By Abdulwahab Abdulah, Dapo Akirefon & Godwin Oritshe
LAGOS—MIXED reactions, yesterday, continued to trail Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye’s appointment of a National Overseer for the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, for Nigeria as part of moves to key into the FRCN law. .
Those who kicked against the policy include constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN; Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa and a legal practitioner, Mrs Funmi Falana. They spoke as the RCCG, yesterday, issued a clarification of the true state of affairs at the church.
A statement by the Assistant General Overseer in charge of Administration and Personnel, Pastor Johnson Odesola, one of the three new officers to run the National office of the church, explained the true position of things.
FRCN law shouldn’t be applicable to churches —Ozekhome
Chief Ozekhome argued that, “the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria as good as it is should not be applicable to churches as their matters are ecclesiastical, celestial and not terrestrial.
“More so, the churches have been exempted from the various principles of governance. The Catholic churches are in more unique position than the Pentecostal churches because the Pentecostal churches are registered under the Corporate Affairs Commission. The Catholic is both apostolic and Universal.”
Nothing strange about the law—Ebun Olu- Adegboruwa
On his part, Mr Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa said the emerging trend gives cause for concern.
Adegboruwa, in a statement he issued in Lagos titled: “As in Gambia, As in RCCG?’’, said: “The emerging trend of events in The Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, in the past 24 hours, is beginning to give cause for serious concern.
“Very recently, elections were held in The Gambia and the opposition was declared the winner. The incumbent President called to congratulate the winner and conceded defeat. But before the President-elect could be sworn in, President Yahya Jammeh recanted and has now thrown the West African nation into crisis.
“On Saturday, January 7, 2017, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, told all ministers gathered at the Annual Ministers Conference, that the Church now has a new General Overseer, but before the end of the day, information emerged that Pastor Adeboye had only stepped down as General Overseer for Nigeria and would still continue to function as General Overseer of RCCG Worldwide.
“When it was pointed out that the Constitution of RCCG does not recognize that title, then we were informed that Pastor Adeboye will now be known as Global Missioner and Spiritual Leader of the Church. When the illegality of that title was revealed, then we have now been told that he will now retain his title as General Overseer, while Pastor Obayemi is National Overseer.
“I have taken the pains to check the Constitution of the church and I can see signs of some confusion brewing, if not carefully handled. In all my time that I have known Pastor Adeboye, integrity has been his watchword and the trends emerging from the inconsistent pronouncements from the church since yesterday, do not support the personality of our dear Daddy GO, and he himself has to act quickly to douse the tension being generated.
“From a church of just about 40 parishes in 1981 when Pastor Adeboye took over as General Overseer, the RCCG is now present in about 192 countries all over the world. It has become one of the most influential churches worldwide and we cannot afford to give the impression that Daddy GO is unwilling to retire or hand over to somebody else. That is certainly not the Pastor Adeboye that we all know.
“In his succession plan, Pastor Adeboye has done what no pastor has done before and he should follow it through and mentor the people that God has led him to chose as his successors.
“We his followers are pained with the development but as things are now, there is little we can do about it.
“The Codes of the Financial Reporting Council are not new. They were implemented seamlessly for Banks when their Managing Directors who had been in office for 10 years were asked to hand over. This has now been extended to non-profit organizations like churches and there is nothing strange about this.
“These codes were contested at the Federal High Court and the court decided against us. They are meant to achieve transparency in these organizations.
“I therefore humbly appeal to Daddy GO to follow through his plan and avoid the temptations of The Gambia.”
There will be court actions against the code — Mrs Funmi Falana
On her part, Mrs Funmi Falana said: “The Codes of the Financial Reporting Council, regarding the Non-For-Profit Organisations (NFPOs) Governance Code, 2015, are not new, it has been in existence for sometime. It was signed into law under the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. My belief is that some people are not aware of it until now.
