No dirge for victims of Synagogue building collapse, two years on

• Church keeps mum on remembrance
• Hoteliers bemoan losses
By Tope Templer Olaiya
It is exactly two years since 116 people died at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Lagos, when one of the ancillary buildings collapsed.

The six-storey guesthouse belonging to the church, which was under construction in the Ikotun area of Lagos collapsed, killing over 100 people, 85 of whom were South African worshippers.

The Guardian yesterday observed that the church seems to have given an unofficial closure to the tragedy. Unlike last year when Prophet Temitope Joshua, founder of the church, held a memorial service in honour of the victims, there was no dirge for the departed , whom Joshua had two years ago described as ‘Martyrs of Faith’ during yesterday’s service.

The collapsed building

Mum was the word during church service held yesterday and also on the social media pages of the church. On Joshua’s official Twitter account, @SCOANTBJoshua, which has over 146,000 followers, it was last updated on Saturday, September 10, with the following quote: “Nobody is too good or too bad to qualify for God’s grace – T.B. Joshua”.

The Facebook page of the church, TB Joshua Ministries, which has nearly 2.5 million followers, was regularly updated yesterday with proceedings from the service, particularly testimonies and messages of the Prophet; yet no mention of the tragedy or prayers for the victims. Attempts by The Guardian to get an official reaction met a brick wall as church officials refused commenting on the memorial.

At the first anniversary of the unfortunate incident, which held simultaneously in Nigeria and South Africa, Joshua had maintained that the victims, many of whom had visited the church to seek spiritual help and were staying at the guesthouse before it collapsed, were on an appointment with God when they met their death and therefore believes they did not die in vain.

Prophet TB Joshua ministering

Prophet TB Joshua ministering

This has, however, not dissuaded the Lagos State government from seeking prosecution of the contractors that handled the building of the collapsed structure.

After exhaustive legal fireworks between the state coroner and lawyers representing the church spanning many months, the case was eventually filed before an Ikeja High Court, where Akinbela Fatiregun and Oladele Ogundeji alongside their companies – Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd and the trustees of Synagogue Church – are facing a 111-count charge bordering on gross negligence and criminal manslaughter.

At the last adjourned hearing of the case on June 22, 2016 before judges’ yearly three months vacation shut down the courts, a former Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olutoyin Ayinde, told Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo at the Ikeja High Court that the auditorium of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) did not have a valid building permit.

When former President Goodluck Jonathan visited the site of the collapsed building in 2014

When former President Goodluck Jonathan visited the site of the collapsed building in 2014

Hoteliers in the Ikotun-Egbe axis area are, however, bemoaning their losses due to low occupancy rate , blaming the situation on the Synagogue building collapse, which in turn affected influx of worshippers to the church.

Before the accident, thousands of Nigerians and foreigners alike thronged the church in search of miracle healings for various afflictions. The miracle-seekers, all of whom could not see Prophet Joshua in one day, took accommodation in hotels in the area.

But since the collapse, the throngs have thinned out, while the hotels have lost revenue running into billions of naira. According to an official of the Pilgrims Hotels Association of Nigeria, Chief Jerry Omorodion, the total number of bed spaces of different categories for all the hotels in the Ikotun area is about 3,500.

Before the accident, the hotels record nearly 100 per cent occupancy rate due to the church programmes, which hold three times a week. Sadly, the occupancy rates now fluctuate between 10 and 20 per cent all weeklong.

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Manager of Phonix Pilgrims Hotel in the church’s vicinity, Paul Ogbeide, noted that since Joshua resumed ministering after his retreat following the tragic incident, religious tourists from across the world especially from Africa and Asia are returning in their thousands to attend the weekly deliverance services at the SCOAN.

“From Thursdays, our rooms are fully booked by foreign visitors who stay for one week to one month while those visiting from different parts of Nigeria stay about two days.

“Aside hospitality operators, these religious tourists affect the livelihood of many people positively and various sectors benefit from their financial resources,” Ogbeide explained.

A resident, David Efiong, who makes a living by connecting visitors with hoteliers, added that banks, currency changers and market men and women in Ikotun and its environs also depend solely on these religious tourists for survival.

synagogue

Ogbeide, however, recalled that the tragic incident of September 2014 had nearly brought the bubbling activities in the area to a standstill due to loss of patronage.

“The number of church visitors, who come with dollars, euros, pounds and other foreign currencies to enrich the local economy has reduced drastically. Many hoteliers converted their guesthouses to residential apartments because they thought government would seize the church. But today, normalcy has gradually returned to SCOAN,” he said.

