Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi on Tuesday, empowered pastors under his “Divine Mandate” campaign platform and members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state with N500 million.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the divine mandate pastors received N250 million with each of the over 2, 500 members, receiving N1 million each, while the five blocs of CAN shared N250 million.

Umahi said during the disbursement that he decided to empower them in realisation that pastors and other members of the clergy were not exempted from the harsh challenges of life.

“One of the pastors sent me a text message that though they receive stipends to help in their monthly prayers, they were not commercial motorcycle riders otherwise called “Okada”.

“I told him that I didn’t know they get stipends and cautioned that he may be one of those who graduated from school, didn’t secure a job and believe that ‘pastoring’ was an easy way of life,” he said.

The governor noted that temptation, poverty, idleness and lack of knowledge did not know who a pastor is, as human challenges were products of the environment.

“It is therefore, important that every pastor must be doing something because when you get involved in business, you will get more experience and training to mediate among brethren.

“Let this fund be a mustard seed and if it is too small to start something, aggregate it as I believe that the over N500 million we are disbursing presently will yield over N4 billion in two years,” he said.

He recalled that the pastors had been  praying for his gubernatorial ambition not to be given cars and money but for good governance.

“Your prayers are not debts unto us, don’t feel that you worked for me and got no reward but realise that your rewards are of compound interests before God.

“Money is, however highly needed in the present day evangelism because if you are preaching to a hungry person and your are not properly dressed, he will not believe you.

“He will say if God can do what you claim, why hasn’t He done it for you and people disbelieve native doctors because they will claim to make one rich yet dress in rags,” he said.

Umahi noted that the pastors and CAN members, over 5, 000 empowered widows and government officials among others, would participate at the flag off of his campaign rally on Nov. 18, at the Pa Ngele Oruta Stadium, Abakaliki.

“We will fast from 8. a.m. to 6. p.m. on that day with the divine mandate pastors from the 13 Local Government Areas of the state, subsequently fasting and praying for election successes in the state and country.”

Mrs Eunice Oyeyemi, Coordinator of the Divine Mandate Pastors, said the prayer team was borne from the governor’s initiative and absolute trust in God for wisdom and direction.

“The governor is like the biblical King David who will not go into any battle until he has heard from God as he believes in the prayers of genuine men of God.

“These pastors devote their time and pray across the 13 LGAs for the government, while mobilising their faithful to regular praise nights and other activities of the government,” she said.

She noted that the empowerment would bring smiles and encourage the pastors who had been interceding for the government since its days of struggle till now.

“The governor believes that we should not depend on our churches and people around us for survival as we have our Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) to deliver on our mandate,” she said.

Rev. Fr. Abraham Nwali, the Chairman of CAN in Ebonyi, thanked the governor for the gesture and pledged continued prayers and support of the church to his administration