Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, ex- President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
• People appreciate the existence of Winners' Chapel in Ota and the work of all its institutions. The educational institutions are appreciated most and they have the greatest, consistent and far-reaching impact.
• Covenant University has carved a niche for-itself. Within five years of its existence. It is not unlikely that it will, become one of the role models for private universities in Nigeria and indeed in Africa.
• The employment creation and generation is what, is hailed by almost all respondents particularly the ordinary people most of whom must have been direct or indirect beneficiaries.
• The multiplier effect of job creation is worthy of note. With the university and the schools, there are staff and students who have to move within the campus and between the campuses and the outside stations. This generates employment for employed drivers and self-employed transporters. The vehicles have to be maintained and repaired, so there is employment for artisans. Petrol and diesel sellers are making roaring business. All these people - staff, students and all that secures transportation-related employment have to eat.
• The above presents business for "mama put" cafeteria, seller of food items, condiments and ingredients. No wonder there is a busy and thriving market opposite the gate of Winners’ Chapel. These petty traders and small business people also need transportation to move in transacting their businesses. Therefore, there is mutual interaction and cross-feeding of each other's businesses.
• The bankers are smiling within their banks because they are doing roaring business as the money made by all businesses end up in the banks. The number of banks operating in Ota has tremendously increased since Winners' Chapel came to Ota: More than 60% of the 24 banks in Nigeria, today, have branches in Ota according to the local branch of NACCIMA-Nigerian Chamber' of Commerce, industry, Manufacturing and Agriculture.
• The Winners' Chapel is continuously building structures and expanding its land acquisition. Jobs for construction and building artisans keep on growing. Aderinwale confirmed that such artisans are in short supply and some contractors have resorted to bringing migrant workers from neighbouring countries of Benin Republic and Togo. It has become a beehive of employment generation activities for both Ogun State and the adjoining Lagos State. Yes, this state of affair may not be entirely brought about by Winners Chapel as there are other players in the employment creating activities in Ota, such as industries, other construction works, commercial and retail business as well as other educational and research institutions, but all said and done, nobody who talks of Winners' Chapel impacting on Ota community without mentioning employment generation.
• The issue of spirituality and religious impact is mentioned, by a few respondents, but the emphasis on that issue, which one will consider the key issue - evangelism - for the founding or establishment of Winners' Chapel seems not to have caught on like the out-flowing benefits of education and employment generation and provision. We can deduce that daily activities make greater impact or impression than the occasional activities of Sunday worships and annual conventions. Again, the impact of the issue of spirituality or religiosity may not be easily discernible or visible like the educational and job-creation.
• The few who comment on spirituality and religiosity make the point of transformation of life. Only those whose lives have been touched can be so specific or those who have experienced those whose lives have been touched or transformed. Even those whose lives have been transformed may be laughed at by those who know them earlier, thinking that they are 'fake' or pretenders. The issue of spiritual and religious impact must not be ignored as it takes time for the critical mass of impact to be formed that can galvanise a revival.
• From both the interviews and responses to the questionnaire, some common features have emerged. Both groups of people acknowledge the tremendous blessing of the establishment of Winners' Chapel in Ota. The interviews and the questionnaire responses identify common areas of benefit which are religious and spiritual, though this is not as pronounced in the questionnaire responses as it is in the interviews. The impact of educational institutions and job creation are overwhelmingly hailed in answers to interview questions and questionnaire responses.
• Aderinwale lists fifteen trades and professions or groups of people who are great beneficiaries of the positive impact of the establishment of Winners' Chapel and Cannaanland institutions.
• It is noteworthy here to observe that both the interview answers and the responses to the questionnaire with the comments supplied are very complementary. They are very good indicators of the true picture of reality of Winners' Chapel and its impact on the community as expressed by random population sample of Ota Community.
Dr. David Oyedepo, Founder of Living Faith Inc. Worldwidw.a.k.a. Winners' Chapel
Posted by Ambassador T. Brikins
Yekini Nabena stirred the hornet’s nest Wednesday March 11, 2020, when he said Bishop Oyedepo, a global teaching priest, an outstanding educationist, builder of the biggest inclusive church building in the world,( size: 3 olympic sized football stadia) father to pace setting clergies, prophet, with millions of followers , adherents, disciples globally, “Your Head Need To Be Examined”.
Not everyone is ignorant of the vast impact, that Bishop Oyedepo’s vision and mandate has impacted and continue to impact on its immediate community at Ota in Ogun State, South West Nigeria, Nigeria and the world at large.
Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo, two time former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who like General Yakubu Gowon, another former President of Nigeria had gone back to the University, to enhance his value. Obasanjo wrote a book which came out of the project he submitted for his Post-graduate Diploma course in Christian Theology at the National Open University of Nigeria in October 2008.
According to Obasanjo, ‘’One of the problems I observed before embarking on the study was lack of sufficient understanding of the responsibilities, functions, achievements and impact of the new generation churches in Nigeria. The Winners' Chapel falls most appropriately into the class of such new churches’’.
He therefore believed that ‘’ Pentecostal churches have to be seen in this context for full understanding of their operations, development and impact’’. Single minded, he wrote that, the Nigerian,’’…nation must consciously appeal to these religious organisations to use their power and influence to mobilize for the good of the people of Nigeria. Nothing should, however, be done advertently or inadvertently to contain or to seem to curtail or to be construed 'as containing freedom of association or freedom of worship. If anything, government at every level, but particularly at the centre must be seen as enhancing such freedom. A great national spiritual revival must be encouraged within both major religions in our land. It can only be good and beneficial to all Nigerians and to the country at large. The success and achievement of the Chapel (Winners’ Chapel), should be taken to the grand scale of the national level’’.
The outcome of the study which is captured in the book ‘’The Spread of Pentecostalism in Nigeria’’ is meant to be of benefit to the Church in Nigeria new generation, orthodox, conventional and all, significantly, as the study revealed should have implication for the nation, for the Church and, in a special way, for the Winners' Chapel as the special focus and also for Pentecostalism in Nigeria.
