Contentious FRC regulation: Nigerians react to director’s sack
•Fayose, Atilade, Oke differ
REACTIONS yesterday trailed the sack of Financial Reporting Council (FRC) Jim Obazee by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Obazee was eased out of office on Monday, following the implementation of a controversial FRC regulation that mandates heads of religious organisations to step aside either after leading their congregation for 20 years in office, or, after turning 70 years.
In compliance with the FRC regulation, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye last Saturday shocked members of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) when he told the congregation at the annual thanksgiving service that he was stepped down as their General Overseer.
Presidential spokesman late Monday said in a statement that President Buhari approved the appointment of Mr. Daniel Asapokhai as Obazee’s replacement and the reconstitution of the FRC board.
Among those who reacted to the development are: Southwest Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Arch Bishop Magnus Atilade, Sword of the Spirit Ministries Presiding Bishop Wale Oke, Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose and other church leaders.
Atilade urged the Federal Government to go beyond Obazee’s removal by trashing the FRC regulation from the nation’s Statute Book. Oke warned that church leaders would not succumb to government intimidation. But, Governor Fayose said Obazee’s sack had political undercurrents.
Christians’ won’t rest until law is expunged, says Atilade
He described Obazee’s removal as FRC Executive Secretary as a welcome development but assured that the church will not relent until every regulation enacted gazette against the interest of the church is expunged from the Constitution.
He told The Nation the church has no ax to grind with any government official, including Obazee, who he said, may be acting the scripts of some powerful forces.
Admitting that the President’s directive brought a soothing relief, Atilade said the church will fight on to see the end of the ‘offensive’ law.
The cleric said the tenure of the leadership of any church remains an internal matter and that members of any congregation must not be denied the liberty of picking their spiritual heads.
According to him, every church has a constitution guiding its affairs, including the tenure of leaders, finances and its management which should not be open to public scrutiny.
Reacting to the new appointments made by Adeboye, the CAN chief said: “I respect the decision of Pastor Enoch Adeboye and I have so much respect for him and great admiration for him in winning souls for the body of Christ in Nigeria. He has all our commendation for the new appointments made.
“There is no controversy around it as it is a personal decision. My concern is that he should not base his decision on government regulation. The constitution provides for the separation of the church and the state and government should and cannot control the tenure of the leadership of any church.”
“Pastor Adeboye should not base his decision on the new FRC policy for non-profit organisations”.
The cleric, who spoke of a plan by CAN to seek legal redress said: “CAN, as a unify body for the Christian community, will challenge the law if the Federal Government failed to repeal it”.
Noting that the government was not challenged from any quarter when it extended the tenure of some judges and varsity lecturers in universities, Atilade maintained that the tenure of any church leader should remain the prerogative of the members.
He, however, urged churches to be more transparent with the finances and management of their affairs to avoid suspicion.
Oke to Fed Govt:
No to dictation on
Leading other church leaders, Bishop Oke assured the Federal Government that the church will not obey the law that limits tenure of church leaders and related regulations.
Addressing reporters at his ministry’s headquarters in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, Oke said that church would wait for the government to hurl them into prison for their refusal to obey the contentious regulation.
According to him, there was no need to challenge the law in court.
With Oke were: President, Aggressive Faith International Church, Port-Harcourt, Pastor Michael Amieye; President, Maranatha Lord Cometh Ministry International, Bishop Samuel Alawode; the Overseer, Calvary Bible Church Worldwide, Pastor Olumide Emmanuel; Presiding Prophet, Gospel Promotion Outreach of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Ori-Oke Baba Abiye, Ede, Funso Akande; Presiding Pastor, Word Ablaze Missions Int. Rev. Dr. Albert Oduwole and the Coordinator, Church of God Missions, Pastor G. O. C. Nkem.
They called for outright repeal of the FRC edict which limits tenure of church leaders to 20 years, among other new regulations.
Oke said the new leadership structure in the RCCG as announced by Pastor Adeboye, was a routine restructuring in the church.
He explained that Adeboye announced the new decision of the RCCG Governing Council to appoint an Overseer for Nigeria while he (Adeboye) remains the General Overseer and Chief Missioner. The decision, he said, was to enable him concentrate more on overseas missionary works.
Describing the new law as an error and anti-Christ, Oke warned that any attempt to dictate to the church would be counter-productive.
