Nigerians have seen all sorts of preachers but none in the make of Indaboski Pahose, also known as Odumeje. He is boorish and loutish, with every characteristic of an unschooled ruffian. His attempt at speaking English is always a pathetic failure and an avoidable punishment to him and whoever is listening. He performs crazy stunts, shouts like a man suffering from bouts of manic psychosis. Sometimes he presents a better self as a local musician or a comedian. To anyone with a minimal degree of discernment, he is in a business that cannot be recognised as religion. But for what it is worth, he knows his customers, where they are, and what they want. Indaboski is a clever entrepreneur who has discovered a niche. He found his niche mostly among the identity deprived young adults, hopeless miracle seekers and sick minds in search of healing. He’s found a way to command a following among a generation whose balm on the wounds of poverty and want, is entertainment, and whose understanding of work is luck and gambling.
Chukwuemeka Ohanaemere (his real name) founded Mountain of Holy Ghost Intervention Deliverance Ministry after abandoning his leather trade. Clips of him in self-adulation and mouthing supercilious jargons like ‘Indaboski Pahose’, ‘the lion himself’, ‘the fight’, ‘the riquid (sic) metal’, ‘Lebadu’, ‘Seplae’, and ‘ladical plophet (sic)’ have been making the rounds on social media.
When Indaboski staged the resurrection of a “dead” person, it was beyond embarrassment. It showcased the extent these fake pastors are willing to go in a desperate attempt at showing they can perform miracles. In another show, he almost strangled a woman in an attempt to cast out the demon of disability, he claimed was tormenting her. He often picks up congregants and throws them violently into plastic chairs. His miracles also include deliverance sessions from erectile dysfunction, where words like ‘penis’ and ‘sucrutum’ (scrotum) are thrown around with careless ease. To those of us who do not believe in his showmanship and hoaxes, he said: “I am not a man of story. I have evidences. When you say I am a show maker, then you bring to me your evidences that make you to be better than me. You are just a noisemaker! I play but my joke is too dangelous(sic). I smile but my smiling is too dangerlous(sic). I am coat of many corours(sic).”
Looking at his juvenile video game stunts, one is forced to think how this kind of charlatan got his following. Indaboski commands following because his followers hunger for identity and hope. He sells it to them via entertainment and navel-gazing flair. Our youths are lost. They are sick, hopeless and without knowledge. Without knowledge, it is difficult for man to find himself. If one is unable to find oneself, there is no identity, because identity is the knowledge of who we are. The Church business is thriving because smart businessmen and women know the pot of gold behind the rainbow lie between prosperity and the gospels. For a people suffering the crisis of identity and hopelessness, religion gives hope for a better life in heaven and prevents them from taking the actions needed to lift themselves out of poverty.
How can a pastor offer anyone another country’s visa and he is believed? Well, the black man is obsessed with the supernatural. He wants and venerates short cuts. Since the advent of pentecostals, Nigerians have become miracle addicts who will do anything to get their miracle fix. Pastors know this. As entrepreneurs, they have identified this need and have developed faith products like holy water, white handkerchief, anointing oil, miracle wrist bands to fulfill that need. These forms of exploitation is how religion works against the poor, by keeping them complacent and docile. Fake and rogue pastors, through promoting miracles and faith without work, create in people a transactional mindset, where there is no real interest in godliness but in what we can get from God, materially and physically.
The time has come for us to look beyond the pastorpreneurs and work on our self-identity. For the society to function and progress, we must create the right environment for individuals to make, develop and nurture good choices, because choices affect destiny. The choices we make earlier on create the kind of identity we have and the emergence of the true self. Happiness in life is directly related to living in harmony with one’s true self. The development of the true self ultimately leads to self-reliance and a can-do attitude, which leads to personal success. Even though freedom of association and religion is protected in the Constitution, scamming in the name of God has left a trail of destruction. Unsuspecting, gullible members are robbed of their money, dignity and basic human rights.
It is about time to educate Nigerians on what to watch out for before getting lured into the gospel of deception and church of dispossession. One, fake pastors do not teach. Good and real men of God led by the spirit dwell on the teachings of the Bible when they preach to their congregants. If your pastor resorts to entertaining gimmicks, miracle fixes, psychological manipulation, and proclaims his feelings as Bible teachings, run! Two, a religious leader must be above reproach. If your pastor is always in the news or on social media for the wrong reasons or there are reports questioning his integrity, do not worship in his church! Three, if your pastor lacks self-control, abuses substances and takes advantage of women to satisfy his sexual urge, there is nothing he has to teach you. Four, there is every reason to doubt his divine call, if your pastor has an insatiable appetite for money and he is living a luxurious life. If your pastor exhibits one or more of the above characteristics, chances are you are worshipping man, instead of God. A man that cannot lead himself to God, cannot take you to Him.
Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo