Nigerian Christians at home and abroad will be shocked by the reported crass opportunism of some of their religious leaders as next week’s presidential polls draw closer, SaharaReporters has learned.
Authoritative sources disclose that during a meeting of Christian leaders held recently, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor expressed a strangely personal reason why he is not supporting the clamor of Nigerians for change in the country.
Oritsejafor told his colleagues at the event, which was convened at the Redemption Camp of the Redeemed Christian Church of God on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that oil bloc leases are due for renewal this year, and if the Buhari-Osinbajo ticket prevails, his chances of owning one would diminish.
“The oil in my father’s backyard,” he specifically said. “I don’t own one bloc, and all these Northerners have oil blocs!”
The CAN president has been known to be an ardent supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan, and anopponent of his leading challenger, General Mohammadu Buhari. What shocked many of the Christian leaders at the meeting, howver, was his message that he was less interested in good governance or the killing of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram in the Northeastern part of Nigeria, and more so about his desire to also own an oil bloc this year.
Reported to be an even more vocal supporter of Jonathan at the meeting was Bishop David Oyedepowho reportedly said it would be an insult to have any of the Christian leaders at the meeting to vote for Buhari. At a point, a respected pastor, Bishop Mike Okonkwo of TREM, lambasted the meeting for not inviting Pastor Yemi Osinbajo to witness the meeting, being himself a Christian leader and pastor.
According to Okonkwo, the least the Christian leaders could have done was invite Osinbajo and hear from him, adding that not doing that was “an act of cowardice.”
Oyedepo, our source said, did not take kindly to that suggestion from a Bishop of equal caliber, and demanded an apology from Okonkwo. Okonkwo, equally annoyed, insisted on his position and refused to offer an apology at the tension-filled meeting.
Sources said the conveners of the meeting did not want to invite Osinbajo as the candidates on the other ticketwere also not represented. But some sources at the meeting said it was a disgrace that a fellow pastor at their level, running for Vice-President was not even allowed to sit in at the meeting which was convened under the banner of the Nigerian Apostolic Coalition,membership of which he was entitled to.
While Oyedepo maintained his advocacy for President Jonathan at the meeting, at times in vehement anger and outright disrespect for the opposing views of the other pastors, a leading Bishop from the North spoke up against the plans of Oyedepo and Oritsejafor to mobilize support for the president. Christian leaders in the North have always criticized the lust of some Southern Christian leaders for material things making them not to empathize with the sufferings of the Christians in the North, who are facing persecution.
Bishop Jonas Katung of the Maranatha Churchin Josexplained that President Jonathan has done nothing in the past four years deserving of a second term. Katung, who is known as the Lion of Jos, was ordained Bishop in Jos by RCCG’s Pastor E.A. Adeboye in 2013.
He strongly advocated that the Buhari-Osinbajo ticket should be given a chance given the level of failure of the incumbent.
Pastor Mathew Kasali of the Foundation of Truth Assembly in Lagos also spoke passionately at the meeting, calling on the Christian leaders to remain neutral and not become encumbered with partisan issues for any reason. He also supported Bishop Okonkwo that Pastor Osinbajo, “who is one of us,” should be allowed to address the meeting.
A source at the meeting disclosed that the national clamor for change in the country as being captured by the Buhari-Osinbajo ticket has now become a source of great fear by several Christian leaders in the Southern part of the country, essentially because of their own selfish interests.
He asked in disappointment, “Where is the fear of God in the lives of some of these leaders?”