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Pendulum: Prophet T B Joshua and the Journey to Nazareth 

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By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me say how delighted I feel right now that I made the trip to Israel this past week. Israel is not new to me just like I’m not new to Israel. In addition, I have good friends from that small, but extremely powerful nation. I will return to that shortly, as this trip was full of drama.

Let’s begin with Act 1, Scene 1. I had no intention of heading to Israel at this time, my studies in Oxford and a couple of projects in Nigeria and Ghana meant that travelling to that side of the world was not in my consciousness at all.  However, God must have planned the journey without my knowledge. The trip dropped itself on my laps without warning.

I had received a call from one of the most prayerful and extremely benevolent women of God, Reverend Mother Abimbola Esther Ajayi, popularly known by her moniker, Iya Adura, who incidentally had invited and taken me to Jerusalem, between 2017 and 2018. On the trip I got introduced to a very efficient tour operator, Shadia, who took good care of all of us.

The call from Iya Adura, with whom I talk almost daily on several issues, this time was at the instance of Shadia who wanted an introduction and recommendation to the incredibly popular Prophet, Temitope Balogun Joshua (T.B. Joshua), who has been a long-time friend and Brother of mine. Iya Adura apparently told Shadia she has no contact for or association with T. B Joshua but mentioned my name as one person that can definitely reach Prophet T. B Joshua who happens to be one of the most sought-after human beings in Africa, and beyond. So, Mama called, and I swung into action immediately.

I started by calling all the numbers I had for Prophet T. B Joshua but couldn’t reach him directly. I left messages but got no instant response. However, two days later he sent a text that he’d also been trying my numbers in Nigeria, Ghana and the United Kingdom since the day before upon seeing my calls and messages. I obviously did not recognize the number he was calling from and I did not get to reply immediately. I quickly called him, and we spoke with our usual conviviality. I told him the reason I wanted to speak to him, and he requested for Shadia’s number with automatic alacrity and promised to reach out to her instantly. I felt greatly honoured that such an incredibly busy man could accord me such respect. To my utter amazement, I confirmed from Shadia minutes later that he reached out to her as promised.

I thought that was all. My introduction and task were over, I withdrew into my shell, but it was not to be for long. Days later, I got a call from Prophet T. B Joshua asking me to join him on his trip to Nazareth for a powerful crusade. There was no way I could have said no to him. I immediately accepted his invitation. I promised to travel from London to Israel as I had to return to the University of Oxford where I have been on Fellowship. He promised to call back and we spoke a few more times before the journey.

Act 1, Scene 2. All was set and I seriously looked forward to visiting the birthplace of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the day of travel, I arrived London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 early, as I always do. I hate to arrive late to the airport like some people do and start rushing and panting. The best part of the journey for me is exhaustively making use of the lounges of airlines like Emirates, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. You can do with a bit of pampering before you fly. Well, at least I can! On this occasion, I was flying with British Airways and once through the departure formalities I promptly went into the Concorde Lounge and buried myself into the sheer luxury that the it has to offer.

After leaving the lounge on this special day, I boarded my flight early and settled down comfortably in my seat. Then a message flew in from my cousin that there were reports of possible trouble for Prophet T. B Joshua in Nazareth. I opened the link and there were tales of different groups including Christians, Rabbis and Muslims, objecting seriously to the planned crusade by T. B Joshua. I foresaw an apocalypse ahead but knowing myself well enough, I was actually energized and more determined to witness whatever would happen on the day. Journalists are like soldiers; we love and revel in action and the big news.

I landed in Tel Aviv late evening of June 21, 2019, but due to the long walk to Immigration desks and the queues, I only managed to pick my bags past midnight and arrived the Ramada Hotel, in Nazareth, at a time most normal people were fast asleep and probably snoring away. Throughout my taxi drive to Nazareth, I was on the lookout for any sign of trouble but saw none at all. The events were billed to start on June 23 and end on June 24. I went to bed dog-tired and barely struggled to wake up for breakfast at about 10a.m.

