Emotions ran high at the Chapel of Christ the Light, Alausa, Ikeja, on Wednesday, as the Lagos State Government honoured a former presiding Chaplain of the chapel, Venerable Femi Taiwo.
The congregation, consisting of church members, family, friends and well wishers of the cleric, sang songs after songs as they celebrated the occasion.
The state Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, who was joined by top officials of the ministry, presented a gift to Taiwo on behalf of the government.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the special service, which held for about 30 minutes, was kept under wraps, as many church members were not informed.
In May 2017, PUNCH Metro had exclusively reported that Taiwo, his wife and their two children were evicted from the vicarage after being given 24 hours notice to quit.
Church members contributed money to buy cooking utensils for the family, as a new accommodation was sought for them.
Taiwo had been accused of not according the wife of former governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Bolanle, preference and recognition during an anointing service.
Bolanle, with her entourage, was reported to have stormed out of the Sunday service in a fit of rage.
Efforts by women leaders in the church to persuade them to stay on were said to have been rebuffed.
Shortly after they left, the priest was served a dismissal letter by the governing council of the chapel.
The incident had generated outrage from Nigerians, who criticised the former governor and his wife for humiliating the former chaplain.
The head of the African Church, Ifako Diocese, Rt. Rev. Michael Adeyemi, who seconded the cleric to the chapel, had said Bolanle committed a sacrilege.
However, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the state, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, justified the action of the state, saying the priest was a government employee and he could be fired by his employers.
He also dissociated Bolanle from Taiwo’s sacking.
The Christian leader, however, parried questions on the propriety of the 24-hour eviction order.
Two years and six months after, the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration, through the Ministry of Home Affairs and Culture, honoured Taiwo.
A member of the chapel said the special service was kept secret, adding that officials of the ministry, including the commissioner, special adviser, permanent secretary and some members of staff were present.
“Everything was done very quickly too. We started with a hymn, followed by an address by the special adviser to the governor. After a brief remarks, the commissioner presented a gift to Taiwo,” he stated.
The source said though the government’s action was commendable, the church wanted the priest to be honoured in a bigger way.
A senior official of the chapel said he got a text about the event around 2pm on Tuesday.
He insisted that the programme was an initiative of the state government.
He stated, “I got a text stating that the ministry was coming to the chapel to honour Venerable Taiwo. Some members started sharing and spreading the message till late last night (Tuesday).
“When we arrived, the special adviser to the governor was the first to talk. He said something like, ‘Since I have been in Alausa, nobody has told me that you (Taiwo)stole money; nobody said you are a womaniser’. A very brief remark testifying to the integrity of the priest and I believe that was all Venerable Taiwo wanted.”
Our correspondent learnt that the female group in the church turned out in a colourful aso ebi to mark the occasion.
The source said despite the short notice, the women mobilised and organised to wear the uniform to honour Taiwo.
A video clip sent to PUNCH Metro by the official showed the priest singing several songs of praise as he was joined by the church members in a dance.
While thanking the state governor for the honour, he appreciated Nigerians for their kind words.
Taiwo said, “I thank God for His faithfulness and the uncommon grace and rare privilege He has given to me. I thank the Lagos State Government; Mr Governor, Aduramigba Iyanuoluwa Babajide Sanwo-Olu. I appreciate you and everyone. In the midst of the storm of life, you stood by me.
“The day I was to leave here, I saw angels coming down in the form of men. Spontaneously, I saw members of this church come around me and providing all a man could need to survive. What happened that day, nobody prepared for it; nobody thought of it. But God went ahead and made the crooked way straight. I thank and appreciate all of you and I pray that the glory of God will shine on your lives.
“Throughout the time I spent here, I had no regrets, because you were all around me. That is why I cannot forget this place; I cannot forget your beautiful faces.”
Edo 2020: Obaseki, Seven APC Govs Seek Audience with Buhari after Meeting Tinubu
Eight governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, on Sunday, held a meeting with the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, at the state House Marina, Lagos to make a case for the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.
Although details of the meeting were still sketchy as of the time of filing this report, it was gathered that the governors were at the closed-door meeting to seek Tinubu’s intervention in the search for truce in the political conflict between Obaseki and his godfather, the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
Governors who attended the meeting included the chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Babajide Sanwu-Olu (Lagos), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Adeboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).
Others are Mohammed Abubakar (Jigawa) and Obaseki.
Five of the governors, including Obaseki, then proceeded to Abuja, preparatory to a meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
A source privy to the meeting who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said, “The governors met with our national leader, they laid their cards on the table and plainly asked for his intervention.
“They admitted that mistakes had been made especially with the governor’s refusal to pave the way for the swearing in of 14 elected APC members as members of the state Assembly.
“They also noted that the meeting ought to have held earlier and that the governor who was present at the meeting should have reached out to seek help much earlier before the situation degenerated to the level of a public spat between the governor and the national chairman.
“And being the kind of person, he is, our leader listened patiently and he is not one to rush into judgment before hearing from the other party. He will look at what is in the party’s best interest after consulting widely with other stakeholders before taking a final stand.”
The National Working Committee of the party had approved the direct primary as the mode of selecting the party’s standard bearer for the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
Loyalists of the governor are opposed to the mode arguing that it was meant to frustrate his chances of standing as the party’s standard bearer.
Obaseki and his estranged political godfather have been at odds over the former’s bid for a second term in office following a long-drawn battle for the political control of the state.
Pundits accuse the governor of working with his fellow governors opposed to Oshiomhole leadership style in an earlier attempt to force Oshiomhole out of office.
