New haven for Lagos retirees

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
1015423_588669494487654_65343308_o-1
INTENDING retirees and “senior citizens” in Lagos State, can look forward to an enjoyable life in retirement without traveling out of Lagos, known for its busy and frenzied city life. This is because a new haven equipped with all facilities for relaxation and recreation has been built for them.

The sprawling mansion, known as Retirement Villa and built on a 7,240.48 square metres land in Lekki Phase II as a novel idea of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), has been commissioned for use yesterday.

COWLSO, chaired by the wife of Lagos State governor, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola, is a community-based gender organisation founded in 1974 by the wife of the first Military Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Funmilayo Johnson, to complement the efforts of government to provide recreational centres, mobilize grassroots support for child healthcare, and canvass for resources to empower women.

The project was conceived and the land for the facility purchased by former chairperson of COWLSO, Senator Oluremi Tinubu. The project was later to be executed by Mrs. Fashola on assumption of office as COWLSO chairperson.

The Retirement Villa, a first-of-its-kind project in Nigeria, cost the organization N300 million to execute with proceeds from the annual National Women Conference held between 2006 and 2009. A marshy land was acquired in a serene Lekki ambience, devoid of the usual hustle and bustle of Lagos metropolis.

Governor Babatunde Fashola (middle) flanked by his wife, Abimbola, Senator Oluremi Tinubu and other COWLSO members at the unveiling of the Retirement Villa on Thursday in Lekki

Governor Babatunde Fashola (middle) flanked by his wife, Abimbola, Senator Oluremi Tinubu and other COWLSO members at the unveiling of the Retirement Villa on Thursday in Lekki


Situated on Road 45, Lekki Phase II, the Retirement Villa is a relaxation centre for retired and active senior citizens, a place where they can visit daily to share quality time with themselves in a most relaxed environment and which provides opportunity to engage in sporting activities.

The aesthetic design of the villa is a delight and beauty to behold. The serenity of the environment exclusively for senior citizens to relax and engage in recreation activities will certainly be too much to resist.

The facilities for use at the villa include the main clubhouse, which comprises reception, administrative offices, lounge/games room, restaurant, bookshops/newsagents and laundry room. It also has a 240 square-metres multi-purpose hall and a store. There are also four split-level shops, doctor’s clinic, which includes waiting area, three consulting rooms and a pharmacy.

The villa has 12 chalets to serve as guest suites for people who want to stay for a while at reasonable cost. A staff quarter is built at the villa and it has male/female restrooms and caretaker’s two-bedroom apartment.

It is also equipped with recreation facilities, including gymnasium, sauna, massage room, two hard-surface tennis courts, swimming pool, and poolside bar and barbeque. There are also external facilities, such as 55 car parking spaces, paved private garden and well-landscaped courtyard.

According to Mrs. Fashola, the villa is not a replacement as a permanent home for retired civil servants, but its purpose is to serve as recreation and orientation centre. She stated that COWLSO began the construction of the project in 2010.

The Swimming Pool inside the Villa

The Swimming Pool inside the Villa


“We have just completed the Retirement Villa, which is situated at Lekki Phase II, immediately after Ajah. It is designed to be a place of relaxation and recreation for retired senior citizens and residents of Lagos State. Our vision was to provide a place where the elderly can visit to share fellowship with their peers while reliving the early days of their service and enjoying the company of friends.

“There is among other facilities a large auditorium where parties can be held. There are also guest chalets provided for those who may want to have overnight stay. The senior citizens will be charged a token for the maintenance of our facilities,” Fashola explained.

Chairman, Building Committee of the project, Mrs. Bimpe Martins, said the facility was solely built for the elderly, stressing that COWLSO undertook the project to make life meaningful for retirees in Lagos.

On the choice of location, Martins stated that COWLSO considered the fact that there were large spaces for such a project in many parts of the state, but that serenity and ambience were put into consideration in arriving at Lekki Phase II as the destined choice. “We wanted a place devoid of the hustle and bustle of the city, which informed why we chose this place.”

According to her, the 12 chalets in the villa could accommodate a maximum of 24 people at a time, with two people per room, if the occupier chooses to and the facility would be strictly for 60-year-olds and above. She added that the multi-purpose hall would be rented out for social functions to generate money to run the villa.

Apart from the retirement villa, COWLSO has also built several recreational facilities in different parts of Lagos, some of which are Agege Recreation Centre, Sam Shonibare Recreation Centre, Campos Square Play Ground, Oworonsoki Recreation Centre, Oshodi Sports Centre, Kudirat Abiola Freedom Square, Lafiaji Community Centre, among others.

The body also donates fund, food and other items to orphanages, physically challenged people; motherless babies homes, destitute homes, charity homes, juvenile welfare centre and several others.

Oba Erediauwa… nonagenarian dance for The Obedient Servant

By Tope Templer Olaiya

Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Erediauwa, the Oba of Benin

Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Erediauwa, the Oba of Benin


IT is exactly 34 years and two days short of three full months today that the venerated Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Erediauwa, the Oba of Benin, was crowned the 38th Oba of the Eweka’s dynasty, which was established in 1200 AD. However, it is 24 hours to the big moment, when the monarch would join the exclusive club of nonagenarian tomorrow, June24.
Named Solomon Igbinoghodua Aisiokuoba at birth, no special star decked the firmament on June 24, 1923, the day he was born, but everybody knew that a king had been born. It, however, took 56 years for the once Ediaken of Uselu and the most junior member of the Uzama, the seven kingmakers, to ascend the throne and sit on the ultimate seat in Benin kingdom.

The Binis did not just have a new Oba on March 23, 1979, they equally had a new beginning. Oba Erediauwa ascended the throne armed with a Cambridge degree in Law and thus going down the annals of history as the first formally educated king of the ancient kingdom.

The Oba of Benin is the traditional ruler of the Edo people and head of the historic Eweka dynasty of the Benin Kingdom, reaching to the modern day Republic of Benin, which was formerly known as Dahomey.

By virtue of the royal house he heads as the Oba of Benin, Edo State, Oba Erediauwa is one of the most prominent personalities in Nigeria. It was therefore not surprising that an ongoing project tagged Living Legend chose the period of the preparation for the 90th birthday of the Oba to be celebrated on canvas and in sculptures.