Recall that Bishop Oyedepo had told his members during a Sunday service that Buhari’s government was the worst in Nigeria’s history and a curse to the nation.
Responding to that statement in an interview with a Nigerian daily newspaper, Daily Post, on Monday, the ruling party in Nigeria’s APC (All Progressive Congress) Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena queried, what Dr. David Oyedepo has contributed to the society.
Nabena’s reaction. “What has he contributed to Nigeria? Oyedepo has no right to crucify or tell anybody that their time has come to an end.
“He has no right, he should examine his own head. Despite the billions of naira and dollars, Nigerians have contributed through offerings to him what has he given back to the community?
“What has he contributed to the country? So he is not in a position to tell Nigerians what to do because they voted for Buhari so he has no right’’.
Not much ado can be made of these comments but suffice to say that every Nigerian citizen irrespective of status under Chapter 4 Under Fundamental Rights, of the Constitution of the Federal of Nigeria 1999 as amended has;
Right to life
Right to dignity of human person
Right to personal liberty
Right to fair hearing
Right to private & family life
Right to freedom of thought, conscience & religion
Right to freedom of expression & the press
Right to peaceful assembly & association
Right to freedom of movement
Right to freedom from discrimination
Right to acquire & own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria
Compulsory acquisition of property
Restriction on derogation from fundamental rights
Special jurisdiction of High Court & legal aid
The issue of church offering which some call donations has been grossly misunderstood by the uninitiated in Christianity. In Romans 15:27,’’ It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things’’
‘’ For it is written in the Law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.’’ 1 Corinthians 9: 9 to 14.
So it is not donation as it were. According to the Arcus Dictionary, Donation or Contribution, ‘’is a voluntary (as of money or service or ideas) made to some worthwhile cause. It is the quality of spiritual impact from a man of God that determines the material returns or reward he gets. This is what separates the men from the boys.
‘’ And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance’’. Luke 8:1 to 3.
These people ministered out of their substance because their lives had been spiritually impacted with physical evidence. How do you pay a man who healed your son from mental insanity or cancer? The woman healed from the issue of blood had spent all she had on doctors and was not healed. The multitudes that flock to the church knows where the shoe pinches.
This is about spirituality. It takes a spiritual woman or man to impact spiritually.
Bishop Oyedepo, had been reported to have described the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), as the worst in the history of Nigeria.
The Punch newspaper, a Nigerian newspaper, reported that Oyedepo said this on Sunday while delivering a sermon during the second service of the church at the Faith Tabernacle, Ota, and Ogun State. He said the hate speech bill being sponsored by Senator Sabi Abdullahi was the most ridiculous bill anyone could think of.
The cleric said while the government was seeking to criminalise hate speech, those who kill others at will were left to walk free.
The Bishop said, “The government in this country is making a draconian law – hate speech. They said if you speak hatefully, you have committed murder. Out of someone who says I will kill you and the one who kills, who has committed a crime? I don’t understand which kind of animal farm we live in’’. (The theme of animal farm).
He explained, “I said stop stepping on my toes and you said that is hate speech but somebody kills and he is walking free on the streets. This is the most stupid and nonsensical ideal anybody can think of. I said you are bad and you said that is a crime. Must I say you are good when you are bad?
“In my view you are bad and you shouldn’t be a leader. I have the right to say so. As far as I am concerned, I am a true born and thoroughly -bred Nigerian, an intelligent one. In my view this is the worst thing that has happened to Nigeria — this government. It is the worst and in fact it is like a curse’’.
“I have been here for some time and I led the first prayer and fasting for Nigeria in 1979. I am not a baby in the affairs of Nigeria. This is the worst government, a government with no direction. Their days are numbered. I can tell you as a prophet that their days are numbered.”
The military’s decision to watch out for comments that could be “anti-government, anti-military or anti-security” followed Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari’s claim that some comments on social media “have crossed our national red lines“.
President Mohammadu Buhari
“Nigerians are robust and lively in discussing their affairs, but I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially in the social media have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far,” Buhari had said during his nationwide broadcast.
Keeping in-toe with the President, the Vice-President, Professor at Law & Pastor Yemi Osinbajo, on November 13, 2019 was quoted by the News & Politics, Nigeria, said that hate speech will now be treated as an act of terrorism.
Professor Yemi Osibanjo, Vice-President, Nigeria
“The federal government’’ he said, ‘’has … drawn the line on hate speech. Hate speech is a specie of terrorism”.
“The Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended defines terrorism as an act which is deliberately done with malice which may seriously harm a country or is intended or can be reasonably be regarded as having been done to seriously intimidate a population. Silence in such situations can only be seen as an endorsement.”
Respectable and responsible leaders, persons, and institutions have been availing the public of their informed perspective on this issue that seem to be taking Nigeria into a stagnant and backward match.
Thomas Sowell, an American economist and social theorist who is currently a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, says of the concept of hate speech.
“The concept of “microaggression” is just one of many tactics used to stifle differences of opinion by declaring some opinions to be “hate speech,” instead of debating those differences in a marketplace of ideas. To accuse people of aggression for not marching in lockstep with political correctness is to set the stage for justifying real aggression against them.”
Ex- President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria
Barely 24 hours after the military said it is monitoring social media for hate speeches, immediate past President of Nigeria Dr. Goodluck Jonathan reminded Nigerians of the “total freedom enjoyed”, by Nigerians during his administration.
Jonathan shared in his Facebook page quote he made during his tenure in which he said he was the “most abused and insulted president”.
“I am the most abused and insulted president in the world, but when I leave office you will all remember me for the total freedom you enjoyed under my government,” the quote read.
Jonathan, during his tenure as president, signed the freedom of information act into law.
