This, Obasanjo said, would be the contribution of the church to the on-going effort to make Nigeria corruption – free.
He spoke at the convention of the Victory Life Bible Church International (VLBC) Victory City, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
Dwelling on “The Role of the Church in the fight against corruption in Nigeria,” Obasanjo charged the church as an institution that provides moral and ethical standards to get actively involved in the fight against corruption.
He said that the revelations coming out seemed to suggest that corruption is thriving more today in the country than it was when he assumed office as President in 1999.
The ex-President who trained as a Theologian at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) after leaving office in 2007, expressed disappointment at the quality of messages coming from the pulpits.
Such messages, he said, often lay emphasis on wealth without labour, and likened it to a subtle call on people to be corrupt.
To preach that one could acquire wealth without labour, according to him, is not only deceitful and a call to corruption, but also a false and sinful preaching.
He recalled that during his tenure as President of Nigeria in 1999, he presented a bill to the National Assembly on prohibition and punishment for bribery and corruption and other related offences in the bid to curb the social cancer.
Obasanjo, however, lamented that despite this, the “act has continued to spread like a wildfire, from federal to the states, to the local government level and to other authorities; even within the educational sector in Nigeria, from secondary to university levels.”
He said the church is not spared as young clerics have been found to be bribing their way through to be promoted.
He deplored the trend whereby corrupt people and others with doubtful sources of wealth are not only celebrated, but also venerated in churches.
He urged clergies to borrow a leaf from Jesus Christ who chased thieves and money changers that attempted to turn His father’s house into a den of robbers.
“There is no doubt that all our institutions have been tarnished by the brush of corruption. If the Church, as an institution, does not take bribe or get involved in other corrupt practice, the behaviour of some of our men of God leaves much to be desired,” he said.
“They not only celebrate but venerate those whose sources of wealth are questionable. They accept gifts (offering) from just anybody without asking questions. This gives the impression that anything is acceptable in the House of God.”
He said, “The Church needs to clear its Aegean stable. The temple of God must be cleansed to restore the holiness of the church. Our present-day ‘money changers’ and ‘merchants’ must be chased out of the Church and put to shame in the larger society.