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Oyedepo, Mbaka: A Terrible Day for Religion(Must Read)

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It was a terrible day for religion in Nigeria this past week as the overseeing Bishop of the Living Faith Churches, David Oyedepo, and the man at Adoration Ministries, Enugu, Fr. Ejike Mbaka, made various gaffes in their sermons that caught the attention of Nigerians. What might have been more tragic about these statements was that these popular charismatics ministers may not have realized the mistakes in their statements. Instead their followers have stood with them, while the pastors utilize age old silence to subdue their critics who have drawn their attention variously to these matters.

David Oyedepo, while ministering to members of his church at Otta, Ogun State, spoke of the growing rumour among Nigerians that an impersonator has taken the place of Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian President, at the nation’s seat of power in Abuja. To lend credence to his position, Oyedepo quotes Olatunji Dare article of 27th November, 2018, titled “Buhari’s Double”. Oyedepo, reading from a script, said:

“This disturbing information came from the Nation Newspaper of Tuesday, 27th November 2018, written by one Olatunji Dare, exploded with ‘authoritative assertions’, he said, claiming among others: That President Buhari had died in the U.K. in 2017, whilst he was undergoing medical treatment. HOW? That the entrenched cabal in Aso Rock had procured ‘President Buhari’s double’ in Sudan and pressed him to serve as Nigerian President. What? That the representatives of the ‘Jubril’ family having discovered the gigantic swindle, suddenly showed up in Abuja and demanded to be compensated with power-sharing arrangement at the Federal level in perpetuity plus 50% of Nigerian oil revenues for 10 years in the first instance.”

What the Bishop read was precisely what Mr. Dare wrote. What the revered minister failed to see in the write up was the satire in the whole piece. Olatunji Dare had been discussing the matter of Nnamdi Kanu and his propagating of the “Buhari Double” rumour. Mr. Dare, in his bid to make Kanu’s position sound even more ridiculous, went further to say that the family of Buhari’s impersonator, Jibril, were blackmailing the Nigerian government on the whole matter. Dare made up the satire to make Kanu’s position sound preposterous. This is what David Oyedepo read to his congregation as news!

The other gaffe that made the news in the past week was the one from Fr. Ejike Mbaka of the Adoration Ministries, Enugu. The revered Catholic Charismatic pastor did not conceal his love for money when he took the Nigerian president through his legendary caustic tongue. Mbaka said that he had prayed for the recovery of President Buhari and in return the President should have come to Adoration Ministries to “thank God”. He said no one cheats God and goes free. He warned that Buhari’s illness may return if the President did not come to him and offer thanksgiving.

While many where still in the dark as to the nature of the gratitude the President should offer, Mbaka embarks on a tirade of other political figures. He says that Peter Obi is stingy. That all he could offer his ministry was a miserly half a million naira. He said:

“(Gov. Dave) Umahi (of Ebonyi State) donated 1,000 bags of rice and 1,000 tubers of yam to us, but it meant nothing to me until he handed N10 million cheque to me and promised to build a project for the ministry. This is the type of gesture we require from Obi.”

At the end of the tirade, it was clear that pecuniary reasons were the factors that were engendering the latest statement from the popular Enugu reverend father.

These two incidents have quite unexpectedly revealed certain realities about popular figures in Nigerian religious life. Speaking on the incident, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju gave this advice on her Facebook wall: “…Good education is sweet! Read classics, great biographies & good fiction. You can’t achieve depth by reading; Rich Dad, Poor Dad…” She was saying, in other words, that if David Oyedepo was adept in reading, beyond the prosperity/faith jargon he writes, he would have recognized satire from what Olatunji Dare wrote.

The fact of the matter is that some of the least informed set of people in the country today are Pentecostal Pastors and their followers. Beyond whatever professional career they may be involved with, Pentecostals do not read anything but Prosperity/Faith theological books. At the end, they are usually wholly uninformed when it comes to dealing with other matters in the real world.

On the other hand, and quite unfortunately, Fr. Ejike Mbaka has revealed what many of us have long suspected is the underlying motive for his kind of ministry: MONEY. Mbaka spoke from the abundance of his heart, and since Catholic Charismatics are usually not the object of criticism in the religious sphere, he felt free to speak about the pecuniary undertone of his ministry. Unfortunately for him, he revealed too much.

