ONE year after the founder and Senior Pastor of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) Prophet T.B. Joshua, closed down the church in order to meet the government’s directive on COVID-19 pandemic, hospitality and ancillary services that depend on pilgrims and tourists to the church for their patronage are on the verge of extinction.
According to hospitality operators in Ikotun, 60 per cent of the accommodation facilities in the area have shut down sending thousands of workers into the labour market.
Even though the SCOAN has put in place all the necessary health precautions in line with the COVID-19 protocols, Prophet T.B. Joshua has insisted he will only re-open the church when directed by God.
However, the continuous closure has caused so much hardship to the hospitality operators in Ikotun and the environs and they are hoping that the church will reopen as soon as possible.
Chief Sunny Ozumba, an owner of a hotel and a pilgrims’ hostel in Ikotun, who commented on the situation said the operators were in dire condition, “Your guess is as good as mine. You must have guessed that we are roasting. I am thinking of relocating. I am thinking of relocating because the coronavirus is not abating and the government is not telling us anything that is important to us. “The church is mindful of the current situation plus the social distance guideline and so are cautious of taking decisions. And the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) is such that if it opens, some people will start disseminating information that people should come over for the cure of COVID-19 and all that.
“Even if the Man of God tells them don’t come, they will still come. I think he is mindful of the people’s well-being honestly, but the situation is not to our own economic interest.”
Another hotelier while commenting on the situation said “We survived other crises including the Ebola crisis, but we need God and the government’s help to survive the current situation. There is so much hunger around this area. Our source of livelihood is temporarily gone. We don’t know what to do.
Speaking further on the closure, Ozumba said “Well, we have those whose main source of clientele is accommodating pilgrims that visit the SCOAN only or mostly. I don’t know about others, but for us who are involved in accommodating pilgrims to Synagogue, we are having it tough.”
On whether the hoteliers are having any form of clientele from local pilgrims, he said “It is the same situation, except in the case of the local pilgrims, you can see one in a hundred sauntering in, but for international pilgrims, it is totally zero.”
But, there is hope. Without the hope we would have gone totally extinct. I think the church may not open its door until the virus fizzles out,” Ozumba said.
He lamented that despite the difficulty and situation, they have not received any form of palliative of help from either the state or Federal Government “During the first phase of the virus, I never knew some people from either the state or Federal Government have my details.
“They sent me a letter saying that I was going to have some palliatives. I was hoping and waiting, nothing happened. So, I shared my experience with a group I belong to. They told me that I should either wait there until I die of hunger, or go and find what to do. These days, the only things I get on my phone are vaccination messages. So, there has been no palliative of any kind.”