Call him one of the most popular televangelists, a prophet or faith healer, you could be right. The entire attribute fits Pastor Temitope Balogun Joshua, popularly called T. B. Joshua, one of Nigeria’s most popular preachers,
T. B Joshua is the senior pastor/founder of The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), which runs the Emmanuel Television.
The father of three, born on June 12, 1963, hails from Arigidi Akoko in Ondo State.
More than 15,000 members within and outside the country’s shores attend the church’s weekly Sunday service.
According to story of his birth, Joshua was said to have spent 15 months in his mother’s womb, what in Yoruba mythology is called ‘Omo pe’ meaning the baby overstayed in the mother’s womb. It was further learnt he narrowly escaped death seven days after his birth, when a quarry blasting sent rocks through the roof of his house.
Joshua attended St. Stephen’s Anglican Primary School in Arigidi, Akoko, Ondo State from1971 and 1977, where he was said to have led the Student Christian fellowship.
His spiritual calling was noticed even while a young boy, people fondly called him “small pastor” for his love of the bible. After school, TB Joshua worked in a poultry farm. During this period, he organised Bible studies for local children and attended evening school.
The cleric has bagged several awards, among which are; Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 2008, and ‘Yoruba man of the decade’ by Irohin-Odua. He was recognised as one of Africa’s 50 most influential people by Pan-African magazines, The Africa Report and New African Magazine. He was also listed among the world’s most famous people by the website: ‘thefamouspeople.com.
The SCOAN has been described as “Nigeria’s biggest tourist attraction” and “the most visited destination by religious tourists in West Africa” to attend the church’s weekly services. Figures by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), indicated that six out of every 10 foreign travellers to Nigeria are bound for SCOAN.
One major area of Joshua’s ministry is humanitarian work. It is widely reported that this ministry doles out money to help orphans, destitutes and other vulnerable people.
It was reported that in 2009, a widow received more than N500, 000 from Joshua to start a life changing business. In 2012, he sponsored a Nigerian student for PhD at Oxford University at cost of £100,000. He has also spent millions of dollars in rehabilitation programme for militants in the Niger Delta region.
After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, SCOAN sent a team of medical personnel and humanitarian workers to affected areas, while establishing a field hospital called ‘Clinique Emmanuel’ .In recognition of his humanitarian gesture, TB Joshua was awarded a national honour by the Nigerian government in 2008, and also received a letter of appreciation from the United Nations.
He was also honoured as Ambassador of Peace by the Arewa Youth Forum (AYF) in appreciation of his humanitarian endeavours.
However, as a human being, he is not free from the usual controversies trailing every successful person. On September 12, 2014, his faith in God was tested when a guesthouse on his church premises in Lagos collapsed, killing more than a 100 people, mostly foreigners.
Many believed the ensuing bad press about him may not be unconnected with envy from competitors.
While many people speculated different theories as cause for the building collapse, not a few however were convinced that the symmetrical collapse of the building was suggestive of an induced or controlled demolition.
This view was strongly maintained during the coroner’s inquest constituted by the Lagos State Government to ascertain the cause of death of the victims.
Even the police witness, DSP Agboyi had suspected sabotage with explosives to bring down the building. This position received greater credence with the testimony of a weapons expert, Mr. Paul Iguniwei, who told the court that the building must have been brought down using an infrasonic weapon.
According to Iguniwei, “…infrasonic weapons can damage a building by attacking and weakening its basic components like the cement and iron rods. It is improbable that the collapse started from the ground because the building did not tilt to any side while collapsing but came vertically down in one swoop to suggest the collapse started from the top.”
Iguniwei’s view was buttressed by many other prominent individuals and groups.
For instance, the Oodua Nationalist Coalition (ONAC), stated that the attack on the church might be a product of international and local conspiracy. Similarly, the Nigerian Human Rights Community (NHRC), in press statements corroborated the growing public perception that the building collapse was as result of bomb attack.
This is as others had maintained that SCOAN did an excellent job of attempting to rescue the victims alongside the Red Cross.
Members and other numerous supporters are however assured that Prophet T.B. Joshua, who has devoted two decades of his life to humanity, will be vindicated.
Imoh Ekanem, a public analyst wrote from Lagos