artificial post-civil war boundaries.
~ Dr. SKC Ogbonnia, a former presidential aspirant, writes from Ugbo, Awgu, Enugu State
OpEd: `Nnamdi Kanu Not A Scammer, Will Certainly Restore Biafra This Yearʼ
By Ifeanyi Chijioke
Self challenge can bring about the best form of accomplishment. When Nnamdi Kanu woke up a freeman and in absence of influence after self appraisal and announced he would restore Biafra in 2020, he has a massive plan and mean business. What triggered Kanu’s position was confidence and renewed confidence is like lubricating a car to accelerate its speed or healthy delivery; his vow to restore Biafra this very year is devoid of pressure, it was a vow freely made.
When a man starts losing relevance; he starts speaking out of desperation to regain relevance, but it’s an open secret that Nnamdi Kanu’s members are adamant their supreme leader still has his fleet of relevance. Therefore; it is presumed that Nnamdi Kanu is not that man that speaks out of desperation to hold together his falling empire.
When a scammer wants to scam his victims for the last time; he often makes a vow that he would deliver the purpose of the money his victims have been sending to him. I have been a victim; where I fell into the net of a scammer, I gave him a thousand, he gave me an excuse, I gave him thousands, he gave a pretext, and at a point, he said I should finally give him millions, that once I pay him millions, he would give me the keys to my heart desires. I gave everything I had but the keys were not given and I did not see the man again.
Although; members of IPOB have made it clear that Nnamdi Kanu is not a scammer and he does what he says. I have no option but to believe; I will pay my monthly dues, I will offer my support, I will do everything I can because Nnamdi Kanu is not a scammer and as such, would not give me excuse this year. Biafra is certainly going to be restored this year but if Nnamdi Kanu fails, I pray he fails not, because a scammer will be better than our holy supreme leader.
I doubt that Nnamdi Kanu would fail to restore Biafra this year; because I was exclusively told that his Israel is preparing this year. CIA is already waiting for his order to act. USA is waiting for him to tell them he is ready and after considering his cons and pros, he decided to make Biafra a sovereign state this very year. Nnamdi Kanu is determined and we must not take his determination for granted; Biafra will eventually come this year because Elohim sent him.
Failing to restore Biafra this year will come with consequences; needless to questioning what triggered such declaration by Nnamdi Kanu, I believe he is a man that knows his right from his left. He canceled his radio Biafra broadcast for a national assignment, which points to the direction of preparation, should Biafra fail to be a sovereign state this year, the impact will be negatively maximum.
This year will define Nnamdi Kanu and could be the final nail on his coffin of irrelevance if he fails to restore Biafra as vowed. The people will stop taking him serious because this is a different time in this struggle. Nnamdi Kanu might have said Biafra will come and got away with it in the past; but never had he critics as he has today. Never had people spoken up against his atrocities as they do today; he has been demystified and as such, getting away with this year’s vow of restoring Biafra will be uneasy one.
Kanu has been accused of embezzlement; although, his radio Biafra remains a potent weapon of brainwashing used against the people of Biafra, nothing can be as dangerous as having citadel of lies as sanctuary of hope. Nnamdi Kanu knows he cannot rightly vow Biafra is coming this year and in 2021 continue to rant. One cannot continue to fool the people all the time; the turning point might start once 2021 comes and Biafra remains a mirage.
~ Chijioke, a freelance/investigative journalist writes from Enugu. He can be reached on Ifeanyichijioke97@gmail.com
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