Popular Nigerian Prophet, T.B. Joshua’s prolonged public absence is not only raising concerns among his many followers but severely affecting local business in the area where his church is situated.
The last time Prophet Joshua was seen in public was nearly three months ago. However, since his return to Nigeria from Mexico, the popular cleric has not appeared in any Church Service at The Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), which are broadcast live on ‘Emmanuel TV’.
On June 7th 2015, Joshua released a statement via Facebook, stating, “I came back from the revival trip last week Saturday, waiting for God’s command on what to do next. I can’t wait to join you.”
But Sunday 26th July made it 12 consecutive weeks of TB Joshua’s absence.
Two months down the line, which has seen the conclusion of a coroner’s inquest into the tragic building collapse of a guesthouse within his church last year, there’s been nothing but silence.
It’s the first time in over 25 years of ministry that T.B. Joshua has missed a church service, barring foreign ministration and his arrest and 2 week incarceration by the NDLEA after which he was released.
A report by Sunday Guardian newspaper chronicled the economic effects Joshua’s absence, coupled with reduction in church services since the building collapse last year, has had on the local environment.
“If you come here on Sunday, you will find that a lot of shops are closed. There’s no more business,” a shop owner on the street close to the church lamented to The Guardian reporter, the welfare of most businesses in the area connected to the church’s fortunes.
“If you go there now (Ikotun-Egbe) and see the market, you will realise how bad things have become. If it were before, at this time, you would be seeing many people, foreigners, coming and going… Even those hotels – the workers are crying because people don’t come there again.”
“I think all you newsmen should come together and talk to this man and see what is happening,” a cab driver told The Guardian.
“Programs have totally stopped. Foreigners don’t even see him on TV live. If they just see him on TV in the Sunday services, they will come. A lot of them bought their tickets. But there has been no prayer line,” he continued.
“We are just waiting and praying to God to make him restart the programs. The bitter fact is that there is nothing that can be done to stimulate business in this area. Without foreigners coming and injecting their resources, there is nothing, virtually nothing else to fall back on.”
A Muslim fabric trader in the region, Mrs Eyitayo, however, stated that the evolving events were ‘retribution’ for the selfish antics of local house owners who evicted many tenants in order to cash in the church’s popularity by converting their houses to hotels.
“The man (T.B. Joshua) is doing good but some people are doing bad because of the money they are seeing. When you drive tenants out, and they don’t have anywhere to go, some of them will cry to God. This thing that has happened will let them know that there is God.”
Eyitayo reminisced the time she regularly ordered new clothes from Dubai when visitors, especially foreigners, streamed en masse to the area to worship at the church.
“Two years ago, if you came here, you would think you were overseas because we traded in dollars,” she stated, bemoaning the regions recent drop in fortunes.
Engr. K. Y. Aminu, owner of Kaywy Lodge, a hotel along Segun-Irefin Street near The SCOAN, admitted that his customers were currently paying half-price.
“Business is zero,” he lamented. “I am partially closing down. The 10 rooms here are undergoing conversion,” he explained, adding that he was forced to reduce his staff due to inability to pay their wages.
TB Joshua’s supporters believe the pastor is in a period of ‘fasting and prayer’ but the call for him to reappear is certainly heightening, evidenced by various petitions on the cleric’s Facebook page.
“I know that when he eventually steps out, it will be with an explosion of prophetic fire,” a shop owner near the church in Lagos optimistically told the Guardian reporter, hoping that Joshua’s eventual re-emergence will revive the waning local economy.
Ihechukwu Njoku is a freelance Nigerian journalist
Quoted from Sunday Guardian article