In perhaps the most stinging criticism of the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), by a past leader of the body, the former Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Olubunmi Okogie, said the current president of the association, Ayo Oritsejafor is making a mockery of the association by his closeness to President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
Describing him as “fallen from grace to grass”, Mr. Okogie said Mr Oritsejafor’s has also lost grip of the leadership of CAN.
Mr. Okogie, who spoke during an interview with the New Telegraph newspapers, said Mr Oritsejafor “unrighteous” quest to remain in power and his “romance” with politicians have finished him and derailed the once respected Christian body from the lofty dreams of its founding fathers.
“My brother, I must tell you this; CAN leadership today is zero. CAN has no leader,” he said.
“Thank God you are talking to one of the founders of CAN, and I was there as their leader for eight years. Then, the whole country knew that CAN had a leader, not by my own might, but by God. Because what we were doing then, we had only one voice. But the problem we have now is that people are struggling for power in unrighteous way. And because he is struggling for power, he can do little or nothing.
“And we didn’t buy the position. But this time around, because they are rushing to be in power, nobody obeys them. And look at how they are making mockery of themselves and making mockery of “religion”. Is that religion? Today, they are with the federal government. We saw the writing on the wall when we left. The very first person that took over started romancing with Obasanjo. Then one or two CAN presidents tried their best before it got to this present CAN president, Oritsejafor. This is not right. Look at how Oritsejafor has fallen, from grace to grass.”
Mr. Okogie took a swipe at the CAN president over his link with the $9.3 million smuggled abroad purportedly to procure arms and seized by South African authorities.
Two Nigerians and an Israeli were arrested at the Lanseria Airport in South Africa on September 5, 2014 as they tried to enter the country with the cash conveyed in a private jet owned by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Ayo Oritsejafor.
Mr Okojie said if Mr Oritsejafor is indeed a man of God as he claimed he should rely on God and should have no business getting involved in the $9.3 million arms scandal.
“They are ready with their moneybags. Where did they get the money from? Where did they get the $9.3m that has been seized by South Africa from? They said it was to buy arms. We have to be very careful in this nation. What is the man (Oritsejafor) looking for? If you call yourself a man of God, then you should rely on God. Why should he be jumping up and down? But because he was not elected, not chosen by God, that is what is happening. Today, he wants to build a university, tomorrow he wants to be something else, next tomorrow he wants to be like other people.
He said Mr Oritsejafor is a sinking man and might take President Goodluck Jonathan down with him. “And he is not going down alone; he is also staining the name of the Head of State. Of course, why not? If you eat with those with dirty hands, then you must be dirty.”
Criticising the House of Representatives for electing not to investigate the botched arms deal, Mr. Okogie said the deal was a clear case of money laundering and that President Jonathan and Mr. Oritsejafor should be prosecuted for their involvement in the deal.
“In fact, if I have a lawyer, I would sue them. And I am telling you that I will win. If you can tell me that if I carry huge sums of money without declaring it, that you will arrest me for money laundering, then what is this one. They were carrying all that money and it was not declared. It is a clear case of money laundering. Yet, they are the ones making laws against money laundering.”
The Catholic priest also spared some stinging words for private jet flying mega preachers in the country describing their taste for finery things as unbiblical. He said rather than surround themselves with material things; they should instead spend the money to take care of the needy in the society.
“As far as I am concerned, why are they men of God? I asked one so-called religious leader, and you know what he told me? He said, “My God is a rich God. So if yours is a poor God, that’s your business.” Imagine! So you can even see that this one can’t be called a man of God. And these are the people that tell you they can work miracles, that they have a direct telephone line to God.
“They say they can do this, they can do that, and God is watching all of us. If it were to be in the Old Testament, they would all have been struck down by God. But God is a patient God. We have to be praying for this kind of people, for them to have a change of heart. What are they looking for with jet? Another one said, “Jesus said go into the whole world and evangelise, so how can I go into the whole world, with what? I need a plane to be able to go to the whole world.”
“Even the devil can quote scripture. But did Jesus Christ say you should go and steal to go and buy plane? But now they are claiming that they were given the jets as gifts. But why can’t they spend that money on the poor?
There are many Nigerians who are begging that they have nothing to eat, and yet you say you’re preaching. Preaching for what? Are there no pastors where they are going? May God not punish us according to our sins.”