NIGERIA’S PASTORS ‘AS RICH AS OIL BARONS’

Nigeria’s pastors run multi-million dollar
businesses which rival
that of oil tycoons, a
Nigerian blogger who has
researched the issue has
told the BBC.

Mfonobong Nsehe, who
blogs for Forbes business
magazine, says pastors
own businesses from
hotels to fast-food chains.

Ashimolowo: one of the richest Pastors

“Preaching is big business. It’s almost as profitable as the oil business,” he said.

The joint wealth of five
pastors was at least $
200m (£121m), he said.

Evangelical churches have
grown in Nigeria in recent
years, with tens of
thousands of people
flocking to their services. Mr Nsehe said the richest
pastor, Bishop David
Oyedepo of the Living
Faith World Outreach
Ministry, was worth
about $150m.

Bishop Oyedepo owned a
publishing company,
university, an elite private
school, four jets and
homes in London and the
United States, according to Mr Nsehe.

‘Private jets ’

The Nigerian blogger said
Bishop Oyedepo was
followed on the rich list by Pastor Chris
Oyakhilome of the
Believers’ Loveworld Ministries. He was worth
between $30 and $50m.

“Oyakhilome ’s diversified interests include
newspapers, magazines, a
local television station, a
record label, satellite TV,
hotels and extensive real
estate,” Mr Nsehe said.

He said three of the other
richest pastors were:

– Temitope (T.B)
Joshua
Matthew of
the
Synagogue
Church Of All Nations
(worth
between $
10m and $
15m);

– Matthew
Ashimolowo
of Kingsway
International
Christian
Centre (worth
between $6
million and $
10 million)
and

– Chris Okotie
of the
Household
of God
Church
(worth between $3
million and $
10 million).

Mr Nsehe said
representatives of all the
clergymen, except Pastor
Ashimolowo, confirmed
ownership of the assets
he had listed on his blog.

“These pastors are flamboyant. You see them
with private jets and
expensive cars. This
extravagance sends out
the wrong message to
their followers,” he told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

He said the pastors
acquired their wealth
from various sources,
including their
congregations.

“We have Nigerians who are desperate, looking
for solutions to their
problems. They go to
church for salvation,
redemption and healing
and pastors sometimes take advantage of them,” Mr Nsehe said. – BBC

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