President Muhammadu Buhari has had a lot of nicknames thrown his way since the inception of his administration on May 29, 2015.
Perhaps the one which has stuck the most is ‘Baba Go Slow’ obviously in reference to the slow speed with which he usually takes major national decisions.
In fact, it took the President eight months to appoint his cabinet, while he only got the 2016 budget approved in March. Not even on Monday, when there was multiple bombings in Borno state and a lot of Nigeria died was the President quick to issue a response.
So it came as a surprise when the President was quick to fire the executive executive secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), Jim Osayande Obazee, just two days after he was fingered as the principal actor in the controversial exit of Pastor Enoch Adeboye as the national overseer Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
What was his crime? He failed to take into cognizance the love Nigerians have for religion and their religious heads.
Apparently, part of the law regulating all non profit organizations in Nigeria where churches and mosques fall under as enacted by the FRC, stipulates a maximum period of 20 years for the heads of all registered churches, mosques and civil society organisations.
Adeboye was the first high profile casualty of the law but his ‘forced’ resignation did not sit well with many Christians who believed that the government was targeting churches.
Adeboye himself refused to take his resignation lying low. He accused the federal government of meddling in church matters. According to him, the government has been showing increasing interest in church affairs, especially against the RCCG and other fresh laws had been enacted by the government to ruffle the feathers of the church.
Adeboye said the regulation would affect clergymen, including Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church Worldwide International, aka Winners Chapel; Pastor W. F. Kumuyi of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry and Bishop Mike Okonkwo of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission.
The powers that be in the government simply couldn’t take all this criticisms from someone as highly placed as Adeboye without doing anything. Someone had to take the fall. Obazee must go.
Perhaps Obazee shot himself in the foot when he was quoted to have said the following during a recent interview where he spoke on the new regulations for Church tenureship:
“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.”
“Religious organisations are ordinarily set up as ‘not-for-profit’ and they remain institutions of public character. The challenge, however, is a trend where churches and mosques start dabbling into non-charity ventures like schools, hospitals and so on.
“When you set up a church, your motive is to ensure that people are well focused to go to heaven. Then the money in the church should be targeted at ensuring that people are helped to do that. If you want to set up a school, then it should be free for all your members’ children. If you charge any money, then you are in the same league with other schools outside that are paying taxes to the government.
“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.”
To the neutral Nigerian, the above may sound reasonable but not so for the millions of religious enthusiasts who apparently make up the bulk of the population. Obazee didn’t get the memo that when you oppose anything religious in Nigeria, you suddenly become the black sheep. That naivety caused him his job.
To rub salt into injury, General Secretary of CAN, Rev. Musa Asake said Obazee’s sack proved that anybody who fought with the church will find himself in a place that he doesn’t want.
“The sack of Jim (Obazee) is good riddance to bad rubbish. Anybody that wants to fight the church will find himself where he does not want. Jim got to the position by the grace of God, but set out to probe and destroy the church of God. I spoke with him several times on this issue but he wouldn’t listen. He was going to take the church to what is worse than Armageddon. Thank God the authorities have stepped in to right the wrong. He should have been fired a long time ago and we don’t know why he was left alone, but God’s time is always the best. That code should be thrown out completely because government should not interfere with the church. The church is a no-go zone for the government. Doing that has serious implications. It they attempt it, it will lead to confusion in the nation.”
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