A member of the party’s National Working Committee who also pleaded anonymity for fear of retribution said, “Besides the feud between Obaseki and our National Chairman, we have to consider the overall interest of our party. The best thing to do for our party in Edo is to have direct primaries. This is why; it is the best for us even without the conflict between the two leaders. The last time we did primaries even for the election of Obaseki as governor, it was direct, we have done that there before, we can only improve on it than to go and try something new. Two, if we are learning from our past mishaps like what happened in Rivers State, there were litigations over the congresses we did before and we went into indirect and we used officials whose positions were being challenged in court as delegates and when the court nullified the congresses that brought the executives, everything done was nullified, we lost the opportunity to contest the elections in Rivers State.
“There are two chairmen in Edo, we have recognized the removal of the Anselem-led exco and the matter is still in court, whichever way the court rules, we may have a problem if we use the indirect using the executives as delegates.
“Then there is the issue of COVID-19 with the protocol of social distancing. It will be easier to manage a crowd in each ward instead of bringing four to five thousand people in one place as the indirect mode will require.”
When contacted, the APC National Vice-Chairman, South South, Hilliard Eta said, “As the governing political party, the APC will continue to lead by example when it comes to giving party members the right to choose candidates.
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said, “The APC will, as always, provide a level playing field for all aspirants to pursue their legitimate aspirations in line with the constitution on our party guidelines.”
Nigeria Coronavirus Cases Exceed 10,000 with 307 New Infections
Nigeria’s tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday rose to 10,162 as 307 new infections were announced by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Fourteen deaths were recorded from the virus on Sunday bringing the total number of confirmed deaths from the virus to 287.
Lagos recorded the highest figure of cases reported with 188 infections. The state also remains the epicentre for the disease.
There was a decline in the number of infections reported on Sunday (307) compared to the number reported on Saturday (553).
The country on Saturday had reported the highest daily figure of infections so far yet, since the beginning of the outbreak in Nigeria.
The agency in a tweet late Sunday night said the 307 new cases were reported in 15 states. These are Lagos, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ogun, Kaduna, Oyo, Bayelsa, Gombe, Kano, Delta, Imo, Rivers, Niger, Bauchi, Plateau and Kwara.
“Till date, 10162 cases have been confirmed, 3007 cases have been discharged and 287 deaths have been recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory,” it said.
The 307 new cases are reported from 15 states – Lagos – 188, FCT – 44, Ogun – 19, Kaduna – 14, Oyo – 12, Bayelsa – 9, Gombe – 5, Kano – 3, Delta – 3, Imo – 2, Rivers – 2, Niger – 2, Bauchi – 2, Plateau – 1 and Kwara – 1.
There are 6, 868 active COVID-19 cases in the country as 3,007 people have recovered and have been discharged, with 287 deaths recorded.
A breakdown of the 10,162 confirmed cases shows that Lagos State has so far reported 4,943 cases, followed by Kano – 954, FCT – 660, Katsina – 364, Edo – 284, Oyo – 292, Borno – 271,Jigawa – 270, Ogun – 278, Kaduna – 258, Bauchi – 238, Rivers – 206, Gombe – 161, Sokoto – 116, Plateau – 105, Kwara – 88, Delta – 83, Zamfara – 76, Nasarawa – 62, Yobe – 52, Akwa Ibom – 45, Osun – 45, Ebonyi – 40, Adamawa – 38, Imo – 36, Kebbi – 33, Niger – 32, Ondo – 25, Ekiti – 20, Enugu – 18, Taraba – 18, Bayelsa – 12, Anambra – 11, Abia – 10, Benue – 7 and Kogi – 2.
Despite the increasing figures, many Nigerians are alleging that Nigeria is not testing enough and the figures might not reflect the true situation in the country.
Chris Okotie Slams CAN, Condemns Social Distancing Guilelines in Churches
The Senior Pastor of the Household of God International Ministries, Chris Okotie, on Sunday kicked against the Christian Association of Nigeria’s (CAN) proposed social distancing guidelines for churches.
Mr Okotie, who was the presidential candidate of Fresh Democratic Party, frowned at CAN’s decision to allow what he described as the ‘Idol of Coronavirus’ determine the scope of congregational worship in churches in Nigeria.
This was contained in a statement he posted on his official Facebook page.
The cleric referenced a report published in the Sun Newspaper on Sunday wherein CAN unveiled guidelines for the reopening of churches in the first week of June.
He said, “Social distancing in the Church of Jesus Christ is tantamount to blasphemous infidelity and an impeachment of the integrity of the Word of God. Healing is fundamental to the redemptive work of Jesus.
“To allow the idol of Corona Virus to determine the scope of congregational worship in the house of God is an abomination of gargantuan proportions. No true minister of the gospel will succumb to such travesty of the faith. This is a summary of my objections.
“I have sent this message hoping that you would respond as one who bears the burden of the Cross of Jesus. I have restrained myself from making a public outcry of this desecration and profanation out of respect for you and the CAN hierarchy. But be assured that this position is transient.”
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in Nigeria, a ban has been placed on social and religious gatherings in the country to curb the spread of the virus.
But some Nigerian pastors have challenged the directive.
A popular pastor, Chris Oyakhilome, recently berated his colleagues, (Nigerian pastors) that complied with the government’s ban on large gatherings because of coronavirus.
Mr Oyakhilome, who is the general overseer of Believers’ Love World, popularly known as Christ Embassy, said such leaders were not true Christians as they did not ask the government for time to pray and consult with their congregation.
The Christian Association of Nigeria recently expressed hope that the ban on religious gatherings in the country may be lifted by the first Sunday of June.
CAN President, Samson Ayokunle, a reverend, gave the indication in a statement.
Mr. Ayokunle said churches will disinfect their premises, as well as make provisions for alcohol sanitisers, among others.
He also suggested the use of face masks and adherence to other social distancing measures.