Pastor Oritsejafor and the Private Jet for Jesus

The Church of God has been in the firing line of recent, no
thanks to the indiscretions of the President of the Christian
Association of Nigeria Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor. Many Christians
have made it a style to attack anyone who tried to comment
against the activities of our men of God, who are fast
becoming the greatest factor undermining the zeal of one of
the highest gospel awareness that spread across Nigeria
starting from the 1970’s. To those Christians, correcting our
men of God is a no go area. To them whoever tries such incurs
the wrath of God. In their haste to impose there heresies they
condemn people and threaten death even against the words of
the Bible.
With due respect to the opinion of those who believe men of
God should not be corrected, I do not agree that it was God’s
purpose for his Church. Man is man and God is God. God is the
only one who is immortal and infallible. Man no matter his level
is susceptible to the very human element that makes him man.
Man no matter how spiritually elevated still requires some
check to ensure that he is still remains within the precepts he
once set for himself. Just like Africa is holding the west to
uphold the express words of the Bible they exported to us on
the issue of gay marriages, Nigerian Christian faithful and
followers would continue to hold our men of God accountable to
the letters of the Bible which they have fed us with for many
years.
The Pastor Oritsejafor private jet debate started when he
celebrated his birthday on Saturday 10th November, 2012. But
that year’s birthday was unique in many ways. Pastor
Oritsejafor had assumed office as the President of the
Christian Association of Nigeria CAN. Becoming the first
Pentecostal Pastor to achieve that feat. Again he was
celebrating 40 years of his ministry. But more remarkably was
the unveiling of his newly acquired Canadian-made Bombardier
601 Jet. The jet was estimated at a cost of $4.9million dollars
amounting to N784million. The President, Goodluck Jonathan
was on hand at his Word of Life Bible Church where the news
of his newly acquired Jet was broke to the world, thereby
launching his name in the luxurious private jet club of Nigerian
men of God.
The development generated debate among Nigerians. The
debate led to the CAN President granting an interview to
Vanguard reporters Sam Eyoboka and Joseph Erunke on the
25th November 2012 where answering question on the source of
the Jet he said and I quote “Coming to the issue of jet, I had
no single idea of how it came about. It is true that people like
us have gotten to a point where we need to have means of
movement that will help us. You may have heard me speak about
my trip to Indonesia, to Jakarta……. They feel the pain I go
through and they feel painful for not seeing me most of the
time. They don’t like it, they are troubled. I know some people
buy planes, I can’t buy plane. I can’t afford it. I don’t have
that kind of money, I still don’t know the people that bought
this plane, but I know that there is a committee. I hope you will
get to meet with some of the people in that committee, I don’t
know them. My wife is more involved with them. She (my wife)
never talked to me, (about it) and she was acting strange.
Well, I don’t want to get involved in this. This is my story about
the plane.
I found it difficult to believe the man of God that he knew
nothing about how the Jet gift came about. A Jet is not an
easy article to be procured that one could give anonymously.
Private jet comes with the maintenance instruction, the man
power and logistics involved in its maintenance and services.
These logistics makes it impossible that someone could just
donate a jet anonymously like Pastor Oritsejafor claimed. Come
to think of it, not many Nigerians can gift someone a private
jet. If we be truthful, a man of God who is presented with a
gift as big as a Jet by an anonymous donor ought to reject it,
considering the effect of corruption on the Nigerian society.
Accepting a gift running into millions of dollars is on it own a
tacit condonation of corruption. What if it is a product of
stealing, armed robbery or drug proceeds? Has the Church
become so worldly that it can collect anything without inquiring
the source? These are questions those who support our men of
God owning private jets must answer.
A shepherd, who cares so much for his flocks, would ask
questions before accepting such luxurious and avoidable gift as
a private jet. But that was not to be. The jet was going to stir
the human element in Pastor Oritsejafor, hence he poured out
the more to the Vanguard reporter, And I’m not ashamed to
own a plane, I think it is a necessity and not a luxury for some
of us deeply involved in the work of God to own planes.
Necessity? Perhaps the future will show how necessary it is for
the leader of a Church to own a private jet, while none of his
Church members had one. We would see how necessary it is for
a man of God to pocket a gift of N784million all for his
personal luxury at the expense of the Church he shepherds.
