By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
Cries of woes and lamentations, particularly from individuals, institutions, communities and states who benefited from the late founder of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Prophet T.B Joshua, and will miss his kind gestures, have continued to trail the untimely death of the popular pastor.
Prophet Joshua, it would be recalled, died in the early morning of Sunday, June 6th 2021 after falling ill during a church service.
Traditional rulers from his Akokoland birth place, widows, the poor and needy, community leaders in Lagos, Ondo, Oyo and others where he left indelible impressions, traders and shop owners who benefitted from patronage from pilgrims to his church, as well as church members who spoke on the painful demise of the ‘Man of God’, all lamented that they were going to miss him.
Business Hallmark investigation revealed that the SCOAN economy whike TB Joshua was alive was quite huge, as residents and landlords from Egbeda, Idimu, Ikotun Egbeda, Igando and environs benefitted from the church activities.
For instance, many landlords rented their houses out to Christian pilgrims from far and wide who could not find accommodation in the limited spaces inside the Synagogue church.
Findings revealed that landlords and hotels around the church facility charge between N2,000 and N35,000 per night on their facilities, depending on their state and conditions.
For instance, while a regular room in a ‘face me I face you’ apartment cost between N2,000 and N3,000 per night, a one-room self contained goes for between N3,500 and N5,000 per night.
Checks revealed that majority of those who patronise these facilities are poor and low income earners from the North, South East and South South states, as well as from neighbouring countries of Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana and Liberia in need of one form of miracle or deliverance from Prophet Joshua and could not get a space in the church or not afford to stay in very expensive lodges and hotels.
On the other hand, the relatively better off go for more comfortable single rooms, challets and apartments around the church at a going rate of between N5,000 and N35,000.
Most of the people in this range are foreigners from Europe and America, Asia, Southern African countries, as well as top civil servants, professionals, businessmen and politicians who could not secure accomodation in the church or prefer to stay outside the church
Most landlords in the church neighborhood, it was observed, have converted their houses to room and parlor self contained and challets which are more in demand
A top retired civil servant, Pa. Isaac Orimolade, lamented the death of the prophet, wondering if his death will not affect his real estate investment in the area.
“I acquired some houses, three in all, in this area (Ikotun) two years ago for N105million. I renovated it to taste, spending another N100million.
“And business had been good in the last one year when I opened the places up to SCOAN visitors mostly from Southern African countries of South Africa, Zambia and Lesotho. Some Nigerians also patronise the facilities.
“On a normal day, we make between N3.5million and N4million. But that was before the prophet’s death. Since his death, traffic to the church and the need for our services had drastically reduced.
“For instance, we only made around N700,000 yesterday (Sarturday). And the situation may get worse. While most of our tenants who came into the country to see the prophet are jetting out, new ones are not coming in.
“Several of my mates who introduced me to the accomodation business made tons of money before the sudden crash.
“I used all my retirement benefits and loans from a bank to build up this place. I just hope I won’t live to regret joining the race very late”, Pa. Orimolade lamented.
Another landlord who spoke to our correspondent on the death of Prophet T.B Joshua, Mrs. Ngozi Orji, though admited that she had made fortune from the presence of Synagogue church in the area, she prayed that his demise will not affect her much.
“I built a twelve-room apartment popularly called ‘face-mei-face-you’ in this area in 1978 after relocating from Abia to Lagos with my husband.
“But it used to be war to get overdue rents of N500 monthly from my tenants. However, that changed with the coming of Synagogue church to this area.
“I started giving out a room at the rate of N100 per day back in the late eighties. Today, I collect N2,500 daily for the twelve rooms, totalling N30,000 in a day.
“From the proceeds of that house, I was able to acquire two plots of land and build others apartments and was making an average of N100,000 daily before the tragedy of June 6.
“Though most of the tenants are still staying put, probably hoping for a miracle and praying for the prophet to resurrect, I am a realist and know that he won’t come back after his body had being pumped full of chemicals to preserve it. The situation will soon dawn on them (lodgers)and they will soon start leaving one after the other”, Mrs Orji lamented.
Also, several traders and commercial drivers disclosed that they benefitted from the church activities while the founder was alive.
According to them, they used to realise more than what they make in six days of the week on one Sunday alone.
“As you can see, my shop is just beside the church. And I benefitted immensely from it. I sell cold water and drinks and used to sell around 50 crates on a daily basis and around 200 crates every Sunday.
“From this trade, I have trained five of my six children in the university. Two are in Canada right now. Can you believe that! And I was able to achieve that from this trade”, declared a trader who simply identified herself as Chinyere.
Several church members who at one time or the other benefitted from the philanthropic gestures of the late prophet were also seen weeping openly.
