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New Year proclamations: When prophesies become mere forecasts

Beyond the excitement, celebrations that greet every New Year, prophetic proclamations by clerics have become a permanent feature of the season. LADESOPE LADELOKUN writes that most of such have turned out to be false prophecies and looks the need to check the activities of the purveyors

 

 

Traditionally, the New Year is heralded by a flurry of activities. From religious to social activities, events are queued up in churches,mosques and fun spots to usher in a new year.

Armed with the agelong belief that how a year starts determines the rest of the year, a number of Nigerians are particular about their destination when an old year morphs into a new one.

For millions of Christian faithful across Nigeria, the crossover service on December 31, Sunday Telegraph observes, has become an annual end of year ritual among churches, with attendees waiting expectantly for the clock to strike 12 midnight with accompanying fireworks.

Though the last day of every year is said to provide an opportunity to reflect on actions, achievements,failures in the terminating year, the crossover service, for some church leaders, is an opportunity to release fresh prophecies for the new year.

In Nigeria, however, the authenticity of prophecies by men of God has over the years stirred debates.

In 2018, the founder of Global Citadel Community Church (CGCC) (formerly known as the Latter Rain Assembly), Tunde Bakare, had announced that God told him to run for the post of Nigerian president during a new year service at his church.

According to a national newspaper (not New Year proclamations: When prophesies become mere forecasts Sunday Telegraph), Bakare stated 12 revelations for the year, telling his congregants that God told him not to abandon his political career. But God, however, did not reveal to him when the appointed time to run for the highest office would be.

“In my study around 4 a.m. on Sunday morning, God told me ‘you cannot bring your political career to a close; there is still more to do. Run for the presidency. I will do it at the appointed time,” the pastor added.

Meanwhile, during his sermon in February 2018, Bakare had declared himself as the 16th President of Nigeria and successor of President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that nothing could change it because he was born for that purpose.

According to him, God had prepared him for the job for more than 30 years.
“I will succeed Buhari as President of Nigeria. Nothing can change it. I am number 16, Buhari is number 15. I never said it to you before. I am saying it now and nothing can change it.

“In the name of Jesus, he is number 15. I am number 16. To this end was I born and for this purpose came I into the world. I have prepared you for this for more than 30 years,” he said.

Meanwhile, at the Presidential Primaries of the All Progressives Congress, despite coughing up N100million for Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms,

Bakare did not secure a vote, foreclosing any chance of being on the ballot paper and emerging Nigeria’s 16th president.

In the same vein, Rev Chris Okotie of the Household of God Church had declared that God had revealed to him to contest the 2003 presidential election, adding that he would win if he contested. The preacher lost.

Undeterred, the pastor reharshed the same vision he’d seen before concerning his political ambition in 2007, 2011 and 2015, saying God had spoken to him again and he would contest and win. Again, the preacher found no luck.

Explaining to journalists why he lost every election despite stating that God had not only instructed him to contest but assured him of victory, Okotie said that he had lost those elections as a result of election malpractices carried out.

He, however, added that apart from the malpractices that marred the elections, the duty of a servant of God is to obey his master when he gives him instructions, irrespective of whether he fails or succeeds, just like Moses in the Bible, who kept fighting until Pharaoh released the Israelites.

Also, in his vision and declaration for 2019, Pastor Samuel Akinbodunse, had said that President Mohammadu Buhari would not win the presidential election of that year. Akinbodunse, who is based in South Africa, had urged Nigerians to warn Buhari against seeking a second term in office to avoid sudden death.

“The Lord said his tenure is once and not twice. If not, he will not see the election o. If you know him and how to email the Presidency of Nigeria, please write him a text. If he made a mistake to campaign for elections, before they vote, he will die.

“Tell him the same voice that spoke when people said former President Goodluck Jonathan would be the President of Nigeria, the same voice is speaking to him that he must not make that mistake. Let him eat whatever he wants to eat inside sugar that he is now and leave the sugar ‘jejely’. If not, he will die. That is just the message.”