Few days ago, some artists from Lagos joined their counterparts in Benin and had the Oba sat for portraiture section. An initiative of painter, Olu Ajayi, Living Legends started documentation of great Nigerians in 2008 with the first sitter, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who was captured by about 20 artists inside the Aina Onabolu Building, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.

Others who have sat for artists as part of the Living Legends project included Prof. Yusuf Grillo and Dr Bruce Onobrakpeya.

However, as the Oba marks his birthday, one of the biggest challenges of the Benin monarchy remains the stalemate in retrieving the looted cultural objects of ancient kingdom, currently in foreign museums and private collections in Europe and the U.S.

In 1897, the British colonialists, in what is now known as Benin Punitive Expedition, sacked the then monarch, Oba Ovramwen and looted the palace.

Last February, when representatives of some selected museums from Europe were in Benin on the invitation of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), the Oba, through one of the chiefs, insisted that the looted cultural objects must be returned.

The monarch is given to diplomacy even in spearheading crusades for causes that are beneficial to the people. In 1991, when it was discovered that over 100 Benin artefacts were scattered in Italy, he rose to collect a million signatures of influential persons to launch a campaign for their recovery.
ered2
At 90, Oba Erediauwa typifies the resolve of the average Bini man to assert himself in the affairs of life. This fact is cast strong in metal like the famous Bini bronze mask renowned the world over.

For the kingdom that has been through an invasion by the British army in 1897 with the consequent devastation and re-emergence thereafter, its resilience could not have been detached from the constituent characters that have helped in moulding its strong cultural destiny.

His post-graduate experience in the public service is spread-out. He had traversed the public service of the then Eastern Region as administrative secretary before joining the Federal Civil Service.

He was at different times permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Power and later Ministry of Health. He returned home to the then Bendel state in 1975 to continue as commissioner for finance.

Before he retired fully into royalty in 1979, he had served as the chairman of Tate and Lyle Sugar company, the board of governors of University of Lagos Teaching Hospital and University of Ibadan, as well as the management board of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).

To mark the silver jubilee of the monarch in 2004, Oba Erediauwa wrote his biography titled I Remain, Sir, Your Obedient Servant, published by Spectrum Books, and as expected, it generated considerable interests and reactions.

Explaining the origin of the title in the preface to the book, the author said: “I have taken the title from the very first letter that I signed as an assistant Secretary in the Nigerian Secretariat when I was appointed to the Nigerian Colonial Service in 1952.” The letter was a reply to a petition from a member of the public to the Governor-General and it ended with the words: “I remain, Sir, your obedient servant.”

Although the kingdom has come a long way, being one of the most outstanding monarchies of modern age, Oba Erediauwa, like his great grandfather, Oba Ovoramwen, has had his challenges in contemporary times. In 1992, a total of 76 traditional rulers in the state planned to remove him from the leadership of the state Council of Chiefs, insisting that the Chieftaincy Edict be amended to allow for the rotation of the chairmanship position.

The matter was amicably resolved and the ban on three chiefs, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, the Esama of Benin; Chief S. Asuen and the Ezogba of Benin, Chief Robert Ize-Iyamu, from entering the Oba’s palace was lifted.

Oba Erediauwa faced another battle in January 1999 in the much-publicized face-off between him and the then Military Administrator of Edo State, Navy Captain Anthony Onyearugbulem (now deceased). The crisis started shortly before the governorship election of January 9, 1999, in which the military administrator accused the Oba of partisanship in favour of the then All Peoples Party (APP) candidate, Lucky Imasuen.

The APP candidate was said to have paid a visit to the royal father in his palace during the Ugie Ewere celebration. In his prayers, the Oba was said to have remarked: “Your visit is auspicious as it falls on Ugie Ewere day, which portends good fortune.”

It was this prayer that became the subject of interpretations and mis-interpretations by observers to the effect that the military administrator suspended the Oba from both the state Security Council and the chairmanship of the state Traditional Rulers Council.

The face-off, which lasted for about four months, ended after series of consultations and reconciliatory visits by well-meaning Nigerians, including traditional rulers, even from across the Niger.

But beyond these challenges, the reign of the Oba has enjoyed the loyalty of his subjects. Oba Erediauwa has consistently called for greater participation of traditional rulers in governance, pointing at what Lord Lugard did using the institution of these rulers in his time to pilot the colonial administration.

Although he is not for traditional rulers going for political leadership, he believes there should be a forum through which they would advise government on a permanent basis without being seen to be interfering in governance.

Perhaps, this had more prominence during the years of military rule. It is doubtful if the present democratic dispensation would take them in its stride the way the khaki counterparts did.

Unlike many before him, Oba Erediauwa has brought the epitome of education to bear on this sacred traditional institution to the extent that the Oba, until recently when slowed down by age, makes frequent public appearances; though diehard conservatives see it in a different light. They feel it demystifies and places less sanctity on the stool.

The Binis have enough heritage to attract scholarly adventures. And many scholars are united in tracing the origin of the Binis to Egypt or the Middle East. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Oba of Benin’s power was at its peak and different monarchs of the dynasty controlled significant stretches of land in what is now West Africa.

During this era, exquisite naturalistic bronze art was created to enhance and embody the power of the Oba. The art often depicted the ancestors in order to establish both continuity and legitimacy. Due to this, only the Obas of Benin were allowed to own the famous bronze heads of Benin.

But in all matters including anthropology and history, the Binis listen more to their Oba than scholars. Oba Erediauwa has said in more than a few occasions that available facts do not align with any of the scholarly postulations on the origin of Benin.

“Benin is the cradle of the world.” The Oba insists that Edo land is one of the few places where life sprang up originally and by extension, all other Edo speaking groups in the former Bendel state, which include Urhobo, Isoko, Esan, Estako, Ora, and Auchi do not have a history that goes beyond Edo land.

The Oba has also delivered very useful lectures on the contentious link of the Binis with Ife. The position of many historians is that Oduduwa, the grand progenitor of the Yoruba race had helped to reinstitute the Benin monarchy after about a 100-year interregnum that followed the banishment of the last Ogiso, Owodo. The Ogiso dynasty ended in 1100 AD.

