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The Roles Pastors Play In Nigerian Political Theatres

“Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me”

‘The Godfather” was one of the very first VHS movies (right after “The Sound of Music”, of course) that my old man bought after he got us our first VCR back in the early 1980’s, and as my 12 year old self watched the opening scene zoom-out of the undertaker Bonasera’s poignant face, as he delivered the opening monologue…little did I know then that I was being drawn into what was one of the most iconic movie franchises ever made.
The quote above was made by none other that Marlon Brando’s character, organized crime boss Vito Corleone (The Godfather himself), as he personally assured Bonasera of “justice” for his assaulted daughter…justice which the conventional judiciary failed to provide.

Coincidentally the same quote was made again by Vito Corleone’s son, an older Michael Corleone (the succeeding Godfather) to the loyal bodyguard of Don Tomasino, who begged Michael to avenge the assassination of his Don…in part 3 of the movie franchise.

You see…Godfathers/crime-lords are very powerful people and while you can practically bank on them keeping their promised favours, those favours are never done for free. These “favours” are done with the sole purpose of collecting on the “debt” on some future date…and they are quite content to wait for a lifetime to collect..but collect, they must..


Recently, two “progressive” and “forward-thinking” pastors have come under online fire for expressing “less than progressive” ideas…Pastor Poju Oyemade, who hosts The Platform (an NGO that highlights leadership and national development within Nigeria) that has twice invited presidential aspirant Peter Obi to speak at its conventions both in 2016 and 2019 on issues ranging from “Developing Nigeria” to “Redesigning the Nigerian economy”…and at both times the platform touted Peter Obi as the kind of leader Nigeria needs. Pastor Paul Adefarasin, whose church I attended all through most of my days of religious folly, has always been a preacher of hope in a new Nigeria, who had spoken favourably on the #ENDSars protests and has been on the forefront of promoting a voter’s registration drive towards “taking back the country”.. So, it came as somewhat of a shock to listen to these two pastors prevaricate on their support on what everyone thought would be the obvious choice of presidential candidate for them, giving their antecedents..

Pastor Poju made a rambling tweet (which he later deleted) that negated what any religious person might believe about faith, and Pastor Paul made a cryptic speech that seemed to lose his audience way more than the inter-galactic bullshit he tried to spin to justify tithing a couple of years back..

I had also wondered about these volte face statements that contradicted what I thought I knew about these MOG’s till I realized something…both Pastor Oyemade’s The Covenant Nation and Adefarasin’s House on the Rock churches occupy prime real estate within Lagos (at Herbert Macauley and Lekki areas respectively), and being somewhat in the properties business myself, I know how difficult it might be trying to get proper planning approvals for construction in these areas or even to just get the leases to these properties, even when your payments have been made.

I would very much wager that favours might have been asked from those in authority to fast-track these leases and permits…favours that meant getting consent from political godfathers and the jagaban landlord of Lagos, himself…favours that could have come with the caveat: “Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me”…favours that are now being called in…favours that to refuse, might mean losing sources of livelihoods, or at least place them in enough jeopardy, that the churches may have to spend inordinate time and money to extricate itself..if indeed that were possible even. This might be the deal with the devil that our erstwhile progressive MOG’s might have made…or maybe I just watch too many movies.

Anyway, many Pentecostal churches have always been like the third arm of conspiratorial suppression and exploitation in less developed economies…right after government and big corporations. One can’t really blame them though, since it seems that people in more developed economies tend to turn less to god to solve their problem, and a booming economy would see less people needing to attend church (as evidenced by Church FC super-striker and fellow Obidient, Hymar Idibie, not having dropped any pro-church updates since he stepped onto saner climes).

Pastors Oyemade and Adefarasin were most likely just protecting their investments and obviously helping to maintain Nigerians’ fervor for the lord… It would be interesting, however, to see how both these men (and other pastors with properties within Lagos) would articulate their political instructions to their congregations in the months to come..

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