On The Issue Of Tenure Of Office Of Leaders Of Faith Institutions
BY ADEWALE ADEOYE
On the issue of tenure of office of leaders of faith institutions, I chose to take a position that may appear conservative. Churches and Mosques are moral and spiritual institutions with obligations to the public. They are perhaps the only institutions in Nigeria that continue to preach morality and ethics. They may not all abide by what they preach but at least they do preach these values. Politicians do not preach ethics. Our schools no longer either teach or preach values. In a society speeding to a Shipwreck, we need the faith institutions.
I agree that the government has the right to financial regulations of every faith institutions either Churches, Mosques or Traditional religion. The state must ensure the finances are judiciously spent. It must ensure the funds are not used for illicit activities like terrorism. However, the government cannot and should not determine the tenure of the custodians of such institutions for the following reasons:
1) The state should understand and treat religion and spirituality as a private affair. What should concern the state is the financial aspect not the spiritual aspect which boils down to leadership. Faith institutions base their authority on God and the leaders are often picked by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through mankind, as they claim.
2) The Nigerian state has no moral obligations to determine the tenure of people that lead institutions founded on agelong culture and spirituality. In as much as the state cannot determine the tenure of the Sultan of Sokoto or his headship of Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs or the tenure of the Ooni or Oba of Benin, the Oluwo of Ogboni confraternity, Pyrates etc, it has no right to tell Spiritual institutions what should be the tenure of their leaders. How can the State determine the genie of the Chief Imam of my town? That is stupidity on the part of the government. Rome does not determine the tenure of the POPE. What the state should focus on is the financial responsibility of the faith institutions to the state and to set her lenses on social obligations of the leaders and their followers to the state.
3) It is tyranny and gross irresponsibility of any state to attempt muzzling faith groups or view them from the prism of profit alone. We agree there are wayward faith leaders but this does not in anyway undermine the promotion of Spirituality and the uphold of values which are some of the kernel reasons for human existence and of which they stand for.
4) I see the RCCG complex arising from various interests among which are:
(i) Desperation of a section to take over the enormous resources of the Church.
(ii) A strong cartel within the Church that sees only the business content of the Church.
(iii) Shear envy of the Spiritual leader who has emerged as Nigeria’s most iconic Spiritual leader that has never been seen for generations.
(iv) Some people in and outside the government feel threatened by the growing influences of certain faith groups and think it is right to cut them to size.
5) The mistake is that they do not realise that Baba (Enoch) Adeboye, to many people, is synonymous with the RCCG. His exit at this moment through unnatural means, is capable of setting the Church on a devastating destruction if care is not taken. The leadership of the Church, Mosques and traditional faiths, the miracles, healings and the invincible charisma of their leadership is determined by unseen forces, ordained and cannot therefore be subjected to the trampling afflictions of the Nigerian state.
One consequence is that setting a term limit will only lead to factionalisation of the religious groups since it is certain many groups will now emerge from the roots of the ousted leaders. It should be understood that many Nigerian laws are often made to serve parochial interests without a deep reflection on the overall, long term consequences at full moon.
Adewale Adeoye, a journalist and social right activist, writes from Lagos, Nigeria