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I had to re-title this write-up in view of the emerging feeble rebuttals of the dating of its video-data and damning acquiesce from the authorities of Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited. I had initially titled it: “Oyedepo: Needless Self-Attrition and War of Annihilation” as a follow-up to my “Oyedepo: Caustic Order from a Worldly Investor.”
For an umpteenth time last week on Saturday, January 14, 2017, Nigerian Dailies were awash with screaming headlines such as “Oyedepo: I made those remarks in the heat of Boko Haram Crisis” (The Cable), “Living Faith Church reacts to Video showing founder, Oyedepo, urging members to ‘kill,’” (Premium Times), “Southern Kaduna Killings: Oyedepo denies inciting Christians against Muslims,” (The Nation), and “Trending: Oyedepo denies inciting Christians against Muslims” (Punch) among the plenitude of headlines. The headlines’ screaming continued on Sunday, January 15, 2017 with The News’ “Trending Video of Oyedepo tweaked, fraudulent, says Living Faith Church,” and Daily Trust’s “Bishop Oyedepo reacts to trending video.” Trust bloggers and other Online news harvesters, they were also caught in the frenzy with headlines such as “Video of Oyedepo circulating is old – Winners Chapel” (Naija.com), “[Video] Oyedepo denies calling out for Muslims to be attacked” (NaijaMotherland Daily Nigeria News).
As expected, all the media reported one Special Adviser to Bishop David Oyedepo had claimed that the widely-circulated caustic order least expected from a newly Born-Again Christian not to talk of a Bishop with towering reputation and earthly investments, was issued far back in 2015.
According to Dr. Sheriff Folaranmi, the embattled and now-defensive posterity-preacher, Bishop Oyedepo said that he never incited, didn’t mean to incite, wouldn’t declare war on Muslims and Islam, and never wished that Nigeria split. Interestingly, neither the Special Adviser nor the Bishop denied the authenticity of the video which has now gone viral online. What they contested was its dating!
This controversial video isn’t the first that has been linked to the Winners Chapel and the Oyedepo’s family. Sometimes last year, specifically in the month of November, one of the daughters of Bishop Oyedepo, Joy, shared on her Facebook page the video of the ‘miracle’ she performed on herself. In the said self-made video, Joy Oyedepo beckoned to the world to watch her as she prayed for her arms to elongate and contrast in a supposedly healing session. This act of cheap publicity, attention-seeking, self-glorification and miracle-faking of the young Oyedepo was roundly condemned on the social media. Critics interpreted Joy’s action as a “deliberate ploy and strategic positioning to take-over the sprawling family business of which Winners Chapel is a part.” Others said it was typical of the training the young miracle-worker had received and her initiation into the make-believe atmospheres of miracles in her father’s church. “Why did she get in front of camera to pray for her healing?,” a social media critic wondered. Criticisms and condemnations poured out until it flooded the expanse Canaanland in Ota and got to the Oyedepos.
On Wednesday, November 16. 2016, Blogger Linka Ikeji stylishly captured the reactions like-father-like-daughter controversial self-made miracle-video as “Pastor Oyedepo’s daughter blasted online after she posted a video of her performing a ‘miracle.’ Consequently, the said ‘fake miracle’-video disappeared from her Facebook page but, too late…it has been copied, downloaded and widely shared!
Despite the controversies about the actual dating of the Bishop Oyedepo’s video, I have decided to revisit the said tape because its contents were never disputed. Its animated pictures show the embattled Bishop Oyedepo exhibiting unholy anger, dramatizing unChristlike outbursts, inciting unBishoply hatred and ordering unstatesmanly annihilation of the Northerners dubbed as Boko Haram or Islamic forces.
The visibly embittered pastorpreneural Bishop was convinced that Northerners sponsored Boko Haram for political reasons and wondered why the North wants to stay in power for ever. “Must the North continue to ruuuuule?” Jumping and stamping his feet in rage, the Bishop who lost his voice in the process of fiery-prayers with curses laced with intermittent speaking-in-tongues, ordered his congregation to kill and spill the blood of whoever tries to attack his church, his life-time investments. Griped by the explicable fear of an investor, Oyedepo shouted: “I was told they were targeting this church, … Even if I was asleep, if you see anybody here [in my church] kill him! Kill him and spill his blood on the ground.” And throwing all cautions to the winds, Oyedepo shouted like some battle-ready Motor Park touts: “who born their Mothers, who born their Fathers?
They are too small.” Imagine what would have happened to Nigeria if a Muslim President had ordered Bishop David Oyedepo’s arrest for inciting violence against the nation! Hell would have been let loose, as the highly politicised Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) would declared Armageddon as well as the war of Gog and Magog! And the politically-charged Muslim Umaah as the Sultan-led Grand Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria (GCIAN) would countered with fatwa and fiery Jihad. Lucky us, Government ignored the Bishop’s tantrum and none of these ever resulted.
