Investigation has revealed that Nigerian pastors are not really concerned about how their congregation gets the money; the important thing is for them to make sure their children attend the church-owned schools. This, we gathered, has been responsible for the involvement of many members of the church in activities that are not befitting God. A member of one of the new generation churches who spoke to Global News revealed that he became desperate of sending his children to their church-owned university because of the way the pastor whom many in his congregation now regard as an emissary of God, talks about the school. This kind of pep talks, according to investigation, has over the time forced many of their members into corruption and all sorts of dealings just because they want to measure up to the words of the pastor.
The early missionaries saw quality education as the right of their congregation members and so built schools with their personal money while encouraging their congregation to make use of the opportunities, and it was all for these reasons that earliest Nigerians were able to get any form of education, as most of them were then trained from a school either established by the Catholic or Anglican Churches, so when the catholic church decided in 1999 to establish the country’s first private university, many were of the hope that quality education would be offered to the people at affordable price. But it was disappointing when it became obvious that the school was not established like the early schools of the church to give knowledge to the people but that it was rather set up to meet the needs of those who can afford to send their children to schools abroad.
It was revealed that the cheapest course in Madonna University, an institution owned by the Catholic Church that has in its congregation petty traders and other less privileged in the country, is nothing less than ₦350,000 per session, whereas it is hoped that the woman who sells crayfish, melon, stock-fish and other little soup ingredients and still gives towards the funding of the school should be able to enjoy the benefits that come with her commitment to the church by having her children well trained in the school owned by her church. Instead of her children enjoying the quality education, it is being given to children of those who are able to pay the exorbitant fees the school charges.
Mr. Chibuzor a member of the church is of the belief that the church-owned university promises many things it will not do to the members of the church who do not have huge amount to cough out yet promises to revive in her community the age-long tradition of Catholic education and the exacting demand of the contemporary society for sound education enrooted in salubrious life-promoting morality.
Here is a quick rundown of other schools owned by churches in Nigeria and how their fees will be contributing more to corruption in the country rather than reducing it because the founders now see the schools as another means of generating funds and promoting self-induced programmes.
Apart from Madonna which is owned by the Catholic Church, the church also has Caritas University in Amorji-Nike, Enugu. It was revealed that the church decided to establish the second university to be able to compete favourably with other new church-owned varsities who will stop at nothing to push them out of the school business, And just like in the Madonna University, it was established to “revive in the community the age-long tradition of Catholic education and the exacting demand of the contemporary society for sound education enrooted in salubrious life-promoting morality,” only that this time around, the institution that was officially opened on January 21, 2005 has the vision of rescuing some of the church’s wandering and teaming youths from further slide into academic and moral decay, and development and transformation of our society through sound and unadulterated education, while its mission is to discover, sanctify and apply the knowledge of science, environmental and engineering for human well-being and sound development of man for better society and not forgetting that this will come at a price pegged at nothing less than ₦500,000 per session.
As if the way the first two that have been raised beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerian (who does not want to go into corrupt practices or robbery) were not enough, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria decided to establish another university, Veritas University, Abuja (VUNA), which they hoped would be easily accessible to the people, but the fees are pegged at about N350,000. And they claimed this idea came from the bishops’ quest for a university that would provide high quality tertiary education according to the noble tradition of the Catholic Church. The formation they hope is an appropriate response to Pope John Paul II’s call for Catholic universities to be instruments for the educational advancement of the people of God expressed in his Encyclical Letter, Ex Corde Ecclesiae No. 30.
It was not surprising that The Supra Diocesan Board of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) decided just like their Catholic counterpart to establish their own tertiary institution as the two were known founders of missionary schools during the period of the early missionaries. So when the Church of Nigeria decided to start its own university it was hoped it will correct the mistake of the Catholic, but to the surprise of all, the church followed the footsteps of the other early missionary schools, showing all that the establishment of the university is not to propagate the gospel by giving quality education to those who cannot afford to send their children abroad, but to milk those who are here in Nigeria of their hard-earned money in the name of giving quality education to their children and wards. The least of the fees at the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)-owned Ajayi Crowther University is nothing less than ₦400,000 per session.
