Overseer of the Fountain of Life Church, Taiwo Odukoya, has declared that President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, and other clerics who own private jets were right to do so.
Odukoya raised the issue on Tuesday in Lagos, when he spoke with journalists at the inauguration of the Fountain Initiative for Social Development, a social enterprise championed by his wife, Nomthi.
Apparently reacting to acquisition of planes by church leaders and controversy involving the use of an aircraft belonging to a church leader in transporting money to South Africa, he said there was nothing wrong in church leaders owning air planes for safety and to facilitate their work.
He said his late wife, Pastor Bimbo, would have been alive but for boarding the Sosoliso aircraft that crashed in Port Harcourt on December 10, 2005, after it took off from Abuja.
“It’s been years, what is the outcome of the investigations into the Sosoliso air crash?” he said.
He was referring to the recent incident of the arms deals in which South African authorities seized $9.3m from the leased private jet owned by Oritsejafor.
Pastor Odukoya said, “If anybody, whether you are a leader or not, and you do what is wrong, we won’t endorse it. I don’t agree that he was wrong.
“Nigeria is considered to be a country with the highest number of private jets, if not, we are known with a good number in the world.
“How do you handle that? For some, getting a private jet is for business. They give it to companies that will handle all aspects of maintenance including the hangar and then they run it as business. That was exactly what he did.
“Apart from that, why would such a person have a jet .You want me to tell you? Why would Baba Enoch Adeboye or Pastor David Oyedepo need a jet?
“My wife (late Bimbo Odukoya) is dead. She was going to preach when she crashed and died. Would we rather allow that our people die right all over Africa? What is annoying is that those who are criticising Oritsejafor are Christians.
“We question their Christianity. You don’t want him to have a jet. You want another plane crash to kill him?
“My father in the Lord, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, will travel by road from Lagos to Benin Republic and he would be delayed only to enter one rickety plane at the end of the day.
“We don’t want another person to die. If you want to buy Concord or space jet, buy it.
“It is the corruption in the system that allows people to get away with wrong doing.”