Not much happened until D-Day, June 23. There was palpable tension because of the negative news that had gone viral. Will the crusade go on or not was the million-dollar question on every lip? But the organizers were unperturbed. They went about their duty with every sense of purpose and responsibility. Nothing was left to chance. Security was top of the agenda. They were determined not to let anyone come to constitute a nuisance. On a regular day, Israel never jokes with Security not to talk of an unusual day such as this.

You must give it to T. B Joshua, he meticulously executed this project. His team was just superb. The attendees came from different parts of the world. Wow, we seem to underrate T. B Joshua back home. Without sounding profane, he is regarded and treated like a supernatural being in Israel. He is adored and worshipped with great fervour indeed. When I landed at Tel Aviv airport, several people asked me with admiration and enthusiasm if I had come for T. B Joshua’s program. I was so proud that a fellow Nigerian has succeeded in capturing the imagination of this part of the world in this manner.

Act 1, Scene 3. The event started slowly at about 4pm with some soul-lifting and stirring music by the choir assembled as a potpourri of Arabs and Africans. It came to a crescendo when T. B Joshua came in humbly, but powerfully, in his usual garb of shirt and trousers. He looked so majestic and mercurial even in his simplicity. He climbed the stage and grabbed the microphone and the audience roared as he began to teach like a true follower of Christ and the Holy Bible that he is.  His theme for this first session was about love and he quoted copiously about love from the holy book to the excitement and adulation of the throngs of people massed and gathered to watch, listen and worship with him.   He told them to love those who hate and despise them, no matter how difficult that seems.

His opening words were dramatic and foreshadowed the intense passion that was to follow. “My name is T. B Joshua. Some people call me Prophet. Some call me Pastor… They have given me different titles, but all I know is that my name is T. B Joshua. That is enough for me…” The crowd went wild in ecstatic jubilation at the simplicity of his introduction of his person. After a few minutes, the prophet came down and came out to be closer and interact with his followers. Miracle seekers had jammed the place in droves. They came from far and near, with all manner of challenges and disabilities. The Prophet who obviously was used to this was unruffled. He told them to have faith in the power of Jesus Christ to deliver them from all evil. He told them all diseases are the handiwork of the devil, but that the Lord, being a merciful, loving and benevolent God would come down to heal them, provided they believed in God as their Lord and Saviour.

Then they were lined up in rows and the Prophet started laying hands on them. Even before touching some of them, they were already reacting with spasms and seemed to be under the control and influence of some supernatural being. He started touching them, and some fell down, some screamed, some rolled on the floor and some did a combination of these things.  Some were thanking God for healing them instantly. Some begged him to have mercy on them. T. B Joshua has totally matured into his evangelical work. It was wonderful and inspiring watching him at work. Meanwhile, his wife, Lady Evelyn, stood solidly behind him like the Rock of Gibraltar and assisted as required. The event ended at about 9p.m without any hitch. The Prophet of the Lord, T. B. Joshua performed miracles and touched hundreds of devotees during the event. The event was simply epochal, and I felt truly privileged to have been a part of it.

Act 2, Scene 1. The second day came and followed the same pattern. In his preaching, T. B Joshua revealed how he had visited Mount Precipice three years ago and was shocked to find the place overgrown with weeds. He had promised at the time to turn the place around and make it into an Eldorado. He showed the video of how desolate and forlorn the place looked at the time. True to his word, T. B. Joshua has radically changed and altered the place and its environment, turning it into a magnificent and powerful amphitheatre for the worship of God. In doing this, he has not only built a testament to the glory of God, he has created direct and indirect employment for hundreds of people and become a wealth creator and facilitator for this little historical and biblical part of Nazareth, as most of Nazareth is. Indeed, it is no longer a site of rejection as the Bible tells us but a site of regeneration and hope. Pope Benedict who worshipped there with more than 40,000 people would be glad to see that today, T B Joshua has restored this monument to the glory that it should have and more besides.