Ex-Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria
November 13, 2019 ; Speaking on the new bill, the former Vice-President of Nigeria under President Olusegun Obasanjo Atiku Abubakar lamented that the hate speech bill is backed by “those who do not like to hear the inconvenient truth,” because it breaches Nigerians’ right to freedom of information.
“The contemplation of such laws’’, he continued, ‘’ is in itself not just hate speech, but an abuse of the legislative process that will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech”.
He said, “Those behind this Bill to awake to the fact that Nigeria’s democracy has survived its longest incarnation because those who governed this great nation between 1999 and 2015 never toyed with this most fundamental of freedoms.
“It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests. We must prioritise our challenges ahead of the whims and caprices of those who do not like to hear the inconvenient truth. Stop this folly and focus on issues that matter to Nigerians.
Such legislations only make Nigeria a laughing stock in front of the world. We can’t boast to be in a democracy or a place where there is rule of law, with all these anomalies in place. If the National Assembly continues its anti-people legislation at this pace, we may end up as a fascist nation by 2023.
The lawmakers have to put a stop to these actions that only make a joke of our democracy. Nigerians don’t want an authoritarian government, not before, and definitely, not now.
Some respectable and credible relevant global institutions have expressed their concerns too.
The Hate Speech and Social Media Bill being proposed by the Nigerian Senate media has also been described as dangerous attacks on freedom of expression.
4, December 2019, Amnesty International gave a statement describing the Hate Speech and Social Media Bill as dangerous attacks on freedom of expression.
‘’ The Nigerian Senate is currently considering two harsh bills relating to freedom of expression online, including one which proposes the death penalty for ‘hate speech.’ These bills, supported by the Nigerian government, represent an alarming escalation in the authorities’ attempts to censor and punish social media users for freely expressing their opinions, it said.
The proposed National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech bill, and the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and other Related Offences bill, give authorities arbitrary powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media, and make criticizing the government punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Social media is one of the last remaining places where Nigerians can express their opinions freely. The harassment of journalists and bloggers and the introduction of the Cyber Crimes Act have already shrunk the civic space and created a climate of fear,” said Seun Bakare, Programmes Manager Amnesty International Nigeria.
“We are urging the Nigerian authorities to drop these bills, which are open to vague and broad interpretations and impose incredibly harsh punishments simply for criticizing the authorities.”
“Social media is one of the last remaining places where Nigerians can express their opinions freely. There are many provisions in the bills that do not meet international human rights standards. For example, section 4 of the “hate speech” bill prohibits abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour, which is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary.
The social media bill contains overbroad provisions that unduly restrict access to and use of social media and seems designed to gag freedom of expression. For example, section 3, which relates to the transmission of false statements of facts, contains provisions against sharing statements “likely to be prejudicial to the security of Nigeria, public safety, tranquillity, public finances and friendly relations of Nigeria with other countries”. This could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
The two bills are set to criminalize those who breach the law with punitive measures like fines and imprisonment of up to three years solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. In the case of the “hate speech” bill, people could face life imprisonment and the death penalty. The Hate Speech and Social Media Bill being proposed by the Nigerian Senate media has been described as dangerous attacks on freedom of expression.
The UNESCO which applies a zero tolerance policy against all forms of harassment & posits the issue in the media organisations proffers in its website in an article titled, 5 ways to counter hate speech in the Media through Ethics and Self-regulation - by Poni Alice JameKolok
‘’ Education on media ethics: Countering tribalised hate speech begins by a realization that while freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, the emergence of social media has created multiple platforms for the production, packaging and dissemination of hate speech. Education on media ethics should focus on the rights and freedoms of journalists and their role in creating and promoting peaceful societies.
Awareness must be raised on the political, social and cultural rights of individuals and groups, including freedom of speech, and the responsibilities and social implications that come with press freedom. Journalists must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to identify hate speech and to counteract hate speech messages.
Encourage conflict sensitive reporting and multicultural awareness campaigns: Conflict sensitive reporting will help dispel the ‘us’ against ‘them’ fallacy. Journalists should be taught conflict sensitive reporting skills. Multicultural awareness campaigns should emphasize knowledge about and respect for the diversity of cultures and traditions. Journalists must exercise professional standards in this and can write articles, air programmes and even speak with people without taking sides.
Regulate social media: I know many of you reading this article will ask how you regulate social media without revoking the right to press freedom. Press freedom can be enhanced through education on media laws and ethics.
Encourage victims and witnesses to report hate speech related crimes: Hate speech remains largely invisible simply because many victims do not know where to report the cases or even understand that they are victims of hate speech.
End impunity against hate crimes: Impunity against hate crimes can be tackled by establishing monitoring and evaluation units in newsrooms. These units would then be tasked with monitoring hate speech trends, compiling reports and bringing these to the attention of key institutions and the civil society.
Quart Africa, dateline March 29, 2018, Yomi Kazeem reported in a story titled, Bill Gates is treating Nigeria like a start-up he invested in—and that’s a good thing.
‘’ Bill Gates did not become the world’s richest man by looking the other way when his money or investments are at stake. It doesn’t appear he will start doing so in Nigeria.
Recently, while giving a speech during a visit to the country, Gates delivered some harsh truths to Nigeria’s leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari. Gates called out the government’s failings and was broadly critical of Nigeria’s health system (he called it “broken” and “not adequately funded”), the struggling education sector and chronic malnutrition among children. The government’s priorities, Gates said, “don’t fully reflect people’s needs.”
Gate’s bluntness in front of Nigeria’s ruling class (the president, vice president, senate president and house speaker were all present) was jarring as most tend to address these issues more subtly, at least in public. But, during his presentation which came complete with charts, Gates came off as an investor reviewing a start up’s progress rather than a philanthropist with bottomless pockets of aid money. And he had a solid basis for that approach: so far, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed over $1.6 billion to Nigeria, he said in his speech.
His criticisms and proffered solutions were backed up by data unlike usual government rhetoric that are often lacking in specifics. Gates pointedly broke down each issue with numbers and arrived at the same conclusion: Nigeria’s government must do better.
