There has always been controversy whenever a spiritual leader decides to mix politics with religion. Many religious people are of the opinion that the two should be kept separate. For others, it is allowed.
Many pastors and spiritual leaders in Nigeria are heavily involved in politics, some have a huge say in political circles, while others vie for political posts regularly. Below are the top 6 men of God who rank high in Nigerian political circles:
6. Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor
President Goodluck Jonathan and Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor in 2013
Hiss full name is Ayodele Joseph Oritsegbubemi Oritsejafor. He is popularly known as Papa Ayo Oritsejafor and is the founding and Senior Pastor of Word of Life Bible Church, located in Warri, Nigeria.
On February 7, 2005, he became the national president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN). And 5 years later in July 2010, Oritsejafor was elected as the President of the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN).
He was replaced by pastor Supo Ayokunle as president of CAN in July, 2016.
About a year ago, it was discovered that Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor’s private jet was used to transport about $9.3 million by two Nigerians and an Israeli from Abuja to South Africa.
This money was found seized by the South African government, and the Nigerian government is currently conducting diplomatic discussions with South Africa to release the money.
The South African government insists that he illegally bring cash into the country, in what might have been part of an arms deal with the Nigerian government.
5. Chris Okotie
Chris Okotie has run for the presidency 3 times
Born Christopher Oghenebrorie Okotie on June 16 1958, he is a Nigerian televangelist and the pastor of the Household of God Church International Ministries, a Pentecostal congregation in Lagos, Nigeria since February 1987.
He first ran for presidency in 2003 under the banner of the Justice Party (JP), led by Ralph Obiorah he lost to Olusegun Obasanjo.
He ran again in 2007 on the platform of a party he founded, Fresh Democratic party, and lost to Umaru Yar’Adua in the May 2007 elections. Then in 2011, he ran and lost to the President Goodluck Jonathan.
4. Tunde Bakare
Tunde Bakare is the pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly
Born on November 11, 1954, Tunde Bakare is a Nigerian pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly. He was formerly a pastor at the Deeper life bible church before he left to join the Redeemed Christian Church of Christ which he soon left to form his.
When Gen Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011, he announced Pastor Tunde Bakare as his running mate. Pastor Tunde Bakare accepted, but they lost the election.
3. Ejike Mbaka
Rev Fr Mbaka has been a close friend of the Buhari administration
Rev Father Ejike Camillus Anthony, Ebenezer Mbaka popularly known as Father Mbaka is a Catholic Priest of Enugu Diocese. He is the Parish Priest of Christ the King Parish GRA, Enugu and the founder of Adoration Ministries Enugu Nigeria (AMEN).
He has a large following among Nigerians, but early in 2015, he made a video criticizing the Jonathan government and called for his resignation, many criticized him for this.
However, he continued his attack on the Jonathan government and has shown support for the Buhari government, using his pulpit as a platform to promote it. He has also frequented the presidential villa to meet with Buhari.
2. Osagie Ize-Iyamu
Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu is one of the favorites for the upcoming elections
Osagie Ize-Iyamu is a Nigerian pastor who is also a political figure, former chief of staff and secretary to the Edo state Government.
He is the gubernatorial nominee of the PDP for the Edo state 2016 gubernatorial election, which was recently postponed by INEC.
He was previously a member of the APC, before he defected. He was also the National Vice Chairman, South-South Zone of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
1. Yemi Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo remains a senior pastor
Born Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo on March 8 1957, he is the Vice President of Nigeria, and has been in office since 29 May 2015.
He is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), a professor of law and until his inauguration as Vice President, a senior partner in a commercial law practice. Osinbajo is also a senior pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
There were rumours that he resigned, which he denied in April 2016, stating:
“Prof. Osinbajo continues to serve as a Pastor in the RCCG, honoring the call of God on his life. He is in fact the Pastor-in-Charge of RCCG Lagos Province 48, a position he has held in the past three years and in which he continues to serve. This completely fabricated report should be ignored and disregarded in its entirety.”