Corruption is “endemic” in Nigeria’s churches, according to the general secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council, Rt Rev Josiah Idowu-Fearon. Idowu-Fearon urged President Muhammadu Buhari to extend his campaign against corruption to include places of worship and religious institutions. He was speaking in Kano State at a day conference on the role of religious leaders in combating corruption, organised by the Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Research and Training and the US Embassy in Nigeria.
Nigeria is known for its prosperity preachers who teach that God wants Christians to be financially successful, many of whom lead conspicuously affluent lifestyles. Idowu-Fearon hit out at such pastors, saying: “The men of God have lost all because of their love for material value. Men of God want to live the extravagant lifestyle of the politicians. Corruption is endemic in places of worship because our pastors and other leaders want to ride big cars, live in big houses and in the process they lost the prophetic value of the Church and compromise their position as spiritual guides.” He said that if the war on corruption included places of worship it would have more success in other areas of society.
Idowu-Fearon, formerly Bishop of Kaduna, said traditional denominations were not exempt from the temptation. “Yes, I do believe there is corruption in the places of worship and I have seen it,” he said. “I have been a bishop for 25 years before I took up the position I hold presently and I know corruption contributes to our national burden. But the belief is if the head is rotten, the whole body is not spared and so the move to start from clergymen is a good development.”