In the course of our visit, I was invited to his office, he had many rooms and tents all over the mountain and wherever I went to I saw the awesome work and wonder of the Man of God. We discussed the magnitude of his work for a few minutes before I departed to the hotel. I left with a better picture and appreciation of a T. B Joshua to whom we don’t seem to give enough respect at home. With what I saw, heard and learnt, I have come to believe that he has suffered too many unjustified insults and tribulations back home.

My take is that religion is a voluntary act. Joshua has never forced anyone to worship with him against that person’s wish or to attend his Synagogue by compulsion. He has not coerced anyone into seeking to receive the miracles he professes to bring to people on behalf of God. Let me say, emphatically, that as far as I am concerned, he is the single biggest tourism attraction in Lagos. I expect Lagos State Government to tap into this goldmine by collaborating with Joshua and turning the roads leading to his place of worship into well maintained expressways. That is what Joshua himself has done in Mount Precipice, but laws, envy, lack of understanding and comprehension as well as the capriciousness of our leaders have made it impossible for him to replicate this feat in his own backyard. This is what would have happened in other climes.

If what I witnessed in Nazareth is anything to judge by, T. B Joshua has become a religious prodigy and icon. My taxi drivers in Nazareth swore by his name. I became a star myself by dropping his name. The newspapers were agog with the news of our Man of God as he spread the gospel at this unique and spectacular event. T B Joshua made me proud to be a Nigerian. It is not all gloom and doom.

I thank God on his behalf…

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Atiku Hails Judgment on Full Financial Autonomy for LGs, Says It’s a Win for Nigerian People

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections, and a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has hailed the judgment of the Supreme Court, ordering that henceforth local government allocations be paid direct into various local government accounts, saying it is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The Waziri Adamawa made his views public via his social media handle, saying categorically that “I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.”

He wrote:

The judgment of the Supreme Court earlier today affirming fiscal autonomy to local government councils in the country is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The court’s ruling is a step in the right direction and a major corrective action in greasing the wheels of national development across the country.

The decision by the Federal Government to consolidate disbursements of local councils’ revenues into the state government accounts was a decision that was borne out of politics of hasty compromise.

I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.

I also share the belief that fiscal autonomy to the local governments should not be limited to revenues from the Federation Accounts, but indeed, should apply to Internally Generated Revenue from the respective local government authorities.

Many of our states, especially those in the ultra urban areas with high density economic activities, have become notorious in muscling local councils from generating revenue on items that border on motor parks, outdoor advertising, rents and many more.

The verdict of the court is in tandem with the core functions of the Supreme Court as an arbitration court between and among governments. -AA

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Supreme Court Grants LGAs Full Financial Autonomy

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that the 774 local government areas (LGAs) be given a full financial autonomy across the federation.

A seven-man panel of Supreme Court Justices led by Justice Garba Lawal delivered the ruling on Thursday, July 11, 2024.

The apex Court initially heard the suit between the Federal and State government on the autonomy of local government on June 13 and reserved judgment.

The suit marked SC/CV/343/2024 was filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), and it sought full autonomy and direct fund allocation to the 774 local government areas (LGAs) in the country.

Fagbemi requested the Supreme Court to order that funds for LGAs managed by caretaker committees appointed by governors, rather than elected chairmen and councillors, be withheld.

However, the 36 state governors, represented by their attorneys general, oppose the suit on various grounds, including their argument that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case.

In its ruliing on Thursday (today), the Supreme Court ordered that full financial autonomy be granted to the LGAs, recognizing them as an independent segment of the federation.

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Wike vs Ireti Kingibe: Time to Stop the Bully

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By Eric Elezuo

It is an understatement to say that there’s no love lost between the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Nyesom Wike, and the Senator representing the FCT, Mrs. Ireti Kingibe. Their relationship has turned more soured than the proverbial cat and rat. In fact, both cannot see eye to eye, in as much as they are saddled with the same responsibility of promoting and developing the FCT.

