Nigeria: The High Cost of Christian Funerals

This Day – It is time to rethink the culture of wasteful burials

The first son of the late founder and General Overseer of World Soul Winning Evangelistic Ministry (WOSEM), Pastor Paul Obadare, recently disclosed that the funeral of his father, Apostle Timothy Obadare, on August 17, gulped a whooping N96 million. The younger pastor’s revelation was made to correct “speculations” that the burial of the clergyman may have cost up to N130 million. Ordinarily how a family chose to bury their loved one should not be anyone’s business. It is a private affair. But the statements attributed to Pastor Paul Obadare regarding his father’s burial should be considered very unfortunate.

According to Pastor Paul, a breakdown of the N96 million for his father’s funeral reveals that the casket was bought for N5 million while N61 million was spent on the construction of a Mausoleum to provide a “befitting resting place” for the late GO. The remaining N30 million was spent to entertain guests. In fact shortly before the funeral, Obadare’s son boasted: “The coffin to be used for the burial of our father is the type used for the burial of the late Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.”

As stated earlier it is none of our business even if the family bought 100 per cent pure gold- crusted casket or built a billion naira mausoleum for their father. It is perfectly within their rights to engage in such profligacy. However, what we find indefensible in this sad episode is the revelation that the Osun State government “donated” N35 million of tax payers’ money to the shameful display of ostentation called funeral.

But this is not only about Apostle Obadare’s funeral. It has indeed become a regular feature especially among those who profess Christianity to engage in such nauseating displays in the name of burials. In some parts of the country, funerals have become a burdensome and competitive exercise. Sometimes a dead relation’s corpse is deposited in a morgue for between three months and one year. Apostle Obadare died on March 21 and was kept in the mortuary until August 17 when he was buried.

Some people go as far as taking loans or even selling lands just for the purpose of making the burial of their relation “a great celebration of life” ever. Apart from the cost of the caskets, there are several other expensive trappings that have made the task of burying the dead to become a humongous albatross. In fact some people end up being pauperised after burying their relations. While we cannot advocate how people spend their money, we deplore a situation in which public money will be deployed for such wasteful ventures.

Without prejudice, Christians do have something to learn from their Muslim compatriots regarding the conduct of funerals. Muslims bury their dead within 24 hours in a manner that is so simple. While we do not intend to prescribe for people how best to bury their loved ones, we must state that we do not subscribe to a situation whereby people have to break the bank in order to give “befitting burial” to a dead relation. Sometimes the person being buried in a golden casket suffered neglect in the hands of the same relatives. In fact the person whose corpse is in a mahogany coffin and carried in a Rolls Royce ambulance probably never entered a Volkswagen Beetle car all his/her life.

All said, we believe that the most befitting burial rites would be to set up a charity foundation or a trust fund and dedicate the millions of naira wasted in a single day of funeral to the education of the less privileged and providing succour for the poor. This will be a lasting legacy to the memory of the dead man or woman instead of expensive coffin, food, drinks and allied expenses.

Categories: Africa

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