According to an hotel booking website, http://www.hotels.ng, areas surrounding the popular church in Ikotun have a total of 110 hotels.

 

No dirge for victims of Synagogue building collapse, two years on

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What was the single deadliest hour in human history?

• 1556 Shaanxi Earthquake
The morning hours on the 23rd January 1556 in Shaanxi, China. On this day, the deadliest recorded earthquake ever occurred, killing roughly 830,000 although that is an estimate. It is the third worst Natural Disaster ever recorded, however unlike the other, deadlier natural disasters, this occurred over a very short period, making it the single deadliest hour in human history.

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An 840km wide area in the provinces of Shaanxi, Henan, Gansu, Hebei, Shandong, Hubei, Hunan, Jiansu and Anhui was destroyed. That’s larger than 24 countries, including Singapore, Tonga and Bahrain. This massive death toll is thought to have reduced the population of the two provinces by about 60 percent.

It is believed to have been 8.0 on the Richter scale, which would make it devastating even in a country which was built to combat earthquakes, but what made the problem worse was that many Chinese people lived in Yaodongs. Yaodong means ‘house cave’. It is estimated that 40 million people in China still live in these Yaodongs.

A beautiful example of a Yaodong

A beautiful example of a Yaodong

Now when the Earthquake occurred, landslides occurred in these mountains, and the inhabitants on the Yaodongs were crushed. It is estimated that 810,000 of the deaths came from people dying in collapsed Yaodongs.

 

The Daddy G.O you never knew

… The sweet loving romantic part that will WAOOO you

The love story of Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) popularly known as Daddy GO and his darling wife, Pastor (Mrs.) Folu Adeboye is one that could compete for one of the most romantic love stories in this clime. Daddy GO has not only proved that having God at the centre of your life is key but he has also proved that real men still exist.

Pastor Adeboye and wife at their engagement ceremony 49 years ago

Pastor Adeboye and wife at their engagement ceremony 49 years ago

As they celebrate their 49th anniversary today. Here are 20 things you would never believe Daddy GO does:

  • Adeboye married twice surprise face hahaha…not what you’re thinking. He had a traditional marriage first then a white wedding in church about two years after.
  • Adeboye couldn’t afford a ring then but he promised his wife that she will never lack anything and has since kept this promise.
  • When Adeboye could finally afford a ring, he refused to buy or wear one. He also mandated his last son, Leke Adeboye, to do same.
  • Adeboye wouldn’t eat food or drink anywhere his wife doesn’t approve first.
  • Adeboye prefers his meals freshly cooked daily.
  • Adeboye expects his wife to fast with him when he is fasting.
  • Adeboye eats dinner between 4-5pm and that’s it for the day.
  • Adeboye sometimes goes into the kitchen to give moral support and taste the food. He also advises on which food needs more seasoning or salt.
  • At least three times every year, Adeboye leaves his whole family for about five days, no phone calls, no sex, no distractions, even his wife is not allowed around him. (we all know whose face he goes to seek)go2
    • Adeboye used to be very fat, his weight was so disturbing that his wife begged him to do something about it.
    • Adeboye started making efforts toward reducing his weight by totally avoiding fizzy drinks and alcohol. Now, he only drinks water, fresh fruit juice and teas.
    • Adeboye would never leave Nigeria and is never more than a two-hours’ drive or flight away from his wife on the month of her birthday. This is one of the promises he made to her when they got married.
    • Adeboye still gives monthly household expenses fees to his wife till date. This even increases year by year as inflation goes up
    • Adeboye also gives his wife monthly self-maintenance allowance
    • When he is at home, Adeboye kisses his wife every morning and prays for her even before coming out to see anyone else.
    • Adeboye always buys marching watches, suit cases. Everything he needs to get, he always makes sure to get her own version of it.
    • Adeboye always puts his wife first before his children. Besides they will and have all left home anyways.
    • Adeboye has never stopped appreciating his wife for her sacrifice over the years and putting her dreams on hold so he could become who he is today hence he never leaves her behind in anything and everything he does.

     

Change or Chains

Angst as Nigerians feel pains of increasing hard times
By Tope Templer Olaiya
These are not the best of times in Nigeria. Long before July 21, 2016, when the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, officially confirmed that the country was ‘technically in recession,’ it had been an arduous battle for survival for citizens, organizations and governments at all tiers.

The first half of the year was rough.

