Life­styles of rich, fa­mous Nige­rian pas­tors

Apart from spread­ing the word of God, some pas­tors live life­styles like the rich and fa­mous folks they are.

Weekly Trust - - Front Page -

Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu & Nu­rudeen Oye­wole (La­gos), Hir Joseph (Jos), Vic­tor Edozie (Port Har­court), Taiwo Adeniyi & Chidimma C. Okeke (Abuja)

With mas­sive fol­low­er­ship, they are sup­posed to preach words of mod­est liv­ing. But many pas­tors across the world, and in­deed Nige­ria, are liv­ing large. Many of them own lux­u­ri­ous prop­erty in choice lo­ca­tions around the coun­try. How­ever, a num­ber of them also en­gage in phi­lan­thropic ac­tiv­i­ties as well.

Bishop David Oyedepo is the Founder and Gen­eral Over­seer of the Liv­ing Faith World­wide, pop­u­larly known as “Win­ners Chapel”. He is re­garded by many as one of the rich­est pas­tors, not only in Nige­ria, but in Africa. His church has to its credit, the build­ing of the sin­gle largest wor­ship cen­tre in Africa, known as Faith Taber­na­cle in Otta, Ogun State. The 50,000 seat cen­tre is also its in­ter­na­tional head­quar­ters. The church also has two uni­ver­si­ties, Covenant Univer­sity in Otta and Land­mark Univer­sity in Omu Aran in Kwara State.

Oyedepo’s church owns sev­eral busi­nesses, as well, and ac­cord­ing to a Forbes Magazine, an es­ti­mated net worth of US$150 mil­lion.

Then there’s Pas­tor Chris Oyakhilome, sim­ply called Pas­tor Chris by his ad­mir­ers. He also tow­ers above when it comes to wealthy pas­tors. The afore­men­tioned Forbes re­port es­ti­mated his worth to be be­tween $30 mil­lion and $50 mil­lion. His church, bet­ter-known as Christ Embassy In­ter­na­tional, is also one that en­joys a huge fol­low­ing, es­pe­cially among Nige­rian youths.

Well-known for his tel­e­van­ge­lism, Oyakhilome’s church branches and faith­ful cut across the globe.

Pas­tor Chris’s in­ter­ests cut across pub­lish­ing, TV, record la­bels and more. His Love­world TV Net­work is re­puted to be the first Chris­tian TV net­work to broad­cast from Africa to the rest of the world on a 24-hour ba­sis.

Pas­tor Matthew Ashi­molowo is the Se­nior Pas­tor of Kingsway In­ter­na­tional Chris­tian Cen­tre, (KICC) Lon­don. He is an­other pas­tor Nige­ri­ans have as­so­ci­ated with wealth for many years. He was re­puted to have launched a break­through when in 1992, Foursquare Gospel Church asked him to es­tab­lish the Lon­don branch. He was said to have used the op­por­tu­nity to kick-start his own min­istry.

Ashi­molowo’s as­sets, chiefly in me­dia and pub­lish­ing, rank him among the A-list pas­tors.

Pas­tor Temi­tope Ba­lo­gun Joshua, the Leader and Founder of Syn­a­gogue Church of All Na­tions, (SCOAN), is an­other prom­i­nent cler­gy­man whom many be­lieve is su­per-rich. He is sim­ply re­ferred to as T.B Joshua. He is said to have as­sets in var­i­ous sec­tors, and he en­joys close friend­ships with nu­mer­ous African pres­i­dents, some of whom have paid him cour­tesy calls at his church head­quar­ters in Iko­tun, La­gos.

Highly revered among his nu­mer­ous faith­ful, Joshua, through his many phi­lan­thropic ges­tures has of­ten proved that he has more than enough to give, which many say is un­prece­dented. To his credit is the widely cel­e­brated ca­ble TV channel, Em­manuel TV which en­joys wide view­er­ship across the globe.

Joshua has re­port­edly pur­chased a $60 mil­lion Gulfstream G550 air­craft in April 2015. But ac­cord­ing to an on­line pub­li­ca­tion, ‘TB Joshua Watch: A com­pre­hen­sive re­source on TB Joshua and SCOAN’, “We can­not be cat­e­go­rized among the wealth­i­est in Nige­ria be­cause what money we re­ceive is not ac­cu­mu­lated but rather given out to those who need it most. There is not enough to keep for to­mor­row. As it comes, we give it to the needy.”