Until we finally get the outcome of a likely carbon-dating on the video, Shepherd Oyedepo was convinced that he had succeeded in grooming an army of morons in Winners Chapel.
He was very confident that all Living Faithers in attendance that day had been sufficiently brain-washed and reduced to mindless zombies. His secret crystal-balls clearly told him that at his order, all the Born-Again Southerners and Northerners would be instantly launch deadly attacks on the Muslim-Northerners.
The self-styled Apostle of Liberalization of the Africa Continent was highly impressed by the sporadic tumultuous Amen-choruses to his fire-declarations and hate-speeches. “If I put fire on your tail to overrun the city, you will do it in one minute…. If you catch anybody that looks like them, kill him. … There is no reporting to anybody. Kill him and we spill his blood on the grounds,” he declared unequivocally. The order of the ‘anointed’ Revolutionary anti-Jihadists was without any ambiguities and to which one expected spontaneous conformity. Sadly and inadvertently, the Bishop declared a war on himself, being a Northerner from Kwara State.
No matter how hard the authorities of the Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited try to deny the evident intent of the video’s contents, the truth is that the embittered Bishop meant his carefully-chosen words. Thousands of lies and denials cannot drown the truth. Whoever listens and watches the video keenly cannot miss Oyedepo’s deep-seated bitterness against the Northerners.
His grouse is that the Northerners have consistently cheated the Southerners in Nigeria by forging successive censuses to claim advantageous population and disproportionate national resources. Hear him: “all those zeros censuses, … they are fake. Where are the human beings? Where are they? We go around the place… Where are they?
We’ve never had a successful census in this country. Where are they?” The North’s second offense was its connivance to facilitate the escape of a captured Boko Haram member. “A Boko Haram agent was captured and they said he escaped,” the Bishop alleged the Northerners. With the confidence that the North wasn’t as populated as claimed, he was very sure that victory would be his army’s if they should go to war. By converting his ‘sacred’ Altar to a bullying political platform, the Bishop has clearly breached his supposed higher Calling as an Ambassador of Christ.
His vituperations conflict with those of God’s Oracle! It was the columnist Tatalo Alamu who cautioned so-called religious leaders that “to whom much [tithes, offerings, first-fruits, covenant-seeds] is donated, much probity, accountability and fiscal godliness is expected (The Nation, January 15, 2017). He added that religious leaders should resist the “temptation of turning their exalted platforms to bullying pulpits for…wrestling political and economic concession from the state.”
Were the caustic video recent, one would have expected Nigeria to be engulfed in the ethno-religious wars. But the authorities of Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited said the video was two years old! The contents of the video were strong enough for people to cast aspersions on the ability of Oyedepo’s God to answer his prayers.
Despite the fact that Boko Haram, Northern Forces and all Islamic Forces were cursed into extinction in the video, they’re very much active two years after their requested death. Does God really answer Bishop Oyedepo’s prayers? Some cynics of religions would even question God’s ability to answer any prayer considering the volumes of curses in prayer-houses and cursed-pebbles heaped on Satan regularly during Hajjs to Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the fact that Living Faithers didn’t take to the streets and city killing and maiming Northerners as ordered by their Bishop left one wondering if the congregation was actually in agreement with their Papa.
Interestingly, the Bishop who acted as if he has pocketed God boasted to his congregation that if he prayed for rain to cease, there wouldn’t be rain in Nigeria for three consecutive years!
Curiously, the congregation has not heeded its Papa Bishop’s caustic ordered till now. Has Oyedepo become a Bishop without a Church? Is Bishop Oyedepo really in charge of Winners Chapel? Does the Bishop command any respect from Living Faithers on issues that conflict with basic Bible principles? Is the Winners Chapel a congregation of rebels? Has the Oyedepo’s congregation unconsciously embraced unbelief? Is Bishop Oyedepo now a Shepherd without a Sheep? Or is it the case of a foolish Shepherd and wise Sheep?
Does Bishop Oyedepo enjoy monopoly of access to God? These and many more questions have agitated my mind considering the evident Command-Obedience discrepancy being experienced.
In conclusion, I would like to commend Living Faithers in attendance that day for keeping their sanity. I appreciate them for firmly resisting the provocation and instigations to ungodly acts wrapped and delivered from the supposedly holy altar at Canaanland. I praised them for being wise enough to know that their Bishop has overstretched his anointing. I thank them for selectively chorusing Amen to prayers and No to the self-serving war declared by their Papa. My profound gratitude for saving their Papa from destroying himself with his despicable rage.
The commendable disobedience of the teeming Living Faithers have symbolically cautioned their Bishop against pulpit-bullying from which I hope other pastors in Pentecostal Assemblies would have learnt. “Papa n pa ara ẹ, o lo n p’aja” (Every worm’s attack on its dog-host is detrimental to its existence) and “Ida n ba ako je, ko mo pe ile ara oun lohun n ba je” (Whenever a sword tears its sheath, it invariably becomes homeless), the Yoruba always caution against self-attrition.
By Ayodele James Olabisi, Ph.D.