It also did not go down well with parents that are of Baptist Church as Bowen University, was established by the Nigerian Baptist Convention and named after Reverend Thomas Jefferson Bowen who pioneered Baptist work in Nigeria in 1850. The university commenced academic activities in 2002. Just like other supposed missionary schools, the institution’s aim was to be a center of learning and research of distinction; combining academic excellence with love of humanity, borne out of a God-fearing attitude. The school whose lowest tuition is more than ₦600,000 claimed that the guiding philosophy is Excellence and Godliness, a situation which raises question on the fact that members of the church who were able to send their children to the university are paying through their nose. An aggrieved member who spoke with us questioned the rationale behind the fees, while reiterating that there was nothing godly about the exorbitant fees the school is collecting, he expressed anger at the school motto which is “Excellence and Godliness”.
According to the chancellor of Covenant University who is also the presiding bishop of the parent church, the Living Faith Tabernacle also known as Winners Chapel, Bishop Dr. David O. Oyedepo: “We are committed to raising a new generation of leaders who will positively impact their nation, the African continent and the world at large.” It is the aim of the church to create a leading World-class Christian mission university committed to raising a new generation of leaders in all fields of human endeavour. But just like the Nigerian pastors who are only emulating the early missionaries only in words but not action, Covenant University which was described as a part of the liberation commission that God gave to the pastor some years ago has become an avenue of generating money for the church. The cheapest course in the institution goes for nothing less N700,000 which means those who devoted their energy to working during the construction of university and those whose offering in the church had played a part in the actualisation of the dream, are left in the cold. Though the presiding bishop is always quick to say that the funds that were used during construction of the church were not offering from the church, it is obvious that the school is just an arm of the church and it is therefore impossible to take offerings from the church away from the existence of the school, whereas the school is generally attended by children of politicians and some others in the society.
Just like Covenant University also owned by the Living Faith Tabernacle also known as Winners Chapel, Landmark University is also said to be a product of the education mandate given to Dr. David Oyedepo, the president of the Living Faith Church Worldwide. The focus of the church school, they claim, is to assist the nation and indeed the continent of Africa in self-discovery so that she may recover her leading position in education and in civilization, as it was in the 15th century. Its goal, it is further stated, is also to set the pace in making the Nigerian nation fully, competitively and profitably engage her comparative advantage in human and agricultural resource potentials and development and it was because of this that the school was purportedly sited in Omu-Aran, the home town of the man his congregation love to call Papa. Knowing that the business is now lucrative, the church, we gathered, invested heavily in the place, placing the bishop’s randy younger brother Pastor Gideon in charge of the construction and the fees just like its sister institution is in the region of N600,000, which makes it the church’s second tertiary institution placed above ordinary members of the church. In its effort to make the place even more lucrative there is an important admission message the church includes which states: “Intending students of Landmark University must fear God, love Him and be unreservedly committed to obeying Him. Students are expected to show in all their conducts the core values of the university. These are: Spirituality, Possibility Mentality, Capacity Building, Integrity, Responsibility, Diligence and Sacrifice. Applicants are advised to consider these important requirements of admission before applying and recognize that the screening test will, among others, focus on these requirements.” But it is the children of those corrupt Nigerian politicians that are been given admission into the school all because of money.
It is without doubt that the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) is capable of running a tertiary institution in the early missionary style where the students will not be paying any amount, but like other Nigerian churches, the church could not wait to turn the education sector into a very lucrative business venture and it is indeed yielding the desired profit. The church established Redeemer’s University which is said to be in line with the objective of the RCCG. General Overseer Pastor E. A. Adeboye aimed at not only increasing the number of Nigerian youths seeking higher education, but also to arrest the decay in the educational system through appropriate training. It was further stated that the vision is to seek for the return to the glorious days of mission schools, where students acquired high quality education with the fear of God and became useful citizens and with a careful omission of the fact that the mission schools were free. While the cheapest fees are about 500,000, the church concedes some discounts to some students and the categories are as follows:
7.5% discount on fees for students whose parent is a full time pastor of RCCG.
7.5% discount on fees for parents who have two or more children in the university
7.5% discount on fees for students whose parent is an employee of the university
Even with the discount, the fees each of the students are still going are still on the high side considering the fact that full-time pastors of the church are sparsely paid which might also have been responsible for all sorts of atrocities being committed by pastors of the church in the recent past.
The rate at which Nigerian churches now venture into the church business is completely something else as it has now become the ambition of every church in Nigeria to establish schools and the fees are jacked up heaven-high.