Pas­tor Chris Okotie, of the house­hold of God Church, Ore­gun, Ikeja was once known as a cel­e­brated pop star in the 1980’s. Aside from pre­sid­ing over a church that sits atop a wide ex­panse of land, the pas­tor has also in the past con­tested to be pres­i­dent. Though he failed in all of his at­tempts, the fact that he sin­gle-hand­edly raised and nur­tured a po­lit­i­cal plat­form - the Fresh Party and cam­paigned across the coun­try, has fu­eled the no­tion that he is a wealthy cler­gy­man. Also, his wealth also re­flects in his style. He is a lover of ex­otic au­to­mo­biles and be­lieved to own many. He also main­tains a size­able mo­tor­cade with many se­cu­rity aides.

Apos­tle Tom Sam­son, of Christ Royal Fam­ily In­ter­na­tional Church (CRFIC) in Iyesi-Ota, a de­vel­op­ing com­mu­nity in Ota town, Ogun State, has es­tab­lished in­ter­ests that ap­pear a mix of evan­ge­lism and busi­ness, as he is also the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Royal City Med­i­cal Cen­tre, Royal City Wa­ter Fac­tory and Royal City Print­ing Press. The ic­ing on the cake of his many ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions. When he cel­e­brated his 50th birth­day, he claimed that some of his fol­low­ers whom God had blessed through him had deemed it fit to give him gifts.

Sam­son, born on De­cem­ber 13, 1965, in Ile-Ife, Osun State, is ac­tu­ally an in­di­gene of Og­baguOgume in the Ndokwa Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of Delta State. He be­gan to gather fame in La­gos State in the 1990s as a Pen­te­costal warrior or­gan­is­ing his Reign­ing in Life con­fer­ences, donned in army green fa­tigues, “fight­ing witches and wiz­ards for trou­bled souls”.

Lazarus Muoka of The Lord’s Cho­sen Charis­matic Re­vival Move­ment com­mands, ev­ery Sun­day, long lines of buses, parked on the shoul­ders of the Oshodi-Mile 2 Ex­press­way, be­tween Ilasamaja and Ije­sha bus stops in La­gos. The buses bear the in­scrip­tion ‘The Lord’s Cho­sen Charis­matic Re­vival Move­ment’, a church founded and owned by Muoka. From its hum­ble be­gin­ning at Ilasamaja, Lord’s Cho­sen, as is widely known, has grown.

Muoka’s in­flu­ence and wealth have soared. Ev­ery Sun­day, and even at spe­cial pro­grammes that the church organises dur­ing the week, thou­sands of wor­ship­pers throng the cen­tre. His con­gre­ga­tion com­prises largely the low and mid­dle in­come earn­ers, who proudly wear yel­low re­flec­tive jack­ets on which the Lord’s Cho­sen name is writ­ten. A for­mer mem­ber of the church, John Nwosu, who re­sides on Abio­dun Street, Sho­molu, told Daily Trust that mem­bers buy the jacket for N5000 each.

Pas­tor Joseph Ag­boli of Vic­to­ri­ous Army Church on Acme Road, Ogba, in La­gos is where, along with his wife Bless­ing, su­per­in­tend a large con­gre­ga­tion ev­ery Sun­day and reg­u­larly or­gan­ise dif­fer­ent types of pro­grammes dur­ing the week. Like most of their Pen­te­costal col­leagues, Pas­tors Joseph and Bless­ing are very flashy dressers. In church cir­cles today in La­gos, Bless­ing is rated very highly. They are be­lieved to have in­vest­ments in lu­cra­tive sec­tors.

Apos­tle Wole Oladiyun is of Liv­ing Spring Apos­tolic Min­istry lo­cated in the Omole, Ojo­duBerger area of La­gos. The church started 16 years ago and has grown phe­nom­e­nally. In 2012, Oladiyun com­mis­sioned a gen­eral hos­pi­tal he said cost N500 mil­lion to com­plete. Ev­ery Wed­nes­day morning, when the church holds its mid-week pro­gramme, there is al­ways traf­fic grid­lock, caused by mem­bers who park on the road­side.