In November this year, I was in Enugu to market my book Victor Banjo. My friends, who were taking me around to see the city, pointed out to me that Mbaka’s bottled water Aqua Rapha was the leading bottled water company in Enugu and environs. In fact it was initially named Healing Waters. But NAFDAC had a running battle with Mbaka and forced him to change the name, so that the public are not deceived to using the water for healing purposes.

Yet, the bottled water is all that Enugu folks drink. Why? They hold that Mbaka’s healing powers are in the water. Besides, the term “Aqua Rapha” is still “healing water” in Greek. That experience with Aqua Rapha remains the only let down to my wonderful experience while visiting the beautiful city of Enugu.

What is my point?

For too long we have centred our attention on Pentecostals and their use of God to make money in ministry. Very few people are commenting on Catholic Charismatics. The fact, as revealed in the latest Mbaka gaffe, is that there is practically no difference in all of them. Mbaka is in this thing for the money; just like his Pentecostal counterparts.

The lesson is simple: men’s hearts are revealed from the multitudes of the words they proclaim. The wise speak little so as to reveal less folly. The foolish utter it all to his own disgrace. It was a terrible day for religion in Nigeria with these various gaffes from David Oyedepo and Ejike Mbaka.

By: Deji Yesufu, the author of the book Victor Banjo. He can be reached on newdejix@gmail.com

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Olabode Olawuyi:s Dedication, Passion Will Forever Serve As An Inspiration To Us All-NBCA

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The Nigeria Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (NBCA) has stated that the dedication and passion of Mr. Olabode Olawuyi, the late veterinary technologist killed by a lion at the Zoological Garden of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), would forever serve as an inspiration.

 

NBCA stated this in a statement released on Wednesday, February 21, adding that Olawuyi’s dedication to his chosen field shone for all to see.

 

In the statement signed by Mr. Dipo Bali, NBCA said that it was deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Olawuyi, who was the former Public Relations Officer for the National Zoological Agency (NAZAP).

 

“In memory of Mr. Olabode Olawuyi, we pledge to redouble our efforts towards promoting responsible wildlife management practices and fostering a robust safety culture within the zoological and animal care fields. His dedication and passion will forever serve as an inspiration to us all.”

 

The group which described the deceased as a pillar of the Nigerian zoological community, also noted that he was lauded for his unwavering commitment to wildlife conservation and exceptional service.

 

“He had dedicated years to the OAU Zoological Garden, providing exemplary care to its resident lion, whom he had nurtured since its birth. NBCA acknowledges the ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Olawuyi’s passing.

 

“We extend our deepest condolences to his grieving family, friends, and colleagues at OAU during this difficult time. Our unwavering support stands with them as they navigate this profound loss.

 

“As an organization dedicated to wildlife protection and preservation in Nigeria, we recognize the inherent risks associated with working with wild animals. We remain steadfast in advocating for the strictest adherence to safety protocols and established guidelines to ensure the well-being of both wildlife caretakers and the animals under their care.*

 

Also, NBCA said that it remains committed to closely monitoring the situation and collaborating with relevant authorities to prevent similar tragedies from unfolding in the future, while also extending its unwavering support to the OAU Zoological Garden and its staff during this period of immense loss.

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NASRE Advises FG On Food Crisis, Forex Shortage Amid Calls To Suspend Import Ban

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As Nigeria finds itself at a critical crossroads, grappling with simultaneous challenges of a food crisis and a foreign exchange (forex) shortage.

 

This is even as the nation seeks solutions to mitigate these pressing issues, the debate over whether to open its borders for importation has intensified.

 

The food crisis gripping Nigeria has raised concerns about food security and access to essential nutrition for millions of citizens.

 

Adverse weather conditions, supply chain disruptions, and other factors have contributed to dwindling food supplies and soaring prices, placing a significant strain on households and exacerbating the vulnerability of already marginalized communities.

 

Meanwhile, the forex shortage has hampered Nigeria’s ability to import essential goods and raw materials, further exacerbating supply chain disruptions and exacerbating inflationary pressures.

 

Industries reliant on imported inputs, including agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, have been particularly hard hit, impeding economic growth and development.

 

In response to these challenges, some stakeholders advocate for opening Nigeria’s borders to facilitate the importation of food and other essential commodities.

 

Proponents argue that increased importation could help alleviate immediate food shortages, stabilize prices, and provide relief to vulnerable populations facing hunger and malnutrition.