Some 2022 prophecies that hit the crossbar

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar may have been won and lost but issues around it still stirs reactions.

Before Argentina won the World Cup, Marcus Tibetan, a Celestial Church prophet, had predicted that it would go the way of France.

According to Within Nigeria,Tibetan, who is also said to be a popular Shepherd in the Celestial Church, had also tipped Morocco to finish second.

Meanwhile, contrary to his prediction, Croatia defeated Morocco to win the bronze medal.

Speaking at the Crossover Service to usher in 2022, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, had said that Infant mortality rate would drop by at least 50 per cent.

However, in its latest report titled “Situation of Women and Children in Nigeria”, the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) data showed that the pastor’s  purveyors prediction was far from being accurate. The report ranked Nigeria among countries with the highest infant mortality rates in the world.

It further put infant mortality rate in Nigeria at 69 per 1000 live births.

“Latest figures show a maternal mortality rate of 576 per 100,000 live births, the fourth highest on Earth. Each year, approximately 262,000 babies die at birth, the world’s second highest national total. Infant mortality currently stands at 69 per 1,000 live births while for under-fives it rises to 128 per 1,000 live births. More than half of the under-five deaths – 64 per cent – result from malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea,” the report read in part.

Quoting UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism stated the Nigeria’s infant mortality rate had been steadily declining since 1965, noting that it fell from 190 per 1000 in 1965 to 72 in 2020.

“While the decline can be attributed to increased access to modern healthcare in the country, there is no evidence of a margin as large as Adeboye predicts.

The percentage drop from 2020 to 2022 was only about 3 per cent,” it added.

Meanwhile, in his prophecy on the political future of the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, Prophet Godfrey Gbujie of the the World Zionist Union, had prophesied that the former Anambra governor ,Peter Obi would win the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).

But the result of the primary election failed to support his prophecy as Peter Obi left the PDP’ and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar clinched the ticket.

Also, Prophet Bisi Olujobi of Wisdom Church International in Lagos had prophesied that the result of the presidential primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would shock the candidate of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as powerful conspiracies would deny him the ticket. Contrary to Olujobi’s prediction, Tinubu emerged the candidate of the APC.

Violent revolution, riots, wealth transfer…other prophecies for 2023
Consistent with the annual ritual of releasing prophecies for a new year, a number of    Nigerian clerics have told Nigerians what to expect in 2023.

For the Vice President of The Apostolic Church, N.O Awojide,2023 will be a year of battles.

According to him, strong ones will challenge the stronger ones, adding that” blood will be flowing”. The cleric also prophesied that there would be burning of government properties in order to cover up secrets and important places would be set on fire.

His words: “As you have heard, the year is a year of battles. Let me tell you, whether you like it or not, you will fight. You will fight! But this is my word of consolation unto you. The weapon of your warfare is not carnal. You cannot personally fight for yourself. I will fight for you! Sennacherub will threaten you; the Moabites will threaten you; the Amorites will threaten you but do not be afraid; I will fight for you as the mighty and fearful one. Fear not!”

At the cross over night at the RCCG headquarters, Pastor Adeboye had prophesied that few balloons would be deflated this year.

The cleric added that there would be a bit of wealth transfer, stating that 2023 was a year of many opportunities.

Adeboye also said that the global weather pattern would become more erratic but assured believers that it would be good for God-fearing people

He added: “God also says the world this year will be relatively more peaceful.

The biggest challenge of 2022 will lead to your biggest testimony in 2023. In 2023, the Lord will speak peace to some troubled homes.

“In 2023, for quite a few people, there would be restoration of lost glories.

“Many trouble makers will lose the ability to make trouble this year.

“Few balloons will be deflated this year.

“There will be a bit of wealth transfer. Generally, 2023 is a year of many opportunities.”

