By: Deji Yesufu

On the 11th of March, 2024, a popular gospel musician in Nigeria, Dunsin Oyekan, wrote the following on his Instagram page: “Been seeing videos and people writing ‘abidoshaker’ and the rest… BELIEVERS, the things we find funny are a mockery of our faith. We should shut things like these down! No, it’s not funny! You would be shocked how gullible some people are!” The individual Oyekan is referring to is Prophet Chukwuemeka Ohanamere – popularly known as Odumeje. For most of the last three weeks, Odumeje and his promoters have taken over the social media space, advertising his proposed visit to the United Kingdom. To spice it up, Odumeje and his promoters got Flavour, a popular secular musician (known for his erotic and suggestive music), to publish a song where Odumeje’s clichés – citadel, santus sanatorias, ribadu, gandu gagandusa, dabush kabash, lebadushe lemande, indaboske bahose – were used freely. It should be noted that though Odumeje claims to be a preacher of the gospel, the song was not a gospel song – to say the least. It was a rehash of words aimed mainly at promoting one man – Odumeje. The only thing that Flavor said in that song was to keep stretching the name “o-d-u-m-e-d-u-m-e-d-u-m-e-je….” The music is self-glorification at the highest level and they reflect the concerns that Dunsin Oyekan had earlier in the year expressed. The story did not end there. Odumeje was in London and carried out ministry as proposed. His promoters made a good show of the whole matter and the impression the public got was that Odumeje had a successful venture into the United Kingdom, not until this publication by the Punch of 28th April, 2024, that read in part:

“A UK-based Nigerian, Agu Chigekwu, identified on Instagram as richjoelng, recently called out popular Nigerian Pastor, Chukwuemeka Ohanaemere, better known as Odumeje, for failing to pray for members of the congregation at a recent event in London. Chigekwu stated that he attended the event expecting to see Odumeje perform miracles and pray. He said he was, however, left disappointed after Odumeje only sang and then left without praying for anyone. He said, ‘When he came, he was already advertising powers, abidoshaker , citadel, he will release powers and the one he has not touched. Na so people take come o, filled the place. People came out!’”

The man reported that there were no miracles. He said the prophet arrived at the venue of the event five hours late, with people waiting for him; some having travelled for the event from all over the United Kingdom and others buying front seats for as much as a thousand pounds. That video was widely distributed on social media, so I went in search of Agu Chikegwu’s Instagram handle to see the video myself. When I arrived there, apparently Agu had begun to sing a new song. He claimed that after his video went viral, that Odumeje found him and explained matters to him. That he, Odumeje, had not come to the UK for crusade but to promote some personal business – maybe his music. He said that was why he did not carry out the said miracles as advertised by his promoters and him. He said in the future, he would be returning to the UK for crusades and then Nigerians in the UK will see “powers”.

The sad part of this commentary is this: Agu, who had earlier made a perfectly rational video, explaining the duplicity of Odumeje, now returns and backtracks on his own words. He began to call on blogs to retell the story he had earlier published. Unfortunately, the deed had been done. Remember how I began this essay: Dunsin Oyekan had warned believers about a tendency towards gullibility. But it is not only Dunsin who warned us against false preachers and false gospel. The whole of the Bible is replete with warnings like these (Deuteronomy 18:20-22; Jeremiah23:14ff, Matthew 24:4ff, 1Timothy4:1-2, 2Peter2:1ff). In this essay, I will not be spending time to exposit the Bible and its warning against false prophets; I simply want to warn Nigerian Christians against a phenomenon I choose to call “stupid churches”. I will endeavour to dissect this matter and help us to have a little discernment and avoid future “abodishakers” because the Nigerian religious scene is only going to get worse.

While one sympathizes with Dunsin Oyekan’s sentiments in his tweet, you cannot run away from the idea that a certain kind of culture and atmosphere has been fostered in the Nigerian Christian community that will make it easy for an “Odumeje” to gain prominence in our religious communities. That culture, in my estimation, is a certain anti-intellectualism that pervades much of Nigerian Christendom. Once upon a time, there arose a culture within Nigerian Christendom that frowned at the idea of being studious; of being knowledgeable of biblical doctrines; and, one where ideas could easily be shared and challenged within the Nigerian Church. Instead, we were told that all that mattered was for an individual to be “anointed”. When we confronted such views and made them understand that there was a part of the Bible that challenged our thinking and that godliness is a fruit of man’s collective thoughts, we were waved aside. Instead, Christians were told to seek “power” at all costs through prayer, fasting, and any other available means. The Pentecostal-Charismatic culture played down thinking and exalted the supernatural. It is this atmosphere that has produced the likes of Odumeje. In his own words, Odumeje has made it clear that he has no formal education. And the kind of ministry that he runs does not need an enlightened man to lead it. All that Odumeje and those like him need in ministry is “powers”. It is the reason why they go to London and unfortunately are unable to manifest their vaunted power.

Another atmosphere that has produced an “Odumeje” is the prosperity gospel that pervades most of Nigerian Christendom. When the gospel ceases to be about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for the express purpose of saving sinners; the gospel has become a means to get rich quickly. Or, a means to find healing and health for the body, the likes of Odumeje will emerge and become the popular face of Nigerian Christendom. They will go to London and do gbajue ministry there. In these days when money is hard to find, anyone putting a thousand pounds to buy a front seat at a so-called crusade is desperate to find solution to a life challenge. And this is the bread and butter of prosperity gospel preachers: they take advantage of those who are desperate to find solutions to their life challenges and they reap them off of their hard-earned resources.

I would not have written this article until I discovered that Nigerians, living abroad, exposed to the white man’s way of thinking, are still this gullible to fall for the likes of Odumeje. And even when it is clear to them that the man is a charlatan, they still find it quite hard to exercise basic discernment. If our people abroad cannot know what is true from false, what do you expect from those back in the country? The politicians will reap them off, and the religious houses will slap their faces – and you will still find many Nigerians making excuses for these charlatans. If this is not a perfect example of what stupidity is, I do not know what else to call it.

When the missionaries brought the gospel to Nigeria, the first thing they sought to do was to educate the young minds they had access to. The white missionaries understood that a thinking mind, one that could make logical arguments, would ultimately come to grasp the gospel message. They also knew that such people would realize that life is incredibly short and the most well-lived life is the one spent in the service of others. There is no way we can look at world civilization and not realize that the nations that make the most progress are those that allow for a system where people build upon the past achievements of others. One person discovers arithmetic; another person uses these numbers to build the theories of sciences; another person, from a later generation, uses all of these to create discoveries that better the health of others; etc. The developed world we know today reached the point they reached because their societies paid premium to thinking and ideas. When a society loves stupidity; when ideas are frowned upon; when the churches are at the forefront of discarding knowledge to obtain “powers”; foolish men become the leading faces of our religion and our politics. And for those who think I have used too strong a language in this article, understand that sometimes extreme measures are required to slap some of us back to reality (Galatians 3:1).

Deji Yesufu pastors Providence Reformed Baptist Church Ibadan, situated at the University of Ibadan. He is the author of HUMANITY.

Posted by Deji Yesufu

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *