In “secular” Nigeria, Lagos’ Governor, Ambode, flexes muscle; sacks Chaplain for not “anointing” his wife before others! – Tola Adenle

May 29, 2017

Nigeria

A brief explanation is in order for those not familiar with Nigeria’s  chaotic religious situation: Ambode’s Lagos State Secretariat has a church (and mosque) like just about all states and the “federal” government at Abuja, and like public places like airports. The Council/Board of the Lagos Church is  “supervised by the wife of the governor who is the state’s First Lady. 

“Mrs Ambode is a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, let her go and ask the RCCG Pastor, Enoch Adeboye, whether what she did was the right thing to do to a minister of God.”  [Rt. Rev. Adeyemi, Bishop of African Church, Ifakọ̀ Diocese]

 

It is my opinion that the church that posted the Vicar to Lagos State Secretariat should demand an explanation AND apology from Lagos State Government. If Ambode or any other governor feels he – no woman governor to date – has to control vicars posted to such government “churches”, AND the churches have no right to question acts of incivility and arbitrariness, then that state governor and government should be made to train their own priests who will do whatever a governor and his wife, the supposed supervisor of the Board of the Church, want. After all, there are no shortages of pastors in Nigeria these days as most offices – government or the private sector – have uncountable “pastors” from whom a governor can choose a chaplain for government “churches”.

Nigerian governments at “federal” and state levels expend billions of DOLLARS/POUNDS annually on supporting religions, especially the two main faiths: Christianity and Islam despite Section 10 of the country’s Constitution.

This has continued to create financial problems as well as wreak social upheavals for the country.

For example, the Hajj, Muslims’ religious obligation to visit the faith’s Holy Land of Mecca IF THEY CAN AFFORD IT, has been swallowing sizable portions of the country’s budgets for over four decades, a move that led to Christians demanding the right to travel to Jerusalem to visit the Christians’ Holy Land.

Even in this day of very weak Naira, the Nigerian government is so insensitive it cannot but grant favorable exchange rate to Muslims or Christians traveling on holy pilgrimages.

Of countries that send pilgrims to Mecca, Nigeria tops or is always near the top of the list EVERY YEAR, and this for a country that despite oil revenues, supposed recovered stolen loot in the billions of Naira and hundreds of millions in foreign currencies – is forever looking for loans – is most unacceptable.

As the central government finances mosques and churches at Abuja and national airports, so do states.  State Houses, the official residences of governors at least in the SW that I’m familiar with, have mosques and churches; so do many government secretariats.

Financed by governments, these places of worships have now become extensions of empires that state governors believe are theirs by right, and while the Vicar in this story is of a protestant faith and apparently posted to the Lagos Secretariat Church by a Diocese – Anglican or Methodist, I’m not sure – the state government which built the church and probably pays for the chaplaincy, believes it can fire a priest who did not “respect” the governor’s  wife by “anointing” her before others!

Anointing, which used to be practised mostly by Pentecostal churches, has now spread to other protestant churches, many of which have special “anointing services” on specific days of the week. I understand mainstream churches started this in order to stem the flow to Pentecostal Churches by their members.

Now, it is beyond belief – even if Governor Ambode sees himself as being the one paying the Piper and feel entitled to dictate the tune – that a church Vicar with school-age children would be turned into the streets without any notice.

What the governor has done, despite his spokesman/commissioner’s denial that the Vicar was sacked for other reasons that happened before Her Highness, Mrs. Ambode, stormed out of a church service for not being the first to be anointed, is unconscionable, inexcusable and despicable.

Governor, in the words of that lovely character, Polyanna, a child masterfully played by Haley Mills in that 60s eponymous movie, NOBODY OWNS A CHURCH!

It is time Nigerians demand of their governments a stop to all the funding to churches and religious pilgrimages which I have written about in newspapers in the past. In those essays, I wondered aloud why those who are religious enough and in need of visiting the Holy Sites of their faiths are not left to source funds to do such because it should not be government’s responsibility.