For his part, leader of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Prof Daniel Olukoya, described 2023 as a year of judgment for ritual killers, noting that most of their activities would backfire.

According to him, God will deal with evil and wickedness and dismantle mighty men, who stand on His way,adding that God will fight for His children.

He also called for prayers to forestall violent revolution and overthrow of those he described as wicked leaders the world over, adding that God will humble the proud and fight strange wars for the attention of his people.

Speaking with Sunday Telegraph on what 2023 holds for Nigeria, Primate Elijah Ayodele, the Leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, said the Governor of Rivers State,  Nyesom Wike would “sink politically” as he has bitten more than he can chew.

His words:”G-5 is a mirage. I pity Nyesom Wike because he is going to sink politically. He doesn’t have the foresight of what he is doing. I am only speaking as sent by God to him.

“I am not interested in mentioning anybody’s name nor do I want to make anyone popular. But Wike has chewed more than what he can take. I pity people like Makinde, Ikpeazu and Ortom because the more they are following him, the more problems they are having. They will betray themselves because they do not see anything but believing they are enjoying their time.”

On what to expect if the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, wins the 2023 presidential election, Ayodele said:” Nigeria is not stable now. It is shaking at this juncture and none of these people will get it (things done) excellently whereas Nigeria needs excellent performance. If Peter Obi becomes the next president, it will cause ethnic crisis, whereby the country will be sectional. The poor will rise and it is going to be a government of vengeance, whereby it will be like those who did not vote for me I will not do them well.

“If he becomes President, the rich will not enjoy him because there will be too much scrutiny and the government will be too slow. The economy will come up little by little. There will be slight irregularity in the government and the issue of agitations for Biafra or Oodua Republic will not stop. None of them will stop the agitations. Meanwhile, the Republic of Biafra and Oodua Republic cannot come in 2023, 2024, 2025 or 2026 but it will still come.”

He, however, prophesied that the PDP and APC would only do a term should any of the parties win the presidential election.

“Maybe, those who started the agitation might not be one to actualize it.

Nonetheless, if it is APC/ Tinubu the poor, illiterates and those at the grassroots will have an upper hand and be relevant. It is a politics of ‘you have and I have’, the rich will not enjoy it (the administration) as expected but they will be relevant and there will be a balancing of the equation between the rich and the poor. If it is PDP, they will bring the poor and the rich together; they will do things to redeem their name and do what Nigeria wants. PDP will only use one term and cannot go for two terms, likewise APC.”

Why prophecies fail

Speaking in an interview with Sunday Telegraph on why prophecies fail, Pastor Emmanuel Omotosho of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, explained that the fact that a negative prophecy turns out to be positive or vice versa doesn’t make the prophet a liar, or question his integrity.

According to him, New Year prophecies from notable men of God do not fail, noting that if prophecies were narrated to be evil or bad, in the course of unrelenting prayers by the prophets and people, the negative prophecy can change because prayer changes things.

He added: “A Bible verse that support this is found in the book of 2 Chronicles, 7:18 which says: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then, I’ll hear from heaven and forgive their sins and I’ll heal their land.

“As regards the second factor which is positive, if positive prophecies were given and nothing was done, it will eventually be unfulfilled. For instance, if prophecy was given that a bag of rice will be sold for N5,000 per bag in theee months’ time.

if factors to make it happen are not duly considered, approached and embarked upon, the prophecy will eventually be null and this implies that when prophecy is being given, people’s attitude, mindset and efforts should be in tune with the prophecy.”

In his reaction, Ola Odulana of the Cherubim and Seraphim Movement (Ayo Ni o) said like real men of God, real prophecies don’t come easily. He likened some men of God to weather forecasters.

“I think you know we have weather forecasters. Sometimes, what they forecast fails. So, most of those self-acclaimed men of God are forecasting. Real prophecy is not common,” he argued.