The good news though is Gates’ data-based approach of demanding more accountability and pushing the government to plan and deliver better on its targets has a better chance of yielding more dividends than delivering platitude-laden speeches. In his own words, “it may be easier to be polite, it’s more important to face facts so that you can make progress.”
Yekini, comment, seems to be unaware regarding the work of Bishop David Oyedepo or exhibits a certain intellectual bankruptcy vis, the disregard for truth. It is like the classical Herod who fiddled while Roman was burning or in down to earth Nigerian pidgin, ’if you miss the ball, don’t miss the leg’’. Another concern is; is he speaking for Buhari, the APC, himself or all?
In a trend that is becoming principal with Nigerian media workers in politics, he did not challenge the veracity of the Bishop’s grouse nor did he assure Nigerians of a solution.
The Hate Speech and Social Media Bill being proposed by the Nigerian Senate media has been described as dangerous attacks on freedom of expression.
On the surface, one may be tempted to jump to a conclusion one way or the other. That will be more from sentimental standpoint than from reasoned observed, researched, investigated and objective standpoint. That latter involves systematic, scientific, scientific and detached inquiry. A position may then be available which can be buttressed with facts, figures informed opinions and pieces of evidence.
Such was the case when ex- President Obasanjo decided to investigate the impact & contribution of Oyedepo’s contributions to community & national developments. He followed the empirical procedure asking questions in questionnaires and interviews to ascertain the true impact of Pentecostal churches on national development. His example of Winners’ Chapel on Ota Community, where it is located only symbolizes this truism.
Interior & exterior views of Faith Tabernacle, Canaanland, Ota.
‘’ In the end, we must be able to compare and possibly contrast what the impact of these Pentecostal missions has been. How has Winners’ Chapel fared vis-à-vis the impacts of the orthodox and conventional churches together on the Ota community? Using the Word of God, the Bible, as a guide and the society or community as critical and vital subject and with our inquiry on the community, what can we learn that could be of equal applicability in other situations of new generation churches within the communities in which they are situated and in which they operate?’’, he writes.
Below is the conclusion of his findings.
‘’Following the analysis and evaluation of the questionnaire and the summary of the comments' (attached as Appendix 7), some directions and deductions are clear on the subject of out inquiry. 38 out of the 56 comments are positive, while 18 are negative, close enough to 60 and 30% respectively of Ayodele Aderinwale. On the whole and in general people appreciate the existence of Winners' Chapel in Ota and the work of all its institutions. The educational .institutions are appreciated most and they .have the greatest, consistent and far-reaching impact.
Covenant University, Ota
The Covenant University has carved a niche for-itself within five years 'of its existence. It is not unlikely that it will, become one' of the role models for private universities in Nigeria and indeed in Africa. The employment creation and generation is what, is hailed by almost all respondents particularly the ordinary people most of whom must have been direct or indirect beneficiaries.
Covenant University, Ota
The multiplier effect of job creation is worthy of note. With the university and the schools, there are staff and students who have to move within the campus and between the campuses .and the outside stations. This generates employment for employed drivers and self-employed transporters. The vehicles have to be maintained and repaired, so there is employment for artisans. Petrol and diesel sellers are making roaring business. All these people - staff, students and all that secures transportation-related employment have to eat.
Covenant University, Secondary School, Ota
This presents business for "mama put" cafeteria, seller of food items, condiments and ingredients. No wonder there is a busy and thriving market opposite the gate of the Winners' Chapel. These petty traders and small business people also need transportation to move in transacting their businesses. Therefore, there is mutual interaction and cross-feeding of each other's businesses. The bankers are smiling within their banks because they are doing roaring business as the money made by all businesses end up in the banks. The number of banks operating in Ota has tremendously increased since Winners' Chapel came to Ota: More than 60% of the 24 banks in. Nigeria, today, have branches in
Ota according to the local branch of NACCIMA-Nigerian Chamber' of Commerce, industry, Manufacturing and Agriculture. The Winners' Chapel is continuously building structures and expanding its land acquisition. Jobs for construction and building artisans keep on growing. Aderinwale confirmed that such artisans are in short supply and some contractors have resorted to bringing migrant workers from neighbouring countries of Benin Republic and Togo. It has become a beehive 'of employment generation activities for both Ogun State and the adjoining Lagos State. Yes, this state of affair may not be entirely brought about by Winners Chapel as there are other players in the employment creating activities in Ota, such as industries, other construction works, commercial and retail business as well as other educational and research institutions, But all said and done, nobody who talks of Winners' Chapel impacting on Ota community without mentioning employment generation.
The' issue of spirituality and religious impact is mentioned, by a few respondents, but the emphasis on that issue, which one will consider the key issue - evangelism - for the founding or establishment of Winners' Chapel seems not to have caught on like the out-flowing benefits of education and employment generation and provision. We can deduce that daily activities make greater impact or impression than the occasional activities of Sunday worships and annual conventions. Again, the impact of the issue of 'spirituality or religiosity may not be easily discernible or visible like the educational and job-creation.
The few who comment on spirituality and religiosity make the point of transformation of life. Only those whose lives have been touched can be so specific or those who have experience of those whose lives have been touched or transformed. Even those whose lives have been transformed may be laughed at by those who know them earlier, thinking that they are 'fake' or pretenders. The issue of spiritual and religious impact must not be ignored as it takes time for the critical mass of impact to be formed that can galvanise a revival.
From both the interviews and responses to the questionnaire, some common features have emerged. Both groups of people acknowledge the tremendous blessing of the establishment of Winners' Chapel in Ota. The interviews and the questionnaire responses identify common areas of benefit which are religious and spiritual, though this is not as pronounced in the questionnaire responses as it is in the interviews. The impact of educational institutions and job creation are overwhelmingly hailed in answers to interview questions and questionnaire responses. Aderinwale lists fifteen trades and professions or groups of people who are great beneficiaries of the positive impact of the establishment of Winners' Chapel and Cannaanland institutions.
