Much ado about Pastor Eneche vs Nnenna’s testimony

On Monday, the social media was awash with reports of the Senior Pastor of Dunamis International Church, Paul Enenche, calling a woman, Anyim Veronica Nnenna, a liar for testifying that she graduated with a BSc from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). Though the pastor has since apologised and met with the lady, many Nigerians are still talking about how the pastor could have handled the testimony differently; PAUL OKAH reports.

Sometimes, in a bid to get things right, Nigerians are swayed by emotions to act in a certain way, which are judged differently by those believing they would have done better in the same circumstance.

Such was the case on Sunday, April 14, when a policewoman from Ebonyi state, Anyim Veronica Nnenna, stood before hundreds of other worshippers at the headquarters of Dunamis International Church (Glory Dome) in Abuja to testify how she recently graduated from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), despite hurdles.

However, Nnenna’s joyous moment and testimony turned a disaster and took a different dimension when the Senior Pastor of the church, Paul Enenche, interrupted her by calling her a liar and ridiculing her English, especially after she revealed she graduated with a BSc, whereas Law graduates are awarded LLB by different schools.

Evidently, the incident didn’t go down well with a section of Nigerians as some demanded that the pastor should apologise to Nneka for the public humiliation, especially after evidence emerged Monday morning that she actually graduated from NOUN.

Speaking with Blueprint Weekend, a civil servant, Mrs. Anita Olubunmi, said though Nnenna was not bold enough to defend her certificate before the church, Pastor Enenche did the right thing by reaching out to her after the initial humiliation and mistake regarding her testimony.

She said, “There are many things to take home from the testimony, the accusation, the apology and the forgiveness. First is that we all are vulnerable to making mistakes. We make even more costly mistakes in correcting certain mistakes. The way we approach issues can either worsen or diminish them. We have a lot to learn from the saga or incident 

“Numerous posts and articles have been written and posted concerning the testimony of the woman and Dr. Paul Enenche’s response to it. It’s important to note that anyone who goes to a university to get a degree in law will graduate with an LLB in Law and it’s uncommon to hear that someone graduated with a BSc in Law. Don’t forget that Dr. Paul Enenche’s daughter studied Law; that is Barrister Deborah Paul-Enenche Hawthorn.

“Mrs. Anyim Veronica did not present her case properly. Nevertheless, we celebrate her and congratulate her. To those suggesting that Dr. Paul Enenche should apologise for any damages this could have brought to the woman, it’s good to know that Dr. Paul Enenche’s personal assistant sent out a letter on Monday afternoon stating that Dr. Paul Enenche has reached out to her and everything is settled.

“Therefore, as you walk through the journey of life, know that it’s important to express your opinion and defend it when giving out information, sharing your testimony, or discussing an idea. Be vocal about what you believe and hold. Speak out loud.”

‘Testimony, an eye-service’

On his part, a businessman, Peter Chijioke, said Nnenna got what she deserved as she ascribed her success to the pastor, instead of God, arguing the situation would have been different if it were a Catholic church.

He said, “Well, I do not blame the Pastor, I blame the lady. Listen to her controversial testimony; you would notice she ascribed more glory to her pastor than God. The testimony was more of eye service. Most times those testimony sessions are avenues of boosting the ego of pastors and advertising their Church to make people feel it’s the headquarters of miracles.

“After all said and done, the Catholic Church still remains the best in Church administration and management. If there is anything God has done for you, you will just book a thanksgiving Mass, tell your friends about it, gather them and together with your family, you come to church and offer your thanksgiving to God and go home. Nobody will give you a microphone to start speaking BSc and LLB grammar.”

He added, “Nevertheless, I felt so sad for that woman. First, to clarify things, it is very difficult to buy a certificate in NOUN. I’m in that school, you either study or you fail or perhaps graduate with a very poor grade. This is to clarify those who initially said she probably bought the result. Second, an Open University is a Distance Learning Program open to those who can work and learn. It is a flexible, yet difficult method of learning because, unlike some people who have the resources to pay for tutorials, your course materials are your lecturers.

“It’s at when I started learning here that I realized that there is time for everything and nothing beats an individual going to the university when all their focus can be on academics and not work and family. “Catch them young” as they always say. In a nutshell, Nnenna probably had a poor primary and secondary education which may not have impacted well on her spoken English, but that doesn’t necessitate that she’s dull.”

Stage fright

Similarly, a student, Rita Friday, said it was stage fright that affected Nnena and that the pastor would have done better by allowing her finish her testimony.

She said, “I’m proudly a Dunamite and at the same time I can relate myself to the lady. I watched the scene live yesterday. It was all stage fright. Back then in school, I can say I was one of the brightest and intelligent. But if you see what stage fright does to me. It became so obvious that one of my department lecturers noticed that about me and saved me from oral quiz and exams. Therefore, as a man in his right senses, Pastor Paul Enenche is supposed to know that it might be stage fright and call her attention back. He went far by disgracing that woman. I think she was tense; hence the stuttering. 

“She made no mistake in her testimony. What she obtained is B.Sc. Law and not LLB. She graduated from Open University of Abuja and her school awards BSc in Law and not LLB as does other universities. As for the man of God, he went too far. He should have allowed the woman to finish first. Perhaps, tension grabbed the woman. There are some people that have never stood in the midst of hundreds to thousands just to make a speech. If stage fright happens to you, then you will understand that woman.”

Different action

Also, speaking with Blueprint Weekend, a scholar, Theophilus Okon, said Pastor Paul Enenche would have handled the situation differently by not calling Nnenna a liar.

“The Bible says in Luke 17:1, ‘Offences will come but woe to him through which they come.’ Pastor Paul Enenche got it all wrong when he let pride set in, to the extent of ridiculing someone in a jubilant mood and psychologically damaging her.

“Would he have reacted the same way if it was a Chinese person or someone from a different country struggling to express himself or herself in English? Let’s not even go far, I’ve heard some Nigerian ministers and politicians express themselves poorly in English, would Pastor Paul Enenche have reacted in the same way if the testifier was Tinubu’s aide? I doubt if he would. 

“The mention that she is the first to graduate in her family, coupled with her poor spoken English, made her look low, so it was okay to talk to her in the most condescending manner because who is she? Her class wasn’t anything to write home about. The church is supposed to be a place without discrimination, but sadly, the reverse is the case in most cases. The treatment you receive from the leadership and members of the church often depends on who you are and your class.

“Even if she was lying, you don’t demoralize people to correct them. Even Christ loves sinners. Imagine looking your best to testify of your greatest achievement and being humiliated in that manner. The only way this woman’s confidence will be restored is because this is on the media space. How many more have lost their self-esteem to the way they were treated in churches? Many people can give up on churches from this experience. A public apology may overhaul the damage this may have done to her esteem. The press statement by Pastor Paul Enenche’s aide isn’t an apology, but a justification. He can do better,” he said.