By Dipo Alaje
The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) is arguably the fastest growing Pentecostal church in the world and the biggest in Nigeria, with parishes in virtually every nook and cranny of the country. The network and net-worth of RCCG is amazing and incomparable to that of any other Pentecostal church in Nigeria.
Members of RCCG occupy very strategic positions in both public and private establishments. In some quarters, it is believed that very soon, for anybody to become somebody in Nigeria, the person must have the input of RCCG. Some strategic thinkers have gone ahead to recognize the General Overseer of RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, as the unofficial pastor of Nigeria.
On October 12, 2023, Pastor Ola Olukoyede, an Assistant Pastor in Charge of CSR (Christian Social Responsibility) in Lagos Province 90, Region 36, and Pastor of RCCG, City Of Refuge, Shasha, Akowonjo, Lagos State, was nominated as the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He was later confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on October 18, 2023, as the substantive Executive Chairman of the commission after which he went straight to Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power, to appreciate President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his nomination.
From various news items on both print and electronic media, a common phrase for introducing the new chairman of EFCC has been his status as a Pastor in RCCG.
Prior to and after the appointment of the new EFCC chairman, a number of issues were raised by people concerning his nomination, the major one being reference to the supposed act of the commission in respect of appointing its chairman. The supposed clause states that for anyone to be appointed as chairman of EFCC, the person must be a serving or retired personnel of a law enforcement agency not lower than an Assistant Commissioner of Police. However, it soon turned out that most of these people were speaking out of ignorance, mischievousness and prejudice because notable and very senior lawyers were quick to clarify issues and referred to the fact that before the appointment was made public, it had the endorsement of the Minister for Justice and Attorney General of the federation in the person of Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, an erudite and very cerebral lawyer whose reputation precedes his appointment.
Not too many people know that prior to becoming the chairman of EFCC, Pastor Ola Olukoyede had served as the Chief of Staff to the then chairman of the commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu. In his capacity as the Chief of Staff, he was responsible for coordinating all the internal affairs of the commission which included supervising all staff of the EFCC in the discharge of administrative duties.
In recognition of his outstanding performance as the Chief of Staff, Pastor Ola Olukoyede was nominated to become the Secretary of the commission; this was a statutory position which meant that he needed to be screened by the Senate.
Prior to his being screened by the Nigerian Senate, a lot of negative stories were sponsored in various media to discredit his personality, but by the time he appeared at the Senate chambers, he got cleared immediately. Meanwhile, this was the Senate that refused to clear the then acting chairman that he was to work with. Technically speaking, since the person nominated as chairman was not cleared, many people felt all eyes would be on Pastor Ola Olukoyede as the secretary of the commission but he handled his assignment with great wisdom, calmness and maturity which resulted in amazing results in terms of the number of high-profile convictions and amount of money recovered by the commission during his stewardship as the secretary of EFCC.
Pastor Ola Olukoyede has been described as a man of many ‘firsts’ as far as EFCC is concerned. He is the first Southerner and first Christian to become the commission’s chairman. But amongst his many firsts, the one that sticks out so conspicuously is the undeniable fact that he is the only chairman of EFCC that passed through all the strategic positions before becoming chairman of the commission having served as Chief of Staff, Secretary and ultimately, chairman.
Amongst the many traits that qualifies Pastor Ola Olukoyede for this exalted position are: firmness, boldness, being blunt and above all, having the genuine fear of God. As a regular resource person in most conferences organized by RCCG, he always spices his presentation with some testimonies from the discharge of his duties at EFCC. Notable amongst these testimonies was the one about how he noticed that the original design of EFCC headquarters had provision for a mosque and none for a chapel. As the secretary to the commission, he immediately wrote a memo to the then President Mohammed Buhari pointing out this anomaly and emphasising that the two recognized religions in Nigeria are Islam and Christianity. He went further to recommend that for equity and fairness, there should be a chapel alongside a mosque at the headquarters of EFCC and the president gave express approval.
Having worked at the EFCC for a while, he also noticed that while the Muslims were given special time for prayers, Christians in the commission were not enjoying this type of privilege; he then wrote a memo to the then Chairman of the commission requesting that Christians should also be given time to hold their fellowship and approval was immediately given. Today, EFCC is perhaps one of the very few government establishments that hold fellowship for a specified time during official working hours.
Most Christians who are spiritually discerning are quick to conclude that some of these testimonies are what spoke for Pastor Ola Olukoyede and may perhaps be the reason why God decided to break protocols for him to be appointed as the chairman of EFCC.
At the Senate screening, Pastor Ola Olukoyede promised a paradigm shift in the operations of EFCC. Having worked as an insider for six years, he knows all the internal workings of the commission and would not need to go through any learning process again. He told the distinguished senators that his focus would be on prevention rather than pursuing the cure approach because of his conviction that prevention is not only better than cure but safer, cheaper and more effective. He is of the opinion that the root cause of corruption should be addressed rather than focusing on the symptoms.
Pastor Ola Olukoyede is a thorough-bred lawyer with over twenty-two (22) years of experience at the Bar, as well as a regulatory Compliance Consultant, who specializes in Compliance Management, Corporate Intelligence, and Fraud Management.
He is a certified Fraud Examiner who has led investigations and civil litigations of fraud and financial crimes in international development projects. He specializes in anti-corruption research and analysis, corporate and business intelligence gathering, and processing.
Born in Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti State, on October 14, 1969, he had his university education in Lagos State University; University of Lagos; Institute of Arbitration ICC – Paris, France and University of Harvard (Kennedy School of Executive Education).
He worked as a lawyer at the law firm of former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo before he clinched the EFCC job. At EFCC, he had an extensive career as a certified fraud examiner, leading and managing the investigation which includes civil litigation of fraud and financial crimes for international development projects.
He is a member of the Fraud Advisory Panel (UK), and also a member of the Federal Government Technical Committee on the Repositioning of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.
Chairmanship of EFCC has however, become very unattractive to a number of persons that are believed to also be eminently qualified for the position because from inception, the people that had served in that position like Mr Nuhu Ribadu, Mrs Farida Waziri, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde, Mr Ibrahim Magu and recently, Mr Abdullahi Bawa, all left the commission in ways that cannot be described as dignifying. As a matter of fact, none of them left voluntarily, they were all removed from office.
Christians all over Nigeria should continue to pray fervently for Pastor Ola Olukoyede, not just to discharge his duties with the fear of God, but to also finish his tenure of office gloriously and record yet another ‘first’ as being able to complete the constitutionally stipulated term of office.