Oranmiyan, son of Oduduwa, was sent to Benin following a request by the Binis to Oduduwa for a ruler. Oranmiyan, on arrival, married a Bini woman who gave birth to Eweka. Oranmiyan was said to have found the Binis a bit difficult to handle and he returned to Ife, from where he was assigned to Oyo.

He became the first Alaafin of the Old Oyo Empire. Eweka survived to revive the Benin monarchy as Eweka 1 between 1200 and 1235AD. He established the current dynasty of which Erediuawa is the 38th Oba.

The Oba’s and by estension, the Binis’ version of the advent of Oranmiyan in Benin history is like the reverse of the popular version. Oduduwa, the Binis claim, was actually the fugitive Prince Ekaladerhan, who after years of sojourn in the forest arrived the present day Ife.

The oracle at Ife had said that a total stranger would arrive the land to assume the leadership of the people. Thus, when the people saw Ekaladerhan, they found in him a fulfillment of the Ife Oracle and promptly crowned him king.

The Binis have even gone a step further to situate clearly all the fragments of the myth. They claim that the name Oduduwa was a corruption of a Bini description – Imaghidoduwa or Imadoduwa, meaning, “I have not missed the path of prosperity.”

Mogaji… Farewell to an Amazon of the market

944401_10151639839529383_1321963103_n

An era ended on Saturday evening when the revered president of the market men and women and a strong pillar of progressive grassroots politics in Lagos State, Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji, breathed her last. She was aged 96.
The quest for an eco-friendly, economically viable, humanly habitable and hygienically welcoming market place has been the life battles of Alhaja Ashabi Abibatu Mogaji – the Amazon of the market place. Until her death on Saturday, she had dedicated a larger part of her adult life to protecting the rights of market men and women, mobilising them for greatness and innovation, and giving every market person a brand to associate with.
After taking tutelage and learning the ropes before taking the mantle of leadership from her mentor, late Madam Pelewura, Alhaja Mogaji threw her great weight into the battle to have a saner market place, where the rights of the market people are not trampled upon, and at the same time not in conflict with the rules of the state.
Under her leadership, Thursdays of every week was made compulsory sanitation day for market men and women. This is aside the daily advocacy campaign of her administration to enlighten the market folks on government policies like census, voting, climate change, immunization and other economically beneficial initiatives by the private sector.

Chief mourner, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (middle), flanked from the left by Oyo State governor, Ajumobi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun and wife, Oluremi Tinubu

Chief mourner, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (middle), flanked from the left by Oyo State governor, Ajumobi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun and wife, Oluremi Tinubu

Lagos market is a mixture of an elitist class who prefer the malls and the petty traders who prefer to haggle over price. It was no tough choice in 2009 when Lagos State government picked Mogaji to chair the state’s market board in its bid to efficiently administer the market system and bridge the elite-market women divide.
Various traditional rulers and interest groups honoured Mogaji in her lifetime with more than 10 titles across the nation. Some of such titles include President General, Association of Nigerian market women and men, Iya Adinni of Yaya Abatan Central Mosque, Ogba-Agege, Yeye Oba of Ikirun Land, Yeye Oba of Kweme Kingdom, Badagry, Yeye Oba of Osolu Kingdom, and Yeye Oba of Lagos among others.
In 2011, the late Iya Oloja of Nigeria was listed in 50@50, a catalogue of celebrated female achievers, ranging from professionals to business owners, community advocates, home-makers, political and everyday women, who in the course of their careers, charted worthy paths for others to follow.
Others in the exclusive list of 50 to mark Nigeria’s 50 years of independence include Grace Awani Alele-Williams, first Nigerian woman to earn a doctorate degree and first female Vice Chancellor of a Nigerian university; Agbani Darego, first black woman from an African country to be crowned the Miss World and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.
Smarting from massive loss of goods, properties and means of livelihood due to market fires, Mogaji led a campaign in recent years challenging insurance companies to bring their services closer to market women as part of the enlightenment campaign to popularise insurance among traders.
At a recent event, she advised insurers to toe the line of banks that in the wake of stiff competition opened shops in various markets across the country, which helped to inculcate banking habits in traders, who before then were storing their money in their homes.
Extolling her leadership virtues, chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, Kehinde Bamigbetan, said: “Alhaja Mogaji made her mark as a deft manager of leadership in the market, which is one of the most complex arena of power struggle, particularly among guilds and the governmental regulators. She was not only the mother but also the coach of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in his foray into politics.”

Tinubu performing the dust-to-dust rite

Tinubu performing the dust-to-dust rite


‘Fond memories of my mother,’ Tinubu

Speaking to newsmen shortly after the interment, the former governor of Lagos State recalled some of the fond moments he spent with Alhaja Mogaji, saying that she inspired him greatly during his eight years reign as Governor of Lagos State
“I miss her lunch even when I am full. I am very happy that she is my mother. She is a very successful mother. She is a good leader. She didn’t put anyone in suffering before she departed from this world. She is so kind and the God was also kind to her. She is a good thinker, passionate and compassionate. She has left a very good legacy for everyone”.
He said he took solace in the fact that she impacted in all those she came across during her 96 glorious years on earth.
“She was the one who asked me to look at the face of three women who had the challenge of paying their children’s West African Examination Council (WAEC) fee, which touched me. It isn’t the amount of money I pulled out of my pocket but as a Governor then, I began to the policy of paying WAEC fee of pupils in Lagos state public schools. Those are the things that will fascinate anyone about my late mother”.
“She taught everyone she came across contentment, love and the act of sharing especially to the needy.
The former governor said there were many lessons women could learn from the life of Mogaji, saying that “as women leaders of the society, they have to continue to plan together, share issues, share discussions and look at the right direction. Commitment to the education of their children is the best weapon against poverty and ignorance. Once you get out of that, definitely the nation will benefit and progress.”