His words: “We won’t go to court; we won’t obey; and we will expect them to hurl us into prison. We are very determined and focused about that. What they want to do is to strike the shepherd and see the sheep scatter. That is the game plan of the devil but God will never allow the gate of hell to prevail against His church.
“It is an anti-Christ move and an unfolding Islamic agenda. It is totally unacceptable. Therefore, we want it abolished and cancelled. No government will try it and succeed.”
According to him, Church leaders have directed their members be active in partisan politics at the grassroots level to enable choose godly representatives.
The preacher absolved the President Muhammadu, saying he (Buhari) had no foreknowledge of the law. He commended him for firing the FRC chief.
He attested to President Buharis tremendous respect for Christianity, saying the intervention went a long way in dousing tension.
Oke reminded the government that it has no business in determining the tenure of church leaders because ab initio, it did not set them up.
Relying on investigations, he alleged that the regulation was targeted at a particular congregation church but that it would fail.
His words: “The edict should be repealed. There is a difference between government and the church. Government has no business regulating choice and tenure of church leaders. How can government begin to determine who leads RCCG, for instance, when it was not there when the church was being built? Government was not there when God called the church leaders.
“Government should not venture into a terrain in which it does not have authority. Even in the Western world where government regulates the finances of the church, it supports them. It never dictates their leadership and tenure. The constitution and internal governance of each church should be allowed to direct administrative procedure.
“Government should face the challenges of infrastructures such as roads, hospitals, schools as well as unemployment and corruption, not church leadership. Let the government not dabble into religious affairs. These church leaders are people faithfully serving God and Nigeria.”
Oke also commended President Buhari for the feat recorded against Boko Haram insurgents in 2016 and the capture of Sambisa Forest.
He urged him not to relent, saying: “Let President Buhari not relent on this success. Let him ensure that Shekau is captured, Boko Haram insurgents wiped out and the girls abducted in Chibok are rescued. The battle is not over until these are done. We in the church shall continue to support the government with prayers on these.”
Obazee sacked because
of Buhari’s 2019 ambition,
Governor Fayose described Obazee’s as political, saying it was to pave the way for President Buhari second term ambition.
According to him, linking the sack of the FRC chief to implementation of the controversial Corporate Governance Code 2016 was an after-thought.
The sack,Fayose noted, was a cover-up to stem the tide of negative public reactions towards the implementation of the controversial law that stripped Pastor Adeboye and others of their positions.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications & New Media, Mr. Lere Olayinka, the Ekiti helmsman said: “When they realised the implication of their action on President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 ambition, especially the personality of Pastor Adeboye, who’s involved, they quickly sacked an innocent man who must have acted on instruction.
“Obviously, their attention is more on 2019, not on justice and any love for the sustenance of Christianity in Nigeria. Mind you, they have only suspended the implementation of the regulation, they did not abrogate it. It is obvious that they have an agenda. And if you look at the president’s pattern of life, he is a sectional leader, whose appointments reflect sectionalism and nepotism.”
Fayose said it was funny that a president that is over 70 years will be the one to implement a regulation, limiting the age of General Overseer (GO) of Churches to 70 years, asking: “If men of God like Pastor Adeboye, Pastor W. F. Kumuyi, Bishop David Oyedepo, Bishop Mike Okonkwo and others cannot be GO of their church beyond 70 years of age, how do we now justify a man like President Buhari who is over 74 and still willing to be president beyond 2019 that he will be 77?”
Governor Fayose, who described those defending President Muhammadu Buhari by claiming that the law was made when Dr Goodluck Jonathan was president as hypocrites, asked; “Even if the law was made before President Buhari assumed office, who is to blame for its implementation?
“Could President Buhari have implemented a law he does not believe in and could the sacked FRC boss that they have now used as the fall-guy have implemented the law without the consent of the President?”
Reacting to the speed at which the President reacted by sacking the FRC boss, Fayose asked: “Why was there no such swiftness in his action on Southern Kaduna killings where a race was almost wiped out, with people killed like goats? Why didn’t the President react swiftly to the Senate indictment of the EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu?
“Obviously, it was an afterthought, which was aimed at dousing the negative outcry that greeted the action by using the sacked FRC boss as the fall-guy.
“Sadly, all those things that we have forgotten and never thought will happen again in this country are now happening. The country is now badly divided more than ever before.”
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