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•New FRC law, recipe for chaos – Pastors
By Cosmas Omegoh, Tessy Igomu, Job Osazuwa, Charles Adegbite and Kehinde Aderemi
Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye’s new position in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) has continued to elicit a potpourri of reactions from the Christian community and beyond.
Many pastors have expressed outrage over the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) of Nigeria’s law that restricts the tenure of church and mosque leaders to a 20-year term or 70 years of age.
The clergy, as well as members of the RCCG, have been expressing diverse views after last weekend’s announcement that Adeboye, who turns 75 on March 2, 2017, will be standing down. He is being replaced by Pastor Joshua O. Obayemi, who will henceforth act as the National Overseer of the church in Nigeria.
Observers at RCCG did not see the decision coming. Many who were in attendance at the Annual Ministers’ Thanksgiving at Shimawa, Ogun State, were stunned when Adeboye also announced that he would be assuming a global role as the Spiritual Head and Global Missioner of the church. Adeboye, a former mathematics lecturer, resigned from his teaching job at the University of Ilorin to assume office in 1981 as the General Overseer of the RCCG, having succeeded late Pa Akindayomi, the founder and pioneer GO of the church. The man of God also appointed some other principal officers of the church at last weekend’s service.
As a follow-up, the assistant general overseer in charge of administration and personnel of the church, Pastor Johnson Funso Odesola, who is also national secretary of the RCCG, released a statement clarifying that Obayemi would be addressed as National Overseer and not General Overseer (GO).
“The General Overseer has appointed a National Overseer for Nigeria in the person of Pastor Joseph Osuolale Obayemi, who is the current Assistant General Overseer, finance, in the Mission, to be assisted by the National Secretary in the person of Pastor Johnson Funso Odesola and the National Treasurer, Pastor Joseph Adelanke Adeyokunnu.
“This appointment does not in any way affect the administrative structure and positions as already constituted at all levels in the Mission (home and abroad). Also, the position, status and assignment of the General Overseer, Pastor E.A. Adeboye, as the spiritual leader and global missioner of the RCCG, remains unchanged,” the statement said.
Bishop Samuel Olumakinde Alawode, presiding bishop of Maranatha Lord Cometh Ministries International, said the Federal Government did not consult with the two regulatory Christian bodies in Nigeria before the promulgation of the new Financial Regulatory Council of Nigeria (FRCN) Law.
He said, “As a leader in the Body of Christ, I have not received any memo or directive from the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) or the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) regarding such a law.
“As a church, these are the first organisations we listen to. So, the Federal Government has to pass this law, or message, through the PFN or CAN.”
Alawode pointed out that CAN and PFN were the bodies recognised, even by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as capable of speaking for the Body of Christ in Nigeria, and if the said law were really in effect, the Federal Government was set for crises: “Why do I say so? Before such a law is passed, the Federal Government is supposed to have consulted with CAN and PFN, to sample their opinions.
“Please, get me right, I’m not speaking for or against this law. I am speaking concerning the process that gave birth to this new law. Why make such a major religious law without consulting CAN and PFN?”
However, Lawrence Osagie, presiding bishop of Powerline Christian Church, Lagos, has described the decision by Adeboye to step down as the G.O. as a new beginning for the church in Nigeria and Africa. Speaking to Daily Sun, he said: “I thank God because what happened must be a divine directive from God and his will must prevail.
“What happened has shown us that leadership is not private. It is from God and God raises whoever he wishes. It has shown us that leadership is not a do-or-die thing.”
He expressed joy that Adeboye had graciously brought another person to succeed him enthusing: “What a servant leader he is! What an example he has left for Nigeria and Africa! He has shown us that one does not have to die on the throne. He has shown us that, at some point, we have to give someone else the opportunity to serve.
“I celebrate God for this example that Pastor Enoch Adeboye has left for us. The church will be better for it; Nigeria will be better for it.”