The 'menace' or the adverse impact is touched upon in two out of the four interviews and. by 18 commentators out of 56 in the questionnaire responses. One crying menace is that of Winners' Chapel bus drivers and the congestion of traffic on overstretched road infrastructure. There is always tendency among people who perform functions for a special group or who serve a special group to behave as though they are special and therefore tend to take laws into their hands or behave less than expected of them. This must be the case with Winners' Chapel bus drivers. It was mentioned in one interview and one questionnaire response that Bishop Oyedepo has preached on the issue and that the Chapel makes efforts to inculcate good driving habits in the bus drivers. From all indications, it would appear that the bus drivers need regular and persistent in-service training and retraining with talks on their individual and corporate responsibility. The issue of other measures to be taken by Winners' Chapel to make more positive and favourable impact on the Ota Community is discussed later and forms part of this conclusion.
It is noteworthy here to observe that both the interview answers and the responses to the questionnaire with the comments supplied are very complementary. They are very good indicators of the true picture of reality of Winners' Chapel and its impact on the community as expressed by random population sample of Ota Community.
There are two distinct issues that are placed before us on which we have to draw conclusions before we give recommendations that will be helpful to all concerned. The first issue is the motivation, the inspiration, the driving force behind the Founder and leader of the Winners' Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, and his mission or objective. This is very pertinent as we must be able to assess how much of his objective has been achieved so far. Is the initial motivation or inspiration still there and how consistent has he been all these years? Where is the Bishop today in carrying out his Spirit-given mandate? Some of the conclusions drawn from these will lead us to conclude on the second issue of the questions raised in the fifth Chapter on the impact of Winners' Chapel on Ota Community. Naturally, recommendations for Winners' Chapel, Pentecostals, the Church of Christ, Ota Community, Ogun State and the nation will follow.
As indicated in Chapter Six while considering the interview session with Bishop Oyedepo, the foundation of the Living Faith Ministry which' gave birth to Winners' Chapel is a mandate from God to the bishop through the Holy Spirit on May 8, 1981 which says the hour has come to liberate the world from all oppressions of the devil through the preaching of the Word of Faith". The mandate is liberation from oppression.
In the same chapter, we identify ten key forms of oppression that' the mandate will have to deal with by preaching and acting. For Oyedepo, in liberating the world from the oppression of the devil and other subsequent 'forms of oppression, preaching and acting must go together. To that extent, Winners' Chapel emanated from Living Faith Ministry, which is a ministry of preaching and a ministry of action - positive, consistent, and persistent and continued action. From what we have seen and heard, one may be tempted to say that the ministry is more of action than preaching. Of course, one may also retort to say that action speaks louder than words. Liberation theology, from its origin in Latin-America matches the Word of God with action to deal with the injustices of unfair access to the God-given wealth of the land. In other words, where there are actions based on justice, fairness and equity, abject poverty will be almost totally eliminated. The Word of God coupled with action can liberate man from any form of oppression.
Through work or action, as indicated by Canaanland institutions and preaching, the mandate is being steadily but surely implemented and ten key forms of oppression mentioned earlier are being fought. These are oppressions of devil, sin and corruption through preaching and action. So are oppressions of idolatry and unbelief. The next are oppressions of ignorance and prejudice which are being fought through education. Oppressions of poverty and economic disadvantage are being tackled through employment generation and wealth creation. Oppressions of prejudice, inhumanity to man, hatred and discrimination can only' be fought through enlightenment and awareness that come through education, caring and sharing programmes, ethics and morality of the church and through preaching the Word of God. All these are encompassed in the programme of Winners' Chapel as enunciated by Bishop Oyedepo, those interviewed and those questioned. The Bishop has remained dose and faithful to his mandate. The verdict is that he is substantially undiverted and undistracted. In spite of odds and obstacles some of which the Bishop himself mentioned in the interview session with him, he remains on course. It must be concluded that Winners Chapel is the main instrument of fulfilling or addressing the mandate given to the Bishop by God. Whatever, therefore, is done under the auspices of the Winners' Chapel, is in fulfilment of the mandate of God to Oyedepo.
If the mandate is Spirit-directed and it is on course, what of the negative impact or adverse views and expressions? There is no situation of absolute perfection in human institution or human organisation. No matter how much the spirit directs an individual, once the institution or organisation he or she leads is made up of human beings, human factor will always come in. Jesus Christ, who is God and man, led a team of twelve disciples and as small as the team was, human factor came in on several occasions leading to such things like angling for position, devil's temptation of Judas Iscariot and the unbelief of Thomas, not to talk of the denial of Peter and the desertion of all disciples when they were most needed by Jesus. Christ Himself mentioned that “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world (John 16:33)” Negative impact, adverse views and expressions and other challenges like Pastors' rebellion are part of the trouble that should be expected by the authorities of the Winners' Chapel. What should matter 'here are not the negatives by themselves which will never stop occurring, but the Spirit-led-and-guide response to such situations and expressions.
The reaction should not be to ignore, disregard, but to critically examine the issues and use positive action and expression of love and understanding to deal with such situations and expressions which at best are temporary rather than permanent. Bishop Oyedepo exemplifies such action in his dealing with the riot that emanated from the accidental death of a "pure water" hawker recalled in Chapter Five. What is most important is the fulfilment of the mandate by remaining focused and undiverted in spite of distracting negativity. In not ignoring or disregarding them, however, the authorities should neither be obsessed or overwhelmed by them. Immediate action; where necessary, explanation, where desirable, and lot of pro-action, to which we will return later are intervention mechanisms to counter these negative sides.