While Kingibe, one of the four female senators in the Senate, is operating on the mandate of the people, having been duly elected under the Labour Party in a well contested election in the 2023 General Elections, Wike is an appointee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

No one has been able to explain the origin of the beef between the two political figures, but source close to The Boss, has said that differences in political affiliation may have triggered the initial animosity before it blossomed into full time hatred and cross verbal attacks, leading to the bullying of the Senator.

Senator Kingibe had complained earlier in the life of the administration that the FCT has shun all her approaches to synergise for the benefit of the Abuja residents, since she’s a direct interface of the people as an elected representative. But Wike, in his response tackled the Abuja Senator, asking her to stay away from him that he does not wish to be friends with her.

Wike had lambasted the Senator, accusing her of blackmailing him instead of communicating her problems through the right channels or better still focusing on her oversight functions.

He stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, stating that the lawmaker is aggrieved because the Senate President snubbed her for the position of the Senate Committee on FCT.

“I don’t want to be personal…she’s the Senator for FCT. She went around saying ‘oh, oh Wike is busy scraping roads…I should leave the roads till when the potholes come?” Wike said.

“Somebody wants to be your friend and you say ‘I don’t want to be your friend. Is it by force?’ The problem is that she wanted to be Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT and the Senate President said ‘I’m not giving you’.

‘What are you going to supervise me? You cannot supervise me. What is her interest, that I must see her? If I have a problem I’ll go and see her. I don’t have a problem. Nobody can intimidate me. Look, I was a Minister before. I became a governor of one of the most important states in Nigeria and she thinks that the only way you can bring me down is to go to Channels, TVC, saying the Minister is not carrying me along.

“I don’t have the back to carry. It’s not about blackmailing. Do the right thing. You know her problem? She ran election with my friend Philip Aduda and she sees me taking Philip everywhere instead of her being the Senator. Should I abandon my friend because he failed election?” Wike queried.

However, while the Senator has refused to stay bullied, Nigerians have said that time is now to tame the bully, and save the bullied from any further acts of disrespect.

Kingibe has made it clear however, that she is not in any interested in the friendship of Wike, who she only knows from a distance, but in working together to answer to the needs of the FCT residents, whom both of them have been mandated to serve at the moment.

Speaking on Arise News interview, the Senator reviewed as follows, taking into cognizance that Wike addresses her as one, who claims her senatorial role:

“That’s what he says. I am the senator, but he said in interviews that I claim that I am the senator of the FCT, and he is not obliged to deal with me. But I am saying that by sections 122 and 124 of the Evidence Act, he is bound by the judicial notice of the occupier of the seat of the senator of the FCT.

“I am also saying that section 24 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, imbues on him a duty, that is, the honourable minister, (I am not calling any names because anybody who is the minister is bound by those same laws and duties) to abide by the constitution, to respect all its ideals, institutions and legitimate authorities entirely.

“So just the same way that some Nigerians would have voted for the president, and some would not have, but as soon as he is declared the president, he becomes the president for everybody, and nobody can pick and choose who would rather be the president. And therefore, same applies to all offices regardless of party or any other position.”

She added, “Please what constitutes friendship between two people who have never met each other? I have never sat in the same room with the minister except in the senate committee. So how does friendship arise? Why would I want to be the friend of somebody I do not know?

“The truth of the matter is that the minister refuses to speak or communicate in any way with the senator representing the Federal Capital Territory. So, how are the wishes and the needs of the people to be communicated to him? Please tell me if you know a way.”

Responding while inaugurating the construction of Mabushi Bus Terminal, Phase I, in Abuja, came hard on the senator for her remarks threatening to unseat her as a serving senator in the next election.

Referring to her as a nameless person, Wike asked her to go hug the transformer, in a most derogatory attempt to inform that she does not matter in the scheme of activities in the FCT.

Wike said: “I overheard somebody in Arise this morning. Unfortunately, I hear the person is a member of National Assembly and it is unfortunate I say so. With all due respect, what you don’t know, you don’t know, what you know you know, and the good thing for you is to tell people you don’t when you don’t know, then people will educate you.

