I am respectfully privileged to extend my greetings as a Christian jungle boy to Pastor Mensa Otabil. I have never met him and I probably never will. Not to worry, though. These Facebook and Internet streets make anything possible. And since God is good, I have a good feeling that my article will find his good self somehow in these good times. I only hope I don’t look to him like an insult in this introduction. I do watch National Geographic so that should place me far off on the right side of a Likert scale between an insult and a non-insult.
All this brouhaha involving his role, executive or non-executive, in these financial sector sarcomas got me worried, not so much about him per se, but about the negative impact it was beginning to exert on Christianity and Christian ministry.
Make no mistake. It’s making us all look bad. Every single fornicator, thief or adulterer ever rebuked on any subject to do with sin is insulting Christians because of him. Class One Christians who last attended church from the comfort of their homes when Prince Harry wed Meghan are insulting us because of him. Even the atheists, the sasabonsam people, the arch-rebels are all in on it because of him.
And his congregants aren’t helping with all the I Stand with Otabil nonsense. Who stands with the widows, the poor carpenters and truck pushers whose mites and coins filled up the treasury of the misbegotten bank he board-chaired? Who stands with Ghana, in these moments of difficulty trying to fund free SHS for the citizenry? Who stands with our sweat-fueled taxes wasted trying to save his and his shareholders from losing the arrogance that comes from wearing $2,000 suits? Who stands with poor Ama Ghana?
The facts of the reports we have all sighted indicate that under Pastor Otabil’s non-executive watch, whatever that means, Mr. W. A. Essien, the majority shareholder, flouted all banking and risk management rules and treated depositers’ and public funds as his personal “piggy bank”, and blew tonnes of Ghana Cedis on dubious acquisitions and well-nigh criminal financial shenanigans, even as far away as Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.
At the core of the problem was the weak board oversight rendered of Capital Bank’s risk management oversight functions. That in simple English means Pastor Otabil provided spineless leadership and incompetent oversight of the functions that could have saved poor depositors’ and public funds. This is why the juries in the alleys of Facebook and Twitter find him guilty. Not because they have proof of his personal, direct contribution to Essien’s remarkable lack of good risk management sense, but because he is the leader and pastor of a church that shows more business sense than all of the consolidated local banks put together. And worse, he is a “man of God”. That title puts him in a better management position than the Chair of the US Federal Reserve Board. We all saw how well Moses executed his executive and non-executive roles leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. They walked through dry land in the Red Sea, for crying out loud. Do you have any idea how hard that is? We haven’t been able to desilt the Korle since I was a kid. This is just how much power and good sense we expect a man of God in a board-Chair position of a bank to exhibit. Or, failing that, admit his failure in his duties, appeal to his humanness and save all of us other Christians the shame of explaining our God and how He is not responsible for His servant’s failures. This is what a true man of God would do.
A true church of God would also suspend Pastor Otabil forthwith. This is why churches with visible one-man founders fall within the ambit of false churches no different from the Obinims of today, but I digress. If for nothing at all, at least for bringing the name of the church and the church’s God into this uncalled-for disrepute, a suspension would have been in order. In a more serious church, this nonsense has little currency. Take the Church of Pentecost, for example. Those folks don’t play. In that church, the mere sign of fibroid is grounds for suspension for the sins of fornication and of premarital pregnancy. Oversight failures for messing up choir master deposits would have called for outright dismissal.
Which is why Dr. Otabil’s “God is Good” response to the financial mess he is alleged to have supervised leaves a sour taste in my jungle Christian mouth. God is Good sen? That response is worse than his alleged role and puts him in the same scale as Eli, the High Priest of Israel whose sons, Hophni and Phinehas, stole the best parts of God’s offerings, and had sexual affairs with women right in the church. Amazingly, when all these things were brought to Eli’s attention, his response was the exact same response we have now received from Pastor Otabil – God is Good!
This account is found in the first Book of Samuel, the Prophet of Israel at about 1164 BC. Eli was old, and though the Chief Priest of Israel, probably had a non-executive role in Temple administration in the Church of God, at the time known as the Tabernacle of the Lord, at Shiloh. He had sons, two of whom are described as “corrupt”. They would send their servants around while worshippers offered sacrifices, “with a three-pronged fleshhook… while the meat was boiling”, and have them thrust it into the pot and take for themselves “all that the fleshhook brought up” (1 Samuel 2:12-14). These sons of Eli essentially robbed God, stole from him and engaged in sexual crimes with the worshippers in the House of the Lord. The Bible describes their sins as “very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (1 Sam. 2:17). In the same way a lot of people are abhorrent of Christians today as a result of the actions and inactions of “men of God” such as Pastor Otabil. The grievousness of their sin was proportional to the disrepute they had inflicted on the cause of justice and righteousness by their evil deeds.
