Pa Enoch Adejare Adeboye

Adeboye, RCCG and the Burden of Leadership

For the past 28 years I have plied my trade as a journalist, I have tacitly refrained from commenting on matters that have religious undertone. The reason is simple. I understand the impact of religion in the world. I understand its spiritual and emotional impact on individuals.It is the concatenation of these, and the possibility that one may be branded an unbeliever that I tread softly in matters of religion. But I beg your pardon this time.

Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, popularly known as Daddy G.O in the Redeemed Christian Church of God circle, is one Nigerian pastor I have never failed to give his due in matters spiritual.

Among all the church founders and spiritual leaders that parade themselves as men and women of God, he stands out as a brand of what Christianity should be.

His simplicity is infectious. While many heads of Christian denominations—some with not more than 50 adherents—are busy ordaining themselves as Bishops and Popes and other appellations that are themselves weird and freakish, he prefers to be called a Pastor. Simple.

Dedicated and hardworking, Adeboye stands as a shining light of what honesty and service to God should be. In an era where ‘Jesuspreneurs’ have taken over our temples of worship, he sees billions of naira every month, yet he is neither tempted nor corrupted by it. He is a cult figure, almost worshipped in the RCCG fold, yet he is humble and not carried away by that. He is wealthy, yet dresses simply. His followers in the church see his words and commands as inerrant, yet he does not misuse his powers. That is the measure and depth of the man. That is the commitment of the man, and the extent of veneration the Christian community have for him.

And yet, there is one fly in the ointment. In the book of 2nd Kings Chapter 5, the Bible tells us about one Aramean General called Naaman. The Bible described him in superlative terms, qualities that are rare to find today: He was commander of the Syrian army, he was a mighty man of valour who conquered enemies of Syria and brought home captives and medals, he was humble and brave, he was honourable and  a great man with his master. He was this, he was that. And yet: he was a leper!

If there is any lesson we can learn from the Naaman story apart from its spiritual connotation, it is that no one person has it all fitted together, no matter how endowed in life, we must still have one blemish. The Yoruba says it better: No matter how clean one’s anus may be, if you poke your fingers right deep into it, you must find some dirt!

Since he was appointed to head the Redeemed Christian Church of God in 1991 by the original founder, Pa Akindayomi, Adeboye has worked relentlessly, dedicatedly and passionately to expand the frontiers of Christendom  and win souls to God. Like a troubadour, he has traversed the entire length and breadth of the earth sowing seed, preaching the word of God and planting the Redeemed brand globally.

From a mere 40 branches when he took over, he has planted RCCG in 192 countries. Such is the dedication and tenacity of the wonk that the Time Magazine some years ago named him among the 100 Most Influential People on the Earth. And yet, like Naaman, ‘he was a leper’. Get me right. He is not suffering from leprosy as a disease, rather he appears to be suffering from the leprosy of power. What do I mean? Please hold your peace!

On the 7th of December 2016, Pastor Adeboye announced to the world that he was retiring to enjoy some rest. At 74, he needed that greatly. But before the evening of that day, his son Leke Adeboye released a different angle of the news. This time, Daddy G.O was not retiring but going for a higher calling. He was no longer the General Overseer but the General Overseer Worldwide! To flesh out this, Pastor Joseph Obayemi who was formerly in charge of Lagos Province 28, Region 2 of the church was named the National Overseer.

Since this surprising and unexpected announcement, the overlapping positions has created a lot of confusion not only in the press but also among the Redeemed Christian Church of God members as to who actually is in control.

As a humble man, Pastor Adeboye announced his retirement in line with the stipulations of the Financial Reporting Council Act which mandates every head of a non-profit organisation to relinquish power after serving for not more than 20 years. The essence of that Act which Jim Obazee served as its Executive Secretary until recently is to ensure probity in line with international best practices. It is made with the intention to make it impossible for heads or founders of churches or civil society organisations to hand over to members of their families upon retirement.

But Adeboye appears to have succumbed to some powerful forces within the church by making a U-Turn and recanting even before the cock crowed. He appears not to be in a hurry to leave the limelight. By updating and upgrading to General Overseer Worldwide, the impression he is creating in the minds of people is that he loves power. And that reluctance to leave is the disease, the leprosy of power he suffers which I referred to earlier.

But then, in as much as I do not want to dabble into church politics, I hasten to ask: Does the constitution of RCCG have provision for two overseers? Does it have provision for national and worldwide overseers? Does the two positions not overlap, and if it does, will that not bring confusion? Or is the constitution being enlarged like a Gladstone bag to contain anything thrown into it, including perhaps Obasanjo’s Third Term?

However, in deference to Daddy G.O, I can understand his predicament. He is passionate about the expansion of the kingdom of God. He is deeply in love with the church he has taken to such a phenomenal height, becoming its brand and ambassador. That is the problem of vision bearers, whether in the pulpit, politics or business world. They are afraid if the person taking over from them will carry the vision and run with it. They are reluctant to leave the stage not necessarily because they covet power, but because they are unsure if the person taking over has the charisma to unite the church and keep it together. But Pa Akindayomi was not afraid of these when he chose Adeboye to lead the church.

Adeboye should not be afraid of that either, if that is the reason for the sudden and inelegant volte-face. At 74, he has led the church for 26 years and for that period of time, he must have groomed his own 12 disciples that are ready to carry the burden further without flinching. Leadership is also about grooming a successor. Jesus did it, Moses did and many other men of God in the bible including Elijah.

However, there is something that Adeboye does not know which I believe is also affecting the church and the Christian doctrine. Many members of the church see him as a demigod and worship him as such. When it is his birthday, overzealous Pastors call upon the congregation to ‘appreciate’ him. When that of Mummy G.O comes, women are called upon to do the same. These little things and many others that happen in our churches in Nigeria constitute a drain in the pockets of members.

Not only that. Many Pastors in RCCG believe that whatever the G.O says is the true gospel, whether right or wrong. For instance, one of my Pastors in the church used to tell us every Sunday service that he has a mandate from Daddy G.O to tell members that anyone who does not pay his tithe will go to hell fire for robbing God. Any good student of the bible should know that this is not what the Bible says. Going to heaven is not a matter of the pocket but a matter of grace, else rich men like Bill Gates and Dangote would buy off all the spaces in heaven and retail to poor us at inflated price!

But the Pastor said it simply because, according to him, it was a mandate from Daddy G.O even when it was clear to him that he was not presenting the correct picture of the Bible to his congregation. Before accepting to do the G.Os bidding, I wonder why the Pastor forgot that the man crucified along with Jesus was not a ‘moneybag’ who may not even have paid tithe in his lifetime but a thief who got his pardon and gained instant access to heaven by grace.

As a Christian, I support paying tithe so long as more of it is used to develop the local church. Tithe is important to support the church to fulfil its earthly mission. What is bad is using it to instil fear in people to part with their money grudgingly instead of cheerfully.

However, if Adeboye has actually heard from God that it is time to leave the stage whether as a General Overseer National or Worldwide, he should please leave and not listen to naysayers who  want him to cling to power like some sit-tight African Presidents. One thing is clear, Adeboye was able to go this far in RCCG because as at the time the lot fell on him to lead the church, he was a younger person full of enthusiasm. The church needs fresh blood to do more exploits in this millennium. He should not be afraid of who succeeds him, God will choose the person.

When God took Moses away, God still fulfilled His promise through Joshua to return Israel to the Promised Land. When Elijah was taken by a whirlwind, Elisha stepped in and got a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. I see the same thing happening in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Let somebody shout Hallelujah!

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