While the Federal Government tackles the on-going economic recession, the Regional Youth Evangelist, North Central, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Sola Owoeye, believes that the church has a big role to play in reviving the economy.
As far as he is concerned, churches in Nigeria should emulate their counterparts in the United Kingdom and the United States of America by assisting the government in addresing both economic and social problems confronting the nation.
Owoeye says the church is expected to operate as an organ that can help cure some of the malaise such as mismanagement of fund, corruption and social indecency.
“The church is closer to the people than the government and it must take part in the re-orientation process in the society. Corruption is rooted in our society because government is not seeing the church from that angle and the church has disconnected itself from governance. It must be instrumental to changing people and equipping them on how to manage their resources, especially when the economy is in recession.
“Many members and even pastors are economically ignorant of what is going on. When it comes to analysis of what is going on in the country, they are illiterates, even when they have various academic degrees. It is time for Pastors to educate their members on economic management because there are certain self-adjustment mechanism people must adopt during recession. If that is not done, the pastor would suffer for it because the members will mount pressure on him when they are in financial distress,” the economist turned cleric says.
According to him, the church must monitor the lifestyle of its members and counsel them, if need be, especially the youth as well as civil and public servants.
He says, “Nigeria is a consuming nation and a wasteful nation. An average youth who is not employed is using an iPhone of about N200,000 or using a car worth N2 million and the church is quiet. We even allow them share testimonies in the church without knowing the specific source of such ‘gift’. This is a time the church should let people know, that you don’t live beyond your income but within it.”
He blames some churches which celebrate civil servants and other members living above their means, recollecting that a member of a particular pentecostal church working in the civil service once built a house worth about N100 million and invited his pastor for dedication for the dedication of the building.
“It was unfortunate that the man of God also failed to ask questions when he knew the member could not have built the house with his salary. What we are facing in the country is a cumulative error of what everybody is doing in Nigeria. Pastors ought to be preaching the hard truth to their members, to make them sit up and to make them stop indulging in several financial malpractices,” he says.
The church is closer to the people than the government and it must take part in the re-orientation process in the society. Corruption is rooted in our society because government is not seeing the church from that angle and the church has disconnected itself from governance.
Pastor Owoeye insists that his colleagues should teach their church members that it is ungodly to acquire wealth through dubious means, stressing that it’s only the Lord’s blessings that makes one rich without any sorrow.
He argues that anyone who makes himself rich through dubious or fraudulent means will end up being in sorrow.
“That is why you will see them building houses worth N500 million in an area and the roan that lead to the house is not tarred. They use money that should have been in the confine of government for fixing infrastructure decay for themselves and still end in sorrow,” he says.
The cleric, however, advises the Federal Government to decentralise some of its exclusive powers.
According to him, the government should allow some private firms and bodies to provide electricity and some other basic infrastructure for themselves and their immediate environment.
”There are certain things the government is suffering from today that we have people in the church who can help them solve it. For years now, Winners Chapel, Ota and Redemption Camp, Mowe, Ogun State have been generating their own power without depending on the electricity distribution companies and they are willing to transmit to their communities but the government refused. A church along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway also wanted to construct a bridge to ease traffic but government also frowned on the move.
“The church is like a micro-unit now, who are already beginning to create their environment in a more conducive way with some of the infrastructure that are lacking in the country. If government would be reasonable enough, there is no point not partnering with this kind of bodies, hearing their view on how we can move the nation forward. But because the two of them are parallel lines, which can never meet, we are far from development,” he adds.
Pastor Owoeye also blames the government for not engaging the youth fully in governance.
He enjoins the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to emulate his counterpart in Kenya, saying, for instance, the minister of communication in Nigeria is far older than his counterpart in Kenya but has no experience in the communication or telecommunications sector, while the latter has several years of experience in the sector.
“When you are asked to do what you don’t have the knowledge of, that’s maladministration. As a matter of fact, we have older people in government than the younger ones, the involvement of youth in the country is very minimal and that is not the best for a country who wants to be healthy because those who are still in their productive stage of their lives, if well guided, would perform better than the older ones,” he insists.
On indecent dressing, especially amongst the youth, he blames the parents and families of such children for such menace.
For him, charity begins at home and parents are expected to control and teach their wards the way of the Lord so that when they grow, they won’t depart from it.
“Some pastors’ wives dress indecently, so what do you expect from their children? The problem lies with the family because that is the child’s first environment while the society is secondary. So, what is sowed into a child as he is growing up in life, to some extent, can go a long way to affect the way and manner he sees life and responds to it.
“If the parents can do their home work, the societal influence is secondary. As a matter of fact, I determine the TV channels my children watch at home. I determine the kind of music they listen to, because that is my responsibility,” Owoeye says.