- “I will open the gates of Hell on those who oppose you”
- “God will open the gates of Hell on the enemies of the peace of Nigeria”
The two statements above have been credited to the same person. One statement is correct; the other came from Hell.
On Sunday, 25 January 2015, the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, attended one of the services at the Living Faith Church (Winner’s Chapel) presided by Bishop David Oyedepo. Within hours of his visit, the internet was awash with a statement credited to Oyedepo, essentially saying that he possessed the key to Hell. Immediately, a battalion of internet trolls took aim at Oyedepo, with bullets, bayonets, RPGs and other lethal weapons being unleased via Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, BBM, and other communication media cum de-facto battlegrounds.
I first got wind of the uproar via WhatsApp, when a colleague posted the statement (Statement 1) in a group chat. My immediate reaction was to disbelieve it. Forgive my bias, even though I have no apologies for it. I felt that the Oyedepo I know could not have said anything remotely similar to that.
I have read some of Oyedepo’s books, and listened to several of his sermons, so I just could not believe that the same person, who teaches biblical principles with clarity, would utter the puerile statement credited to him. I felt vindicated when some persons who attended the service reported that he never said Statement 1. According to them, Oyedepo said Statement 2, but some smart-ass persons credited him with Statement 1.
Why would anyone freely distort the words of a respected public figure? The answer is simple. Politics! Nigerian-style politics. This election season has seen some of the worst campaign strategies in history. Negative adverts have been glorified. The campaigns appear not to be based on credible issues, but on which of the top running presidential candidates is the better evil.
In a country where emotions run high and the citizens appear to live in a hellish state, one can understand the huge interest in the possessor of Hell’s key. Who is in the possession of the key to Hell? In eager desperation to seek the possessor, Nigerians have been pointed towards the wrong direction.
Oyedepo does not possess the key to Hell. He never claimed that. The key to “Nigeria’s Hell” is in the hands of those who exploit widespread ignorance for selfish gain, those who exploit religious division, and those who preach tribal supremacy. These people exist in the two frontline political parties. They are the one who have made Nigeria into “Hell on Earth”.
As politicking continues ahead of next month’s elections, the hullabaloo about Hell’s key continues. The insults being traded online illustrate an unfortunate characteristic of many Nigerians. We believe anything. In a saner clime, the millions of internet-savvy Nigerians would have waited for video or audio evidence before latching on a purported statement. The originators of the false statement knew that credibility issues would not bother many Nigerians. “They said he said this, therefore he said it.”
If we throw slingshots at politicians the way we threw at Oyedepo, maybe we would have positive change. Candidates are making utopian promises, but we are more bothered about Hell’s key than about the feasibility of their promises. If we miss the direction to Hell’s gate, then, after the elections, when the chickens come home to roost, our eyes would clear.
Hell’s key is not missing. Nigeria’s hellish experience would end if Nigerians can use their brains as a guide, and their votes as weapons to unlock Hell and create “Heaven on Earth”.
- I am not a member of Winner’s Chapel. I do not have to be a member to point out falsehood.
- I have checked online for audio or video footage of the ‘entire’ service, or the section containing the alleged statement. My search has not produced any fruit.
- Until someone presents audio-visual evidence, or comes out to say that he or she was in the service, and personally heard Statement 1, I choose to believe Statement 2.