“As far as I am concerned, it appears controversial and some people will definitely go back to court to challenge its potency. As it is now, it is practically applicable to the churches. How many mosque can you say it has affected their leadership? So, it is something controversial and will definitely be tested in the mill at the court.”
Fayose accuses FG of working against RCCG/Adeboye
Meanwhile, Governor Fayose of Ekiti State, yesterday, cautioned the Federal Government on its recent law “which has tampered with the administration of churches in Nigeria by making the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, to step aside as the head of the church in Nigeria”.
Criticizing the law, Fayose urged the Federal Government to thread softly on this path to avoid tragedy of monumental proportion befalling them.
He said this during the 53rd birthday thanksgiving service of his wife, Mrs. Feyisetan Olayemi Fayose, held at the Governor Office Chapel, in Ado-Ekiti.
Fayose said: “There is one thing every government must not do, the moment you face the church of God, you will fail. The God of Adeboye, Kumuyi will bring down all the enemies in this government.
“Somebody must tell them, there are certain things you don’t do. They are going from frying pan to fire. This government wants to subdue the church, God will subdue them. They are ridiculing leaders of the church, God will rubbish them. The same church they had deceived to get power, they are saying that we now have the ring, who will remove it from our hand? The Lord will cut off the hand that wears the ring. APC is behaving in this way. But God is the creator of the ring and the hand, God will amputate the hand. Ayo Fayose is anointed of God.
“I have warned and I’m still warning, take your hands away from the administration of churches, you are killing Christians.”
The Lord will rise against you. By rising against the church, this government has failed. As anyone that rises against God will fail. By using Laws against the church, they have started to crumble.
“Christians are being slaughtered in Southern Kaduna and noble men cannot talk because of fear of incarceration. Remember you are here today, tomorrow, you would not be here again. We must condemn what is happening here today.”
What has changed in RCCG?
On Saturday, the General Overseer (G.O) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye announced an administrative restructuring of the church with the creation of the office and responsibility of National Overseer for Nigeria.
While this was widely misinterpreted to mean that Pastor Adeboye has retired as head of the Church, this was corrected via a press statement issued by the church.
Although the church said that the creation was necessitated by the need to comply with National Code on Corporate Governance 2015 for Not-for-profit organizations, NFPOs, the reality is that such development is not new within the RCCG mission.
For example, the church has offices and officers, who oversee its branches in other countries. Most times they are not called or referred to as National Overseer of those countries, but they have responsibility for the affairs of the church in their respective countries, and they all report to the General Overseer, in person of Pastor Adeboye.
Nigeria has been different because the church was founded in Nigeria and has its headquarters in Nigeria and until Saturday’s announcement, the General Overseer actually also means the national overseer or overseer in Nigeria. Consequently, and in that regard, Pastor Adeboye has direct responsibility for the church in Nigeria.
However, with the appointment of Pastor Joseph Obayemi as National Overseer for RCCG Nigeria, Pastor Adeboye has relinquished direct responsibility of RCCG in Nigeria (administratively).
The consequence of this development is that henceforth everything about the church in Nigeria administratively, will be directed to the National Overseer.
The National Overseer, though has authority to take decisions with respect to the church in Nigeria, he is still subject to the approval of the General Overseer, who is the Chairman, Governing Council of RCCG.
So what has changed?
Less administrative work for Pastor Adeboye and more administrative work for Pastor Obayemi, the National Overseer.
Pastor Adeboye is still the General Overseer and Chairman, Governing Council of RCCG and all officers in charge of the branches of the church in various countries will still report to the Governing Council and indirectly to him as Chairman of the Council.
Will Pastor Obayemi succeed Pastor Adeboye as General Overseer and Chairman of the Governing Council? That is not implied by the announcement of Pastor Adeboye and there is nothing in the constitution of the church that stipulates or implies who succeeds the General Overseer. As reflected in the appointment of Pastor Adeboye as successor to the founding and former General Overseer, late Pastor Akindayomi, such decision is the prerogative of t whoever is the General Overseer, and it is as directed by God, the owner of the church.