The risk in commenting on issues such as the tragedy that occurred at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos last week is that one is likely to draw the ire of religious fanatics who can’t see beyond their noses.
In a country where people follow sheepishly and ‘men of God’ are seen as super-humans who can do no wrong, I expect that someone somewhere would read this and label the writer and whoever agrees with him as a bunch of unbelievers.
Some will even take it a step further by reminding us of the biblical caveat of “touch not my anointed” that forbids carnal beings like us who only see things from the prism of the flesh from criticizing highly spiritual beings such as Pastor T.B Joshua and others in his ilk when they err.
But it is hard to suppress the anger that comes with a tragedy of this magnitude. It is surreal and almost inhuman to keep quiet and move on as if nothing happened when scores of people died in church which they thought was a safe haven.
A large number of the over 70 Nigerians and foreigners who lost their lives in that tragedy were at the Synagogue in search of miracles. They sought miracles to make their lives better but they found death in a most cruel manner.
But their death is not the real tragedy. The real tragedy is that like Boko Haram and other problems assailing Nigeria today, this was another man- made disaster.
A building collapse is no tidal wave or any other form of natural catastrophe. It is something that happens when fundamental rules are not adhered to. This is what you get when people circumvent due process and cut corners for selfish ends.
There are different versions of the story but one point stands out. It is the fact that Pastor Joshua was trying to convert an existing structure (a 2 or 3 storey) into a six storey building.
You don’t have to be a building engineer to understand what we are talking about here. The ‘man of God’ was simply erecting four additional floors on a foundation that was originally meant for a two storey structure. He was trying to be clever by half!
Death comes when it will but these ones could have been prevented if Pastor Joshua has taken some precautionary measures.
What is more appalling is the fact that rather than show remorse, this ‘man of God’ and his acolytes mock the dead by making up hare-brained excuses aimed at absolving himself of culpability.
In other climes, T.B Joshua, the contractors, engineers and other people spreading that conspiracy theory of a plane hovering around the building before it collapsed should be sleeping in police cells by now.
But because we never learn and pastors are gods in human form, T.B Joshua’s members are ready to lay down their lives in his defence. Boko Haram not their pastor is the reason why over 70 miracles seekers and construction workers perished under the rubble of collapsed building. Rubbish!
Sad as it, this Synagogue tragedy is just another manifestation of our failings as a nation. While Pastor Joshua remains the prime suspect in this case, the contractors handling the project and the officials who approved the plan for the building are equally culpable.
Foreigners reading the story over the internet must be wondering how in Mars Pastor Joshua got approval to raise that structure in a country that has an urban planning agency.
But in a country of endless possibilities – where you can get a driver’s license without ever driving a car – it must have been easy for ‘the man of God’ to secure an approval to convert an archaic two storey structure into a modern edifice by just oiling a few palms at the government office responsible for such. We are that bad!
Now that the worst has happened, the least we can do is to ensure justice for the departed souls. To achieve that, we must call on the relevant authorities to invite Pastor Joshua, the contractor and those who approved the plan for questioning.
Will that ever happen in Nigeria? Your guess is as good as mine.
By Vincent Nzemeke (@vincentnzemeke)