In spite of government’s assurances, Nigerians weathered the storm, bracing the challenge of petroleum scarcity, epileptic power supply amid increase in electricity tariff, removal of subsidy on petrol, hike in cost of food, goods and services, unprecedented scarcity of tomatoes, skyrocketing exchange rate of the naira to a dollar, backlog of unpaid salaries and mass retrenchment of workers.

For this man, RECESSION is not just a word

For this man, RECESSION is not just a word

Government kept repeating that the tide would turn once the 2016 budget was passed and the second half of the year would be better for the country and its citizens.

President Muhammadu Buhari eventually signed the budget on May 6, raising the hopes of turnaround with the injection of government funds across critical sectors of the economy.

With four months left in the year, it’s a stark reality of a depressed economy staring Nigerians in the face as strange things are reported daily.

Organized and petty crimes have been on the increase, unsecured pots of soup have become endangered species, sale of human blood and organs for economic reasons is rife, and frustrations have given rise to rampant cases of domestic violence, child abuse and suicide.

The hunger is so widespread that poultry farmers confess to skipping meals for their birds as the cost of feed has risen by 100 per cent.

Signs of the time: A boy eating crumbs from a pot.

Signs of the time: A boy eating crumbs from a pot.

Even in the president’s home state of Katsina recently, there was a massive scramble for unwholesome grain when the truck conveying bags of the suspected poisonous grains for destruction broke down in a village.

When persuasion failed, authorities had to engage the help of task force to retrieve some of the poisoned grains in a bid to avoid devastating consequences.

The new economic reality is affecting the lifestyle of Nigerians.

Today, an exchange of pleasantries is incomplete without the word ‘Change’ in reference to the evocative slogan that brought the present administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to power.

The standard reply to any untoward situation in the country is ‘Chanji’, the street version of APC’s motto – change.

President Buhari takes a peep at the capital city from Aso Villa

President Buhari takes a peep at the capital city from Aso Villa

A public affairs commentator based in Kano State, Aminu Muhammad Ofs, last week recounted his experience of the times, which has gone viral on social media.

He said: “I was sitting with a guy who sells tea when an elderly man came and said ‘Give me ‘Buhari’s mixture’. Without saying anything more, the man was given some tea and small bread for a sum of N40.
I was baffled, so I asked the seller what the man meant by ‘Buhari’s mixture’. He explained that it means tea without milk plus a small loaf of bread.

“Again the next day, I stopped by a small kiosk to get a battery for my wireless computer mouse. While I was leaving, a guy came who said: ‘Give me Buhari and Osinbajo. I waited to see what he meant and the seller handed him garri and groundnut.

“I inquired from the seller, who explained that garri is the street term for President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is groundnut, while Senate President Bukola Saraki is sugar, slang for the staple foods the poor can afford.”

A drummer bows his head in agony after low patronage.

A drummer bows his head in agony after low patronage.

Before now, Lagos State was often referred to the city that never sleeps, because it is known for its hustle and bustle from dawn to dusk.

The wind of recession has blown all that away.

The bustling nightlife is disappearing in the Centre of Excellence, as the city practically shuts down and becomes a ghost town once it is 10p.m., even on weekends.

Due to the harsh economic conditions in the country, Nigerians have developed some clever methods of dealing with the tough circumstances.

Policemen take to lotto and gambling to make ends meet

Policemen take to lotto and gambling to make ends meet

According to a public opinion survey by NOIPolls, released on August 10, 2016, 97 per cent of the respondents said the recent economic realities have had a negative effect on the wellbeing of the average Nigerian.

Some survival methods discovered by the polls include cutting down on household expenses and luxury items, resorting to prayers and hoping for a miracle, engaging in subsistence farming, adjusting feeding patterns in place of the regular three-square meals.

A businessman, Emeka Obinna told The Guardian that he has had to adjust the feeding patterns of his family.
“I have a family of six, with several other dependents. That’s the only way we are managing to survive. No more three-square meals. It is either breakfast and dinner, or lunch and dinner. So, it is the 1-0-1, 1-1-0 or 0-1-1 formula I am operating now with the little resources at my disposal,” he said.

 

Angst as Nigerians feel pains of increasing hard times

Inside the shimmering state of Lagos

• Power cable vandals threaten street lighting efforts
• Govt, communities worry over consequences
By Tope Templer Olaiya
It was a tragedy too many when last Wednesday, an unidentified woman met her untimely death at Kosofe bus-stop in Mile 12 area of Lagos State when she was electrocuted while crossing the expressway.On her way to Mile 12 market, she was attempting to cross the road when unknowingly touched the railing dividing the highway, whic h had contact with a faulty electrical pole and she died instantly.

