INTERVIEWER: Right now, people have concerns even with the pastors and the clerics, you hear the issues of private jets, people think the congregation is suffering, and the pastor is flying everywhere, preaching to who? so what do you have to say concerning leadership even in the religious sector?
PST MATHEW ASHIMOLOWO: I think, at the end of the day, the context of Nigeria, is one of the reasons why we react to these things, because of the mass need on ground. However, you will find that the people we’re talking about, out of probably 20 million clergy, it may not be more than 6, so I think first of all, there might be a blowing out of proportion by the media because 6 people out of 20 million, is not a large proportion.
Then when you take those 4 or 6 individuals, look at their itinerary and find out “is it even saving money for the organization to have it, or is it costing the organization?” I’ll just use one example if you permit me, I’ll say Pst Adeboye. I was with that man in Toronto, we had an all night prayer meeting, the all night finished 5am and he was to also speak to pastors by 10am in Washington you know,… thereabout which is another 1 and half or 2 hour flight.
He finished 5am, even if it’s 2 hours sleep, the man is over 70, if he had gone to Toronto airport to wait, they could cancel the flight, he may get to where he is going and when he finishes the Washington meeting, he had another all night, in fact I was just with him 3 days ago and it happens that it’s like almost every week, people think is only the one he holds on Lagos – Ibadan express.
He just told me that he finished in India, crossed over to Kenya, the next day and when he finished in Kenya, crossed over to I think Abuja or Lagos to hold another one. You can sit in some airports 16 hours, just coming from Kenya to Lagos, a 3 and half hours flight, once took me 16 hours. So, I think it has been blown out of proportion. You find that it saves them much more money, for him to do those kind of itinerary, he has to lease, he has to rent from somebody else’s plane and in the process, the organization would pay more.
I think sometimes we look at the need in our nation and fail to realize that if it is a necessity, for certain people, we have not questioned people who yesterday just finished university and today own 2 jets. We’ve not asked where did they get it from? how did they get it? because Lagos international airport, is littered with private jets. When you land, they are up to 40, and you just wonder when did the economy reach the place where people have all these and we’re having billionaires who are under 45 and who only left university 15 years ago, how did it happen?
I think it’s been blown out of proportions. Certainly, there are issues within the religious bodies and I think this program is not enough to deal with all the issues. My only statement will be this; it is very difficult for a nation to not reflect the church in it, and it is difficult for the church to not reflect the nation in it. However, it is important for those who lead those churches, to begin to realize, Nigeria! the answer is not in the hands of these politicians.
Transcriber: David Loh