By Bamidele Johnson
You just knew Apostle Johnson Suleman was going to come bigging up his God credentials once assassins’ bullets, mercifully, did not find accommodation in his prominent bald pate or eye socket. He would not be Suleman if he did not. His escape had nothing to do with the bullet-proof vehicle he and his family were travelling in. It had all to do with being Jehovah Nissi’s chum.
The seven luckless people, including policemen, who got rubbed out during the attempt on his life, did not matter to God. At best, they were oxen fattened for sacrifice and were duly sacrificed, so the apple of El-Shaddai’s eye may live. The preacher, on account of his presumed chumminess with God, thinks he is not Suleman, but Superman, something that accounts for his vulgar self-admiration and astounding pomposity. If he were a cake, I suspect, he would eat himself. This is the reason for his rich repertoire of pompous nonsense.
One of his highlights-of which there are many-is the invented testimony about some Germany-based pastor of his church, to whom he claimed to have directed to leave his base for France and set up a church, The instruction to the pastor, claimed Suleman, was based on a prophecy he received. The Germany-based pastor, said Suleman, had no passport let alone a visa or flight ticket.
You wonder how he got to Germany without a passport. Small beer, though. After a tete-a-tete with God, Suleman said he got instructions that he should tell the pastor to proceed to the airport where, through some magic, he got on the immigration desk queue. He developed cold feet, called Suleman to inform him that he had moved from seventh to sixth on the queue and was afraid he might be arrested. You are not God’s son if you cannot cause your pastor to flatten mile-high odds.
Suleman said he told the pastor to go into the airport toilet to prophesy, pray and speak in tongues after which he found himself on the street of a French city. He may be many things, but a fool is not one of those. Suspecting that his followers, as infantilized as he knows them to be, might take what he was saying as a fish story, he said: “You know your problem? What you have not experienced looks somehow to you. But to those of us who have been privileged to experience a dimension of it, it is natural. You can disappear,” he said to rapturous applause.
He could not disappear when the assassins came and relied on the bullet-proof vehicle he and his family occupied. He was also unable to make members of his entourage disappear, as he had done with his toilet-to-France pastor, before being killed. You also have to wonder why he owns three private jets, which must cost loads of money to maintain, instead of travelling through toilets. The third of those jets, he infamously claimed in a video, was acquired during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“In COVID, I bought a jet. I have three; my third one. I was praying for COVID not to end. While people were complaining, I was resting. My wife was asking: ‘Can life be this sweet?’ When you speak in tongues, you are printing money,” he said to the shoal of morons sitting before him.
The objective was the same as the garbage in the video in which he reacted to the attempt on his life: Advertise himself as the MVP in God’s team. While the lockdown flattened individual, corporate and government finances globally, God was making him eye-wateringly wealthy. It appears that he is the only one serving God in his congregation, the reason God has not considered any other member as deserving of a private jet.
In another chest-thumping episode captured on video, Suleman told his followers that a monied Nigerian bought him a £250,000 timepiece at a London airport. Same aim: Sell himself as God’s blue-eyed boy. I would understand if what he owns were paper planes, but I found it bizarre that a man who could afford three private jets freaked out over a watch costing a quarter of a million pounds so much so that, according to him, he waited for the wealthy man to leave the airport before approaching the shop attendant to return the watch and ask for a refund, which he got! The point he tried to make was that the watch was way beyond what should be found on a man of his profile-the owner of three private jets. This is like Messi drooling at me doing keepy-uppy. The refund, to cut a long story short, was made to an account from which the money did not originate!
As a loveable chap, perhaps one of the reasons God is so much into him, he gave the shop attendant £10,000 as a mark of gratitude-after the attendant told him he earned £1, 500 monthly. A £10,000 gift for a shop attendant must qualify as God-tier compassion, an attribute that was on recess when he made sitting ducks of the entourage travelling with him. I am almost certain that many other Pentecostal preachers are cut from the same cloth as Suleman, routinely the star of comic book-standard stories. They believe in themselves, not in the Gospel.
How so? They only believe in what they like in the Gospel, particularly stuff that strengthens their hold on followers, and reject those that do not, sort of taking the Gospel a la carte. Otherwise, there would no need for a battery of policemen around those who claim to fully trust in God’s protection. Luke 10: 19 says: “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
Admittedly, only snakes and scorpions are mentioned, but the verse also says they will “overcome all the power of the enemy” and nothing can harm them. That should make him able to swat bullets away or have his halo deflect them back to the assassins.
Fair is fair. It is thus fair to admit that Suleman is not the only one making out as though he is Superman. Members of his occupational guild and their followers are given to such conceit. Years back, one claimed to have driven over 200 kilometres on an empty tank. Another, I remember, claimed that his photograph leapt off the flier of his church crusade and immediately it did, his followers held hostage by kidnappers walked free, as his anointing sent their captors running fi cover. The same guy, owner of a fleet of jets and Maracana-sized ego, never tires of telling you how rich he is-because he is so beloved of God. In his mind, he is the equivalent of all FTSE-listed companies.
Many of their followers are similarly cocky, having being infected by the conceit of their leaders. They declare and decree, but still grapple with issues the everyday person grapples with. If it comforts them, we have to congratulate them. I would give my arms and legs to find comfort in the baseless belief that I am in line for the Ballon D’Or despite being over 50 and having the physical fitness of a pregnant woman.
Bamidele Johnson is a renowned writer and journalist and can be reached via Facebook