Until the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the former Apartheid colony had always enjoyed very good relations with Nigeria. The two countries have often cross-fertilised ideas in many areas, including but not limited to the arts, culture, religion, music, advertising, etc. During my eventful sojourn in the marketing communications industry, most of the best TV adverts were shot in Madiba’s country, owing to the phenomenal levels of sophistication the country has attained in the Ogilvian business.
However, one of the major areas where Nigeria and South Africa have always collaborated is religious tourism. This sector accounts for a heavy chunk of the foreign exchange that flows into Nigeria. South Africans who come to Nigeria are always headed to The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, to receive spiritual succour, and they are passionately connected to it.
Prophet T.B. Joshua has always been a father figure to them and their emotional attachment to his teachings and doctrines remains phenomenal. If there is anyone who can play a significant conciliatory role in the wake of the friction between Nigeria and South Africa, Prophet T.B. Joshua is definitely the one. Aside from his pastoral calling, the internationally-acclaimed televangelist has consistently demonstrated the great ability for managing crisis.
The federal government should consult him and tap from his wisdom which has helped many troubled nations return to the paths of peace and harmony. Unknown to many, Prophet T.B. Joshua was instrumental to the creation of the Amnesty Programme during the reign of late President Umaru Yar’Adua. He has also played other mediational roles in countries like Liberia, Ghana, Libya, Malawi and Tanzania. His ministry, through the Emmanuel TV Partners, has maintained an enigmatic reputation for mitigating the pains of a troubled world with inimitable acts of love and charity.
For a man whom the United Nations has recognised as an exemplary change agent, Prophet T.B. Joshua’s relevance in Nigeria’s foreign relations must not be underestimated. Vice President Yemi Osibanjo should advise President Buhari to reach out to T.B. Joshua now. This is not the time to play politics with our country’s international affairs. Coincidentally, since Wednesday, September 12 marks the 5th anniversary of the Martyrs of Faith who lost their lives while on a spiritual pilgrimage to The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, I urge President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria to send their regards to the great Nigerian and worthy compatriot who has etched Nigeria’s name on the sands of time.
The Lagos State government on their part should discontinue the litigation over the collapse of his church building which led to the death of 116 worshippers, mostly South Africans in 2014. The military aircraft that hovered above the building on that fateful day should have been the focal point of investigations but sentiments have not allowed us to do the right things as a nation.
I also urge Prophet T.B. Joshua to organise a world press conference to address the ongoing Nigeria-South Africa friction. As a global religious influencer with the most-watched Christian TV channel in the world, his counsels will surely calm all frayed nerves and restore the peaceful co-existence between Nigerians and the descendants of Skaka Zulu.
Iwelunmor Patrick, a Public Relations practitioner, writes from Lagos.