President and founder of the Living Faith Church aka Winners Chapel Worldwide, Bishop David Oyedepo, has defended what many consider to be the exorbitant tuition fees charged by the church’s schools, describing the provision of quality education as an expensive venture.
Oyedepo defended the fees while addressing journalists on Friday in Ota, Ogun State, at a media chat organised as part of activities to celebrate his 60th birthday coming up on September 27, 2014.
Private schools, especially faith-based ones in the country, including Covenant and Landmark universities, owned by the church, are often criticised for being too expensive for average Nigerians to afford.
But the popular cleric highlighted some of the church’s humanitarian programmes which include providing scholarships and bursary awards to assist disadvantaged and brilliant students.
He said, “I’m sure we all agree that education is expensive. Education carries cost; nothing of value is free. Our mission for years long, before we started any university or secondary school, was a bursary awarding church and we have not stopped doing that till tomorrow”.
Oyedepo said that the church was committed to providing quality education to youths, adding that many Nigerians complain about the cost of education in private universities because they have got their priorities misplaced.
“Our problem most of the time is priority; an average Nigerian can spend N1m on burial but to spend N200,000 on education (is a problem), because of wrong priority.
“On a yearly basis, we have N1.5trn that Nigerians spend to overseas universities, so people thrive on it. Nigerians spend N463bn a month on recharge cards, how much are they paying for schools fees? So it’s all a matter of priority. This is the largest market for telephone in the world. Now, to pay N500,000, some people have only one son, they have huge business and houses all over the places, they will never pay it”.
Speaking further, Oyedepo, who seems to have developed thick skin to many controversial reports about him on the social media, revealed that it is a waste of time to respond to his critics.
He said, “My understanding of opposition, persecution is simply someone’s opinion harshly expressed. Everybody has a right to his opinion. Today, millions follow after Christ but you will be surprised that when you get to Israel some people do not believe that Christ has come.
“People have rights to their opinions. I naturally don’t feel it’s necessary (to respond). The energy I would need to react, I can use it to make moves. I have enough to think about than start running after a man who says you are a fool.
“If he says you are a fool and you are behaving so, then he’s right. If you leave your job and start pursuing somebody who says you are a fool, he has already said so, your going around doesn’t change it. So why going around, why don’t you settle on your job and make moves?
“I’ve also come to understand that those who make news hardly watch them, they are so busy making news while others are busy watching”.
Asked about the challenges he has faced in life and in his ministry, Oyedepo said he had never focused on his challenges but rather, has been fuelled by them.
He said, “Life essentially is full of challenges, it is those challenges that make champions. You can’t emerge a heavy weight boxing champion except you receive punches. You can’t change classes in school except you write exams.
“So to me, life is an adventure in challenges and I’ve said often that it is normal to be challenged but it’s unscriptural to be defeated. Challenges are the stepping stones for the making of champions”.
In 1981, at the age of 27, Oyedepo, who would later become a household name in Nigeria and beyond, started his ministry in Ilorin, Kwara State and sited his first church two years later in Kaduna State.
At the media chat, he said that the church, which had humble beginnings, is now located in 63 countries in the world and that the Faith Tabernacle, Ota, where he is the presiding Bishop, plays host to “over 200,000 worshippers every Sunday morning in four services”.