Throughout the private jet debate, the question that ran on my
mind was “does our Lord Jesus Christ need a private jet from
an anonymous donor for his Gospel? Was Jesus luxurious? My
Bible tells me otherwise. Jesus was humble and bothered more
about the work of his father than his own personal comfort. My
Bible tells me in “Philippians 2, 3-11 “Do nothing out of selfish
ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above
yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to
the interests of the others. In your relationships with one
another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in
very nature God, did not consider equality with God something
to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself
nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in
human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he
humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death
on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and
gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name
of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and
under the earth, 11and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus
Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.
But the answer was going to come on the 5th of September,
2015 when the South African Government announced that its
South Africa Revenue Service (SARS) apprehended a cargo of
$9.3 million in cash allegedly being smuggled from Nigeria. The
cargo was smuggled in by a chartered private plane, a
Bombadier Challenger 601 with registration number 808HG,
bearing two Nigerians and an Israeli national. News began to
filter in that the jet belonged to the CAN President who had
earlier defended the necessity of Private jets for the
propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Alas it was the same
Bombadier/Challenger jet unveiled by Pastor Oritsejafor in
November 2012. The events that would follow the South African
seizure will tell better if the private jets are indeed being used
for the propagation of the Gospel of God.
The Nigerian Minister of Aviation issued a confirmation that
the Jet is owned by the CAN President, but however that he
leased the jet to another party. Soon thereafter Pastor
Oritsejafor’s Church reportedly confirmed the ownership in a
separate statement. The Church said the pastor has a
“residual interest” in Eagle Air, a company that manages the
aircraft”. “On behalf of Pastor Oritsejafor, we can confirm
that although he holds an interest in Eagle Air, the aircraft in
question is not operated by Pastor Oritsejafor,” the statement
by The Word of Life Bible Church said. The Eagle Air Company
admitted ownership of the jet held in South Africa for
conveying $9.3 million cash for alleged arms deal. In a
statement by its General Manager, Emmanuel Ohaeri, Eagle Air
Company also claimed holding a “residual interest” in the
aircraft, a Bombadier Challenger 601, Registration No 808HG.
The company however said it leased the aircraft to Green
Coast Produce Limited since August 2. The statement said, “Our
attention has been drawn to press reports in respect of an
aircraft (Bombardier Challenger 600, Registration No
N808HG) in which our company holds a residual interest “We
wish to confirm that the said aircraft has since the 2nd of
August 2014 been leased to and is operated by Green Coast
Produce Limited. The company and Mr. Ortisejafor’s church
advised that all media enquiries in respect of the day-to-day
operations of the aircraft be directed to the management of
Green Coast Produce Limited.
In yet another statement, the management of Green Coast
Produce Company Limited confirmed the aircraft had been
leased to it, saying such transactions were normal in the
aviation industry. The company explained that the aircraft was
in turn hired from it by one John Ishyaku and therefore would
not be liable for any alleged infractions either in Nigeria or
South Africa after the hire. The company’s director, Shima
Adun said in the statement that “On the 5th of September
2014 the aircraft was hired from us by a John Ishyaku. The
charter to John Ishyaku was upon the following documented
terms: (a) Depart Abuja-Johannesburg on the 5th of
September 2014 (b) Return to Abuja on the 6th of September
2014 (c) To wait and return with the passengers”.
I have not come to condemn anybody. Neither have I come to
indict Pastor Otsejafor over involvement in the $9.3 Million
arms deal. My interest is in the fact that contrary to the claim
of the man of God that Private Jet was a necessity, it has
been established that he was indeed using the jet for his own
private enterprise other than the work of our Lord Jesus
Christ. Pastor Oritsejafor may be free of conspiracy in the $
9.3million saga, but it has been established he is or has been a
government contractor. While many especially his colleagues in
the CAN executive see nothing bad about this, we the
Christians of Nigeria would fly the red flag. It is not by
accident that the only jet to be leased by the federal
government for such transaction would be that belonging to the
CAN President? It simply shows that he has been leveraging on
his office as the CAN President to secure business deals and
contracts for his private business empire. It shows that our men
of God are business merchants. But in the Church they tell
their congregation that riches are vanity upon vanity. When the
President of the Christian Association of Nigeria becomes a
government contractor, who then would stand up to correct our
politicians when things go wrong? It is a shame that CAN has
been brought to this level just because of the personal interest
of the leadership.
