Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 (CAMA), designed to regulate businesses and promoting a friendly business climate in Nigeria, among others, was signed into law on August 7 by President Buhari. While CAMA received commendations from most Nigerian business community stakeholders, it was received with a declaration of war by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). The law according to them “is unacceptable, ungodly, reprehensible and a time bomb waiting to explode”. In fact, some of them went as far as saying it was one more attempt by the Buhari’s administration at Islamising the country.
The warring clerics have a point. Churches and mosques in most cases are built through the efforts, labour, sacrifice and creativity of a few individuals. It is therefore not unusual to prefer their children or wives as trustees. But what the clerics cannot deny is that the churches are sustained through members’ offerings and tithes before graduating into a massive financial empire with thriving publishing firms, hospitals, schools, restaurants and other businesses.
That the builders of mosques hardly worry about trustees who take over after their initial investment does not necessarily mean their objectives are different. Building mosques at every corner by politicians and their fronts in a society where access to power is also access to economic power only amounts to killing two birds with one stone.
The warring pastors must also understand that the churches are registered as charity organisations does not stop an elected sovereigns from interfering on the side of the people to see how the charity funds are disbursed as obtains in Europe especially Britain and the US. It is on record that in 2015, Oyedepo’s Winners Chapel International subjected itself to the UK Charities Commission which probed the church over alleged misappropriation of 16 million pounds which turned out to be false. In 2019, the UK Charities Commission also appointed an interim manager for Mountain of Fire and Miracles International, over alleged fraud by some members.
Unfortunately, there has been failure of governance. Our successive leaders supervised the collapse of our budding textile, vegetable oil, pharmaceutical, automobile support industries with the churches converting their warehouses into churches while our country became importers of labour of other societies. These leaders from Babangida through Obasanjo to Jonathan, in order to cover up their incompetence, played the religion card. They in the process drove our youths further into the embrace of prosperity prophets who have today become the largest employers of labour.
With great power, comes great responsibility. Beyond the need for tax returns of pastors who live ostentatious lifestyles, our millions of impoverished uneducated northern youth who Governor El-Rufai sees as the strength of the north but in reality needed only during periodic electoral contests, and millions of school drop outs and unemployable southern graduates who look up to prosperity prophets for direction, all need help.
Thousands of mosques are built in the north by politicians and economic parasites for the children of the poor after sending their own children to the best schools in the world. Deposed Emir of Kano who understands very clearly that such mosques are meant to persuade the poor to accept their objective position in life has been ordained by Allah, appealed for building of schools for girls’ education instead of dotting every Kano streets with mosques. Churches in the south also provide outlets for pastors and their corrupt patrons to capitalize on President Buhari’s mismanagement of our crisis of nation-building and the mindless killings of Nigerians by migrating herdsmen, to sell the bogey of islamisation of Nigeria.
Unfortunately our pastors promote fears among our youths instead of calling their attention to the parallel between the Abrahamic religion-Christianity, Islam and Judaism. While Christianity preaches salvation by adhering to the teaching of Christ, Islam demands unquestioning submission to everything Mohammed said because they are from Allah; Judaism asks adherents to follow God’s commandments which provide the framework for every person’s life. Their account of Abraham, his wives Hagar and Sarah and his sons Ishmael and Isaac are the same, with Ishmael becoming ancestors of Arabs and Isaac the Jews. The only addition in the Quran was that Abraham and his two sons were prophets of Allah.
There are also parallels between the Christian Holy Bible and the Islamic Holy Quran than there is with Judaism Tanakh. For the Christians, the Bible was inspired by God and the Quran, Mohammed claimed was a revelation by angel Gabriel, the Christian annunciation angel while the Jewish Tanakh comprises part of the old Testament and the Torah, the Hebrew laws.
Both Christianity and Islam believe Jesus was born of Virgin Mary with one saying he is son of God and the other saying he was a prophet of Allah while Judaism claims that Jesus was an ordinary person the Hebrews murdered for proclaiming himself divine. The Christianity’s claim of Jesus’ mission of reconciling man with God through His death and Islam’s claim he was here to preach the gospel are closer than Judaism’s rejection of Jesus and His mission. While Christians believe Jesus was crucified and ascended to heaven the third day, Islam claims He was not crucified but raised to heaven by Allah while Judaism claims He was crucified for falsely proclaiming himself divine.
In a bid to “consolidate bonds of humanity between followers of different religions” a mosque in the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi was in 2019 renamed the “Mary, mother of Jesus” mosque. While misguided northern youths that need help are busy burning churches, the Mary mother of Jesus” mosque was tucked in between St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Abu Dhabi, the Church of St. Anthony and the St. Andrew’s Church.
The saying has always been ‘one cannot be holier than the Pope”. But our flamboyant Nigeria pastors are claiming not only to be holier than the Pope , they in fact now saying the Pope is not a Christian.
But following in the footsteps of Jesus, Pope Francis in 2015 was at Koudoukou Central Mosque of Central African Republic where he bowed toward the Muslim holy city of Mecca, prayed and told the warring African Christians and Muslims that “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters, together, we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself”.
While Muslim clerics maintain their peace, their uninformed youths attack women publicly over their mode of dressing. In 2019, a conference on “global fraternity” which featured rabbis, imams, swamis, cardinals, was held in Abu Dhabi which is fast becoming the fashion capital of the world. Of course Pope Francis was there to round it up with the first Papal Mass ever in the Arabian Peninsula to mend hatred between Muslims and Christians dating back to the Crusades.
In a nation evenly divided between Christian and Muslims, the role of our pastors and Muslim clerics is to point out to our youths that aside the inherited Isaac and Ishmael sibling-rivalry and wars, there are more that bind Christian and Islam together than divide them.