Those who signed away June 12

Hope '93

Hope ’93

LIKE a festering wound that defies treatment and sticks out implacably, June 12 re-awakens sore memories of the nation’s political failure, injustice and inequity.
Twenty years ago, on June 12, 1993, the nation’s political march being led by the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was halted.
Abiola, affectionately called MKO, the initials of his names, won the presidential election of that date. But his victory was denied him by the then Military President Ibrahim Babangida.
There were some ‘patriotic’ Nigerians who reportedly collaborated with Babangida to sign away the June 12 victory.
The names of those who signed away the landmark election victory of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential election in 1993 were first published exclusively by this newspaper on June 11, 2000. But most of the actors, who signed the document that scotched June 12 election result, have since become very big political leaders in the last 14 years of democracy in the country.
Specifically, four of them are still very big in even the Jonathan’s government. The biggest of them is Senator David Mark, President of the Senate and he is number three in the national order of succession. In June, 1993 he was serving at the then National War College, (now National Defence College). He had previously served as “abandoned property czar” after the civil war, military governor, Niger State, and communications minister. Another big one is Lt-Gen Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (rtd) who served three times (three presidents) as the National Security Adviser (NSA).
Alhaji Sule Lamido, now Governor of Jigawa State, has previously served as Foreign Affairs Minister. John Shagaya, then General Officer Commanding 1 Division Kaduna, served as a senator in the last session of the National Assembly.
In the same vein, most of the supporters of the then Interim National Government have served in very high capacity in the 14-year-old civilian administrations under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) and Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (2007-March 2010) and the current administration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The big Nigerian ‘patriots’ who also signed the remarkable document that nailed the coffin of June 12 result include Alhaji Adamu Ciroma who has served as Finance and Agriculture Minister. In fact, his wife has served as Women Affairs Minister under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. She has been Woman Leader of the ruling PDP and last month, she was appointed Managing Director of the Lokoja-based Nigeria Inland Water Ways Authority (NIWA).
Chief Tony Anenih who was in 1993 Chairman of the victorious Party, the SDP, served in Obasanjo government in various capacities including Minister of Works and Housing, Chairman of the ruling PDP’s Board of Trustees for the second time and Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for the second time too.
The only political actor then who signed the June 12 historic document “with reservations” under a tripartite committee set up to compromise the integrity of the best election in Nigeria’s history was Joe Nwodo, who has been Chairman of the ruling PDP too. He did not explain in the document the significance of his remark, “with reservations”.

