Nigerian Pentecostal Churches recently kicked against the Federal government’s proposal to implement the law of Company and Allied Matters Acts (CAMA) in churches because it goes against their belief in the “invisible”.
Majority of the clergy had initially criticized and clamoured against the implementation of the new CAMA, which was authorized into law on August 7th of 2020 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to law, religious bodies and charity organisations will strictly be regulated by the registrar-general of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and a supervising minister.
This issue was recently discussed in a conference held by a group of panelists in honour of Nimi Wariboko’s work “The Philosophy of Nimi Wariboko: Social Ethics, Economy, and Religion’.
Nimigborueneboa Elekima Wariboko (NEW) is a Nigerian-born US scholar who is also a Walter G. Muelder Professor of Social Ethics at the Boston University. He is also a theorist, theologian, ethicist, cultural theorist, philosopher. and economist, whose studies have impacted the understanding of African economic history, business management, valuation of corporations, and financial statement analysis.He has been an economic and strategy consultant to the federal government of Nigeria and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
CAMA provides that the commission may by order, suspend the trustees of an association or a religious body and appoint an interim manager or managers to coordinate its affairs where it reasonably believes that there has been any misconduct or mismanagement, or where the affairs of the association are being run fraudulently or where it is necessary or desirable for the purpose of public interest.
The Bishop of Living Faith church, popularly referred to as Winners Chapel, David Oyedepo, reacting to the development disclosed that such laws were borne of out the government’s envy on the church’s recorded successes so far. In his words:
“The church is God’s heritage on earth. The church works on the pattern delivered by God not the pattern of man. Government has no power to appoint people over churches,” Oyedepo had argued.
Meanwhile, recent reports revealed that the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has disclosed that they would begin the implementation of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) on January 1, 2021.
Toyin Falola, a professor of history at the University of Texas, in October, speaking in an interview and in line with Wariboko’s work “by spell of the invisible”, said that;
“We have the phenomenological world, the physical world that coordinates our reality, but this is not enough for them. They are propelled to understand what is behind the phenomenological veil or wall. Pentecostals are always moving from the physical to the non-physical, to the spiritual realm to make sense of their visible world.”
One of the panelists, Benson Igboin from (Adekunle Ajasin University) and Abimbola Adelakun (University of Texas), both argued in line with Wariboko’s work that Pentecostal churches believe that matters of accountability in the church are best left in the hands of the “unseen” who according to them takes charge of matters of the seen, hence, a law that is supposed to facilitate accountability became a matter of persecution in the church’s view.
Adelakun was of the opinion that, “The argument about the logic of invisibility is that the power of things that are not seen controls the things that can be seen. Because in a culture where the logic of invisibility reigns, asking people to be transparent in their dealings is a crime because it exposes them to an outsider.”
Benson Igboin reasoned that Pentecostals “see accountability as relating between them and God who they argue would ultimately would decide whether or not if they ran the church while here on earth in accordance with the Christian principles of accountability,” he said.
For him, this brings up the question as to why churches should be made to operate at the level of visibility that even the state itself is not capable of demonstrating ? And for so long, the logic of invisibility, the ability to hide the things that you are doing and not give account has defined sovereignty in Nigeria.
“So when the government came up with the idea that would make pentecostal churches operate with a greater clarity into their activities, what they saw is a strategy to take enfeeble them, to take away that part of their sovereignty.”
It remains a fact to see if this proposal by the federal government will be reversed or allowed to take effect next year. However in the opinion of many, especially religious leaders, the CAMA law is clearly a scenery of the pot calling the kettle black and they are firmly against its implementation.
Gift Joseph Okpakorese