 

However, others caution against the potential risks of opening borders amid a forex shortage. Critics raise concerns about the impact on domestic production and self-sufficiency, as well as the long-term consequences of relying heavily on imported goods. They emphasize the need to prioritize investments in domestic agriculture and infrastructure to build resilience against future crises.

 

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the government faces the daunting task of balancing short-term relief efforts with long-term strategies for sustainable development and economic resilience.

 

Proffering suggestion on how the government can address the unending inflationary pressures, Forex shortages, food prices hike and revitalise the nation’s economy, the Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors (NASRE), has advised the Nigerian government to adopt collaborative efforts involving policymakers, industry stakeholders, civil society organizations, and international partners to identify holistic solutions that address both immediate needs and underlying structural challenges.

 

On the debate over whether Nigeria should open its borders for importation amid the food crisis and forex shortage, the President of the advocacy group, Mr Femi Oyewale, underscores the urgency of coordinated action and innovative thinking.

 

According to him, now more than ever, solidarity, cooperation, and forward-thinking policies are needed to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all Nigerians.

 

“The question of whether Nigerian borders should be opened for food importation in the face of a food crisis is complex and multifaceted. However, there are factors to consider, which basically, Domestic Agricultural Capacity. Because opening borders for food importation could undermine domestic agricultural production by flooding the market with cheaper imported goods.

 

“However, if domestic production is insufficient to meet demand, importing food may be necessary to avoid shortages,” he said.

 

On the economic implications of borders opening, the President of NASRE, Oyewale, said: “Importing food can have economic ramifications, both positive and negative. On one hand, it can provide access to a wider variety of foods and potentially lower prices for consumers. On the other hand, it may negatively impact local farmers and exacerbate trade imbalances.”

 

The resourceful editors, while commenting on Food Security, pointed out that relying heavily on imported food leaves a country vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations in the global market. Therefore, it urged the federal government to develop a robust domestic agricultural sector, which is crucial for long-term food security.

 

According to Oyewale, the Nigerian government must consider its broader economic and agricultural policies when making decisions about food importation. This includes evaluating subsidies, tariffs, and investment in agricultural infrastructure.

 

“Importing food often involves long-distance transportation, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Promoting local production can help reduce the carbon footprint associated with food consumption.

 

“Food is not just a commodity; it is essential for human well-being. Government policies should prioritize ensuring access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable to food insecurity,” he added.

 

The Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors, NASRE, therefore, noted that the decision to open Nigerian borders for food importation during a food crisis should be approached cautiously, taking into account the country’s domestic agricultural capacity, economic implications, food security goals, environmental concerns, and social welfare considerations.

 

“A balanced approach that supports both domestic production and responsible trade practices may be necessary to address immediate food shortages while also promoting long-term food security and sustainability,” the Association stated.

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Lagos State Government to prosecute 11 suspects for extortion

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The Lagos State Government said 11 suspects arrested at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state will be prosecuted to serve as deterrents to others extorting residents and motorists in the state.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Olawale Musa, disclosed this while addressing journalists on Wednesday.

He added that the suspects parade themselves as enforcement officers to extort unsuspecting motorists and residents in the state.

Musa said, “Lagos State Government has declared zero tolerance for extortion of unsuspecting residents, especially motorists, by miscreants parading themselves as enforcement officers at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state.

“We have announced severally that nobody is allowed to collect money for the local government on the street of Lagos, and the government has set up a team to ensure that anybody that does that is picked up and from that Lekki axis.

“They will be charged to court to explain themselves, and I want to sound a note of warning to others that do the same thing that we will not relent; the government is all out for them.”

He noted that it is unlawful for any local government area within the state to place personnel to conduct such operations on the highways.

“If you have any issues, you call us, and we will come and address them, but when you have people coming on the road on the guise that you want to have revenue at this hard time, collecting money from motorists on the road is not fair, and it is illegal in Lagos State to resist it.

“It is illegal for any local government area in the state to deploy people on the roads as it negates the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, Section 18, 2018, which empowers only the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority to carry out such operations on the roads,” he added.

In March 2023, The PUNCH reported that the Lagos State Government arrested four suspected hoodlums in some parts of the state over extortion.

The suspects were arrested in the Amuwo-Odofin area of the state while attempting to extort motorists.

 

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