June 13, (THEWILL)- It appeared things fell apart in the Nigerian hospitality sector as residents of Ikotun-Egbe, a major tourism hub, are worried following the demise of founder of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, last Saturday. He was 57.
And the incidence, no doubt, would truncate the business activities of Igando/Ikotun Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State where SCOAN is located.
TB Joshua’s sudden death, apparently, is a huge loss to Lagos State, Nigeria and Africa because of his contributions to religious tourism and other businesses that have positively impacted the nation.
No fewer than 100 medium and small hotels are located in the community that depends on patronage from worshippers and tourists to the church. In the last one year, these hotels have been operating below capacity due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The president of Lagos State Hoteliers Association, Oluomo Jamiu Talabi said: “When I heard that news my mind goes for our colleagues there. I asked myself, what would become of their businesses? And I know his death would drastically affect their businesses. Sitting alone is a business and landlords are collecting up to N500 just to sit on a chair not to talk of buying something.”
Michael Akaniyene of Victoria Continental Hotel, said: “Hospitality industry thrives here, especially on weekends. But with his death, we might not start seeing the impact now because the church service has not resumed fully because of COVID-19. Again, more hotels are springing up hoping that after COVID-19 business will boom again. Unfortunately, his death will cause a huge setback to hotel owners because the church may no longer receive the large size of visitors and worshippers as before.
“The church visitors and worshippers are our major customers. Also, taxi operators are connected to our business. Bureau de change operators too will not be left out of the impact. His death means a lot to the people especially the widows and orphans who he always assist. And because of his presence here in Ikotun axis, the residents enjoy some level of power supply. He even donated a generator to the community recently.”
A supervisor at Globus Supermarket in the area, Mr. Christopher Ehijele, noted that they recorded very low sales on Sunday, following the sad news of Joshua’s death. He stated that many people rushed to the church instead of coming to buy things from the supermarket. “Unfortunately, because of the lockdown, foreigners have not been attending the church which has affected our sales. It is a big blow to our business.”
Managing Director Hardrock Hotel, Chiyem Aghado said: “We will be losing business and we will miss him. It is a bad one for the hotel business and the people around too. I pray the church will continue to grow.”
Omowunmi Ayoade and Mrs Nkechi Olakunle both staff members of Hymax Hotel and Suites summed up the impact of Joshua’s death thus: “It will be much on our hotel business. Egbe community will miss him. Many of the hotel owners are in serious trauma since the death of TB. But, what can we do? God will see us through.”
Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, described Joshua as a committed tourism promoter with a huge contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He said the church has the largest network of religious tourism in Nigeria cutting across 15 countries.
“Each time the church is holding its major event over 60 private jets will be parked at the Lagos Airport. Also, all hotels in Ikeja axis are always fully booked. In fact, I am impressed by his contributions to tourism development in the country.
“If 100 travellers from other African countries such as Zambia, Uganda and South Africa are applying for Nigeria’s visa, over 70 will be heading to Synagogue. Each year, the number of foreigners the church attracts to Nigeria is monumental and a major boost to our tourism. In fact, I am impressed by his contributions. I pray the church authorities will handle the succession process peacefully so that the image of the church will remain unblemished after Joshua’s death,” Runsewe said.
Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mr. Folorunsho Coker, described the late man of God as a great influential pillar of society who reached out to the globe. He stated that though Prophet Joshua has left for the great beyond, his teachings will continue to bring worshippers to the church on pilgrimage. Coker noted that there may be a reduction in number of tourists for a while but that like religious tourists to other sites, it will pick up later.
“His death is a reminder that it is all by the grace of the Almighty. His church will continue to flourish as another will pick up where he left off. His teachings will continue to bring worshippers to his church on a pilgrimage. I think there may be a reduction for a while but look at pilgrimages to holy sites. It continues after life,” he added.
Coordinator, Lagos State Chapter, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) Mr. Gbenga Sunmonu, said the death of Prophet T.B. Joshua is a monumental loss to the tourism and hospitality industry.
“A lot of the hotels in the industry will be challenged if programmes executed are not in line with the man’s vision. Tourist’s inflow will definitely decline because his personality has cornered inflow to the SCOAN. Prophet T.B. Joshua has played his role and has made a contribution that will leave an indelible mark in the history of religious tourism in Lagos State.”
Until his death, SCOAN has been a Mecca of sorts to many African leaders.
Meanwhile, THEWill gathered that TB Joshua planned to donate a coaster bus to the National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) in fulfillment of a promise made earlier to a team from the NIHOTOUR, Lagos zonal office last month.
The late pastor had, a little over a month ago, received a six-man team from NIHOTOUR, Lagos zonal office, led by the Zonal Co-coordinator, Mrs. Chinyere Ibeabuchi, at his SCOAN Prayer Mountain Resort, Agogo-Egbe, Lagos, where he promised to assist the institute.
The Zonal Coordinator had, during the visit, praised the late pastor for his contribution to tourism in Nigeria and called on him assist to NIHOTOUR Lagos office. She said: “The Federal Government and the leadership of NIHOTOUR are doing very well in funding the institute but we could do with help from you in different areas to achieve our mandate.”
Responding, T.B. Joshua had thanked the team, saying he was aware that both NIHOTOUR and SCOAN were operating within the tourism industry but on a different level. He explained that it was all about service to humanity. He then promised to assist NIHOTOUR in whatever capacity he could. But death came calling.