First, let us build a quick picture of the man. Pastor Adeboye is probably the most influential pastor in Nigeria. His church has branches in almost 100 countries around the world, with an estimated 14,000 churches in Nigeria alone. The Redeemed Camp is responsible for perennial traffic congestion on the Lagos-Ibadan motorway because of where it is situated and the sheer size of the congregation that worships there. Whether the church has done enough to forestall this problem and alleviate the sufferings of road users is a subject for another day. Pastor Adeboye’s fund raising methods are a cause for concern. He announced plans in 2013 to build a church auditorium of approximately 3km in length (http://dailypost.ng/2013/08/14/three-kilometer-auditorium-angry-nigerians-blast-adeboye-say-n1billion-per-person-donation-is-criminal/). To fund the project, he told his followers: “We need N1 billion from ten people . . . We also need N100 million from those who can afford it. Please see my secretary.” How many hard-working people with unquestionable source of income would dole out money on a project like that which will not yield any returns for them? This behaviour encourages corruption – the thieves who steal our commonwealth will see this as an act of buying penance from God. Pastor Adeboye is importunate – he never tires of using mental gimmicks to persuade his members to give him money. Only last month, he was reported to have told them: “Let me tell you the truth, the only reason we still take offerings is to get you out of poverty. When you give offerings you’re sending money to heaven.” A few years ago, he claimed that he drove his car without fuel from Ore to Lagos to a thunderous applause from his congregation. It beggars belief that anyone would believe this story. To complete the picture, take a look at his 2015 prophecies and decide for yourselves whether he made any ground-breaking predictions or if he just played safe by refusing to make specific statements. (https://secure.saharareporters.com/2015/01/02/end-year-prophecies-ijabla-raymond#.VKbHn0sJtN4.wordpress). Notice that he had prophesied: “Daddy (referring to God) says all over the world insurgencies will be considerately weakened.” The terrorist activities of jihadi groups like ISIS, Boko Haram (BH) and al-Shabab in 2015 do not support this prediction. This observation alone completely invalidates his claim of speaking the mind of God.
Let’s return to the 2016 prophecies which can be found on the church’s website: http://rccg.org/prophesies-for-year-2016/. Pastor Adeboye prophesied that, “a new sexually transmitted disease will surface.” But he does not disclose that he received this revelation from newspapers and medical journals. British researchers announced late last year the discovery of a “new” sexually transmitted disease (STD) called mycoplasma genitalium (http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/11November/Pages/New-sexually-transmitted-infection-MG-may-be-widespread.aspx). It is worth noting that pastor Adeboye does not give the name of the new STD and its causative organism like researchers always do. Does God whom he claims to speak for not know this information? Why does he not specify where, how and when the disease will surface? How bizarre for an omni-benevolent God to announce the emergence of a new disease but not the cure? Curiously, God was also silent about BH and the abducted Chibok girls, the fall in the price of crude oil and its effect on our economy, the agitation for the state of Biafra, climate change, the conflict in Syria. Pastor Adeboye’s prophecies portray God as someone who is always silent on the issues with real implications for our daily existence. That, of course, is based on the assumption that God exists and that He speaks to the pastor. I could never understand how someone can know the mind of an entity they cannot even prove exists. What is obvious is that pastor Adeboye, like the rest of his fellow prophets, relies on the BBC, CNN and other news media to formulate his prophecies.
The reason this situation bothers me is because literally tens of millions of Nigerians believe that God speaks through this man. Accordingly, the choices they make in life are guided by every word he speaks. Collectively, Adeboye and his fellow pastopreneurs have turned a generation of Nigerians into magical thinkers and have destroyed critical thinking. Even our universities and other centres of learning are not immune from their destructive influence – believe it or not there are professors who believe that prayers can make a car drive without fuel just as pastor Adeboye proposed; that diseases can be caused by evil spirits; that witches and wizards are responsible for infertility; and so on.
Thankfully, the days of lying to Nigerians are drawing to a close. Information is the greatest weapon against ignorance, fear, superstitions and exploitations. Nigerians now have access to the internet and can easily cross check facts. By this time next year, we would know if a new STD has been discovered and if indeed God speaks to pastor Adeboye.
Ijabla Raymond is a medical doctor and he writes from the UK. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ijabla.Raymond@faceb