MKO... Resting in peace 15 years after

MKO… Resting in peace 15 years after

The Guardian recalls that in 1993, as the June 12 election crisis worsened on end, a tripartite committee comprising members of the then military regime and the two political parties then, the SDP and the National Republican Convention (NRC) buckled under the weight of pressure, compromised and then agreed to form an Interim National Government (ING) that was headed by a famous businessman Chief Ernest Shonekan, former Chairman of the UAC.
Specifically, the first signatory to the evil document was Admiral Augustus Aikhomu who was then Vice President under the then military presidency of Babangida.
The second signatory in the document was Shonekan, who was then head of one transitional arrangement in a diarchy headed by Babangida.
The third actor to sign was Alhaji Abdulrahman Okene who later became Chairman of Devolution of Powers Committee under the Abacha regime. He signed as the Secretary for Internal Affairs in the Transitional Council then, a precursor to the ING concoction.
One other big signatory to the epochal document was Lt. General Joshua Dongoyaro who was then Commandant, Command & Staff College, Jaji. Dongoyaro was later removed as Chief of Defence Staff by Abacha who replaced him with Gen. Oladipo Diya.
Other members of the G-34 who signed the popular document included Alhaji Sule Lamido (who actually signed as No 26). He was to become Chairman of NACB under the ING. He was Foreign Affairs Minister in Obasanjo’s government, served as a member of Abacha’s National Constitutional Conference and he is now Governor of Jigawa State after serving as Foreign Affairs Minister under Chief Obasanjo.
Chief Tony Anenih was Chairman of SDP at the time of June 12 annulment. It was the victory of the party he led that was negotiated away. He later emerged as Coordinator of a N10 billion worth of Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP), precursor to NAPEP, even as Works and Housing Minister in Obasanjo’s administration (1999-2003). He later emerged as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP. He handed over to Obasanjo as BoT Chairman in 2007.
Dr. Patrick Dele Cole who later became Senior Special Assistant (Foreign Affairs) to President Obasanjo signed the document as SDP N0 24.
Chief Dapo Sarumi who returned to the PDP in 2010 signed the June 12 obituary paper as N0 32. He served as ING Communications Minister. He was to be Minister of Information, Integration and Cooperation in Africa in Chief Obasanjo’s first term (1999-2003).
Alhaji Adamu Ciroma who signed the document as NRC N0 13 served the Abacha regime as Agriculture Minister and served Obasanjo as Finance Minister.
One other notable character in the Intelligence and Security community that signed the June 12 Paper 17 years ago was Lt Gen Aliyu Mohammed Gusau who was then the National Security Adviser, (NSA). He signed the document as “Government Representative”. He was Obasanjo’s NSA for about seven years. He returned in 2010 to the Jonathan’s (completion) government as the NSA.
Brig.-Gen. Anthony Ukpo signed the document as PMT, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna. He is now a businessman, publisher and hotelier. He had served on some panels in Obasanjo’s government.
Some other political figures including members of the federal legislature who signed the document then included Chief Jim Nwobodo who signed for the then SDP. He was to serve later in Abacha’s government as Sports Minister. He was a senator in the first session of the National Assembly (1999-2003).
Mark signed the June 12 document in 1993 as an officer at National War College (now National Defence College). He had been an officer of the abandoned property management, had served as Communications Minister and Governor of Niger State under the Babangida junta. Now as Senate President, he enjoys full benefits: His son, Tunde, is his Senior Personal Assistant, his daughter, Blessing Onu (nee Mark) is a two-time, Mandate Secretary (State Commissioner equivalent) Social Development Secretariat in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration. Similarly his younger brother was a Special Assistant to a former Minister of Defence.
One other notable politician who signed the document as a member of the would-be ruling party then was Maj.-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua who signed the June 12 away as SPD No 34. He was a member of the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference organised by Abacha. The former Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters and a presidential aspirant then later died in Abakaliki prison after being implicated in a phantom coup plot by the Abacha junta.
Other members of the political class who signed the June 12 Death Paper included Alhaji Abubakar Rimi who later served the Abacha regime as Communications Minister. He signed as SDP No 30. He died in 2010. Alhaji Olusola Saraki who signed the PDP Platform as N0 31 died in 2012. The father of former Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was Chairman of the Business Committee of the Constitutional Conference of Abacha. He later surfaced as a member of All Peoples Party (APP) now ANPP). He was a member of the PDP. His daughter Gbemisola Saraki, was a member of the House from where she contested election in 2007 to be in the Senate. She contested election to be governor of Kwara and lost to the current governor of Kwara State.
Notably, former Governor Bukola was a Senior Special Assistant to President Obasanjo before he contested election as governor in 2003.
The 10th signatory to the June12-ING Paper was Dr. Hammed Kusamotu who was Chairman of the NRC then. He has died.
Similarly, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu who signed as NRC N014 served as Internal Affairs and later as Power and Steel Minister. Same for Chief Tom Ikimi, who was pioneer Chairman of NRC who later became Political Adviser to Gen. Abacha and later served as Foreign Affairs Minister, signed June 12 monument away as NRC N0 15. He is angling to be APC Chairman.
According to the landmark document, Chief Joseph Toba signed the G-34 Paper as SDP N0 33. Mr. Okey Nzoho, then NRC Publicity Secretary signed on the NRC Platform as NRC No 21.In the same vein, Dr. Bawa Salka who signed too for the NRC signed on Platform 22.
Now Senator John Shagaya signed the document then as GOC 1 Infantry Division, Kaduna. He had been Minister of Internal Affairs. He was a senator in the last session of the Senate but not Chairman of any Committee because he allegedly voted against the Senate presidency of David Mark in 2007.
One Mr. Theo Nikire also signed the monumental document just as Professor Eyo Ita signed the G-34 Paper as NRC N0 16. Others who signed away the June 12 success story included Bola Afonja, who signed as NRC 11; Alhaji Y.Anka, NRC 12; Mr. Abba Murtala Mohammed, NRC No 18 and Alhaji Muktari A. Mohammed signed as NRC N0 17.
Even traditional rulers were involved in the political deal that still haunts the political class till date as Alhaji A Ramalan, who was Permanent Secretary in FCT and later became an Emir in Nasarawa State signed the document. Same for Alhaji Halilu A.Maina who signed the SDP Platform as N0 27.
From the Eastern Block came Dr. Okechukwu Odunze who signed the SDP Platform as No 29. He was the then SDP’s National Treasurer. One FCT indigenous figure who signed the document was one Mr. Amos Idakula (deceased). He signed as SDP N0 25. He was then SDP’s National Publicity Secretary.
According to the political document, the original G-34 members had then felt that after signing the Covenant Paper ING would begin on August 27, 1993 and terminate on December 31, 1994.
But Abacha who was said to have written his Sandhurst College project on “ambush” was posturing as a defender of democracy and thus conned even notable politicians who urged him to take over from Shonekan as Head of the ING.
Abacha thus on November 17, 1993 capitalised on the provisions of Section five (V) sub-section 48 of the ING Decree 61 of 1993 which states: “The most senior minister shall hold the office of the Interim National Government if the office of the Head of the Interim National Government (ING)… becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation” and took over from Shonekan who was then warming up to move into the official residence of the President of Nigeria.
Babangida had earlier stepped aside in the early hours of August 26, 1993 following the enablement of the ING concoction by the aforementioned G34 members.
In 2008, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu who was shoved aside on June 23, 1993 as Electoral Umpire “summoned up” courage and announced the late Abiola as real “winner” of the 1993 election. The ineffectual announcement was made through the instrumentality of a book .
According to the result he announced, the presidential candidate of the defunct SDP, the late Abiola polled a total vote cast of 8,323,305 equivalent of one-third of the total cast in each of the 28 states of the federation, while Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) polled a total vote cast of 6,073,917 scoring at least in one-third of the total vote cast in 23 states of the federation.
“Consequently, Alhaji M.K.O. Abiola won the election, but NEC could not announce the result of the election because of the Abuja high court order which was served on the commission on June 15, 1993, which NEC, through its director of legal services challenged at Kaduna Court of Appeal, and then the dissolution of NEC on June 23, 1993.”
In an address, Nwosu, a retired political science professor, identified the crux of the problems that face the task of state and nation-building in an emergent state like Nigeria as the problem of legitimacy. He said his main aim of writing the book, apart from putting into their proper perspectives the events that led to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election, was also to show how successive administrations in the country, whether military or civilian sought to attract legitimacy or its acceptance from the generality of Nigerians.
His words: “This book underscores the importance of June 12, 1999 presidential election which was adjudged by national and international observers as the freest, fairest and most peaceful and credible election in Nigeria’s history.”

JUNE 12 As An Industry In Nigeria

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

Hope '93

Hope ’93

JUNE 12 was yesterday elevated to an industry as five southwestern states, comprising Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti declared the day a public holiday to mark the 20 years of the annulled mandate of late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, who died in detention on July 7, 1998.
Commemoration of the historic date, preserved in Nigeria’s history as the freest and fairest election ever conducted in the country, took centre stage in Lagos as the June 12 movement and pro-democracy activists took over popular event centres in Lagos to reminisce on Abiola’s struggle to reclaim his mandate and sacrifice his life for democracy.
Those who wanted to be reminded of Abiola’s place in history were spoilt for choice as June 12 events organized by different pro-democracy groups, held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja; Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja; Blue Roof Hall of Lagos Television, Ikeja; Excellence Hotel, Ogba; Freedom Park, Lagos Island; Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos; and most importantly, Abiola’s residence in Ikeja.

MKO... Resting in peace 15 years after

MKO… Resting in peace 15 years after

At his residence on MKO Abiola Crescent, it was a solemn assembly of students, activists and politicians who gathered to pay tribute to the memory of Abiola. Held in his ground floor sitting room, which has been converted into a hall, the gathering coordinated by Olawale Okunniyi under the chairmanship of Chief Ayo Adebayo, took turns to make speeches about the June 12 struggle and life and times of Abiola.
At the end of the symposium, where members of the Abiola family were conspicuously absent, wreaths of honour were laid at Abiola’s tomb by dignitaries in attendance, which included the Commissioner for Information, Akwa Ibom State, Aniekan Umanah, who represented Governor Godswill Akpabio.
Once upon a time, MKO Abiola Crescent, tucked in the hearts of Ikeja, was paved literary with gold, as it served as a Mecca of sorts to the unending crowd of those who visited the man with a large heart to curry favours and tap from his wealth of knowledge and resources.
He was indeed, a man of the people and the pillar of strength not only for individuals, but also for groups, organizations and critical sectors of the country, most especially in sports and education. This was long before he won the hearts of the whole nation in the historic election that has become a benchmark in Nigeria’s history.
DEMO 4
Twenty years after, as memories fade away and with pockets of democratic activists still gathering in remembrance of their hero, the family residence was stealthily quiet yesterday. Against the clatter from the streets, particularly Toyin Street and Allen Avenue, which encircle the expansive residence, the highbrow crescent was an illustration of tranquility with no unusual movement.

