Dear Pastor Fatoyinbo: It is almost two and half years since a female member of your church alleged that you had been sleeping with her. You had almost immediately promised a “robust reply soon” but there has been no response at all from you let alone a robust one. No reasonable person expects you or any pastor to be a saint but as a leader and role model, and someone who occupies a position of trust, people expect accountability from you.
There is a lot wrong with the church in Nigeria today – Pentecostal pastors are in competition with themselves to accumulate wealth from the tithes and offering of their members; some will stop at nothing to exploit the desperate situations of our people to enrich themselves including making bogus claims about faith healing, paying dodgy characters to fake miracles on stage, making fuzzy pronouncements which they call prophecies, giving patients false reassurances and encouraging them to stop taking their medications with devastating consequences; some pastors own private jets bought with the tithes of their members some of whom cannot even feed their families; many of them sleep with their vulnerable female members who come to them for help. A medical doctor would lose their licence to practise or could even get jailed if they did that to their patient, but somehow our society has different standards for religious institutions and their leaders. Pastors have god-like statures and a cult-like following, which can overwhelm their naive members; and this often stops members from speaking out against sexual or psychological abuse. One thing we can learn from history is that when accountability is lacking, then a culture of abuse, corruption and exploitation becomes entrenched in a society and its institutions e.g. the sexual abuse of teenage boys by Catholic priests.
This is not an attack on your person or morality. Personally, I am not convinced that religion makes people good; indeed, believers are guilty of every sin that their holy books accuse unbelievers of. This is about accountability, a quality that is grossly lacking in Nigerian society. It is the reason there is a church on practically every street but our country consistently tops the list of the most corrupt nations of the world. How can influential pastors like you speak truth to power or rebuke our corrupt government officials and politicians if they themselves are unaccountable?
It is time to walk the talk and live by what you preach. In the name of the God you worship and on whose behalf you claim to speak, I urge you to honour your promise and publish your robust reply now. I have refrained from discussing the online abuses, aggressions and psychological trauma that Miss Walters was subjected to by many of your admirers and supporters who naturally assumed that being a woman she was lying against you, a man of God who can do no wrong. You need to set the record straight – a good name is better than riches. You owe this to yourself, your family, your church members, all those who look up to you, and the society in general. To whom much is given, much is also expected.
Ijabla is a medical doctor and he writes from the UK. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org