"It was his later followers who made him equal to God." They couldn't make him what He already is. I see it more as his followers refusing to demote Jesus' attributes when clearly they are the same as God's. As God is love, so is Jesus. As God is eternal, so is Jesus. As God is creator, so is Jesus. Etc.
Jesus is said to be the Word of God made flesh. John 1:1, 14 Was there ever a time when God was mute? How can the Word of God be less than God? Jesus is called the Power and Wisdom of God in 1 Cor. 1:24 Was God's Power and Wisdom ever created? God always possessed Power and Wisdom. There never was a time when He was without it. Clearly, this was John and Paul's way of referring to the infinity of Christ.
"All men are created equal." Women (wives) are equal to men (husbands). Jesus is equal to God. I think it all depends what we mean by equal.