Abbey Mortgage Bank Plc may have a new key investor soon, going by some of the resolutions passed at its Annual General Meeting (AGM), which held on Monday. During the event, shareholders approved the following resolutions:
That the authorized capital of the company be increased from N3.5 billion to N6 billion by the creation of 5 billion ordinary shares which will rank pari passu with existing shares.
That the company be authorized to raise N2.3 billion in capital by way of private placement.
Subject to regulatory approval, the private placement shall be by way of sale of 2,261,538,462 ordinary shares at the rate of N1.05 to VFD Group.
If the deal clicks
Abbey Mortgage Bank currently has 4.2 billion shares outstanding. If the private placement is approved, VFD group will be one of the majority shareholders in the company.
Current key shareholders
Figures from Abbey Mortgage Bank’s 2018 full year financial statements showed that the largest shareholders were Rose Ada Okwechime and Chief Ifeanyichukwu Boniface Ochonogor. Okwechime is the founder and Managing Director.
Okwechime has a 30% stake through her personal holdings and Madonna Ashib Comm. Enterprise Ltd. Ochonogor holds a 30.75% stake through his personal holdings and Forte Properties & Investment Ltd.
In an exclusive interview with Nairametrics last year, CEO of the group, Nonso Okpala, had hinted at plans of getting into the banking space.The firm had also raised N2.7 billion through a rights issue and private placement.
About VFD Group
VFD Group was incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on 7 July, 2009 and commenced business operations effectively on 1 January, 2011.
The company’s subsidiaries include VFD Microfinance Bank, Everdon Bureau De Change, and Anchoria Asset Management
About Abbey Mortgage Bank
The bank was incorporated in Nigeria as a private limited liability company on 26 August 1991 and obtained its license to operate as a mortgage bank on 20 January, 1992. It commenced business on 11 March, 1992 and later converted to a public limited liability company in September 2007.
On 21 October 2008, the bank became officially listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. On 16 January, 2014, it changed its name from Abbey Building Society Plc to Abbey Mortgage Bank Plc.
The bank last traded on the 11th of July, 2019 at N0.90 per share. Year to date, the stock is down 8.16%.
Nigerian business magnate, Aliko Dangote, makes about N20.13 billion from cement sales every day. This is according to the Group Managing Director of Dangote Cement Plc, Joseph Makoju, who disclosed that the cement company sells not less than 8 million bags of cement products to the market daily.
Majoku said the company, which is ranked among 10 top producers of cement in the world, on a daily basis, dispatches “about 40,000 tonnes of cement. Every ton is 20 bags. If you calculate, you will get eight million bags. So, we push out eight million bags of Dangote Cement every day.”
Nairametrics understands that since the company sells 8 million bags of cement every day, and sells 600 bags for N1,510,000, no fewer than N20.13 billion would be recorded as cement sales for Dangote every day.
Performance: Dangote Cement Plc appears to be at its best for 2018 fiscal period, as the Chairman of the company was quoted to have said last year was the most successful period in the company’s history. This, however, explains the 52.4% increment of the dividend declared by the company.
Specifically, Dangote cited the 7.4% leap in the group cement sales as the principal factor that informed increase in the proposed dividend. The group cement sales rose to 23.5 million tonnes with a corresponding rise in revenue to N901.2 billion.
The company has consistently declared dividends since it became a quoted company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange with N2, N2.25, N1.25, N3, N7, N6, N8, N8.50, and N10.50 declared for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 financial years.
About Dangote Cement Plc: The company is a leading cement manufacturing firm headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria with operations in nine other African countries.
The business model entails manufacturing, preparation, import, packaging, and distribution of cement and other related products. It is reputed to be the most capitalised company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Dangote Cement Plc traded N170 in the last trading session of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
A borrower who wishes to transfer his/her home loan, should keep a watch on the interest rates that one is paying, as well as periodical offers made by banks, from time to time
A borrower can shift the home loan to any other lender, who is willing to offer better interest rates. At times, a home loan applicant may also want to increase the loan’s tenure, due to various reasons. A customer may also want to transfer the loan, if s/he wants a top-up loan on the existing loan and the present lender is not willing to offer the same.
What is the process for transferring a home loan?
To transfer a home loan, the existing lender needs to be paid first, before it releases the original documents of the property. However, the new lender will not issue a cheque, unless it receives the original property documents. So, how does one resolve this catch-22 situation? A borrower can request his/her existing lender, to issue a letter to the prospective lender. This letter should mention the list of documents related to the property lying with the present lender, the outstanding loan amount, and an undertaking that the bank will hand over the property documents to the prospective lender, on payment of the outstanding amount.
The new lender will also carry out a due diligence check on the property and the customer, to assess the title of the property and the repayment capabilities and track record of the borrower.
The new lender may not be willing to transfer the loan, unless you have a good repayment history and your credit report is also good.
What are the charges involved for transferring a home loan?
For shifting your home loan from one lender to another, you may have to pay charges to both lenders.
The existing bank may levy prepayment charges on the loan. Banks and housing finance companies are not allowed to levy any prepayment charges on floating rate home loans. Even in case of fixed rate home loans, housing finance companies cannot levy this penalty, if the borrower prepays the loan out of one’s own funds, other than by borrowing from any financial institution.
The borrower may also have to pay the processing charges to the new lender. This may vary from 0.2% to 0.75%, from one lender to another and also depends on the applicant’s profile. At times, banks may waive the transfer fee or charge a nominal amount. In February 2014, SBI offered a flat processing fee of Rs 1,000 for balance transfer.
Applicants should remember that the processing fee payable to the bank is negotiable and consequently, they should bargain to minimise the amount or for a waiver of the transfer processing fee.