Dr. Olukoya heads the Moun­tain of Fire and Mir­a­cles min­istry. The church be­gan in a rented hall on Old Yaba road, EbuteMeta, La­gos, in the early 1990s, but has grown big with branches across Nige­ria and abroad. It is worth bil­lions of naira in as­sets. Its style of preach­ing hinges on fiery prayers of death against per­ceived en­e­mies. Un­like many rich pas­tors, he has re­mained unas­sum­ing and has not been linked with the ac­qui­si­tion of lux­ury items. The church owns a ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tion, the Moun­tain Top Univer­sity, and a foot­ball club, MFM FC, which its Chair­man, God­win Enakhena, a sports jour­nal­ist, has al­ways ex­plained was es­tab­lished to pro­vide worth­while en­gage­ments for youths with foot­ball tal­ents.

Prophet Isa El-Buba, founder and Pres­i­dent of Evan­gel­i­cal Bible Out­reach Min­istry In­ter­na­tional (EBOMI), lo­cated in Jos, Plateau State, is a mo­ti­va­tional preacher, com­mand­ing an ever grow­ing con­gre­ga­tion at a mas­sive 11-storey Prayer Tem­ple said to be worth bil­lions of naira, and has some of Jos’ wealth­i­est and most prom­i­nent politi­cians as wor­ship­pers. The for­mer Gov­er­nor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, is a se­nior pas­tor of EBOMI.

With a col­lec­tion of per­son­al­i­ties work­ing with him,

the Borno State-born Prophet El-Buba from a Muslim fam­ily is be­lieved to be the most prom­i­nent man of God in Jos.

Bishop Jonas Katung, is founder of Maranatha Covenant Min­istries In­ter­na­tional, lo­cated along Miango Junc­tion-Low Cost Road. He is a pop­u­lar preacher around much of North­ern Nige­ria, with over­seas evan­gel­i­cal des­ti­na­tions, de­scribed his life­style as “Christ-like” in hu­mil­ity. The bishop said evan­ge­lism in Jos should not be as­sessed by the same stan­dards as south­ern parts of the coun­try where there is wealth to fund a life­style of lux­ury for pas­tors, in­sist­ing that Jos, where mis­sion­ar­ies set­tled early is a place for win­ning souls. He said as a cer­ti­fied me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer, he has a licensed com­pany from where he is mak­ing a liv­ing, hav­ing de­cided not to go on salary from evan­ge­lism.

Apos­tle Chinyere Chibu­zor is the Gen­eral Over­seer of Omega Power Min­istry, lo­cated at Ng­budu-Aluu in Ik­w­erre Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of Rivers State. Per­son­al­i­ties such as Rivers State Gov­er­nor, Nye­som Wike and busi­ness mogul, Ifeanyi Uba, have vis­ited the church.

A prom­i­nent su­per-rich Nige­rian busi­ness­man, in a tes­ti­mony, said the pas­tor’s prayer healed him of a life threat­en­ing heart dis­ease and he later do­nated N120 mil­lion to the church.

Apos­tle Chibu­zor is be­lieved to own a fleet of ex­otic cars. He runs a tel­e­van­ge­lism pro­gramme draw­ing thou­sands of fol­low­ers and re­cently moved into a multi-mil­lion naira home lo­cated at the high­brow GRA part of Port Har­court. He drives him­self, but moves with a team of mo­bile po­lice­men. He is also a phi­lan­thropist and his church runs a free school where in­di­gent stu­dents are of­fered schol­ar­ships from nurs­ery to sec­ondary lev­els.

Apos­tle Chibu­zor is said to be su­per-rich but be­lieves that church money be­longs to its mem­bers. He re­cently launched an at­tack on some pas­tors he ac­cused of us­ing church money to bet­ter the lots of their fam­i­lies while their mem­bers are liv­ing in ab­ject poverty.

Brother Joshua Iginla, Se­nior Pas­tor of Cham­pi­ons Royal As­sem­bly in Kubwa, Abuja, con­tin­ues to be a me­dia dar­ling. The soft-spo­ken cler­gy­man is not new to Abuja res­i­dents, and is well- known across the coun­try. The life­style of the Ek­iti State-born but Jos-raised pas­tor shows hu­mil­ity, con­trast­ing with ex­pen­sive gifts he doles out - some­times to Nol­ly­wood stars - in­clud­ing ex­otic cars he do­nated in 2016. He de­nounced the ti­tle of Pas­tor or Prophet, pre­fer­ring to be called a Brother.