Oshodi Street boys re-channel soccer fanaticism with Jersey Carnival

By Tope Templer Olaiya

Party time at Jersey Carnival

Party time at Jersey Carnival

Until lately, Lagosians were not known to spend festivals and public holidays indoors. Such days, which are far in between on the social calendar, are unique moments when families go out to experience fun on a full scale. The nation’s commercial capital had always been reputed for high-flying celebrations, which earned it the sobriquet, Eko for show.
On such days like Democracy Day, which was held recently, residents are usually spoilt for choice with places to visit and be thoroughly pleasured. But social re-engineering, security concerns, economic distress and horrid living conditions, which have all combined to make living in Lagos as stressful as living in a war zone, have made such choices limited.
In Lagos Island, popularly known as Isale Eko, a group, Ajia Ijesha Boys’ Club, staged the second edition of its Jersey Carnival to mark this year’s Democracy Day. With trading activities partially locked down in the busy business district due to the public holidays and the area devoid of the buzz of traders and shoppers, it was the perfect moment for residents and Isale Eko boys to unwind.
SAM_0488

This, they did, to the fullest. The scene of action for the Jersey Carnival was Oshodi Street, but it wasn’t until sundown before the youths took over the carved out park at the entrance of the street known as the Oshodi Recreational Centre.
Along the long stretch of the street, it was fun time for both the young and the old. Children gathered to play pranks and chase each other while the men sat in groups bare-chested to play card games, ayo and ludo. Some others gathered in front of a buka to anxiously wait for a bowl of fresh-hot pounded yam, which was being prepared by three women at once in a rhythmic dance movement.
By sundown, the big moment arrived and residents all came out to the roadside to absorb the scenic sights of youths trooping out in their preferred jerseys in different colours and throwing jives at friends adorning jerseys’ of opposing clubs and countries.
SAM_0492

According to organizers of the event, which was powered by several organizations including The Guardian, Jersey Carnival was a novel way of channeling soccer fanaticism among football followers into productive use by celebrating democracy day in a different way to foster patriotism and national unity among the youth.
Ajia Ijesha boys and youths of neighbouring streets laid siege on Oshodi Street into the early hours of the morning under a bright clear moonlight donning football jerseys, mufflers, flags, banners and wristbands of the Super Eagles, Brazil, and other countries and popular club sides.
Attraction included stage performances, dance competitions and comedians who were out to crack some people’s ribs with jaw-shattering jokes. After the awards’ contest, Oluwakemi Disu emerged best-kitted fan. Nigeria was the most represented country jersey and Manchester United emerged the most represented club jersey.
SAM_0497

Inside TB Joshua’s Synagogue… The Myth, The Reality

By Chuks Nwanne

The Synagogue Church of All Nation in Ikotun, Lagos.

The Synagogue Church of All Nation in Ikotun, Lagos.


PROPHET Temitope Balogun Joshua, or TB Joshua, as he’s fondly called all over the world, is like a prism, offering different perspectives to different viewers. He is an enigma that is yet to be fully understood by many including members of his church — The Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN). Yes, he’s a very controversial figure, especially among Lagosians, who seem not comfortable with his man of God status. But outside Lagos, and beyond Nigeria, TB Joshua is treated like a ‘god’, with popular figures, including African heads of state, trooping in and out of his Synagogue on a daily basis.

Controversies aside, TB Joshua is a man you can’t ignore in Nigeria. Aside from his large followership, the prophet is known for his charity deeds, a trait that has endeared him to many, especially the poor folks, who look up to the Prophet for daily bread. In fact, his Emmanuel TV, which shows his church’s activities, is very popular across the globe, except in Lagos.

Unlike the days when orthodox Churches held sway, the coming of Pentecostalism in Nigeria has given religion a new outlook. The pastors and bishops in town are distinguished by their flamboyant life style: impeccable suits, jaw breaking grammar and you know? Private jets.

You need to live big — expensive outfits and designer’s perfumes — to belong, unless, you’ll be a ‘backbencher’.

Prophet TB Joshua is very endowed with these high tastes. He is perhaps more interested in preaching the word of God because there is one verse in the bible that says it will be easier for camel head to go through a needle eye than for the rich man to make heaven.

Dorning designer clothes, speaking through the nose, riding on SUVs and globetrotting in private jets are not part of the things that marked him out.

Could this be the reason TB Joshua is not getting acceptance from his fellow men of God? Well, no matter what, people still look forward to his football predictions, especially when it favours the Super Eagles.

Prophet Temitope Joshua

Prophet Temitope Joshua


On June 12, Prophet TB Joshua will be marking his 50th birthday. I bet you, a lot of people will have a big smile on that day. Yes, Joshua’s birthday is usually an opportunity for some people to eat or be happy. I don’t mean just laying hands on people; some pockets will surely swell that day. In fact, by now, workers will be struggling with the bagging of Joshua’s Rice, which will be shared on that day; the bakery boys too will be on duty 24/7, baking bread for the poor. Erh, I doubt if any casual worshipper would be able to make it into the church’s auditorium.

International guests should be arriving by now, including top dignitaries; I bet you, one or two presidents would come. As usual, the security will be tight, no cause for alarm.

Notwithstanding, you might just hang around the church’s corridor if you persist. A lot of people prefer to take positions close to the prophet’s altar.

Generally, anointing would flow! Well, in case you won’t be able to make it to his Ikotun, Lagos Synagogue, Emmanuel TV will be screening the event live!

Now, I know you will be wondering where I got all these info? Okay, calm down. I’m not a member of SCOAN; I’m just an observer, who had the opportunity of being a ‘special’ guest of the ever-busy Prophet in 2010. That day, all protocol were relaxed, even with the long list of visitors waiting to see the man of God, I got the first slot, a VIP one for that matter.