“The Honorable Minister of State and my humble self have not been in office for more than 11 months and the person is angry that they are praising us. If you don’t want to or you are angry about that, go and hand yourself in a transformer. If we have done well, we have done well. If we haven’t done well, we haven’t done well. I’m proud to say that in the short time that Mr. President has appointed us, we have done well.

“You said there are no hospitals and there are no hospitals. You, as a legislator, what have you done? How many bills have you sponsored for us to improve our education and health sector?

“I challenge that legislator. If you are very popular, 2027 come and run under Abuja, we will fail you. Do you think that what happened last time, will happen again? It will not happen again. Luckily for me, I am the FCT Minister now. So that is my territory and I’m not afraid.

“So, People should be able to come out and be able to accept the truth. We are not begging for anybody to become our friend, we have so many friends that we cannot even carry along. So how can we go and beg people to become our friends? We are not interested in that.

“If you are angry that people are praising us, by next year your BP level will go very high because the praises you would see would be too much.”

Many legislators were at the event, and they clapped for the minister at the remarks.

In another commissioning activity, the Senate President was on hand to deliver a speech, but ended up talking down on his colleague.

“I saw one of the legislators on television talking about you (Wike) and mentioning the fact that she was not carried along.

“Well, she is a member of the Senate. Once a decision is taken, she is bound by the decision. So, please ignore every distraction (from her) and be rest assured that no matter what you do, not everyone will praise you. Others will still try to find faults,” Mr Akpabio told Mr Wike, who was beaming with smiles.

Many other Senators were present at the event.

But Nigerians have come hard on the FCT Minister for his unguided utterances against an elected public officer, who is also a septugenarian, accusing him of lacking respect and playing God in the affairs of men.

In their response, the Labour Party, FCT branch, accused Wike of falling out of line, saying that Kingibe did nothing  y calling his attention to main needs of the Abuja residents.

The FCT chairman of the party, Comrade Diugwu Chukwuemeka, said by Wike’s outburst, he showed that he is not at home with the peculiarities of the FCT, nothing that the area is a conglomeration of different persons from across the length and breadth of the country.

“Does he not know that he is a tenant in FCT merely appointed by  the president and  if Mr. President decides to remove him, he will be removed without any ceremony,” the LP chairman queried.

On his part, the National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr Ajuji Ahmed, described Wike’s attack on Senator Kingibe as verbal violence.

He said that Wike does not have the power to stop other politicians’ re-election because he is not the one that brought such politicians to the office in the first instance.

“That (the attack) amounts to verbal violence because there is no reason why he (Wike) should do that. He is not in the LP. It was LP that elected her. He has nothing to do with LP and he is not the entire electorate of the FCT. There is no way somebody can stop someone from being re-elected in three years time. It’s not a savoury statement.”

Also speaking, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA), Chief Chekwas Okorie, also described the verbal exchange between Wike and the FCT as bad.

He appealed to the two public officers to sheathe swords and collaborate for the overall progress of the FCT.

“For me, it is all politics. But it is unfortunate that they allowed their political differences to affect their service to the people.

“The senator representing FCT represents all Abuja and the entire Abuja has one FCT minister.

“It is the National Assembly that presides over Abuja. One would have expected the two to work together. But it is bad that they are fighting each other,” he said.

However, in total condemnation of Wike’s bullish approach to the administration of the FCT and attacks on Kingibe, the women of Abuja have held a protest, asking that Wike be checkmate in his untoward utterances against Kingibe.

“We, the Concerned Women of FCT, Abuja, are therefore calling on all women in Abuja to rise against Wike’s antics,” the women noted.

While Nigerians expect the legislators to come to the rescue and support of their colleague, the contrary is playing out, encouraging Wike’s bullish attitude. But Nigerians are stepping out of their comfort zone to curb the menace.

Nigerians also understand that Wike’s bullish stance extends to his Rivera State primary constituency, where he is slugging it out with the incumbent governor of the state, Mr. Siminalayi Fubara, over the control of the state. The state has,  in recent months, been a subject of political intrigues and violence as the parties fight for supremacy.

But time will tell.

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