I have always opined that our men of God do not need private
jet to spread the gospel of Jesus. Jesus Christ had the
opportunity to enjoy the spoils of this world in his time, but he
lived a low and humble life. His gospel was not for the highly
placed. He came for the lost sheep. Our men of God will uphold
the Biblical passages dealing with tithes, seed faith and first
fruit harvest etc. But they ignore the simple teaching of our
Lord Jesus himself about what it would take for a rich man to
make heaven. They ignore Jesus’s teaching about sacrificing
worldly pleasures for the cross. My little research about the
difference between riches and wealth is the feature that
riches can come all of a sudden but wealth is built sustainably.
When you have what you don’t need, that means you are driven
by greed and worldly passions. Preston Waters said “Most
wealthy people don’t stand out as much as the rich people.
While the rich flaunt their money, the wealthy tend to live
quieter but still adventurous lives. Rich people are motivated by
money but wealthy people are motivated by their dreams,
purpose and passion”. When a man of God accepts an
anonymous gift of private jet he cannot maintain, what then is
that? If you know it is expensive to maintain why accept it?
Jesus even admonished the rich young ruler in the Bible to go
share his wealth to the needy if he must have eternal life. But
our church leaders are practising the exact opposite.
Owning and servicing a private jet is a capital intensive
venture. It is a luxury which only billionaires engage in. Pastor
Oritsejafor agreed with this when recently he addressed the
CAN executive to explain the involvement of his jet in the
messy matter in South Africa, “I hired out the aircraft in
order to ameliorate the cost of maintenance. “Based on this, I
leased the aircraft on August 2, 2014, to a company to run it.
It was the leasee that entered into an agreement with the
people who carried out the transfer of funds”. A man of God is
not supposed to be in contest with Tiger woods, Bill Gates, P
Diddy or Michael Schumacher. These are the people who get the
money and spend it any how they like. A man of God is set
apart for the purpose of the gospel. Reinhard Bonnke led an
evangelical movement which aimed to ensure that his books
reached hundreds of millions people all over the world. Over 190
million copies of his books was distributed free and published in
143 languages. He couldn’t have achieved this if his eyes were
set on luxuries like owning the best private jets to move himself
round the world.
The light of education that came to Africa from European
missionaries who braved the harsh ocean voyages to cut
through the swamps and creeks of Africa, just to take the
gospel to the darkest places. Looking at Pastor Oritsejafor’s
justification for his private jet, the western missionaries would
be adjudged wrong when they abandoned their well established
homes in Europe to travel to unknown territories of the world
where they faced harsh weathers, rugged terrains, hostile
reception, strange language and deadly animals. In the case of
our men of God, they need the jets that would land them in
the various sprawling city capitals of the world where they
would meet established followers perhaps who needed the
gospel more than the people in the remote villages of Nigeria
and Africa. That is how the purpose of the gospel has shifted
in our own brand. The European missionaries moved from
community to community establishing schools that the light of
civilization would shine even in the remotest villages. They never
rested on the oars or to settle in the already established
cities. Till date our communities still bear out the evidence of
vestiges and the sacrifice of the early missionaries. Decades
after, our men of God have no interest in those communities.
Their interest is in the cities where the middle class and the
wealthy reside. The goal is to gather greater returns to build
and developed a vast empire that will lift their names.
Do we don’t need a private jet to take the gospel to the
remote villages in Ebonyi State, Cross Rivers State or Edo
State. The private jet would always park gorgeously at the
tarmac of our few airports and none of the poor would see it.
Are we saying that if Jesus or Apostle Paul were in the
generation, they would prefer flying luxuriously in a private jet
than fly the economy class and commune with people whom he
had come to save? I do not think so.
The truth of the matter is that a true man of God ought to
reject a gift as luxurious, ostentatious and expensive as a
private jet worth $4.5 million. The fact that it was from an
unknown person as Pastor Oritsejafor has continually asserted
makes it worse. He ought to reject it. He should have asked how
much the person has donated to the poor and the needy in the
society. He should have asked the source of the money. What if
the gift came from the devil? What if the source of the money
is one God does not approve?
I expect Pastor Oritsejafor to tow the path of honour by
resigning than his vain attempt to stir Christians over an
illusionary war declared by the Muslims in justification of his
jet involvement in the $9.3million saga. He has been indicted
by the evidence that he is a government contractor, and that
is enough for him step down as the President of CAN to save
Christianity in Nigeria of the embarrassment he has caused
them. This is not about Arch Bishop Okogie, we must say the
truth the way it is. I am Christian of the Pentecostal
denomination. As it is today, Pastor Oritsejafor has lost the
moral authority and standing to lead the Christian Association
of Nigeria CAN.

By Kissinger Ikeokwu Esq

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