‘How to spot fake prophets’

Speaking on fake prophecies and prophets, Pastor Omotosho said it was important to adhere to the warning in the scriptures as the Bible also affirms that Wolves have infiltrated the church.

His words: “God already said in his word and we can also affirm to it that some prophets are truly called by God while some are called based on personal benefits or ways to enrich themselves. Hence, to spot a fake prophecy, Bible standard should be duly adhered to just as Mathew 7:15 already categorized them as Wolves in Sheep clothing, who infiltrate the church and lead people astray.

“Hence, as a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, I can boldly say that my father in the Lord in person of Pastor E.A. Adeboye is a true prophet of God, based on background checks, events, happenings and narrations. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:20, KJV).”

Ifa can tell accurately but there’re manipulative diviners – Ifa adherent
For an Ifa adherent, Dr Temitope Fagunwa, Ifa has the capacity to see into the future and foretell without failing on what the future holds. According to him, Ifa does not predict. It states with certainty what to expect.

In an interview with Sunday Telegraph, Fagunwa said: “Ifa, like most spiritualities, has the ability to see into the future because that’s what divination is all about. A diviner might choose to manipulate; the other might choose not to. But some diviners can be economical with the truth for their own selfish interest. Ifa does not predict. It tells what will happen in actual fact.

“For African Cosmological belief system, there’s nothing like fatalism in any way…that something is meant to happen. That’s the place of personhood. Ifa can foretell what will happen in a country with certainty. In the message, you will be told that your destiny is in your hands. That’s why it’s in the Ifa scriptures that it is the head you appease before the deity.”

Dangers of fake prophecy

Commenting, a public affairs commentator, Achike Chude, reasoned that many are easily led astray when it comes to religion,and it has nothing to do with stellar academic credentials.

Citing the example of the Guyana tragedy,Chude said: “The reality is that a lot of people are foolish when it comes to religion. It has nothing to do with one’s academic accomplishments. You remember the Guyana tragedy where Jim Jones was able to hoodwink a lot of people. Some of them were members of the American Congress. People were committing suicide and over a thousand people died! That is the nature of religion.”

On what to do to curb the menace of fake prophecies, Achike advocated: “Some level organisation” and control.He also urged Christians to read and understand the scriptures as fake prophets capitalise on the ignorance of many.

“I think there should be more control over some of these people. Jesus Christ told us that by their fruits,we shall know them. In the scriptures, someone even tried to buy the gift of healing. We should be careful and discerning that some of these churches are business enterprises.There should be some level of organisation. The traditional churches like the Catholic Church does not have that kind of problem.

You can see what happened to the Adoration Ground of Father Mbaka,” he told Sunday Telegraph.

He added that when it got to a level and it became alarming, Father Mbaka was brought under control as one cannot be bigger than the church they represent.
Going to Ghana, Rwanda for solution?

On December 28, 2022, the Ghana police spokesperson, Grace Ansah-Akrofi, reminded Ghanaians of the ban on what she called misleading New Year prophecies and the havoc they are capable of precipitating.

Akrofi, in a statement said:“As the year 2022 draws to a close, we wish to once again entreat the general public, especially faith-based groups, to ensure continuous compliance with the law as it relates to the communication of prophecies.

“Let us continue to remember that whereas we have the right to practise our faith in religion, freedom of worship and speech, this right must not be exercised in violation of the rights of others and the public interest.”

Answering questions on the potency of the Ghanaian model in tackling the fake prophecy menace, Achike Chude expressed reservations about the approach.

“I don’t think banning fake prophecies is the approach. The issue is that there are charlatans that are operating as spiritual people and they go ahead to lead people astray.”

He, however, recommended the Rwanda model in checking the activities of charlatans . According to him, after the genocide in Rwanda, it was discovered that religious leaders played a key role. Chude said the Rwandan government saw the need for religious leaders to get trained and get certified or licensed to practise ,stating that that step went into the heart of some of the religious issues.

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