It suffices to ask the pertinent question at this juncture following the definition of Winners' Chapel by Oyedepo as "a factory of God where Winner; are raised", "are Winners being raised?" The overwhelming indication from the comments of the respondents to the questionnaire is that Winners are being raised in several dimensions of the activity and actions of the Chapel in preaching, church-planting, education, service to less- privileged and general employment generation and wealth creation. Negativity is part of the noise of the market, it must not be ignored, and it must be promptly, positively and pro-actively dealt with. It must not be allowed to be overwhelming, distracting and diverting. The mandate must remain the focus.
At this juncture, we must attend to specific questions earlier raised to determine the nature, magnitude, extent and coverage as well as victims and or beneficiaries of menace and benefits accruing to the people of Ota Community from Winners' Chapel. These questions shall be considered one by one in the following manner:
a) If Winners' Chapel is a menace" what sort and nature of menace? From both interview sessions and responses to questionnaire, Winners' Chapel itself is not a menace; it is a -welcome outfit within Ota Community. It has however generated the menace of bad Winners' Chapel bus drivers some of whom are bad to the point of being dangerous. There is also the menace of congestion, of infrastructures, particularly roads which adversely .affects all members of Ota Community. From the comments of few respondents, issues of high cost of land and depriving land-owning families of their land are mentioned. If these are 'menaces' at all, they are 'menaces' for only a limited number of people. The issue of what the university students termed 'harsh' conditions cannot strictly be regarded as menace. It is however an issue that the university authorities should not ignore. It will appear that what the students complain about may be not too dissimilar from what some staff also complain about.
b) In what way has the Winners' Chapel been beneficial? It has been overwhelmingly established that in the area of educational institutions or facilities, employment creation and to some extent religious transformation in the life of some people, Winners' Chapel has been beneficial to Ota Community. There is virtually no member of the community that has not directly or indirectly benefited. But more can be done and must be done. We will touch on what more needs to be done in recommendations based on the interview of Olota and some responses to the questionnaire. The issue of students complaints, whether genuine or not must be left with the university authorities which must be sensitive and proactive to all complaints whether from students, staff, parents or guardians.
c) Can the impacts or benefits be segregated into religions, social, economic and others? Transformation of lives and becoming better Christians as some respondents' asserted is the core mandate for Winners' Chapel in producing Winners from the factory of God. From all accounts, there has been spiritual impact within the Ota Communities of the activities of. Winners' Chapel and some of its institutions. The magnitude of spiritual impact is of course riot easy to assess, but it is all the same very much there. It is evident in the ever-increasing number of those attending Sunday services, conventions and special assemblies. Social and economic impact in terms of education facilities and institutions and employment generation and wealth creation is the most visible, most talked- about, most appreciated and most welcomed in the community. Most of the thirty-eight who made additional comments in their questionnaire responses good within the community to make the community bear the fruit of the .Spirit and be harmonious and wholesome. The community must be community of like-minds as much as possible with each member aspiring for the good of one another in the spirit of caring and sharing as practiced by the early Church.
i) How has the Winners' Chapel conformed to the doctrine of the Church in the society and the Scriptural Underpinning? The Holy Spirit leads as far as the Scriptural guidance is concerned in the work and role of the Church within the society. The work of the early Church was the work of the Holy Spirit. (Bishop Oyedepo has left us in no doubt that he is being led and guided by the Holy Spirit. Through the leadership of Oyedepo as inspired by the Holy Spirit, Winners' Chapel conforms with the injunction of Christ to go preach, teach, baptise, heal and do good within the-world. Winners' Chapel has defined its world in concentric circle of Ota Community, ogun and Lagos States, Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world. Winners' Chapel has also been a good neighbour. The story of the good Samaritan has underlined that our neighbours are not determined by proximity but by the' need of the next person. In providing total package within the community to -satisfy felt and identified needs, Winners' Chapel is conforming with the Scripture. From all accounts, as our inquiry has revealed, Winners' Chapel endeavour to conform to the Scripture in its establishment, organisation, programmes, institutions roles, functions and responsibility within the community. Winners' Chapel is Spirit-led human organisation and flesh and blood will occasionally fail. The menace of bus drivers, negatives observed; some of the students' complaints and other points that may appear as inadequacy can be attributed to imperfection of man and human frailties. But as long as the Holy Spirit continues to lead and direct Winners' Chapel, it will not derail. It will remain on course in pursuit of ideals of genuine Pentecostalism and "the mandate given to the Founder.
j) Whither go churches like the Winners' Chapel in the Nigerian situation? Winners' chapel has within a space of less than ten years shown what a Spirit-led Pentecostal church can achieve for itself and its members, the community; in which it is located, within the locality of Ogun and Lagos States and within the country and beyond. Other churches in the same mould can impact on their own community and beyond as Winners' Chapel is doing. But what are the necessary ingredients? The Spirit must be allowed to take away.
Where the Spirit leads, things will go well. Of course, there will be difficulties, obstacles, frustrations, disappointments, and so on, but the Spirit will take care of them all and in the end success will be achieved. There must be commitments, focus and total submission. You do not put your hand on the plough and look back. Constantly look forward and look up. The Great Commandment is clear and unambiguous. To evangelise will involve denying self. It will involve self-sacrifice, industry, and selfless giving in terms of all that we possess. A person is given a revelation, a vision or a dream, but the actualisation takes more than just one person. Critical mass of like-minded people must be built into a cohesive team where the dreamer, the visionary becomes a leader-mentor who constantly seeks God's direction, guidance, support, protection and blessing. Such men and women leading such body of believers in their different critical masses as oasis must come together to form a large pool of water that will keep expanding until it becomes an ocean. The effect will be phenomenally tremendous on the society and on the nation. What is called for is evangelical charismatic revival to take the nation to the level spiritually and prosperously that God has designed for Nigeria, Here, advocate a coalition of hands of Spirit- led to make a great revival happen in Nigeria as soon as possible in the 21th century and moving from Nigeria to cover the globe.
