Nigeria’s cyberspace was aflame recently due of the launching of Dominion Air. Why would the advent of another brand name into the aviation space generate so much public discourse? It happens that this is no usual airline: it is alleged to be owned by an Evangelical “prosperity” minister, Bishop David Oyedepo:
A Nigerian Christian author, Preacher, founder and Presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church World Wide also known as Winners Chapel and its affiliated International churches known as Winners Chapel International, with headquarters in Ogun State, Nigeria. He is also the senior pastor of Faith Tabernacle, a 50,000 seat church auditorium reputed to be the largest church auditorium in the world by the Guinness Book of Records.The Winners Chapel network of churches is present in over 300 cities in all states of Nigeria, as well as in over 63 cities in 32 African Nations, Dubai, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Forbes ranks Oyedepo as Nigeria's richest pastor:
Estimated net worth: $150 million. David Oyedepo is Nigeria’s wealthiest preacher… Oyedepo owns four private jets and homes in London and the United States. He also owns Dominion Publishing House, a thriving publishing company that publishes all his books (which are often centred on prosperity). He founded and owns Covenant University, one of Nigeria’s leading tertiary institutions, and Faith Academy, an elite high school.
Sahara Reporters claims that the floating of Dominion Air was due to the escalating cost of maintaining Oyedepo’s private jets:
The rising cost of maintaining four private jets has forced flamboyant Nigerian pastor, Bishop David Oyedepo, to set up a commercial airline that uses four airplanes that had hitherto served as part of his private fleet. Last year, as staff costs, fuel prices and landing fees escalated, Bishop Oyedepo had contemplated selling two of the jets. But when no buyers were forthcoming, he turned to Plan B: to set up Dominion Air and put the jets to commercial use.
The reactions on many Nigerian social platforms were varied.
Here are some sarcastic and critical twits:
@dangeldiva: So is the pilot going to pray before take-off? #DominionAir
@nzesylva: As soon as the pilot puts off the ‘fasten your seat belt’ sign, all passengers are to close their eyes for praise n worship. #DominionAir
@Ms_Mustapha: In flight magazines to be replaced with bibles #dominionair
@sheikhofeffizy: #dominionair…no fones or BB on board and carries only saints…
@kj_hova: Religion must not b taxd by govt. Howeva, its profit making ventures must b subject to company & income taxes etc. #DominionAir
@BuzorIbusaBoy: U complained about his jet, he got an airline, doesn't that tell u that he doesn't care….U still want to complain? #DominionAir
@ChikaUwazie: Now I see why Nigerians kill themselves to become a pastor #dominionair
Twitter users in support:
@drphilip2010: I hear the sound of #envy! #DominionAir #BishopOyedepo.
@lutoluh: If Oyedepo had kept his money in the bank or built a mansion in his village with it…none would be ranting right now! #dominionAir
Kathleen Ndongmo identifies “7 Things to Consider before Criticising Bishop Oyedepo”:
7- A “full time” pastor is not allowed to do business? He commits a ‘crime’ if he does? A full time politician can loot and that’s no crime?
6- Pick one: The man who loots ur treasury for his business or the man who uses ur voluntary donations for a business. Are we sentimental?
5- Tax the ‘church’ if government deems it fit. That’s an okay dynamic. For all you know, the ‘church’ will pay. Comfortably.
4- I grew up in the Catholic Church. Where ‘mission’ schools, ‘mission’ hospitals etc where a benefit to the community.
3- How can a man’s only crime for starting a business be the fact that he heads a Christian ministry?
2- If an atheist starts a business [like an airline] that works [for the customer] will there be uproar? Does faith nullify?
1. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (allegedly) starts First Nation, no negative uproar. Why is there one when Oyedepo starts Dominion?
Phantom of Jargon points out flaws in Ndongmo’s thesis:
7. A politician looting IS a crime, Christianity is not a business venture, Dominion AIRLINE is something MASSIVE! If Bishop Oyedepo wants to go Donald Trump, he should drop ministry.
6. You’re actually making this sound worse for Bishop Oyedepo: “..uses ur voluntary donations for a business” If he reps Christianity truly, I know for a fact these ‘voluntary donations’ are not bargaining chips for entrepreneurship, its meant for helps and evangelism
5. ano… Kathleen Ndongmo-san there is a reason why Churches are not taxed in the first place, it clearly isn’t meant to exist as a profit driven organization and CHIGAU! There are churches that cannot pay… comfortably.
4. Thumbs up to the true Catholics but those are ‘mission amenities’ a Dominion Airline is a commercial establishment, I find it difficult to see how it would directly affect those who really need ‘help’ in a community, Its just like someone opening a casino and going like “I’m trying to help people become rich ”
3. ’7′ disagrees with this…
1&2 The atheist or the politician wouldn’t be contradicting his faithlessness.
Bishop Oyedepo has not commented about the ownership of Dominion Air. As such, Contra Culture E-Magazine thinks that the entire furore over Dominion Air is unnecessary:
So there is a rumour on the web that Bishop Oyedepo is in the process of starting an airline company called Dominion airlines. It is a rumour because nobody from Winners chapel has provided any response…