Between RCCG and the Sponsored Hatchet Writers by Segun Benson

Between RCCG and the Sponsored Hatchet Writers by Segun Benson

Editor's note: Dr Segun Benson, a retired federal permanent secretary based in Lagos, writes on the recent criticisms that trailed the announcement by the Redeemed Christian Church of God to set up a Directorate of Politics and Governance in branches of the church across the country.

In the theory of argument, fallacy is the term used to classify faulty reasoning or specious verbiage. But the inherent peril is that, in the hands of demagogues and hatchet writers, fallacy is nonetheless seduc*tive and most corrosive of the public space. There is no better demonstration of this danger today than the ongoing mass hysteria being orchestrated against the otherwise well-meaning crusade by the Christian community towards the attainment of what true patriots had for long canvassed in post-colonial Nigeria: the urgency of civic re-orientation.

Adeboye and Jonathan
Dr. Benson noted that Pastor Adeboye prayed for ex-President Jonathan openly in 2015, even when VP Osinbajo was a senior pastor in the RCCG. Photo credit: RCCG
Source: Facebook

The first salvo came from journalist-turned-politician, Mr Dele Momodu, on a voyage that took fallacy to a different stratosphere. Obviously blinded by political bias, Mr Momodu deployed his column in THISDAY newspaper to flag off the mischaracterization of a statement by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) to create the Directorate of Politics and Governance in branches of the church across the country.

Conveniently ignoring the clearly stated nomenclature of the platform as a resource centre for political mobilization for “ethical politics” across political divides, the THISDAY columnist was quick at jumping into a lazy conclusion in his essay entitled “My Kobo Advice to The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG)” that it was a smokescreen to mobilize RCCG solely for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who is strongly believed to be interested in succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari come 2023 on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC).

Thankfully, in a swift riposte, another senior journalist, Mr Mideno Bayagbon, exposed Momodu’s pedestrian reasoning in a piece entitled “Of Armageddon, Dele Momodu, low-quality rumour and Redeemed Church.” I shall return to Bayagbon’s thesis presently.

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Note, fallacy, as earlier stated, is a vile seductress. Not surprising, other media charlatans, pseudo-intellectuals and cyber hell-raisers have since lent themselves to echoing Momodu’s jejune argument in both the traditional media and social media zealously. Among the motley crowd would be found Mr Farooq Kperogi whom respected columnist, Reuben Abati, once tellingly characterized as being adept at “seductive prose” more than substance.

With barely concealed malice, Kperogi, the self-styled “expert on everything”, even went a mile further by rehashing the old baloney of “Christianization agenda” against Osinbajo even when such label had severally been exposed, with unassailable facts and figures, in the past as nothing more than, again, idle “beer parlour” talk. From the safe distance of the United States, Kperogi appears to delight in hurling incendiary missiles indiscriminately, writing so magisterially and pedantically on even “small matters” in faraway Nigeria, often quick to theorize on anything, citing, without any shame, authorities no more than either beer parlour gossip (apologies Mideno) or blogs widely known to be operated by blackmailers.

To begin with, it should be obvious to the discerning that, as a bidder for PDP’s presidential ticket, Momodu’s partisan bias would ordinarily predispose him to make false claims against perceived political opponents or competitors. As an aside, it is clear our perennial presidential candidate/aspirant is as guilty of the same charge he is trying desperately to level against others: abuse of platform or seeking to press unfair advantage against others. Column-writing is, it bears restating, an exercise in public trust. After declaring interest in PDP’s presidential ticket, it is shameful that Momodu did not immediately suspend/stop his “Pendulum.” That will be consistent with international best practices. The owner of his media platform ought to have politely reminded him, since he ironically appears unwilling to submit to common ethics of journalism, as a putative exponent of “fair play” and “level playing field”. By holding tight to that space, Momodu could only have one motivation: parlay that platform to intimidate or blackmail political opponents.

Truth be told, the advocacy for “Political Directorate” is not the brainchild of RCCG. The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has already made the authorial claim. But any keen follower of events in Christendom will attest that such agency had long been floated by the Catholic Faith which, among other things, has for ages been pushing for new politics guided by strong Christian values. It is a campaign the likes of Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah has devoted significant intellectual energies and resources. In fact, years back, Kukah had sensationally declared that conscientious men of God should no longer accept “special offering” or tithes from anyone whose source of income or wealth is unknown.

Also, records indicate that way back in 2016 Pastor Paul Adefarasin of House of Rock publicly announced that his church had set up a unit to help galvanize and mobilize members for politics with a view to infusing political contest henceforth with Christian values of honesty, sacrifice and service. For emphasis, that year, Pastor Adefarasin encouraged members to especially get interested in governance at the local government level because “it is closer to our communities”. As a matter of fact, the House on Rock unit was charged with helping interested members secure and process membership forms from any of the political parties. The likes of Fela Durotoye (presidential candidate of Alliance for New Nigeria) worship at House on the Rock. How come no one mentioned then that Pastor Adefarasin’s impassioned talk was a “ruse” to pollute politics with religion?

Other than mischief or malice or both, there is clearly no basis whatsoever to link RCCG’s move to Osinbajo’s rumoured presidential ambition. It is obviously borne out of a shared belief that politics will remain the exclusive arena for folks without any sense of commitment to acceptable norms and values. That not until the undesirable elements are crowded out of the chamber by the sheer influx of the players with a conscience can we hope to see significant positive change in public office. While Bayagbon’s essay has, in my view, more than exposed Momodu’s fallacy, it is however still necessary to shine the lights on what appears the real agenda of those promoting this deceitful campaign.

True, public memory is short. Otherwise, no one would at this point be accusing RCCG of seeking to promote only its “own” in the context of political contests involving Christians, let alone “polluting politics with religion”. Let us rewind to the eve of the 2015 presidential elections. Then presidential candidate of PDP and incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan, went round the country seeking blessing and anointing from anywhere and everywhere. Not only was he once pictured surrounded by a conclave of prominent traditional rulers pointing their staffs of office symbolically at him in the middle, he similarly went to the highly regarded Holy Ghost night hosted by Redeemed Camp at Ogun State shortly before the ballot.

That night, when the moment came, it was only President Jonathan that RCCG General Overseer, Daddy Enoch Adeboye, offered special “anointing prayer” while the likes of then APC’s vice presidential candidate, Osinbajo, were told to remain in the crowd. Also restricted to the “popular side” were the likes of Mrs Remi Tinubu (wife of the influential national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu), who was gunning for a second term at the senate then. Note, then President Jonathan was (and remains) a known member of the Anglican denomination. Of course, by then, the reputation of Osinbajo, the professor of law, had long been established as not only a “senior Redeemed Pastor” but also being very “close to Daddy G.O.” So, if RCCG was that “partial” as now being insinuated by latter-day revisionists, how come Osinbajo was not singled out that night to also come forward for Adeboye’s special prayer before or after President Jonathan?

The truth of the matter is that, in admitting everyone into the service that night, the consideration of Daddy Adeboye or Redeemed Church was first the profession of Christianity, not affiliation to denomination.

One needs to stress this point at this point as a cautionary note to the Christian community not to allow themselves to be divided. From the ominous tone and strident tenor this otherwise trivial matter is beginning to assume, it is obvious now that there is more to it. Part of the agenda of those promoting this divisive campaign is to set Christians against themselves.

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