After years of preaching to the Christian folk on the pulpits, some Nigerian pastors dropped the cassock and took up royal regalia to become traditional rulers.
Over the years, there have been conflicts between African traditional religions and Christianity.
“Since Christianity came in contact with the traditional religion, there has always been a sharp conflict between traditionalists and Christians,” Chukwuma O. Okeke et al. wrote in a research piece.
“This bitter conflict has led to wanton destruction of lives and property,” the scholars added.
Since monarchs in Nigeria are regarded as the custodians of the tradition, including traditional religions, the possibility of a devout Christian, let alone a pastor, becoming a traditional ruler/monarch, one would think, is next to impossible.
PAY ATTENTION: Subscribe to Digital Talk newsletter to receive must-know business stories and succeed BIG!
However, in recent times, there have been a few Christian clerics who, against all odds, transited from being preachers at the pulpit to becoming traditional rulers wielding powers from the palace.
Here is a few of them:
1. RCCG Pastor Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle
In 2012, a pastor in one of the Lagos branches of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle, emerged as the new Olu of Ilaro and paramount ruler of the Yewa-Awori axis of Ogun state.
His candidacy, according to Vanguard, was unanimously supported by the kingmakers after an election where he won by a vote to defeat his close rival, Adedeji Olugbenle.
In a 2016 interview published by This Day, Oba Olugbenle was asked how he felt when asked to ascend the vacant stool following the demise of his immediate past predecessor, Oba Adekanmbi Tella.
“I have said it earlier, it was not a sudden acceptance; it was gradual. I went through a little bit of spiritual guidance.”
2. RCCG Pastor Gabriel Ayodele Adejuwon
Oba Gabriel Ayodele Adejuwon was crowned king of Isan-Ekiti (Governor Kayode Fayemi’s hometown) in 2017.
Before ascending the throne, he was a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and a civil servant.
In a 2018 interview published by Daily Sun, Oba Adejuwon was asked if, as a king, there are things that will conflict with his faith as a pastor.
“When God created heaven and earth, He created everybody and different faiths and He is managing every one of us. As a king and a representative of God on earth, you should be able to manage everything that is under your control.
“Before I was ordained king, the kingmakers knew that I am a pastor and yet they supported me. I don’t get in their ways because we all want the same thing for the community. We want peace and growth in the community. I contribute my quota for Muslims, Christians, and traditionalists.
“The traditionalists give me heads up on their activities but I don’t go with them and it does not mean I don’t pray and support them. If we say we want to focus on Christianity alone, our prayers might not be answered. These people have ways of blocking your prayers, it is written in the Bible.”
The monarch added that he does not partake in rituals saying the traditionalists “are the custodians of the rites and they have been doing it before I ascended that throne.”
He, however, said he is involved when they (the traditionalists) want to dance as they visit the palace.
“I will have to leave the door wide open and give them my blessings," the monarch said.
Oba Adejuwon also said he didn’t skip the initiation rituals.
“No! I didn’t skip them. My father did it which means I have to do it. I did it to have the legitimacy of the people,” he said.
The monarch said nothing wrong was done during the initiation.
“We didn’t do wrong things. There was no day that it involved the killing of animal or man. People just attribute what is not to it. I saw that period as a training period, it was like men when you want to get employed, and you learn the process.
"As a king, my duty is to sit down and I learned how to sit for a long time. I sat for good seven days teaching me that a king can sit till eternity. I learned that I can’t go on errands even for my wife, and I can’t eat outside. You are redefined. There was no time I ate any concoction,” he said.
3. Deeper Life Pastor Matthew Jegede
Oba Matthew Durojaye Jegede, a Deeper Life Bible Church pastor, was in 2020 crowned as the first Alahan of Ahan Ayegunle Ekiti in Ekiti East local government area.
He said his church people were not in support when the talks of him taking the kingship came up.
The monarch said he also personally had reservations about it as he had thought that becoming a king as a Christian was against God's plan.
"I initially thought it was against God's plan to become the King ...I also thought that if one wants to go to heaven, it will be difficult," he said.
According to him, the church told him to pray about it. However, he first ignored their directive before committing to it.
Matthew said he kept having king-like dreams, confirming that he was born to be the king.
And after running away from the kingship for 10 years, he accepted it, not minding his church members' sentiment against it.
To his surprise, however, on the day Governor Kayode Fayemi handed him the staff of office, the same former church members who knocked him for deciding to be a king graced the occasion.
4. Pastor John Elaigwu Odogbo
Also, John Elaigwu Odogbo, a Deeper Life Pastor, recently became the paramount ruler-elect of Idomaland.
He polled got 19 votes at the end of the voting by the kingmakers to defeat three others identified as Andrew Idakwu, John Bamaiyi, Sunday Echono for the stool.
The 52-year-old was on Thursday, December 30, 2021, presented by the Idoma traditional council as the Och’Idoma-elect to Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, at the government house in Makurdi.
5. RCCG Pastor Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye
Following the death of the late Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Jimoh Oyewunmi in December 2021, the kingmakers in the influential Yoruba town has picked Afolabi Ghandi Laoye, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Jesus House Washington DC, United States (US) as the new monarch.
In a video posted on social media by the Parish, Olaoye, who addressed members of the church, said it was never his ambition to become the Soun.
He said he never wanted to be a king but God spoke to him about it and he had no option but to take a step of faith to obey God and watch what He wanted to do.
The pastor, according to The Nation, also argued that pastors and kings perform basically the same roles in different environments.
A pastor, he said, is a shepherd much like a king who looks after varied interests in a larger community.
Pastor Laoye is, however, yet to be crowned, though he has been picked by the kingmakers.
Soun of Ogbomoso: Names of princes who contested and how RCCG pastor emerged
In a previous report, Legit.ng listed the names of the princes who contested for the Soun of Ogbomoso crown.
It was learnt that the Laoye family, the family whose turn it is to produce a new king, according to the 1953 Soun Chieftaincy Declaration, screened all interested applicants to a manageable number of three.
They were, however unable to settle on a consensus candidate so they allowed the kingmakers to make the final selection.