The sins of the Sons of Eli got God so angry that he demanded of Eli through a man of God, “Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honour your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?” (1 Sam. 2:29).
Considering the wealth, power and influence today’s men of God wield, and how “fat” they have become at the expense of the people who attend their churches, it is no surprise that the account of Eli and his evil sons is an apt description of Christian churches today. Even worse is the appropriation of God’s resources for dubious gains. How do churches, whose funds belong to the service of God for charity, for schools and for hospitals to alleviate human suffering, invest in banks that are involved in all kinds of ungodly deals including money laundering?
God’s declaration against Eli and his sons was that “in one day they shall die, both of them” (1 Sam. 2:34). Any wonder UT Bank and Capital Bank died in one day and were caputed by GCB?
But here comes the shocker. After many years of evil-doing by Hophni and Phinehas, Eli somehow believed that he was nothing but a non-executive actor absolved in the whole saga. His behaviour seemed to have irked the Good Lord more, for in a vision to the young boy Samuel, the Lord said, “In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.” (1 Sam 3:12-14; emphasis mine)
I believe that the only way Dr. Otabil walks away from all this without prosecution is because we live in an apampamu-store republic. A republic that sponsors Mecca and Jerusalem pilgrimages lack the bold, hairy and audacious gonads required to haul someone like Pastor Otabil before the Courts. Tweaaa. Ain’t gonna happen la.
Notice that in the Courts of Heaven, Eli didn’t get of that easily. But the worse thing in the biblical account equitable to Pastor Otabil’s miserable apology of a response happened when Samuel fearfully told High Priest Eli what the Lord had revealed to him. After much coaxing, the boy opened up to the priest and declared the judgements of the Lord. Guess what Eli the priest said: “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” (1 Sam. 3:18)
Clearly we have a more contemporary rendition of Eli’s words in the face of God’s imminent judgment in the response suggestions offered by Pastor Otabil to his congregation who clearly idolize, adore and worship him.
“God is Good!”
In Eli’s response, he seemed lackadaisical, uncaring of, and unimpressed with God’s declared judgment. A concerned priest would have done all in his power to put his house in order like the people of Nineveh, to avert God’s wrath. The man of God seemed completely unconcerned in his response, “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him”.
Pastor Otabil goes a step further beyond uncaring to presumption. To declare presumptuously in the face of damning allegations that “God is Good” is (1) to pretend that the loss of almost 10-percent of our GDP under his spineless board leadership is an easy thing to sweep under ICGC’s Christ Temple altar; (2) to act like the rest of us interrogating the issue are as gullible, bereft of independent thought and in awe of him as are his ICGC congregants; and (3) to theologize that our Father in Heaven, whose benevolence feeds the little sparrow and sustains the leviathans of the deep seas; who notices every injustice done to the widow and the orphan, and excuses not the thieving, corrupt under dealings of politicians and judges, supports the criminal and nation-wrecking allegations of financial impropriety discovered under Otabil’s so-called non-executive chairmanship.
Now, I do not wish any evil on Dr. Mensa Otabil. I wish him long life and personal prosperity, although I wish his prosperity would spare us losses to our GDP. But in the Biblical account of Eli and his evil Sons, the High Priest and his sons died horribly. And the two devils – Hophni and Phinehas – died before their high priest father. As we speak, Capital and UT have died horribly (and may the CEOs whose foolishness caused their demise grow boils on their behinds while the state seeks to prosecute). It therefore stands to reasonable expectations that the real culprit – their high priest mentor whose silence led to the festering of their moral rots – follows suit.
The “God is Good” response is unfortunate, to say the least, and despicable in both Biblical and moral examination. Watching the video, I had no doubt that I was looking at a man who believes himself untouchable where his role in the on-going scandal is concerned. Even worse is the insult delivered to those of us asking the questions for which his misguided answer seeks to respond.
Please keep us non-ICGC Christians out of this nonsense. Pastor Otabil’s latest response neither makes sense in the light of the issues or in the light of the Bible, and not all of us are dumb enough to offer “God is Good” as a legitimate Christian response to a report that alleges nation-wrecking infractions. We dissociate ourselves from such behaviour and demand full scale prosecutions of everyone, executive or otherwise, whose actions led to these gargantuan losses.
Only then can we all agree to a resounding “God is Good!”