I do not think Nigerians have ever been enraptured with a bigger scandal over the past four days than that the revelations of previously unknown ladies called Ese Walters and Franca E. about an affair and an attempted affair with the popular pastor of emerging mega-church, Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo respectively. If by a slim chance, you have not read them, here are the articles here and here.
Although the jury in the court of public opinion is still yet to arrive conclusively at whether the story is true or the products of the beautiful imaginations of Ms. Walter and Franca’s minds, we have to ask ourselves: whether it is true or false, where does COZA go from here?
The first thing that COZA’s board of trustees/patrons (this is assuming there is a board) and its body of elders need to do is to investigate these allegations to ascertain their veracity. As much as possible, it should ask the accusers as well as the accused to bring their evidence.
If these stories indeed turn out to be true, Pastor Biodun needs to start by making a public apology to his congregation because it would have amounted to a breach of trust. As their pastor, they have put a lot of trust in him to be their shepherd, and lead by example. A scandal as this is evidence of his letting them down, and not leading by example.
After that, he would need to step down from pastoring the church for some period of time while he sorts himself out. To simply continue with being visible and pastoring the church immediately without stepping away from the limelight would not help him as the stench of the scandals will still hover around him. Inasmuch as he is called to serve and lead, his spiritual help is of paramount importance. Pastor Biodun is also a human being like his members, and from time to time, he will need to recharge his faith and strength, especially in matters where he has a weakness, as this might be if the allegations are true.
Lastly, active precautions must be taken to avoid a repeat of such incidences. This means no working at close quarters with females, especially young women who are more likely to be vulnerable to the charisma and charm of the pastor. It will be safer for him to work with men, especially in his pastoral care unit, which seem to be charged with handling the office duties of the pastor.
It also means when he has to counsel females, he should do it in the company of another woman, maybe his wife. This will reduce his propensity to fall to temptation. He could also borrow a leaf from the great American evangelist, Billy Graham who is said to never meet with anyone behind closed doors (not locked, closed). A literal open-door policy means whatever is happening within the office is in the full glare of everyone.
On the other hand, if these allegations are investigated and turn out to be false, COZA and Pastor Biodun should sue the accusers for libel and defamation of character. This is because over the past few days since the scandal broke, the reputation that he and the church have built over the years has literally come crashing down. Building it back will require double the work done in the first place.
It is not unheard of people in the limelight to become victims of false accusations, where their reputation and integrity is being targeted for tarnishing. Suing the accusers for libel and defamation of character will make clear examples to others who might be harbouring such ideas, as precedents of how they could be dealt with will be very obvious.
Also, the precautions are laid above to avoid such incidences happening should still be taken even if the accusations are said to be false. After all, a stitch in time, as they say, saves nine.
No matter which way this scandal turns to, one thing Pastor Biodun cannot avoid doing is talking directly about it.
It is not enough for him to make references to how Joseph kept mum when he was accused by Potiphar’s wife. Joseph was not in a higher position of influence or recognition than Potiphar’s wife, so he definitely did not suffer the humiliation on the scale Pastor Biodun and COZA are going through now. Joseph was also not called out on the Internet, with articles spreading like wildfire, attracting readers in the thousands and being the trending topic on social networking sites such as Twitter for a whole weekend.
The longer Pastor Biodun and COZA avoid confronting the issue, the more people will believe that indeed, these allegations are true. It could drag his ministry into the mud, and suffer it great disrepute.
The ball is now in COZA’s court. The next set of actions they take could make or mar their comeback from this dark place they are in.
DISCLAIMER: Opinion articles are views held by the writer and do not represent the views of Yada Magazine