It is Nigeria’s election season once again, and as usual some pastors (whether they go by such names as priests, clergymen, clerics, preachers, ministers of God, or evangelists) are also at it again going beyond their spiritual boundaries and venturing into worldily matters that desecrate the holy temple. Yet, genuine pastors called by God are special group of people with high reverence. This is why the Catholic Church calls its priests Reverend Fathers, because they are supposed to be highly respected or revered. The statement “touch not my anointed and to my prophets do no harm” (1 Chronicles, 16:22, & Psalms 105: 15) clearly tells us how esteemed or well-regarded these consecrated or ordained men of God are, or are supposed to be. But what do we find in the world particularly in Nigeria today?
In much of the world today (and much worse in Nigeria), people ‘anoint’ themselves as pastors and then go ahead to establish one religious group called ministry or a church which they control with one big title such as Bishop, Archbishop, General Overseer, etc. And with such in place, they begin to make bold claims about what ‘God’ has said or not said. And then again, they begin to roll out all kinds of good-for-the-ear-to-hear prophesies on one thing or the other. In a country like ours where the devil has strong foothold on the affairs of many people coupled with widespread poverty (inflicted on the people by the policies of corrupt politicians), these pastors are guaranteed thousands of followers. Ultimately, the driving force of why they exist will emerge and that is: extortion of huge sums of money from their followers in the name of payment of tithes or other spiritually manipulated financial contributions such as sowing of seeds, planting a tree etc. There are reported cases at times that some of the pastors use all kinds of African or other types of ‘Juju’ to manipulate and hood-wink their gullible followers.
Some of these so-called pastors are available for hire by anyone for different purposes from the sublime (very rare) to the most wicked (very frequent) of all acts against other people. Sometimes, it is people who commit all kinds of evil in the society who go to these pastors to seek protection and other kinds of favours. And in their delusion, these people believe that they are in safe hands of ‘men of God.’ Those who steal huge public funds, go to the pastors and offer part of the funds and then ask for more blessings and protection. The pastors in return sometimes offer ‘prophesies’ indiscriminately at a fee and their devotees believe in such prophecies by dangerously acting on them, sometimes harming other people. But let us now turn to some other pastors who share similar characteristics different from the portrait of the ones discussed so far.
These other pastors of our concern here are politically and economically-minded pastors many of whom are self-appointed in their so-called ministries. Some of the political pastors in Nigeria see themselves as messiahs who are destined to liberate their followers (or Nigerians in general). Without mentioning their names (which are already in the public domain) we can go ahead with the discussion because we know them. Two of these political pastors for instance reside in Lagos, and one is Yoruba and the other is Igbo. Both of them have been participants in politics and yet their messianic enterprise and hope has always been dashed. But one of them who prophesied that he would the president of Nigeria, ended up securing zero vote in his party primary election. What an unreliable prophesy? The other pastor has been contesting for the presidency for many years now. And just recently, he was asking that he should be given the opportunity to head an Interim Federal Government of Nigeria, which for him will solve the multifarious problem of Nigeria. Over the years, his spiritual delusion or hallucination took him nowhere, and yet he is still ‘hopeful.’ Surprisingly (but strangely too) both of these political pastors still retain their large followership many of whom are educated but perhaps not enlightened.
There are also two other political pastors who supported our president during elections (and one still supports his party) even when his government has turned Nigeria the Poverty Capital (Headquarters) of the world. But these two pastors do not see this to prophesy against. Curiously again, one of these pastors is Igbo and the other is Yoruba. The strangeness of the fact that these two pastors are on the side a government that is inflicting poverty, insecurity, unemployment, etc on the people, raises the question as to what kind of pastors they are. Strangely again, both of them for instance, preached and prophesied against an emerging strong presidential candidate who has different and new ideas of how to turn things around. Regardless of the never-seem-before momentum of this presidential candidate’s movement, his track records, demonstrated or tested integrity for all to see, one of these two pastors said he is stingy, while the other said he is not well prepared, and as such he advised the youths (major supporters of this candidate) not to ‘waste their enthusiasm on poorly planned projects’. What a misplaced, misdirected and ungodly prophesy?
Furthermore, one of these two pastors went ahead to express a veiled support for the presidential candidate of the APC, while the other supported the PDP candidate. This means that both of them want the unbearable and intolerable sufferings caused by this status quo to continue. What kind of pastors are these fellows? They cannot even see the sacrilege of the wanton killings of innocent souls in the land and pray/prophesy against such? All they see and support are corrupt and recycled politicians who are perpetuating sufferings in the land. By these acts, they demonstrate that generally, political pastors are cash-and-carry prophets who see no evil that their political masters are committing every single day in this country. There are too many things that these pastors can prophesy against in this country than to be supporting corrupt politicians that have nothing to offer the people again.
In conclusion, we can call all these political pastors bourgeois pastors who live comfortably big and perhaps do not understand and feel what the masses (the proletariat) are passing through in the name of suffering. Anyone who understands suffering and still supports the candidates of the dominant parties, MUST be their collaborator who is presently benefiting (or potentially going to benefit) directly or indirectly from the old and discredited political masters. And it is awfully calamitous for such a person to be called a pastor to say the least. In fact, political pastors are good at offering false prophesy. We are tired of them and their antics.
•Prof. Obasi, a public policy expert is of the Department of Public Administration, University of Abuja. Email: [email protected]