Speaking on Adeboye’s new role, he said: “The truth is that he has been in charge of the RCCG, so what he is going to do next will not be new. I think that, right now, he will be more effective to the extent that he will be more involved in strengthening the work of the church outside Nigeria. This will involve a lot of travel and contacts. This will involve extending the church’s frontiers and expanding the word of God in more nations.
“The Church is the salt of the earth and light of the world because God says so. The Church has to show example. In this new appointment, the (RCCG) has demonstrated so. God allowed this to bring forth the change that will come. It is, therefore, a new beginning for the entire Church and the entire continent. It is going to be gradual and systematic.
“We have to recall that the man did not put his son there as the new national leader of the church. Rather, he brought an unknown person to succeed him. I think this is a huge step of faith. It won’t go unrewarded.”
For Reverend Barth Owoh of Elshaddai Pentecostal Ministry International, the retirement of Adeboye as presiding head of the RCCG in Nigeria portends great danger and is capable of derailing the church. According to him, it has all the trappings of a bad omen and an indication that there is power tussle within the RCCG.
The cleric further noted that the RCCG, by all standards, remains one of the most recognised and respected churches worldwide and warned that, if the situation were not well handled, it would adversely affect the propagation of the gospel of Christ.
“They will have a management problem. Wherever there is strife, there is envy. And where there is envy, there is pride and in such a place the Holy Spirit will take flight. It will affect the church because when two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers,” he said.
Kicking staunchly against the change of guard, the cleric noted that since Adeboye was still alive, there was no need to shop for a replacement, considering how he emerged the G.O. in the first place.
Speaking on the recent directive by the FRC, he stressed that the authorities of the council were not God, therefore, no one could terminate the appointment of a man ordained by God.
“They don’t understand the things of the Spirit. A carnal-minded man can’t regulate the things of the Spirit. This is a man ordained by God and only God can terminate his appointment,” he said.
Pastor Christian Ukaegbu, G.O., Life Gospel Ministry, said government should have no say in the things of God, adding that secular authorities lacked the spiritual mandate to dictate what happens in Christendom. He noted that the church was not ignorant, since God divinely orders the step of every man He ordained to lead. In his view, such a regulatory body was totally against biblical principles, for instance, he said, Moses handed over the mantle of leadership to his brother, Aaron.
Ukaegbu also stressed that “the church does not operate in the dispensation of law but grace,” in which case telling a man anointed and ordained by God when to stop leading the church was a wrong move. Ukaegbu stated that the RCCG was not like other churches, but the church “is spirit-led and structured.”
His words: “Whoever is appointed matters a lot. That person must be appointed by God. Saying that he can’t hand over to his son is not right. If that is the case, Jesus Christ won’t have been sent by God to this earth to redeem mankind. The government has no say in the things of God. Those who don’t know the platform or covenant can’t dictate what happens in Christendom. If this trend is allowed to go on, before you know it, there will be no churches in Nigeria anymore.”
On his part, Senior Pastor of Joy Cometh Ministries, Ikorodu, Lagos, Pastor Olaitan Aromolaran, said Nigerians should not raise any dust over the issue, since must have heard from God before he took the step.
Aromolaran who, until last year was a senior pastor in RCCG, said whatever step Adeboye takes is in the interest of the RCCG and Nigeria.
“The Daddy G.O. l know is a true man of God. It is a pity that Nigerians are having different understanding about the step taken by the G.O.,” he said.
A prominent lawyer and pastor in RCCG, Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, congratulated Adeboye for his effort, growing the church from 40 parishes in 1981 when he took over to the thousands of parishes the church has in about 192 countries of the world. But he regretted that the controversy and confusion on the development were akin to the festering political debacle in The Gambia.
Adegboruwa said Adeboye had, in his succession plan, done what no pastor has done before and he should follow it through and mentor the people that God has led him to choose as successors.
He noted, however, that the emerging train of events in the RCCG in the past 24 hours, was giving him and others cause for concern.
His words: “Very recently, elections were held in The Gambia and the opposition was declared the winner. The incumbent President called to congratulate the winner and conceded defeat. But before the President-elect could be sworn in, President Yahya Jammeh recanted and has now thrown the West African nation into crisis.