The Redeemed Camp during the Holy Ghost Night hosts over one million people gathering in one location. This is impressive and there can be as many as five locations covering one week of programme all over the country at the same time and God's Kingdom will start to be felt here. The call is now the challenge is for all charismatic Pentecostal churches. The issue is for a new dawn for our land and for liberation from the oppression listed in Chapter Five. Let a great revival happen, and then the society will start to change neither by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God.
Two of those interviewed' make comparison between the impact of Winners' Chapel on Ota Community and the impact of other churches put together. Their verdict is straightforward and simple. Although other churches and religious organisations have primary and secondary schools established by them in Ota, but none of them has a university. And none of them has the influence and standard that is as high as that of Winners' Chapel's schools. No church or religious organisation has made so great an economic and social impact as Winners' Chapel in terms of employment generation and wealth creation. In short, the Chapel is head- and shoulder above all other churches and religious. Organisations when its religious, social and economic impacts and. influence are put side by side against those of other religious organisations.
Again, there is something to learn from Winners' Chapel by other churches and religious establishments in Ota if they try to emulate and follow the good example of Winners' Chapel.
If the achievement, as we have observed, is due to leadership and the direction of the Holy Spirit, the other churches must seek the guidance, leadership support and blessing of the Holy Spirit. If it is a matter of leadership, other churches must pray to God for a purposeful, committed, Spirit-led leader like what Winners' Chapel has. If, of course, as I believe, it is the combination of the Spirit of God leading a humble, submissive Son of God to achieve God's purpose, then the other churches must invoke the Spirit of God. The Chapel is an action- packed and action-backed Pentecostal church which had a revelation and mandate to liberate the world from the oppression of devil. Maybe other churches, among other things, need to be more prayerful and more spiritual.
Suggestions have been made that the Chapel is just being glamorised and that whatever the Chapel has; others also have. It is not being denied that other churches have or are performing the feat of Winners' Chapel, but the focus of this project is on Winners' Chapel. We are therefore not contesting glamour or lack of it. The direct statement is that if every church or religious organisation in Ota makes as much impact and as effective and influential as the Chapel, Ota would be a blessed city among Nigerian cities. This is a challenge. Let all other churches and religious organisations accept the challenge. Any church or .religious organisation that is not visibly arid/or positively impacting on the community where it is located is not living up to its care role and responsibility, It will appear, judging from the example of the Chapel, that the Pentecostal churches like the Chapel are consistently putting the preaching of the Ward of Faith complementarily with action to achieve Cod-revealed mandate of the Founder and leader, Bishop Oyedepo.
Suggestions, recommendations and pieces of advice have been proffered by interviewees, respondents to questionnaire and in the different segment of the write-up of the project report up to this stage. What will be done here is the aggregation of these recommendations.
The Winners' Chapel:
The Chapel generally has done well and it is doing well. Success will of course draw some evil. Beyond these, genuine complaints have been made that need the attention of the authorities. Recommendations that are well-intended have been suggested, such as:
a) Provision of electricity supply for the owners of the shops, and market' stalls opposite Chapel main gate;
b) Working with federal road authorities 'to provide zebra crossing, speed breakers and overhead pedestrian walkway across the road in front of the same gate;
c) Continuous in-service training for all bus drivers especially Chapel drivers in general with inculcation of highway code, special road courtesy and pleasant, attitude, that will reflect positively on all drivers and on the Chapel;
d) Looking into aspects of students and staff' complaints that are genuine, particularly those that border on high-handedness and Intolerance of any modicum of freedom while maintaining discipline;
e) Assisting villages from whom land has been acquired in rehabilitating their laterite road with provision of drainage and in rehabilitating their dilapidated primary schools with simple water provision in wells and boreholes;
f) Joining hands with other institutions and establishments in Ota and with the Local Government in providing decent memorial parks for all faiths in Ota,
g) Ensuring adequate publication and popularisation of community development efforts carried out by the Chapel or any of its institutions,
h) Ensuring transparency in all its dealings even with students and their medical tests,
i) Ensuring even-handedness in matters of employment of members and non-members alike;
j) Spearheading with other like-minded churches, movement of a great revival in Nigeria as soon as possible in the 21 century.
The Pentecostal churches are on the ascendancy in their spread and popularity in Nigeria today. I believe that God has a purpose for such a phenomenal spread and popularity. It is for them to bind and bond together to bring about a great revival in Nigeria, which will ramify beyond the borders of Nigeria. It will not be easy, but it can be done and must be done. In. the process no stone should be left unturned and through the direction of the Holy, Spirit, God will bless the efforts which will .also lead to phenomenal rise in church-planting and spread of the Word of God. The influence of the Pentecostals within the Church of Christ in Nigeria will be enhanced. The Pentecostals must be at the vanguard of our national revival that will propel Nigeria to the Promised Land and go beyond the borders of Nigeria.
The Church of Christ:
The Church of Christ is one indivisible whole in the body of Christ. He whosoever the Holy Spirit gives the grace, must be supported in unison to move Nigeria forward in a great revival that will be unprecedented \ and monumental for the Church in Nigeria and for the nation. It is not a matter of division but a matter of unity in the body of Christ and a matter of unity of purpose and unity of action. The Church of Christ can be more influential and more effective in the wholesomeness of the nation all by itself, if there will
be unity of action and unity of purpose for the total package of the humankind and within the purview of an inter-faith action and programme. The Church of Christ must be the salt and the light that Christ wants. His followers to be. The great revival is an event waiting to happen and it will happen by the power of the Holy Spirit. It will be a watershed in the annals of Nigerian history particularly the church history. Again, a Spirit-led and action-packed mandate of God is the role of the Church in Nigeria today. It will begin with the great revival and it will not be held back. Nigeria will be the centre of a global great revival. The indications are there and it is waiting to happen.
The earth which God created and found and instructed man to tender and take care of is already running into problem with desertification, pollution and climate change. Man a garden keeper can be a garden restorer. Time may also have come for Ecology theology to be propounded and practised to safe the world from the calamity of climate change in addition to disease eradication and management theology.