For example years after the death of pentecostal preacher, Archbishop Benson Idahosa, a university was formed in his name. Called Benson Idahosa University, the university was purportedly formed in accordance with the wish of the man whom they claimed first applied to establish a tertiary institution in 1992, after which it began operation as the Institute of Continuous Learning (ICL). It was stated further that the institute which was later named Christian Faith University became Benson Idahosa University in 1998 before it later began operations in 2002, and just like other church schools, it promises to give the students what others will not give them. With a slogan that reads: “Raising Leaders Who… Are Complete In Spirit, Mind And Body”, the school will offer all these for an amount that will not also be in the range of an ordinary public servant who bases his expenses only on the salary he or she is earning. The least expensive of the fees are in the range of N350,000.
Christ Apostolic Church-owned Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU), is another church that was built with special offering from the church members who are predominantly Yorubas. With members spanning from market women to captains of industries, the offering it was gathered was specially called for at every Sunday service where members were implored to donate towards the actualization of the dream of the church owning a university. Unlike other churches, they cannot attach the vision of a university to the founder of the church whom they name the institution after because the man did not really have any serious form of western education before his death more than 40 years ago, but the church through the support of artisans and everybody that are members completed its own school and in the process of fixing fees, it was done in such a way that most these people who contributed generously for the setting up of the school could not afford to send their children to the school as fees were pegged at between N480,000 to N550,000 per session.
The church formerly known as Evangelical Church of West Africa now Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), in order to fall within the rank of churches with university also embarked on the journey and in no time they were accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and that brought about the ECWA Bingham University. We gathered that the church which has its impact in the northern part of the country named the church-owned university after one of the pioneer Sudan interior missionaries, Roland Victor Bingham. It would have been expected that the little known university would have been made affordable because it was named after a missionary but it was gathered that the lowest fees range between N500,000 and N830,000.
It was not surprising when Archbishop Sam Amaga-owned Salem International Christian Center decided to come to the party of churches with tertiary institutions. The vision for Salem University was said to have come on the 6th of August 2002 while the archbishop was before the Lord in his prayer chambers where the Lord delivered to him the vision of the university. According to the church, the vision was further enhanced in 2004 while in a council meeting before the church-owned university eventually became operational in 2007. The institution which recently sent some of the teachers to Covenant University is said to be another of such schools that are not meant for ordinary Nigerians even when the money for its establishment came from the people’s labour.
Apostolic Faith Mission is a religious institution that is believed not to be too keen about what other religious institutions are doing; it is believed that they are from a different sphere entirely, but findings revealed that against the belief that they are saints, the church is after all led by men, as the church did not only join the league of churches that owns their own church, but are also part of those who charges exorbitant fees. Findings revealed that the average fee in their Crawford University is not less than 400,000 per session. The institution claims it is committed to academic excellence and the highest levels of discipline and morals.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church-owned Babcock University was at a time the most popular in the country and it is still one of the most expensive universities in Nigeria. Founded in 1959 as the Adventist College of West Africa (ACWA), Babcock has since grown to be strong as it is one of the earliest private universities in the country having started operations since 1999. The school which believes it has traditions that include the centrality of faith-based teaching – emphasizing the integration of faith and learning, knowing that to educate a man without God is to educate an intelligent devil, is without doubt the most expensive as their fees ranges from N400,000 to N1 million depending on the course and the choice of residence in the school. It is therefore common knowledge that with the fee it is likely that the school may be a place where intelligent devils are being bred.
They are among the newest in the church school business; it has not really begun its full operations but the hype around it means it is in the league of schools that are really worth mentioning. That is talking about the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministry-owned Mountain Top University, which is located along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The university is planned to be “a dynamic center of academic excellence in the liberal tradition for the production of top-rate, morally sound graduates of distinction.”
Joining the league is the newly completed university of Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo’s Kingsway International Christian Center, the KICC University, which is situated at Ode-Omu area of Osun State. Though the institution is yet to formally commence lectures, it was gathered that the fees for the school of this London-based pastor cannot be lesser than that of his peers. The university which was sited on 500 acres of land instead of the 250 acres mandated by the NUC, is said to be necessary because of the level of poverty in the continent of Africa.
Now, one is wondering if the Deeper Christian Life Ministry will also not be joining the train owing to the fact that the church also decided some time ago to join the league of churches with properties on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. It was later when people started seeing transformation at the church-owned International Bible Training College in the Ayobo area of Lagos State that they started seeing the vision of Anchor University. It was gathered that save for the Dana Air crash which occurred last year, the church’s university would have begun operation. According to sources, the NUC officials who died in the crash were actually travelling to inspect the school, but one thing that is sure is that like the rest of the Nigerian new-age mission schools, it is designed only for the rich and the corrupt.