“Who is going to cater for me now. I lost my last child ten years ago and things became tough for me. But when I met man of God, my situation changed. He said he would have set me up but that I was too old to work.
“Apart from paying my house rents, he also give me N50,000 monthly to cater for my needs. My benefactor is gone. God, why, why, why? Where do I start from, an octogenarian member of SCOAN wept bitterly.
BH reliably gathered that the late prophet bought and installed most of the electrical transformers around Ikotun-Egbe, Egbeda, Idimu and environs.
Apart from that, he constructed roads, built health centres, and sunk boreholes in several communities abandoned by government.
The chairman of Progressive Community Development Association (CDA) in Ikotun, Alhaji Tunji Sulaiman, disclosed that the late prophet alone bought and installed over 50 transformers in the community.
“NEPA, PHCN and later Ikeja Electric all abandoned us to our fate. Before now, some of the communities within the CDA used to live in darkness for three years and more. But when the man of God built his church in this area, our fortune changed for good.
“He was our everything, government, aid agencies, just name it. What is going to happen now when this facilities are old or develop major faults! Are we not going to be at the mercy of the government and power company again”, the community leader lamented.
It is not only in Lagos that the impacts of the late prophet was felt. From Oyo, to Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and his home state of Ondo, stories abound of his good deeds.
His people from Akokoland, while lamenting the death of their benefactor, spoke glowingly on his socio, religious and economic contribution to the development of not only his homrtown of Arigidi Akoko, but the entire Akoko Division.
Akoko is a division in Ondo State comprising of four out of the 18 local governments that made up the state. The four local governments are Akoko South-West (Oka), Akoko North-East (Ikare), Akoko South-East (Isua) and Akoko North-West (Oke Agbe).
While the prophet came from Arigidi under the purview of Akoko North-West, his contribution to the entire Akoko is overwhelming.
For instance, electricity was recently restored to the whole four local governments in Akokoland after the prophet coughed out N200m to defray their electricity bill which necessitated the local governments to be cut off from the national grid.
While he built and aquired several police stations and patrol vehicles to stem the high rate of armed robberies in Anokoland, a first class university costing $1billion he is building in his native home of Arigidi-Akoko is nearing completion.
Alart from that, many Akoko indigenes have benefitted from his philanthropic gestures, including scholarships and other empowerment programmes.
The traditional ruler of Arigidi Akoko, Oba Yisa Olanipekun; lamented that all the plans the late prophet had for Akokoland are now all gone.
“His contribution to the development of Arigidi Akoko is countless. He was a person that did not want people to suffer. I can count the number of times he used trailers to deliver bags of foodstuffs to us in the Akoko area. He would ensure the foodstuffs were distributed town by town, village by village.
“We, in the Akoko North West Local Government Area, were disconnected from the national grid due to our indebtedness but he paid the money we owed –millions of naira – and electricity supply was restored. We still have some local government areas in the state that lack electricity today because of their debt. There is nothing we requested from him that he did not do for us. I can’t count them. They are numerous. During festivals, he would send cows and bags of rice to all streets for us to enjoy the festivities.
“All the buses used in our four local government areas today, he provided them for us. He called me some time ago and said he wanted to buy us tractors to help boost our agriculture. He said the tractors would be under the control of the traditional rulers. So, he really tried for us.
“We are really going to miss him. I tell you, since the night I received the sad news, I have not been able to sleep. Before now, he told me he would soon come back home; he had asked for land, that he wanted to move his church down here and that he would buy buses that would bring his international guests and worshippers from Akure Airport to Arigidi with full security. Now, all these plans are gone”, the monarch wailed.
Meanwhile, monarchs in the four local government areas in Akokoland have demanded that the remains of Pastor Joshua be buried in his hometown of Arigidi Akoko.
In the communique issued at the end of the meeting made available to BH, the traditional rulers said the late prophet had done well for the people of the Akokoland and deserved to be buried in Arigidi Akoko.
The monarchs of Oka Akoko and that of Ikaramu Akoko, Oba Yusuf Adeleye and Oba Andrew Momodu, both signed communique.
According to the monarchs, there was the need for late Joshua to be immortalised in order to make the whole world know that Akoko people were appreciative of his robust contribution to the growth and development of the Akokoland.
“Undoubtedly, Pastor Joshua’s death came as a rude shock. The pains are not mere emotional flashes but a piercing sting. He was a great philanthropist whose death has created a vacuum difficult to fill.
“He demonstrated humility with a large heart to accommodate the feelings of the downtrodden, hence the need to bring his body to his place of birth in Arigidi Akoko.”
“His financial intervention can be seen in electricity and security; he provided patrol vehicles for both police and army and he also created employment at various projects he embarked upon just to mention a few”, the monarchs noted.