Brother Iginla’s wealth comes from his chain of busi­nesses in­clud­ing au­thor­ship of over 50 books and in­vest­ment in au­to­mo­biles. In 2016, he gave out 32 lux­ury cars and mil­lions of naira. His church, an 80,000 ca­pac­ity mul­ti­mil­lion naira project which he said he started with about N250, 000 has con­struc­tion work on­go­ing at the build­ing called City of Won­ders. “The church is unar­guably one of Nige­ria’s fastest grow­ing. Al­ways filled and at­tended by a mix of the low, high and mighty, is per­haps Abuja’s most talked about re­li­gious cen­tre,” a post on his min­istry’s Face­book page read.

Daily Trust made sev­eral at­tempts to speak with mem­bers of some of the churches but most of them de­clined, cit­ing rev­er­ence they have for the pas­tors. How­ever, those who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity dif­fered on the life­styles of their church lead­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­spon­dent who sim­ply iden­ti­fied him­self as Mathew, he is un­con­cerned about whether or not his pas­tor lives a lav­ish life be­cause his of­fer­ings and tithes were borne out of his gen­uine in­ten­tion to give. “I think I am giv­ing my of­fer­ing for God. I don’t care how it is spent or who it is spent on. Again don’t for­get that some of these pas­tors toiled hard to es­tab­lish these churches. From hum­ble be­gin­nings, they have worked tire­lessly to build the churches and so on. I think we should be care­ful what we say so that we don’t in­cur the wrath of God.”

An­other anony­mous re­spon­dent said, “I think pas­tors have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to change the per­cep­tion that peo­ple have about churches be­ing busi­ness ven­tures. Once peo­ple have in­cul­cated that view, it is quite dif­fi­cult to do any se­ri­ous evan­ge­lism upon which church is set aside. They preach pros­per­ity rather than sal­va­tion.”

Mean­while, a La­gos-based lawyer and hu­man rights ac­tivist, Mr. Ebun Adeg­boruwa, has re­it­er­ated the need for church pro­pri­etors and lead­ers to live a life of mod­er­a­tion, which he de­scribed as a bal­ance be­tween op­u­lence and poverty.

Adeg­boruwa, who is also a pas­tor, said it is im­por­tant to em­pha­sise that the de­sire of ev­ery Chris­tian must be to live Christ-like. “We know that Christ rep­re­sents mod­esty. He lived a life that was not os­ten­ta­tious and as pas­tors, we are ex­pected to live lives that would not con­sti­tute dis­trac­tions to the con­gre­ga­tion. I think pas­tors should live mod­estly, es­pe­cially when they bear in mind that a larger per­cent­age of their mem­bers are poor,” he said.

Adeg­boruwa said it is not to mean that pas­tors should live in wretched­ness, but they should avoid flam­boy­ance. “I sug­gest fi­nan­cial ac­count­abil­ity. I sug­gest trans­parency in the run­ning of churches.”

Dr. Daniel Olukoya

Pas­tor Chris Oyak­ilome

Pas­tor Enoch Ade­boye

Prophet TB Joshua

Pas­tor Matthew Ashi­molowo

Pas­tor Lazarus Mouka

Pas­tor Paul Ade­farasin

R-L: Rivers State Gov­er­nor, Nye­som Ezenwo Wike and Gen­eral Over­seer of Redeemed Chris­tian Church of God World­wide, Pas­tor Enoch Ade­boye and Rivers State Gov­er­nor, Nye­som Ezenwo Wike dur­ing the ex­clu­sive dinner or­gan­ised for the Gen­eral Over­seer by the Christ the Redeemer Friends In­ter­na­tional on Wed­nes­day night.

Pas­tor Oyedepo’s jet

Pas­tor Okotie’s Car

Tom Sam­son with his 2014 Rolls Royce Phan­tom

The Redeemed Evan­gel­i­cal Mis­sion (TREM), Bishop Mike Okonkwo and his wife, Peace

TREM Church at An­thony

House­hold of God Church

Vic­to­ri­ous Army Church, Acme Road, Ogba, La­gos

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