It took over a month to get that link to man of God. All previous efforts had failed. The plan was to have an exclusive interview with him, something he hardly does.

“I’ve spoken to his people, the Prophet has agreed to grant the interview. I will take you to him. Just call me on phone when you get there,” my link’s man said.

Driving to TB Joshua’s Synagogue that day was not an easy task. The heavy traffic that characterises the Ikotun-Ejigbo route worsened that day and vehicles crawled. The long stretch of road was in terrible condition.

As I drove to see the prophet, I kept wondering if that axis was actually part of Governor Fashola’s Lagos Master Plan. For more than two hours, I was in the heavy traffic, for a journey that would have lasted between 25 and 30 minutes.

For fear of missing Joshua’s appointment, I had to squeeze my tuketuke into one of the adjacent streets, praying that LASTMA boys won’t do their worst. Thank God for okada; that was the only option to the Synagogue within a short time. Unfortunately today, okada is banned from major roads in Lagos.

That evening, the Synagogue was bubbling with activities; guests were trooping in and out in their numbers. While some Nigerians were heading for South Africa that night to be part of the 2010 Nations Cup opening ceremony, a large group of South Africans, numbering over 700, were in the Synagogue to celebrate with the prophet.

From the gate into the main building, excitement filled the air. Somehow, we looked like strangers; even the congregation knew that. At that point, I made contact with my guide, who later ushered me into the Prophet’s special room.

Though not your massive apartment, the room is properly furnished, with a connecting door from the back. I was still admiring the furniture, when TB Joshua, dressed in a simple three quarter short, a polo shirt and a slip on sandal, stepped in from the back door.

The Prophet... In the beginning

The Prophet… In the beginning


To be honest, his simplicity baffled me. I expected some little drama and razzmatazz before the coming of the man of God, but it was not like that. If not for his Afro hair and beards, I would have mistaken the Prophet for some lowly member of the congregation.

“Sorry for keeping you waiting; I had to leave some of my important visitors just to grant this interview. I like The Guardian newspapers; if you go to my house, that’s the paper I read. So, when they told me about this interview, I felt it’s something I should do. What do you want to know about me?“ he quizzed, beaming with smiles.

Look, Prophet TB Joshua is a fine man. Oh, yes, he is. Imagine if that Afro hair is trimmed down a bit and the beards shaved?

Right, have you taken time to look into his eyeballs? Albright, imagine Joshua dressed in one of those expensive suits, like the ones Pastors Chris Oyakhilome and his brother Chris Okotie usually wear? Now, you see.

BORN into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Kolawole Balogun of Arigi village, Ondo State, Joshua was brought up as a Christian. His farmer father was then the secretary of St. Stephen’s Church in his community; he played the role of a translator, whenever there was a visitor that couldn’t speak Yoruba.

“He was not well lettered, but was better than most of his peers around then. Though he died while I was still small, I was like his pet. He would carry me to the Church and as a little boy; I would always run around and jump from the choir stand to the catechist’s table. I miss him dearly,” Joshua said.

With early exposure to Christianity, young Joshua developed interest in Bible knowledge; it was his favourite subject in school. He finished the New Testament book twice while still in primary six.

“My interest in the subject grew to the extent that I could read the whole Bible on the average of two months during my secondary school days. I was also the leader of the Scripture Union (SU) of my school,” he informed.

From all indications, TB Joshua’s large heart has little to do with his status as a prophet; it is an inborn thing.

“I had always wanted to be like any other person; when others are crying, I cry, when they are happy, I would be happy. I was really concerned about humanity; I mean people’s interest. I always want to make people happy by helping them.”

His wife... Evelyn

His wife… Evelyn


In school, Joshua’s charity heart was always at work. On many occasions, he used his school fees to settle other students’ fees.

“Not that I was rich, but because I could not withstand their tears. After giving out my school fees, I would go to the farm or construction sites to do menial jobs to settle mine. I did that many times and missed my classes, too,” he recalled with a smiling face.

And your mother is happy with you?

“Well, the first time I did that, my mother was not pleased with me because she was the only one financing my education. My father died when I was still a boy.”

Instead of endearing him to his mates, Joshua’s kindness yielded negative results.

“I was alone; they derided me, called me names and described me as a dunce that could give out any of his property to people. I repeated a class for about five times because I was always outside looking for menial jobs to pay my school fees. Then, I was propelled to do good by forces. But today, all that has changed; what I do right now is to help people to stand on their own and to be a channel of blessings to others,” he said.

From all indication, the ‘hatred’ on Prophet TB Joshua is actually not a new thing to him; the man seems to be used to it.

“As for me, I want to help people; I really want to help them. Not for anything, but because Jesus Christ wept with those that were weeping and celebrated with those celebrating,” he harped.

At what point did you realise that God wanted you to serve Him?

“The moment you start obeying His instructions, you’ll start hearing His voice. The moment you begin to obey that voice, He will start using you,” he said.

According to the prophet, Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) is beyond the physical structure; it’s more than that Gothic architectural masterpiece you see along Ikotun Road, Lagos.

“It started right from my childhood. It goes beyond the physical structure you see, but that which comes out of the structure. My mission is to see people succeed in life; I’m not cut out to be materialistic, but to make people happy. For every thousand Naira I get, there are a thousand people to spend it on. So, making people happy, putting smiles on the faces of the downcast is my mission,“ he said.

If not for his calling, Joshua would have been a soldier; he would have perfectly fitted into the army with his stout frames.

“My first school was Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar School, Ikare, Ondo State; I couldn’t finish my studies there because of my magnanimity. And my mother, who was the secretary of a co-operative society, was not happy with it.”

Left with no other option, he obtained the form for the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna. He passed the examination and was actually invited for the interview.

“Going for the interview, the train I boarded broke down at Jebba. As I had no money to continue the journey, I stayed there for the train to be repaired. By the time that was done, I set off to reach Kaduna, only to discover that the interview had ended. That was how I missed the army,” he recalled.

TB Joshua... in his element

TB Joshua… in his element


Like Eddie Murphy’s Coming To America, TB Joshua’s Coming to Lagos is another interesting story. I wonder when Nollywood producers would discover the synopsis of the Prophet’s journey to Lagos. This will surely make a good movie script.

