Popular preacher, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, led other church leaders on Monday to express resistance to the new edict that dictates tenure of church leaders in Nigeria.
Oke, who is the Presiding Bishop, Sword of the Spirit Ministries, emphasized that church leaders in Nigeria would neither obey the edict nor challenge it in court, adding that they would wait for government to hurl them to prison for their resistance.
Oke, who is a strong voice in the Nigerian Christian community, said the new leadership structure in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) as announced by the General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, was a routine restructuring in the church, not a response to the new law.
He explained that Adeboye announced the new decision of the Governing Council of the church to appoint an Overseer for Nigeria while he (Adeboye) remains the General Overseer and Chief Missioner of the church, to enable him concentrate more on overseas missionary works.
Oke, who addressed reporters with leaders of five other churches, described the new law as an error, stressing that any attempt to dictate for the church would put the country on fire.
“We won’t go to court, we won’t obey, and we will expect them to hurl us into prison. We are very determined and focused about that. What they want to do is to strike the shepherd and see the sheep scatter. That is their game plan of the devil but God will never allow the gate of hell to prevail against His church.” Oke said.
The preacher, however, absolved President Mohammadu Buhari from the development, saying he did not have foreknowledge of the law. He commended him for taking action immediately he got knowledge of it.
Oke said Buhari has tremendous respect for Christianity.
According to Oke, the country would have been on fire if the president did not act on time.
He called for an immediate repeal of the edict, stressing that government is not in a position to determine the tenure of church leaders because it did not set them up in the first place. He pointed out that the edict was targeted at a particular church but that it would fail.
His words: “The edict should be repealed. There is a difference between government and the church.
Government has no business regulating choice and tenure of church leaders. How can government begin to determine who leads RCCG, for instance, when it was not there when the church was being built?
Government was not there when God called the church leaders. Government should not venture into a terrain in which it does not have authority. Even in the Western world where government regulates the finances of the church, it supports them. It never dictates their leadership and tenure. The constitution and internal governance of each church should be allowed to direct administrative procedure.
“Government should face the challenges of infrastructures such as roads, hospitals, schools as well as unemployment and corruption, not church leadership. Let the government not dabble into religious affairs. These church leaders are people faithfully serving God and Nigeria.”