That was the fourth such incident at the same spot in the last three months, especially since the Light Up Lagos project initiative by the Akinwunmi Ambode-administration installed streetlights across the length and breath of the state.

According to an eyewitness, “a red flag was even tied on the rail to warn pedestrians against crossing from that spot. The woman must have been unaware of the danger and touched the pole,” he said.From early this year, the state governor Akinwunmi Ambode had embarked on the Light Up Lagos project in the first phase of an ambitious agenda to make Lagos State a 24-hour economy, where production, exchange, distribution and consumption take place round the clock.

Construction work ongoing at night on a lit up street in Badagry

Construction work ongoing at night on a lit up street in Badagry

Sometimes also called ‘the city that never sleeps’ Ambode hopes Lagos would join economic powerhouse cities like New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Bangkok, Seoul, Shanghai and Chicago, where the 24-hour economy is driving productivity, building strong institutions, improving quality of life, environmental sustainability and infrastructure development.

Relying on the five gas-powered Independent Power Projects at Akute, Alausa, Mainland, Island and Lekki, which are supplying energy to the streetlights and other public facilities, it is now smooth night-driving through Third Mainland Bridge, Ikeja, Ojodu-Berger to Iyana-Oworonshoki, Murtala Muhammed Airport Road, Okota through Isolo to Ikotun, Mushin to Onipetesi, Agege and Sango.

With Lagos nights now brilliantly lit-up, the dread of driving after dusk is giving way to some ease , especially in areas like Ejigbo, Ipaja, Ayobo, Ishefun, Aiyetoro, Oshodi among others.A resident living in Oshodi, Mr. Solomon Enilolobo, said the streetlight on Airport Road has addressed the problem of insecurity in the area.

Light Up Lagos turns night to day in a street in Amuwo Odofin

Light Up Lagos turns night to day in a street in Amuwo Odofin

“People travel at night and move a lot on this road but it is always with trepidation because of the darkness that envelops everywhere. Even the emergence of petrol tankers didn’t help matters, but with this light now, people can move any time without fear of being attacked.”

“People travel at night and move a lot on this road but it is always with trepidation because of the darkness that envelops everywhere. Even the emergence of petrol tankers didn’t help matters, but with this light now, people can move any time without fear of being attacked.”

To another resident of Ipaja, Ibrahim Mucas, “anyone who loves beauty would appreciate the streetlights in this part of Lagos.“But my worry is that the hoodlums may tamper with them. You can see how they have vandalized aluminum and steel railings on pedestrian bridges.My plea is for the government that has begun this beautiful work to also provide security that would check such vandalism,” he said.

To a community leader in Okota, Alhaji Olalekan Bashir, communities must show more than passing interest in the project.“It is a good thing we are beginning to see the dividends of democracy in this area. A way of sustaining this development is to engage community policing to protect these state infrastructure.

“The Neighbourhood Watch, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and the police should be empowered to prevent cable vandals from stealing streetlight cables in any part of the state.”

lit

Another community leader in Ejigbo, Christopher Emmanuel, noted that commercial bus drivers should be sensitised on safe driving so that they don’t destroy the streetlight poles through reckless driving.“There was a time the governor apprehended a Danfo driver on this road for driving one-way. That picture sent a strong message that the era of driving recklessly is over.

“More of those who willfully break the law, destroy public utilities like cables, poles, roads should be given stiff penalties to deter others,” he said.Meanwhile, the Lagos the Lagos State government has lamented the gross abuse of public infrastructure provided for communities.

According to the Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, government has been bothered that some residents were abusing its infrastructure. He told The Guardian at the weekend, that the present administration was passionate about of inclusive governance and sustainable infrastructural development.

Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication

Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication

“Over time, government has observed gross abuse of the state government infrastructure in our communities which necessitated the decision to embark on inaugurating the management committee, saddled with the responsibility of managing and maintaining community projects across the state.

“I just chaired a meeting with Neighbourhood Watch commanders, to work out modalities on how to effectively combat criminality and ensure obedience to government laws in the state. I can assure you, violators and vandals won’t go unpunished.”Bamigbetan implored Community Development Associations (CDAs) and Community Development Committees (CDCs) to partner with the government in developing their areas by being the government’s eyes and ears in safeguarding public infrastructure from neglect, abuse and vandalism.

 

Power cable vandals threaten street lighting efforts in Lagos