The year 2017 was only a few minutes away on December 31,2016 when Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye began to reel out his prophesies for the new year at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Camp in Ogun State.
It would be a year of many surprises, the widely respected General Overseer of the church said among other prophesies.
One hundred and sixty eighty hours after,the man named in 2008 by the American magazine Newsweek as one of the 50 most influential across the globe, delivered one of such surprises himself:he quit as head of the biggest Pentecostal church in Nigeria.
But he continues to hold sway as General Overseer of the RCCG Worldwide.
This is already generating a debate among RCCG members and non-members alike.
The bone of contention is the place of General Overseer RCCG Worldwide in the constitution of the Church. The constitution makes provision for only one General Overseer.
Succeeding him is Pastor Joshua Obayemi,who until now ,was Special Assistant to the General Overseer (SATGO) on Finance.
Adeboye described the new GO as an experienced administrator who has been prepared for years by God for the task.
Obayemi,he explained ,was part of the mission’s Salary Review Committee and a member of the church’s In-Land Mission, which represented RCCG at Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) activities across the country.
There was pin drop silence in the auditorium as Pastor Adeboye announced the change of guards to hundreds of ministers of the church who had gathered for their Annual Thanksgiving at Shimawa, Ogun State.
Among the participating ministers was Vice President Yemi Oshinbajo.
Also appointed were Pastor Johnson Odesola, as the new church secretary and Pastor Joseph Adeyokunnu, as the new treasurer.
Pastor Adeboye who turns 75 in March said his exit was on account of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) of Nigeria National Code of Governance 2015 stipulations. The code, which has been undergoing public hearings since last year, came up with radical regulations for Not For Profit Organisations (NFPOs).
Section nine of the code entitled ‘position of the leader or founder’ stipulates that whoever leads a charitable organisation shall not occupy the position for more than ten years or after attainment of 70 years.
Religious leaders, particularly in the church, have kicked against the provision among others. They protested as the public hearing in Lagos, stating the provision was targeted at them.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) under its immediate past president,Biship Ayo Oritshejafor vehemently resisted the proposal under ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
It is not yet clear how other church leaders who are directly affected by the proposal will handle the situation.
In this category are: Pastor William Kumuyi of Deeper Life, Dr. Mike Okonkwo of TREM, Bishop David Oyedepo of Living Faith Church Worldwide, and Biship Oritshejafor of Word of Life Bible Church.
However, a highly placed source in FRCN yesterday faulted the announcement of Obayemi as Adeboye’s successor.
Asked to elaborate, the source said: “when you’re talking about governance code, you know we have nomination committee, which says you cannot nominate your successor, he (Adeboye) has breached that now.
“He’s not supposed to nominate his successor. But, we agree now that maybe the church already has agreed on their successor.”
“So remuneration committee- you cannot determine your own salary, even your work place, then you now have audit committee- you cannot audit yourself. So if you are General Overseer of Redeemed, for instance, and you are in charge of these three governance positions. You know the way Redeemed is structured from the start, it is a church that the Audit committee is headed by G.O, the remuneration and nomination committee is headed by G.O.
“He is the one that audits people; he is the one that appoints people; and he is the one that determines salaries.
“So the act says that if you have occupied this governance position and you have been there for more 20 years or you have attained 70 years of age you can no longer do that.
“ You can be chairman board of trustees; so you now become the spiritual leader but you can’t be somebody who will be responsible for operations.
When we held a private meeting with all the General Overseers, the big ones in Victoria Island it was made very clear to them that you will need to separate these things.
”You said ‘God called you’, we cannot say ‘God did not call you’. So you are a spiritual leader but God did not say you should also be the accountant because you are operating in a country where there is a law.”
Adeboye was given a national honour by the late President Umaru Yar Adua.
Asked why he accepted the honour then ,Adeboye said:“God said I should not refuse it, that it is not about me, it is about my church.”
And on his rating by Newsweek,he said: “Suddenly, they said they listed 50 most powerful people in the world, and they mentioned your General Overseer. I said ‘God, what is it now? I want to sit in my own corner and do my own thing quietly.’ But He said it is about me and my church. They said I am number 49.”
Apparently reacting to the deluge of questions raised by RCCG members and non-members alike over the new dispensation in the church,Adeboye’s son/special assistant,Pastor Leke Adeboye, issued a clarification to the effect that the elder Adeboye “remains the General Overseer of RCCG Worldwide.”
He advised all members of RCCG to understand this new structure and go about their service to God and humanity in holiness and soul winning.
He also appealed to members to educate people around them and not spread inaccurate information.
A further clarification came from Pastor Odesola who,in a memo RCCG/PERS/JFO/AD/MEMO/07/01/2017 and entitled New Structure in RCCG Nigeria,said: “Kindly be informed that this new structure is peculiar to Nigeria alone,as Pastor E.A.Adeboye ,Daddy G.O.remains the Spiritual Leader and Global Missioner of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Adeboye was born on March 2, 1942, at Ifewara, Osun State.
He read Mathematics at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, and later got a PhD in applied mathematics from the University of Lagos.
Thereafter ,he worked as a lecturer in Mathematics at the universities of Lagos and Ilorin, before going into full time priesthood in 1984.
After joining the RCCG in 1973, he began working to translate the sermons of its then Pastor and founder, Rev. Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi, from Yoruba into English.
In 1981, Adeboye was appointed General Overseer of the church ,succeeding Akindayomi, who had died the previous year.
In his first three years as head of the church,Pastor Adeboye combined his spiritual assignment with his teaching job,but finally gave up his university position to preach full-time.
In his 36 years in charge of the RCCG,Adeboye transformed it into a phenomenon, becoming Nigeria’s biggest, with branches globally in about 190 countries, including more than 14,000 in Nigeria.
Adeboye had said his aim was to put a church within five minutes of every person on earth. He married Adenike, now 68 in 1967.