“…A man of God should have a private jet if the situation demands it” TB Joshua told NigerianEye.
According to him, “if the use is for the church, the church should buy it, own it and manage it. It should not be bought in the pastor’s name. When he is no longer there, the jet remains the Church’s”.
Justifying the need for Pastors to own private jets, TB Joshua said: “when one is at the airport to catch a flight, you see that many have become like Molue. They could disappoint you by saying the flight has been cancelled”.
“Even when you eventually get on board, people keep thronging you for one reason or the other”, TB Joshua bemoaned, adding: “The person serving you the meal [on the flight] may be someone that needs deliverance”.
Recounting some of his bad experiences in public flights for which reason he deems it necessary for Pastors to own private jets, TB Joshua said: “There was an experience I had when travelling by air for a trip of about nine hours. I was pressed but couldn’t go and ease myself because I had to queue like other people before I could use the restroom. Besides, I thought that some of those people could go to the toilet immediately after I had used it in expression of faith, so I remained glued to my seat all through the journey. That would not have been if I was flying a private jet”.
He said: “…If you are a man of God that snores and they see the pastor sleeping and snoring, they will think he shouldn’t snore. Meanwhile, he is human”.
If he decides to own a private jet, TB Joshua will be joining a tall list of Nigerian Pastors in the private jet owning class.
Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith World Outreach Ministry, popular known as Winners Chapel, owns four private jets. He is estimated to be Nigeria’s richest preacher with a net worth of US$150 million.
In March 2011, Oyedepo acquired a Gulfstream V jet for US$30 million. The other jets include two Gulfstream planes and a Bomabdier Challenger. He is reported by Nigerian media to be creating a private hangar for his birds.
The Faith Tabernacle, where he hosts three services every Sunday, is Africa’s largest worship centre, with a seating capacity of 50,000.
Besides his private jets, Oyedepo also owns homes in London and the United States.
He also owns Dominion Publishing House, a thriving publishing company that publishes all his books which are prosperity-centred.
He founded and owns Covenant University, one of Nigeria’s leading tertiary institutions, and Faith Academy, an elite high school.
Also, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the revered overseer of Nigeria’s largest congregation, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, is also a proud jet owner. In March 2009, Adeboye spent US$30 million on a Gulfstream jet amidst widespread criticism.
Additionally, Pastor Sam Adeyemi, founder of the Daystar Christian centre, a flourishing Pentecostal congregation which repeatedly preaches financial prosperity, is also a jet owner.
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, President of Christian Association of Nigeria, also came under a deluge of flak in 2012 for acquiring a private jet. He dismissed the criticism in the Nigerian media and said he was not ashamed to own a jet.
In 2011 alone, a few of Nigeria’s richest people, including some Pastors, spent US$225 million to buy private jets.
Among them were billionaires Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and Glo’s Mike Adenuga.
Dangote acquired a US$45 million Bombadier jet as a gift for himself on his 53rd birthday.
Adenuga bought for himself, a Bombadier Global Express XRS. The two billionaires own at least two private jets.
Following Oyedepo on the list of richest Nigerian Pastors is Chris Oyakhilome of the Believers’ Loveworld Ministries, popularly known as Christ Embassy.
His estimated net worth is between US$30 million – US$50 million.
In 2010, the charismatic preacher was at the centre of a US$35 million money laundering case in which he was accused of siphoning funds from his church to foreign banks.
Pastor Chris pleaded no wrongdoing and the case was eventually dismissed.
His church, Christ Embassy, boasts more than 40,000 members, several of whom are successful business executives and politicians.
Oyakhilome’s diversified interests include newspapers, magazines, a local television station, a record label, satellite TV, hotels and extensive real estate. His Loveworld TV Network is the first Christian network to broadcast from Africa to the rest of the world on a 24 hour basis.
TB Joshua, with an estimated net worth of US$10 million – US$15 million is reported by Nigerian media to be the third richest preacher in the West African country.
Joshua, a close friend to late Ghanaian President John Mills, is widely perceived as the most controversial and philanthropic amongst Nigeria’s clergyman. His church, founded in 1987, accommodates over 15,000 worshippers on Sundays.
In the past three years, he has given over US$20 million to causes in education, healthcare and rehabilitation programmes for former Niger Delta militants. He owns Emmanuel TV, a Christian television network.
The Pastor has remained controversial for several years for his inexplicable powers to heal all sorts of incurable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, cancer and paralysis.
Miracle-craving worshippers flock his church to the brim. SCOAN has branches in Ghana, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Greece.
Following Joshua on the money list is Mathew Ashimolow of the Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC). He has an estimated net worth of US$6 million – US$10 million.
Founded in 1992, Kingsway International Christian Centre is reportedly the largest Pentecostal church in the United Kingdom today. In 2009, the church posted profits of close to US$10 million and assets worth US$40 million.
Ashimolowo earns an annual salary of US$200,000, but his real wealth comes from varied business interests including his media company, Matthew Ashimolowo media, which churns out Christian literature and documentaries.
At the bottom of the list is Chris Okotie of the Household of God Church. Okotie has an estimated net worth of US$3 million – US$10 million.
He made his first success as a popular pop musician in the 80s. He found the light, embraced the bible and set up the Household of God Church, one of Nigeria’s most flamboyant congregations.
His 5,000-member church consists predominantly of Nollywood celebrities, musicians, and society people. He contested and lost Nigerian presidential elections for the third time under the Fresh Party, a political party he founded and funds. An automobile lover, he owns a Mercedes S600, Hummer and Porsche among several others.
However in the abundance of wealth, about 60% of Nigerians still wallow in poverty and are unable to float above the poverty line.
Ironically, the crave for miracles and prosperity drive the same poor Nigerians to many of these same Churches where they give the little they have as offertory with the hope of reaping abundantly from the seeds they are encouraged to sow by their Pastors.