Ota Community has shown great accommodation, hospitality and tolerance in accepting heartily and warmly the Chapel' and all its institutions. Any sudden influx of guests or strangers' as the native may refer to new corners may always lead to fracture of nerves because of overstretching of the infrastructural facilities and fear of the unknown and what may be lost by the natives to the new-comers. Members of Ota Community must continue to exercise patience, understanding, and tolerance and play the role of good hosts and hostesses. Yes, demands may be made by members of the community on the Chapel, its institution's and the new influx of guests, the demands must not be excessive or unreasonable. Harmony and good neighbourliness must form the bedrock of the Winners' Chapel-Ota. Community relationship. The community must encourage the Chapel to do more than it is doing and the more the Chapel does, the more-it should be encouraged as corporate citizen with social conscience and economic responsibility. There should be a Chapel-Jota Community committee working, planning and strategizing together. Such a committee will act pro- actively to avert tension and diffuse any situation that may want to go out of hand. Such a committee will also plan together to make the annual convention hitch-free and without undue stress on the community. Here, the Local Government has a significant role to play in strategising and working together for community development and wholesomeness.
As a host State, Ogun State has been exemplary in welcoming Chapel and its institutions to the State. The amount of' accommodation and support given to the establishment encouraged the growth and spread of the work of the Chapel and all its institutions. There is no doubt that the Chapel has enhanced the development of the State in significant areas, particularly in-education and employment generation. The State can do with more of such progressive and forward- looking religious organisations to continue to make meaningful contributions to the development of the State. The State must, however, be watchful of possible tension that can arise from influx of members to settler in the state with the attendant overstretching of infrastructure. The danger of overbearing or discourteous behaviour by the new comers and/or their agents must be constantly kept in view by the authorities. The State must encourage an organisation like the Chapel to be a body with social conscience and corporate social and economic responsibilities. Wherever there may be excesses, the State authority must be available to advise, caution and moderate. With large number of religious organisations like the Chapel dotted all over Ogun State, the State authorities should establish a joint committee of State and these organisations to ensure regular meeting, to monitor progress and ensure understanding and cooperation.
Code and standard of operations may be fashioned out by such a committee for peace and harmony of these organisations with their host communities.
The Pentecostal churches and their fast growth, development and spread with their motivational ability and power must engage the attention of the nation and the government at the centre. Where over a million Nigerians can gather together in one location at one time under the influence of an organisation or an individual, must attract more than cursory attention of the authority. First, the issue of welfare and well-being of such a crowd in one location must attract the attention of the government. The authority must take more than passing interest in ensuring adequate provision of security and safety measures such as fire-.fighting and response to accidents. The motivational and mobilisation power and skills of the Pentecostals and other religious organisations must be channelled positively. Such a mammoth crowd in the hands of those who will manipulate them negatively can cause havoc for the nation. While religion and state should 'be separated, there is nothing wrong for religion to further the cause of progress welfare and wellbeing of the people and their faith within the nation. The State, on the other hand, must provide a conducive environment for religion to thrive. The nation must consciously appeal to these religious organisations to use their power and influence to mobilize for the good of the people of Nigeria. Nothing should, however, be done advertently or inadvertently to contain or to seem to curtail or to be construed 'as containing freedom of association or freedom of worship. If anything, government at every level, but particularly at the centre must be seen as enhancing such freedom. A great national spiritual revival must be encouraged within both major religions in our land. It can only be good and beneficial to all Nigerians and to the country at large. The success and achievement of the Chapel should be taken to the grand scale of the national level.
The Living Faith Church Worldwide, Headquarters Canaanland, Km. 10, Idiroko Road, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria which Dr. David Oyedepo founded the Wikipedia says until last year was the biggest Church Building seating over 50,000 capacity headquarters auditorium, and holds 4 services every Sunday while broadcasting the millions of online worshippers across Nigeria and the world.
The Church started in 1983 (37 years ago) Ilesha, Nigeria
The Living Faith Church Worldwide (also known as Winners Chapel) an Evangelical charismatic Christian denomination and a megachurch. The headquarters is located in Ota, Nigeria. The organization has since become a global network of churches with congregations in 65 countries.
The beginnings of the church date from May 1981 when Oyedepo (aged 26) had a spiritual encounter. He claims to have an eighteen hour supernatural encounter which was a vision from God. He says God spoke to him saying, "Now the hour has come to liberate the world from all oppressions of the devil, through the preaching of the Word of faith; and I am sending you to undertake this task". In 1983, the church began operating with four members on December 11.
Canaanland was procured in 1998 and was initially 560 acres (2.3 km2), it is in Ota, Ogun, Nigeria. The church's international headquarters, Faith Tabernacle, was built in Cannanland between 1998 and 1999, taking twelve months to complete. The foundation laying took place on August 29, 1998. The dedication of the building took place on September 19, 1999 with 97,800 people in attendance. The structure is purported to have been built without any debts.
In 1999, the BBC reported that Faith Tabernacle was the largest church in the world with respect to how many worshipers it can seat. It has a seating capacity of just over fifty thousand people. The largest church in terms of size is Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.
In December 2015, announced commencement of the construction of a 100,000 capacity Faith Theatre. The Theatre will be centralised within a 15,000 housing estate to be known as 'Canaan City'.
As of 2014, the Church was in 65 countries.
Dominion Publishing House, most likely the biggest publishing in West Africa grew out of Winner's Chapel was founded on 5 December 1992. Dominion Publishing House has published over 120 books, with Oyedepo writing over 60.
In the Educational sector, Covenant University, the best private University in Nigeria, Landmark University, closely behind Covenant, Faith Academy Secondary Schools and over 150 Kingdom Heritage Model Schools. There is a ministry training college called The Word of Faith Bible Institute in all its locations globally.
In 2014, in the United Kingdom, the church applied to open a Kingdom Heritage Model School in Kent. Concerns were raised by the National Secular Society about the church linking disobedience to witchcraft. The application was later withdrawn.