“On Saturday, January 7, 2017, Pastor Enoch Adeboye told all ministers gathered at the Annual Ministers Conference that the church now has a new General Overseer, but before the end of the day, information emerged that Pastor Adeboye had only stepped down as General Overseer for Nigeria and would still continue to function as General Overseer of RCCG Worldwide.
“When it was pointed out that the Constitution of RCCG does not recognise that title, we were informed that Pastor Adeboye would now be known as Global Missioner and Spiritual Leader of the Church. When the illegality of that title was revealed, we have now been told that Pastor Adeboye would retain his title as General Overseer, while Pastor Obayemi would be the National Overseer.
“I have taken the pains to check the constitution of the church and I can see signs of some confusion brewing, if not carefully handled.
“In all my time that I’ve known Pastor Adeboye, integrity has been his watchword and the trends emerging from the inconsistent pronouncements from the church since yesterday do not support the personality of our dear Daddy G.O., and he has to act quickly to douse the tension being generated.”
The lawyer stressed that the RCCG had become one of the most influential churches in the world and her members could not afford to give the impression that Daddy G.O. was unwilling to retire or hand over to somebody else.
“That is certainly not the Pastor Adeboye that we all know. We his followers are pained with the development but, as things are now, there is little we can do about it.
“The Codes of the Financial Reporting Council are not new. They were implemented seamlessly for banks when their managing directors who had been in office for 10 years were asked to hand over. This has now been extended to non-profit organisations like churches and there is nothing strange about this.
“These codes were contested at the Federal High Court and the court decided against us. They are meant to achieve transparency in these organisations. I, therefore, humbly appeal to Daddy G.O. to follow through his plan and avoid the temptations of The Gambia,” he said.
The change in the leadership of the RCCG is coming on the heels of a renewed drive by the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the FRC, Jim Obazee, who recently stated that churches and mosques should have their financial transactions audited. He disclosed that only 89 out of the 23,216 registered churches in the country had complied till date.
“In keeping other peoples’ money, you have to prepare account. That is why churches fought me so badly, took me to court as a person and then my office too. Mosques and orthodox churches freely complied, but those Pentecostal churches called me to ask questions. They said: ‘This church is church of God and we are accountable to God.’ And I told them: ‘Very good, so you must take this church to heaven, you can’t operate it here’. When public funds are involved, government needs to ensure proper accountability.
“If you set up schools, hospitals and the likes under a church, there is a high likelihood that you will be engaging in non-charitable activities within charity. If you are doing that, then what stops Dangote from setting up a mosque and having all his cements, rice and sugar under it? That is actually what some churches and mosques are doing.”
What the FRC says
“The founder or leader of a NFPO (not-for-profit organisation) occupies a special position in the organisation and is committed to the success and longevity of the NFPO. Accordingly, a founder or leader should not take on too many responsibilities in the organisation or have an indefinite term in the running of the organisation.
“Where, for any reason, a founder or leader of NFPO also occupies any of the three governance positions of chairmanship of the board of trustees, the governing board or council, and the headship of the executive management (or their governance equivalents), the following provisions shall apply before the end of the organisation’s financial year in which this code takes effect.
“The founder or leader shall cease to occupy these three governance positions simultaneously. This is to ensure the separation of powers and avoid possible concentration of powers in one individual.
“The founder or leader may however choose – subject to the agreement of the organisation’s apex authority as expressed in the annual general assembly, annual meeting, annual stakeholder engagement, annual conference, annual synod, annual fellowship assembly or their equivalents – only one of these three governance positions subject to his current tenure. This is to ensure a clear division of responsibilities at the head of the organisation between the running of the governing body and the executive responsibility for the management and fulfilment of the organisation’s mission.
“Where the founder or leader has occupied all or any of these three governance positions for more than twenty years, or is aged seventy years or above, the choice in the section above should only relate to the board of trustees as in section below, except the constitution of the organisation otherwise provides.’’