To many Nigerians today, it is very difficult to convince them that running churches is not a vastly profitable venture. They see everyday pastors moving from a live of average financial status to stupendous wealth in a matter of months.
We have profiled what is believed in many quarters and according to Forbes Magazine as the top 5 richest pastors and preachers in Nigeria. Several of them clearly show aptitude and business sense in consolidating and expanding their wealth base through private businesses in various niches.
Here are the self proclaimed men of God in Nigeria who earn biggest and are worth a King’s ransom. The richest pastors in Nigeria;
1. Bishop David Oyedepo:
Bishop Oyedepo is the head pastor and founder of Living Faith World Outreach Ministry (aka Winners Chapel). His estimated Net worth is $150 million.
Seen as Nigeria’s richest pastor he founded Winners Chapel in 1981 and has grown it to become one of Africa’s largest congregation. He holds 3 services every Sunday at the Faith Tabernacle touted to be Africa’s largest worship center.
He owns two private jets (some sources say four) and houses in London and the United States.
He owns Dominion Publishing House, a successful publishing company which publishes all his books. His books, incidentally, are all about prosperity and little or nothing more.
Some years ago he founded Covenant University, taking advantage of the government’s decision to encourage private individuals and organizations to own and run higher institutions of learning. Covenant University has become one of the elite private universities in the country. Just recently, in another round of licensing by the government, Pastor Oyedepo got himself another license to run another university.
Bishop Oyedepo also owns Faith Academy, a high school for the upper class.
2. Chris Oyakhilome:
Pastor Chris (as he is popularly called) is the founder and Head pastor of Believer’s Loveworld Ministries (aka Christ Embassy). His estimated net worth is $30 – $50 Million.
Christ Embassy is reportedly consisted of over 40,000 members many of whom are successful businessmen and hippy undergraduates.
Pastor Chris paints a picture of a pastor cum savvy business executive just as Oyedepo and has diversified interests in media, hotels, and real estate. His media empire includes LoveWorld TV network, thee first Christian TV network to broadcast from Nigeria to the rest of the world on a 24 hour basis. He also has interests in printing & publishing and owns an ultra modern printing company in Lagos.
Last year the charismatic and hair styling pastor was involved in a $35 million money laundering case. He was suspected of siphoning church funds but the matter died down and nothing more has been heard of it.
Pastor Chris, of the five richest pastors in our list, is the most media savvy and uses new networking media such as facebook and twitter to great effect.
3. Temitope Joshua:
Pastor T.B. Joshua (as he is known) is the head pastor at Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN). He is worth an estimated $10 – $15 Million.
Pastor Joshua is famous as Nigeria’s most philanthropic pastor and also the most controversial. He founded SCOAN in 1987 and unlike other pastors has never opened another branch of his church in Nigeria outside the original one in Lagos which is said to accommodate over 15,000 people.
Among the rich list of Nigerian pastors he is most popular for his healing powers and gets regular miracle seeking visitors from all parts of the country and beyond.
His church has only one branch in Nigeria but currently has branches in Ghana, the UK, South Africa and Greece.
He owns Emmanuel TV, a Christian TV network. Most of his wealth is believed to have come through donations and his relationships with the high and mighty in several parts of Africa. He is, for instance, close to Ghanaian President Atta Mills and has entertained several heads of state in Africa at his Synagogue Church.
4. Matthew Ashimolowo:
Pastor Ashimolowo heads the Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) and has a reported net worth of $6 – $10 Million.
In 1992, Foursquare Gospel Church, in Nigeria, sent Pastor Ashimolowo to open a satellite branch in London. But the Afro style pastor had his own ideas and set up his own church instead.
His church is reportedly the largest Pentecostal church in the united Kingdom. In 2009 the church made close to $10 million in profits and reported assets of $40 million. He is reported to earn $200,000 in annual salary. His real wealth comes from various business interests which includes a media company.
5. Pastor Chris Okotie:
Pastor Chris Okotie is the head of Household of God Church and has a networth of $3 – $10 Million.
Pastor Okotie first made name as a popular pop musician in the 80s. He later set up the Household of God Church, one of Nigeria’s most flamboyant church with over 5,000 members consisting of Nollywood movie actors/actresses, musicians, and society people.
He has run for the presidency in Nigeria three times and lost each time. He received criticisms from several quarters for insisting that God asked him to contest the elections. The last time in April 2011 he contested under the Fresh Party, a political party he founded.
Pastor Chris Okotie is an automobile collector and lover. He drives a Mercedes S600, Porsche, and several other cars.
Source: Forbes Magazine