President, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Dr. Samson Ayokunle, has decried the lifestyle of some church leaders in the country, saying they are the reason Federal Government came up with the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 (CAMA), which empowered the Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to monitor the financial spending of religious bodies in Nigeria.
He noted that many pastors are flaunting their wealth, acquired from members, establishing churches just to make money, while some are buying expensive cars, flying private jets and competing with politicians. He wondered why government would not pry into church affairs with such behaviours.
The CAN president did not, however, spare the Federal Government, which he said never contributed anything to make the church better. Rather, it is church leaders that have been contributing immensely to the federal and state governments. For instance, he noted that during the COVID-19 lockdown, some churches like the Deeper Life Bible Church made whopping donations of N50m to the Federal Government, while others also donated handsomely to federal and state governments.
Ayokunle said: “The Church is a spiritual institution, which is answerable to God. Again, the government is not contributing anything to the church. And since the Nigerian government is not contributing anything to the church, there is no need poke nosing into church’s affairs.
“What is government going there to do? If the money there is stolen, of what concern is that to government? Is it government money? So much government money is being stolen, what has government done about that? Has it recovered all the money from political fraudsters before stretching its hand into the church?
“But I must say this, Nigerian pastors have not done too well. Many of them are flaunting wealth acquired from members of their churches. Some are establishing churches specifically for business, just to make money and feed their pockets and families. Some are buying expensive cars, SUVs with which they cruise cities, just like politicians. Some are flying private jets from city to city and from one to the other. Yes, some are heavily rich as the politicians of this world. While their members are languishing in penury, the pastors are cruising around in expensive cars.
“Some are even richer than the politicians. It pains my heart to see pastors now competing among themselves to know who is richer than the other… There is now a competition among pastors to outdo the other in terms of wealth and fame. If you think government is not jealous, you are deceiving yourself.
“Rather than the house of God being a centre for spiritual rejuvenation, Nigerian pastors have turned it into business centres, and so, the Nigerian government must come in to supervise what pastors are doing. Do you blame the government? Blame pastors who are milking members and living larger than the people they are serving.
“Some people who do not have job in the secular world are becoming pastors overnight. With their sugarcoated tongues, they milk their congregations, and within a few years, they join the league of rich pastors and the competition continues. If pastors were actually doing God’s Will and not showing off wealth, I do not feel government would think of probing their finances.”