The recent election of The Most Rev Bamisebi Olumakaiye as Archbishop of Lagos Province of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion has been criticized by some priests and laypeople in the church.
Some however believe his election is a fallout of his trajectory in the Church.
Those who spoke with Church Times believe there are some unpalatable undercurrents that influenced his election as Archbishop.
It would be recalled that he was translated to Lagos from Osun State three years ago as Bishop of Lagos Diocese; some laypeople in the church kicked. Some staged protests and attempted to frustrate his coming. But the Church defended its decision. The dust settled and he began in earnest his duty as the Bishop of Lagos.
Last Thursday, barely three years after, he was again elevated and elected Archbishop of the Lagos Province. The election took place during the Standing Committee meeting of the church which was held September 20 to 24 in Lagos.
Election as Archbishop influenced?
Some of the priests in the church who spoke with Church Times alleged that the election that brought him in as the archbishop was heavily influenced. They however could not give clear evidence of the alleged inducement.
According to them, it was morally wrong for Olumakaiye to have contested against The Most Rev Michael Fape who just completed his first term of five years as Archbishop of the Lagos province.
Apparently, Olumakaiye 52 was the only person who contested against Archbishop Fape 62. Since Fape lost in the election, he won’t be eligible for a second term.
A priest who spoke with Church Times on the condition of anonymity said it was within the rights of Olumakaiye to contest the election with him. He said doing a second term is not a must for any Archbishop. He also observed that the diocese from which the archbishop is contesting is a factor in his emergence.
He said, “The Bishop of Lagos has a lot of resources at his disposal and has the capacity to pull support and win any day. The person who was there before Archbishop Fape was from Lagos. I think that factor played out. I don’t think there is anything wrong in being denied a second term.’
He explained that what people call inducement when elections hold in the house of bishops is not inducement but the solidarity of bishops who belong to the same caucus.
‘In the house of bishops, there are caucuses. Your winning election depends on the caucus you belong to. What I think happened is that The caucus Archbishop Fape belongs to is not strong. There are some cliques in the house of bishops who decide where the pendulum swings. I don’t think any Bishop will start distributing money to other bishops so they could vote for him.
“If for instance, the Bishop of the diocese of Lagos has been reaching out to some dioceses that have financial challenges to help them in missions, it’s just normal that the bishops of those dioceses will feel obliged to him during election time. I think it’s as simple as that.’
The priest explained further that it will also be wrong to blame Olumakaiye for contesting against Archbishop Fape.
‘The man may have the ambition of becoming the Primate because, after the current primate, the seat will rotate to the southwest. So it’s a game of time. If he is able to finish the ten years; if he gets a second term, age will still be on his side to vie for the office of the primate. It’s about personal ambition’ the source said.
Olumakaiye VS Fape not right
Another priest however said it was morally wrong for Olumakaiye to have contested against Fape thereby denying him a second term.
‘I do not see any reason why Archbishop Fape was denied a second term. It is wrong. Many of these bishops condemned Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for not allowing Former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to go for a second term. Why are they playing politics the way of the world? I know Archbishop Fape. He is a man of integrity. He will not do any underground dealings. That is why he did not get a second term,” the priest said.
Though he could not prove that the newly elected Archbishop used money to influence the election, he said, ‘my worry is, why not allow the man to go for a second term? We all agree that it is within his right to contest but I am not comfortable with the morality of his action. ‘
The priest who spoke furiously on phone said he has lost hope in the system. ‘I don’t know who to believe again. The politicking is sickening. We can only wish the new Archbishop well’ he said.
Though Archbishop Fape lost elect to Olumakaye, he will still retain the title of Archbishop but the seat of the archbishop will no longer be at Remo, Ogun State where he operated from as the Archbishop of Lagos Province.
One of the bishops who participated in the election told our correspondent that the election was clearly won by Archbishop Olumakaiye. He noted however that many of the bishops from the southwest would have loved to see Archbishop Fape elected for a second term.
“It’s the way these things go. We may not be comfortable with the whole arrangement. But it’s a game of number. ‘ he said.
Olumakaiye, once Fape’s student @ the seminary
There are indications that Olumakaiye who was Fape’s student while in the seminary might have started his “homework’ long before the election last Thursday.
About 50 bishops were said to have graced the Synod of Lagos Diocese last May. These bishops according to sources “were well “taken care” of. He perhaps had also courted their friendship long ago. The election during the last Standing Committee Meeting of the Church of Nigeria turned out to be a payback time for him.”
Many of the bishops who voted for him were said to be from some of the dioceses that are not financially strong.
The alleged undercurrent notwithstanding. It is believed that Olumakaye’s strong credentials also made way for him.
Profile of Olumakaiye
Shortly after his election, a piece credited to Oluwafeyifunmi Ademowo was circulated on social media.
In the piece titled, Meet the New Archbishop of Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion…” the author gives a comprehensive account of his achievements and ministry exploits since he was ordained in the Church of Nigeria.
The new Archbishop was born to Venerable and Mrs. T.A. Olumakaiye; attended Immanuel College of Theology Ibadan. He earned a B.A and M.A from the University of Ibadan. He also had his Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D. in Church History and Episcopal Matters from the same University of Ibadan.
Olumakaiye was ordained deacon in June 1993, ordained Priest in December 1993; preferred a Statutory Canon in November 1999 to occupy Archbishop Adetiloye’s stall at the Cathedral Church of St John’s, Iloro, Ilesa, Osun State. He was preferred the Archdeacon of Imo Archdeaconry and Vicar of St. James’s Church, Imo Ilesa in 2000 at the age of 31; by the then Bishop Adebola Ademowo who later became Archbishop before he retired.
He was consecrated Bishop on Sunday, July 12, 2009, at the age of 40 and thereafter became pioneer Bishop of Osun North East Diocese on Thursday, July 16, 2009.
Archbishop Olumakaiye with the support of his wife, Prof Mrs. Motunrayo Olumakaiye according to the author of the piece is known in Osun State for “monumental achievements with records of multi-million naira Bishop’s court, a chapel, a library, and a Resource Centre. The Diocesan Headquarters, a multipurpose hall, Bishop’s office Complex, schools in different towns within the Diocese, and many other structures to the glory of God.
“Highest of these records of infrastructures is the building of a prayer mountain and a prayer City in the Diocese; numerous new churches were planted and built, some of which were financed personally by the Archbishop Olumakaiye’s family. His contribution to the development of the area was so overwhelming that the Paramount ruler of Otan-Aiyegbaju named a vast area after the Archbishop as Bishop Olumakaiye City.”
The new Lagos Province Archbishop was translated to the Diocese of Lagos and was enthroned as the 8th Diocesan Bishop on the 30th of July 2018.
Chief of his achievement since he came to Lagos was the acquisition of 1500 plots of land covering five kilometers for the Lagos Diocese named ‘Centenary City’
In the piece, the writer described him as “a repairer, builder, and transformer of very high repute. A lover of old and young, he has the grace of bringing water out of stone and whatever he touches turns to gold, even diamonds.”