Right of Reply: NO! PASTOR ADEBOYE, YOUR APPROACH IS WRONG SIR….
Last week was the 61st Convention of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). Though I do not worship at RCCG, I had planned to attend the Holy ghost Service on Friday, but changed my mind at the last minute. I assumed that the place would be jammed due to the holiday and I checked online to know the status of things at the RCCG Camp. Immediately, I realized that my premonition was right based on the online report that there was traffic even right inside the RCCG Camp! So I decided against going for the Holy Ghost Service.
By Sunday evening, I heard about the ambitious project of building a new 3Km by 3Km auditorium, by Pastor Adeboye, and shortly afterwards, there was a barrage of criticism of the project and the man of God several on social media.
A particular article written by one Peniel Plus is worth reading. Amongst several issues raised, a comparison was made between building a worship auditorium and investing in research to conquer problems such as AIDs, Malaria etc which are major issues in Africa.
First off, while we accept that the church has a responsibility to its congregation and the entire nation at large, the church cannot, and must not be blamed or held responsible for the irresponsibility of government.
I am a firm believer in constructive criticism. However, when we criticize, we must never forget to look at a situation holistically, rather than through a single perspective. The Danger of A Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adochie is an apt description of this scenario because many times the criticism is only one part of the entire story.
Many have argued that the amount being raised (N20Billion) would be more beneficial if such amount was committed to other developmental projects, rather than building a church auditorium. While this argument appears logical, it is only one part of the story. I will attempt to look at other associated issues related to what the RCCG and Pastor Adeboye have done so far, and the upcoming project that is generating so much controversy.
A little over twenty years ago, RCCG under a rather unknown man at the time by the name Enoch Adeboye purchased a massive piece of uninhabited forest land located on the outskirts of Lagos, a haven of highway / armed robbers and kidnappers with a great company of pythons and wild animals. Adeboye moved his family to this “wilderness” christened the Redemption Camp, constructed a large auditorium and began to hold the Holy Ghost Services there (http://eaadeboye.com/).
Anyone who lives or has lived in Lagos will agree with me that the entire area from Arepo (journalist estate), Magboro, Mowe, Ibafo, RCCG Camp and the other villages now inhabited and fast developing, was nothing more than a thick forest two decades ago. This was the time when this man, Daddy GO as he is fondly called, based on divine instruction from God moved his family to this “igbo irunmole” , at the mercy of wild animals and armed robbers.
Today, based on this obedience to divine instruction, the entire area has not only developed tremendously, it has become home and resting place to many young and old families simply because of the massive construction and development of the RCCG camp. The corollary is to imagine that there is no RCCG Camp today. I will admit that we would still have the likes of estates that have sprung up in places like Arepo and Mowe. I am however positive that the development these areas have experienced which has offered succor to many, would be nowhere near what it is today.
Today, there are banks within the camp employing Nigerians, providing services and engaging several contractors. There are schools (pre-school, primary and secondary) around the entire area providing education to Nigerian children, a means of livelihood to owners, while at the same time offering employment opportunities to staff of different categories. Today, there are construction companies doing legitimate business, employing Nigerians and paying tax to the national coffers. These are just some of the associated benefits of the RCCG Camp among many. Humm, all because of the obedience of one man.
It is also important to state that RCCG has opened many roads making this area more comfortable for the residents. A major road was opened from the Camp that leads straight to Ikorodu. I remember government has been talking about building the fourth mainland bridge to connect Ikorodu. While this project (4th mainland bridge) is still a mirage, a church has successfully opened a major road connecting the people of Ikorodu to Lagos – Ibadan Expressway.
Can we really quantify the massive impact of the RCCG Camp to the development that has occurred on this axis? Can we really quantify the impact that the road connecting Ikorodu with the Ibadan expressway (built by RCCG), has on the conventional Ikorodu Road, and the residents of Ikorodu who now have an alternative route connecting their homes with other parts of Lagos? I thought somebody should be celebrated here!
RCCG now wants to build another camp. I would like to use this medium to appeal to anyone who knows the location of the proposed camp to kindly let me know where it is. I honestly would love to buy some acres now because I am sure of atleast 500% increase within a period of five years minimum.
Speaking seriously, building another camp will only mean one thing – and that is more development. This implies more construction. And we must not forget that construction companies will be involved, homes and other associated employment generating activities will be rejuvenated, which would have a positive impact on the economy.
It has also been argued that churches build universities that most of their members cannot afford for their children. This is also true, but again the danger of a single story comes into play because the fee charged by the schools is only one part of the story.
Looking at the entire story, there is nowhere in the world where good qualitative education comes cheap. Has anyone asked why ASUU is constantly on strike as they are currently on now?
A while back, the Head of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) made a shocking revelation that the amount of money Nigerians spend on University Education in Ghana yearly is much more than what the Federal Government allocates to education. This is a food for thought considering the fact that we are not even talking about how much Nigerians spend in the UK, US, Canada and other Western and surprisingly Asian countries. The reality is that the problem is a lot deeper than that, and we may not be doing justice, if we simply accuse Christian schools of charging exorbitant fees.
Renowned legal luminary, Afe Babalola offered an insight into what it takes to run a university in a report in 2011. As Pro-Chancellor of Unilag, a research was done and it was discovered that about N4.5million would be required to train a university undergraduate properly even in a government funded school. Today, Afe Babalola University, as an example, runs on seven generators, each with a capacity of 500KVA providing 24hour power supply. I can imagine how much private university spend on power alone, not to talk about attracting qualified professors (http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/02/you-will-need-not-less-than-n4-5m-to-train-any-student-in-varsity-—-afe-babalola/).
Yet we expect education to be cheap, and accuse churches. In my view, this problem is much deeper.
This is a problem much deeper than we admit, and everyone needs to proffer solutions that can lead to a drop in the cost of quality education in our country.
At this risk of making this write up an epistle, I will stop here. But I will be doing an injustice to Pastor Adeboye if I fail to talk about the unique qualities and achievement of this great man. Pastor Adeboye has received honorary citizenship and keys to three cities in the US including Cambridge Massachusetts, Dallas Texas and Baltimore Maryland. Pastor Adeboye led the Pre-Summit Prayers at the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations, Headquarters, New York. Pastor Adeboye was named one of ‘The World’s Fifty Most Powerful People’ by Newsweek Magazine (USA) in 2009. Amongst several unannounced philanthropic endeavors’, Pastor Adeboye actively supports the development of table tennis in Nigeria with the yearly E.A Adeboye Table Tennis championship culminating in a National Sports Honour and Award in 2010, as the Spritual Pillar of Nigeriam Sports. All this is in addition to being the spiritual adviser and guide to many heads of governments across the world.
Singlehandedly, Daddy GO has succeeded where government has failed even when appraised on the physical perspective. Yet rather than being celebrated, the revered man of God is being vilified. I am however happy, that even though many in Nigeria do not honour this Prophet of God, the whole world acknowledges that Daddy GO is a man whose God is Jehovah Almighty.
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