About five years ago when Kano’s Governor Kwankwaso, a Muslim, said that “Hajj sponsorship by government is another avenue to steal public funds”, it led to one of the essays that I have written on holy pilgrimages. [Link at the end.]

It is well-known that many of the pilgrims sell part of their foreign exchange above the special rate for profit.

It is my opinion that the church that posted the Vicar to Lagos State Secretariat should demand an explanation AND apology from Lagos State Government. If Ambode or any other governor that feels he – no woman governor to date – has to control vicars posted to such government “churches”, AND the churches have no right to question acts incivility and arbitrariness, then that state governor and government should be made to train train their own priests who will do whatever a governor and his wife, the supposed supervisor of the Board of the Church. After all, there are no shortages of pastors in Nigeria these days as most offices – government or the private sector – have uncountable “pastors” from whom a governor can choose a chaplain for government “churches”.

It is heartening to read the reported reaction of an African Church Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Adeyemi who said of the disgraceful treatment meted to Ven. Taiwo, because of the governor’s wife who is supposed to be a “pastor”:

“Mrs Ambode is a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, let her go and ask the RCCG Pastor, Enoch Adeboye, whether what she did was the right thing to do to a minister of God.”  [Link at the end.]

At a worship place, the Ambodes (1st & 2nd from right) with the Head of the Redeemed Church, Pastor Adeboye & wife. Ambode’s wife is supposed to be a pastor.

In Nigeria, the Church and State remains one, a particularly-nasty and hybridized, primitive worse than medieval practice.

The link to the story is at the end. Happily – if such a word could be employed in a horrific story as this – Venerable Taiwo got a residence, including items down to cooking gas, et cetera, to house his family within 24 hours, thanks to his parishioners.

Below is an excerpt on Nigeria’s sad descent into neverland of religious chaos. The link to the source is below. 

In 1975, the Islamic military government funded and established a Pilgrims Board for the exclusive use of the Muslims. In 1979, following the return of the country to civilian rule, the Muslim elite in the North had another opportunity to break the Separation principle by bringing in Section 275 into the constitution –establishing a Sharia Court.

The Second Republic in 1979 under President Shehu Shagari witnessed government active participation in the promotion of religion. Shagari adopted the “balancing act strategy”. He would use government funds for Muslims and balance it up for Christians as well. Thus, in 1980, he established a Christian Pilgrims Board to make up for the existing Muslim Pilgrims Board. In 1982, he formed a Board for Islamic Affairs. He built two mosques and one Muslim Praying Ground in Abuja, the State Capital, and, in compensation, he donated ten million Naira to Christians to enable them build their own Cathedral. In 1986, the military President, Ibrahim Babangida, in his capacity as a dictator, registered Nigeria a full member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).  

While the President in his official capacity was promoting Islamic religion at public expense, Muslims in the North adopted an informal, unofficial strategy, using localized physical force and religious riots to protest against the failure to adopt Islam as the national religion. The strategy to this day results in the death and fatality of innocent people, destruction of property and economic loses.  

[http://ukoima.blogspot.com.ng/p/nigeria-government-and-religion.html]

To read the story of how/why Lagos’ Governor Ambode’s wife took umbrage at not being the first person to be “anointed” at a church which, by her position, she heads, check out the links below:

https://buzznigeria.com/ambode-sacks-priest-anoint-wife-first/

https://buzznigeria.com/priest-sacked-ambode-gets-apartment/

http://dailypost.ng/2017/05/28/rccg-pastor-ask-adeboye-acted-properly-bishop-blasts-bolanle-ambode/

https://emotanafricana.com/2012/08/13/nigerian-governments-sponsorship-of-holy-pilgrimages-is-sheer-insanity/

MONDAY, MAY 29, 2017. 9:58 p.m.[GMT]

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