By Denrele Animashaun
The British mail newspaper ran a center page about the Winners’ Chapel. The head of the ministries, David Oyedepo, has an estimated £93 million fortune, a fleet of private jets and a Rolls-Royce Phantom. The church has been accused of cynical exploitation with £16.7 million in donations and followers are told that God would give them riches in return.
In the Mail revelation, it was revealed that followers are bussed to the church and handed envelopes and their followers encouraged to make debit cards payments.This the ministries say will make them immune from illnesses.
The donations to the ministry in England almost doubled from £2.21 million to £4.37 million between 2006 and 2010.Mr Oyedepo’s super church in Nigeria received £794,000 or 73 per cent of the charitable donations paid out by the British Winners’ Chapel between 2007 and 2010. This was despite claims in Africa that he is enriching himself at the expense of his devotees.
I have a lot of misgivings, when vulnerable people who go into these places seeking spiritual refuge and absolutions are fleeced.
I know of several cases. One that comes to mind is that of a former client who was a victim of a serious crime. She had gone to a church to pray and at the end of the sermon the collection plate came round and she placed a £1 coin into the tray. She had saved the money but the usher was so scathing and she told my client that “Jesus does not do coins”! An old lady gave her last £5 and had to beg at the door for money to buy her electricity. She had felt pressured into handing her money over.
Whatever the case, these places prey on the vulnerable and promises everything only to deliver paranoia, penury and pain. Some of these places are nothing but a pyramid scheme only the top tier milks the proceeds while lowest tier remains deluded of spiritual deliverance.
This is Chuka Ummuna.“To be wealthy and honoured in an unjust society is a disgrace.”– Confucius
I was commuting on a busy Monday morning in London. Transportation is generally a well oiled routine. So I crossed over to the train station, and I noticed a tall, slim and dark gentlemen (well, he really was light skinned) .We both got into the cab of the train. So we took our seats side by side.
He acknowledged my presence and realised that it was me (a community leader in my neighbourhood we meet occasionally at joint events). He asked after my son, and then my daughter and we talked for awhile. Then we got into our journey. I know he has a busy day ahead so I buried my face into my free newspaper. After several stop, he was about to get up he smiled and bid me good day and extended his greeting to my family and I, You see, some of my fellow commuters recognised him but did not react.
Well, the man who just left the train was none other than Chuka Ummuna, Member of Parliament and Shadow Business Minister. It is quite normal to see our lawmakers and parliamentarians using the public transport and mingling with the rest of the ordinary people. It makes them more accessible and brings them closer to the ordinary person in the street. So when I read that Okorocha’s ADC,Gabriel Onu, was jostling Governor of Anambra’s man for warming up the seat for his boss. Gov Okorocha punches Peter Obi’s aide for denying him seat.
You see, the event was in Anambra and the Governor of the state, would be given a place in the front row. But the Imo contingent did not think so. Okorocha’s aides were defiant: “Why is it that anywhere we go, they always reserve a special seat for Obi. Is Okorocha not the leader of Ndigbo?” They did make a scene and what a carry on! Anyway, when Governor Obi arrived to the venue, he squeezed between Onyebuchi and Okorocha.