“How I came to Lagos was a very long story. I came through the buses that carried farm produce such as cassava and cocoa. We spent five days on the way before getting to Lagos. When I alighted at Mile 12, I stayed about 10 days washing the feet of traders coming out of the muddy market for money, until I came across some people speaking my native dialect,“ he breathed.

He quickly introduced himself.

“I told them I was from Arigidi and could not trace my sister. Luckily, one of them directed me to some people that linked me up with my sister at Egbe, a suburb of Lagos. I have done different menial jobs including being a conductor. And today, I have an NGO for motor park boys, because I was once among them,” he narrated.

While in Lagos, Joshua made efforts to complete his secondary education, but somehow, it never happened.

“I attended many schools in Lagos, but the ones I could remember are the New State High School, Mushin; Metropolitan College, Isolo; and Ansar-Ud-Deen College, Isolo.”

Why the frequent change of school?

“This is because I don’t want to see people suffer. I was always sacrificing my comfort, including my school fees, to make people happy. Whenever I see people suffering, I always feel bad even though I’m poor; I would get out the little I have to save the situation and go without anything. It was this path of life that made me to change school so frequently. I attended one school for two months, only to be sent away because of school fees. I was contented with what I was doing, using my fees on others.”

And you repeated classes?

“Oh, yes; in fact, I couldn’t finish my school. I left secondary school and decided never to go back to it. But when I started gathering children between the ages of five to 10 years, I felt the need for it and enrolled in adult education class in Mushin. I would teach the children from 8am to 2pm, then leave for my evening classes at the New State High School, Mushin. It was the money realised from the morning lesson that I used to pay my school fees and registered for GCE. I attempted entering the University several times, but it didn’t workout.”

Done with academics, Joshua took up his first major job in a poultry farm. “I was among those taking care of the birds and clearing their droppings. I did the job with some foreigners from Niger Republic, Ghana, Cameroun and Benin Republic; I was the only Nigerian among them and I never let people know I was a Nigerian. I declared myself a foreigner too; in my own country.”

How much were you paid then?

“I did it for a year to raise money for my GCE and to do other things. Let’s not talk about that because the amount was too small, but I was able to keep some for my studies,” he said.

Asked to give a brief assessment of his progress so far, TB Joshua simply said, “Well, I don’t know, but let’s put it this way. As we all know, the race is not always for the swift, and the battle for the strong. It’s too early for me to assess myself. If God raises you, you are to raise people, who would be able to do what you are doing or do even better than you did. If today were your last day on earth, what would people remember you for? Is it properties or what,” he quizzed rhetorically.

In case you don’t know, the prophet loves football; he’s been churning out stars; the likes of Daniel Amokachi, Ogeyi Onazi and Sunday Emmanuel have links with the Prophet’s football team. However, football is just an aspect of his activities in the Synagogue.

“It’s not only a club; we are into different areas of life. All the carpentry works you see here (the Synagogue) are all made within the church premises. We empower people to be self-reliant,” he said.

One of the controversies about TB Joshua is his wife. While some said he has none, others alleged the women left him so many years ago. But in the room, his wife portrait is conspicuously hung on the wall — a pretty, tall, fair lady. You wonder how they met in the first instance?

“She is better placed to tell you; she will surely tell you that whenever you meet her,” he responded with laughter.

What really attracted you to her?

“What exactly do you think would attract a man to a woman other than her virtue? Nothing, but virtue of God in her.”

In some quarters, it is believed that TB Joshua has no child. But that day, we saw one of his daughters, a first class material in the United Kingdom, who was on break in Nigeria at that time. Joshua invited her to the room, but did not mention his media guests. Minutes after that call, the young lady stormed the room playfully. But seeing her father in the midst of strangers, the ebony black lady withdrew to her shell, though she kept on beaming with smiles.

“She’s one of my daughters; she just came in for holidays, but she’s helping with works in the Synagogue. I have a very big family. All the children you see here are mine; I don’t think you have a larger family than I do,” he said jokingly.

At the end of the session, SCOAN members, including two Japanese volunteers, conducted us round the premises. From the private room, we moved to the Synagogue proper, where those miracles you see on TV happens. We also got the opportunity of seeing the Emmanuel TV studio, with young chaps busy with buttons; their editing suit is fully loaded.

From the studio, we were at the rice bagging session, where a group of young men were packaging bags of rice for the poor. On our way to the bakery section, where thousands of loaves of bread were baked on a daily basis, we met a young guy constructing a special car; he is under the sponsorship of the prophet.

“This car will run on the road, on water and will also fly,” the ‘engineer’ said.

Well, we saw the construction process, though we are yet to see the vehicle on Lagos roads. Yes, we also saw the mini football pitch, where some of those star were made.

The hotel section is massive; the furnishing was in progress when we visited. From the rooms to the laundry section, kitchen… the facility is finished to taste; I’m sure the structure is complete by now.

So, behind that structure called Synagogue, there are hundreds of activities going on; both spiritual and physical. Behind the man TB Joshua, there’s more than just a religious leader.

How it all started

THE Synagogue, Church of All Nations did not just come by chance. Many years ago, a small gathering of eight members came together to hold their first meeting in a humble shelter in a squalid, swampy jungle, in the location of Agodo-Egbe in Lagos, Nigeria.

As time went on, it became increasingly clear that T.B. Joshua was not just an ordinary pastor, preaching ‘ordinary’ words and doing ‘ordinary things’; clear evidence of outstanding miraculous occurrences began to arise. The lame began to walk, hopeless cancer patients were lifted from despair, and desperate situations were turned to scenes of life, joy and peace.

Questions started rolling in: ‘Can this be true in our days?’ ‘Can a human being perform such feats?’ ‘Is the Bible still true for us today?’

Purportedly, on the instruction of the Holy Spirit, The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations moved to a large expanse of land in Ikotun-Egbe, in the outskirts of Lagos. Thousands began flocking to the services as they heard about the miraculous events taking place there.

In a very short space of time, an area without walls and barely a roof was transformed into a mighty cathedral. Hard benches were replaced with comfortable chairs; poor lights were turned to intelligent lighting; fans were exchanged with refreshing air conditioning. The great changes that took place in such a limited time span have become a subject of debate.