By Sam  Eyoboka

THE Nigerian Church has, not without reason, come under intense vilification in recent times with its leadership accused of taking advantage of the pervading poverty in the land to hoodwink cash-strapped citizens, in want of miracles, who easily enrich the Church with their widow’s mite, while the pastors lead very flambouyant lifestyles.

Church members, basking on the lofty promises of divine prosperity by crafty pastors, even went to the ridiculous extent of stealing their employers’ monies, donating same to the Church in fulfillment of their pledges to be part of ‘divine’ work in the Church.

*Kingsley Ogiri, (l) UNILAG, receiving his car keys from Pastor (Mrs) Folashade Olukoya (wife of Dr. Daniel Olukoya, MFM General Overseer)
*Kingsley Ogiri, (l) UNILAG, receiving his car keys from Pastor (Mrs) Folashade Olukoya (wife of Dr. Daniel Olukoya, MFM General Overseer)

Such thieving members, in most cases, lick their wounds several years later when they discover that their monies have been used to sustain their pastors’ flambouyant lifestyles while they get poorer.

The Church is, however, gradually responding to the criticisms as a negligible few of them are being more socially responsible to the needs of the people around them. One of such churches that has caught the bug of social responsibility is the 20-year Mountain of Fire and Miracles, MFM, which last Saturday gave 20 cars to an equal number of student-members of the church who had first class honours in their degree examinations.

As part of the first monthly Power Must Change Hand programme of MFM, the general overseer of the church, Dr. Daniel Kayode Olukoya doled out 20 cars to the high flying students as part his 21-point agenda to encourage the nation’s youths to stay clean and far away from satanic destruction. One of them was, however, said to be absent for the presentation ceremony for inexplicable reasons.

The dream of Dr. Olukoya, who made history with a first class degree in micro-biology at the University of Lagos, is to reshape the  destinies of Nigerian youths whose academic focus is already lost, to promote in them their innate academic potentials, to give hope to those who are academically less privileged, to rescue them from being derailed while on campus, to make MFM youths points of reference to their contemporaries who are aimless on campus, to celebrate excellence through word class award ceremonies, to let the world know that youths of this generation are a leading force in terms of academic structure and content.

The list of the recipients included Adesanya Abosede, University Of Lagos, English; Alabi Olakunle, Ambrose Ali University, Bio-Chemistry; Aluko Damillola, University of Lagos, French; Anifowose Abiodun, University of Lagos, Chemistry; Dosunmu Olakunle, University of Lagos, Chemical Engineering; Edaogbogun Blessing, OAU, Accounting; Ezeji Kelechi Maxwell, FUTO, Mechanical Engineering; Iwaotan Temidayo, Unilag, Botany.

Others include Jegede Bolaji, Unilag, Chemical Engineering; Nwachukwu Hope, Nasarawa State University, Physics; Ogirri Kingsley, Unilag, Sociology; Okafor Chiweoke, UNN, Economics; Olabatuyi Oluwole, UNAAB, Mathematics; Oladiran Gideon, Unilag, Chemical Engineering; Olaopa Oladeji, UNAAD, Economics; Oyeniyi Gabriel, UNNAD, Accounting; Olawole Olabisi Isaac, OAU, Plant Science; Oyindamola Tolu, UI, Computer Science and Sonubi Adeyemi, UNAAB, Mathematics.

Some of the recipients expressed their gratitude to the general overseer for the award which they said would spur them on the greater heights. Mr. Bolaji Jegede who had first class in 2008 at the Unilag was said to be reading for his master’s degree in Cambridge. Hs father, who received the award on his behalf, said he was very happy because the gesture of the church has the capacity to spur the nation’s youth to work harder. “I am happy, at least, somebody is recognizing the youths of this country. This recognition will give them more challenges to go ahead and be the best in their fields of endeavour. More people will be drawn towards reading and make sure they come out with good grades and results,“ the older Mr. Jegede said.

Another recipient, Abosede Adesanya, a Unilag graduate, who had first class in English, said: “I feel very honoured to be counted among the awardees. All glory to God.” He therefore advised students to believe in God, trust in Him and also believe in themselves.

A 2008 first class graduate in Chemical Engineering at Unilag, Oladiran Gideon was short of words to describe his feelings, saying “I feel good, no words to describe this. I won’t be surprised if other churches follow suit. No words to describe this; it is extraordinary. I advise students to read hard and be close to God in all things.”

A cross section of the cars.
A cross section of the cars.

The wife of the General Overseer who presented car keys to the 19 first class graduates, said the gifts were to encourage the nation’s youths. She said the church has 21-point agenda to capture the youths of this generation from satanic destruction, to reshape the  destiny of youths whose academic focus is already lost, to promote in them their innate academic potentials, to give hopes to those who are academically less privileged, to rescue them from being derailed while on campus, to make MFM youths points of reference to their contemporaries who are aimless on campus, to celebrate excellence through word class award ceremonies, to let the world know that youths of this generation are a leading force in terms of academic structure and content.

Her husband, Dr. Daniel Olukoya, in an interview, told our reporter that in 2008 he challenged the youths of the church to study hard, saying that anyone who comes up first class would get a gift of a car from him. “We just want to encourage them to reposition them for the challenges ahead, because of the intensity of peer pressure,” he said, adding “we recommended that price to make them work hard. The effect is what you are seeing today. Some wanted cash and we gave them cash, others wanted cars and that is what they got.”

The man of God who refused to disclose the cost of the project, advised the nation’s youths to forsake evil when they are young and follow righteousness which is the only guarantee to a secured tomorrow.

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