FORMER foreign affairs minister Professor Bolaji Akinyemi has advised Nigerian churches to stop patronising the rich within society with questionable sources of wealth who use it to purchase influence in places of worship.
Nigeria is home to the world’s largest number of evangelical churches, who have massive followings and have deep pockets. Given the influence they wield, many rich Nigerians flock to these churches for protection, with corrupt public officials known to have made them one of their first points of call when their misdemeanours are discovered.
In the past, corrupt civil servants have been known to make generous donations to these churches after embezzling public funds. Speaking in Lagos at the Centenary Anniversary lecture of the Anglican Church held at All Souls’ Church, Lekki, Professor Akinyemi urged churches to continue to preach against the evil of abuse of office by public officials.
Organised by the Diocese of Lagos, the theme of the lecture was The Church and Good Governance. In his speech, Professor Akinyemi urged churches in the country to stop worshipping money, adding that the church should also have the courage to confront those in authority.
Professor Akinyemi said: “The church has to stop showing favouritism towards rich people whose source of their wealth is questionable. The church should stop worshipping them.”
Also speaking at the event, Professor Itse Sagay, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, said the present administration had made a lot of progress in the fight against corruption. Speaking on the topic The Role of The Church in Combating Corruption in Nigeria, he said that looted property worth about a trillion naira had been recovered over the last four years.
Professor Sagay added: “My concern is that Nigerians don’t seem to be sufficiently impacted by the war against corruption as people are still shamelessly corrupt. Nigerians behave as if they are not aware that they are even corrupt and pretend to come to church on Sunday.
Right Reverend Humphrey Olumakaye, the lord bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Lagos, said the church would continue to play its godly role in teaching the Christian virtues of transparency, honesty and righteousness in government. He said that the day of reckoning was coming when everyone would give account of their stewardship on earth, while urging everyone not to be too attached to the things of the world.