Although the new lender may not charge you anything for processing of your balance transfer application, you may still have to pay the stamp duty and registration charges for the mortgage. One may also have to pay the valuation charges, in case the bank decides to go for a fresh valuation of the property, either for top-up loans or where the property is not approved by the lender.
Nigeria’s finances are in a precarious state and unless there is adequate liquidity for the government and the private sector, the country will continue to remain fragile to external shocks.
Since the collapse in global oil prices, Africa’s largest economy has seen actual revenues dwarf projected revenues, which has made the government resort to taking on huge external borrowings to meet its expenditure obligations.
However, if there are countries in the world that have successfully scaled through similar situations as Nigeria, India, the world’s most populous nation after China, is a sure example to learn from. Reforms the nation enacted some 30 years ago helped it attract sufficient investments, reduce unemployment and lift well over 370 million of its populace out of poverty.
In the late 90s, the Indian government flagged off economic policy reforms in the business, manufacturing and financial services industries, targeted at boosting economic growth. The reform was a model referred to as Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation (LPG). The major aim of the LPG model was to slacken government regulations hurting the growth of investment in the country, transferring of state-owned assets and positioning the country for consolidation among various economies of the world.
With these reforms, the Indian economy grew the overall amount of overseas investment to $5.3 billion in four years from a microscopic $132 million in 1992. Today, the country is ranked the second-highest destination for investment in the world, according to data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
For Africa’s most populous nation, the government has over time complained of a shortfall in revenue even though it currently sits on idle assets scattered around the country.
Nigeria has dead capital that is worth as much as N900 billion majorly in the real estate and agricultural sector, according to estimates done by global consulting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers. The country got about $23 billion in remittances in 2018, and a dismal amount of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), compared to peers. It also has low levels of external liquidity (compared to the size of its economy) in the form of foreign reserves.
“By unlocking idle assets, improving remittances and making the environment more attractive for FDIs, the government can create the needed liquidity that is required for economic growth,” Ayo Teriba, chief executive officer, Economic Associates, said.
“Going to FDIs puts you in the driver’s seat. Egypt unified its exchange rates and boosted its supply of liquidity. As for remittances, if you can’t embrace your non-residents to send money home, how do you attract foreign investors? We need to move up the remittances and FDI table to join the likes of India and China,” he said.
Teriba added that Nigeria could securitise (not sell) its financial assets (such as LNG/oil JV equity stakes) to get more liquidity, privatise brownfield assets and liberalise other sectors of its economy like rail, for investors to pump money into, leading to increased overall liquidity in the economy.
According to Teriba, if there is no liquidity in the system, there won’t be stability; ease of doing business in a country would be threatened; growth would be slow; infrastructural deficit would widen; diversification agenda can never be achieved; unemployment would skyrocket and the well-being of the populace would continuously diminish.
Nigeria’s postal service currently has about 2,000 buildings in prime locations around the country, BusinessDay investigation shows. Nigeria also has a total of 2,000 police stations and 235 prisons all located in commercial locations across the country.
Teriba argued that the government could securitise or commercialise these assets by opening equity investments as these would attract more external liquidity and help the country in building buffers.
Data compiled by BusinessDay show that Nigeria is the most domestic illiquid country across Africa. In 2017, the total money available in circulation as a percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at 19.5 percent.
This figure represents an abysmal amount when compared with peers around the continent. For Africa’s most industrialised economy (South Africa), money supply as a percentage of GDP stood at 72.2 percent while Angola had 56.5 percent.
In a bid to encourage lending to the real sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria sent two clear options to banks. Either they lend 60 percent of their deposits or they would be forced to pack a higher amount as cash reserves with the apex bank.
The CBN also reduced the amount which deposit money banks can keep with the CBN to yield overnight interest by 73 percent to N2 billion from as high as N7.5 billion.
Ever since the apex bank released the guideline, stocks of Nigeria’s biggest banks have taken a beating, making investors worry about the apex bank’s next line of action.
Teriba argued that there is a clear positive correlation between a country’s external liquidity and the money available in its domestic economy.
“When external liquidity increases, the country becomes stronger to withstand shocks, which would make the exchange rate stable and invariably, increase liquidity in the domestic market,” he said.
He noted that the CBN should focus on increasing external liquidity rather than force the banks to lend when there is no sufficient liquidity in the system.
By LOLADE AKINMURELE, BALA AUGIE, MICHAEL ANI & OLUFIKAYO OWOEYE
On February 19, 2016, South African retailer Truworths exited Nigeria, shutting down two remaining stores in Africa’s biggest market.
The clothing retailer cited stringent import regulations and rising costs as key reasons for exiting the market.
Many medium enterprises like Truworths exited the Nigerian market between 2013 and 2017 owing to sluggish growth, recession, regulatory pressure and poor economic management.
The latest report by the National Bureau of Statistics and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) put this number at 2,877, which shows why unemployment rate is 23.1 percent in Africa’s most populous country.
“The number of medium-sized enterprises decreased significantly from 4,670 in 2013 to 1,793 in 2017, indicating a 61 percent drop,” said the report launched last Thursday.
Interestingly, the number of micro, small and medium, enterprises (MSMEs) when viewed as a group grew from 37million in 2013 to 41.5million in 2017, the National Survey shows.
However, micro enterprises were responsible for this growth, with the number hitting 41.469 million (99.8 percent). Small enterprises were 71,288 (0.2 percent), but medium-scale businesses were only 1,793 (0.004 percent) from 4,670 before 2013.
“The periods covered by the survey were when the Nigerian economy was mostly down and in recession. The small and medium enterprises suffered from shocks in the economy, forcing many to close shop,” Friday Opara, director, strategic partnership, SMEDAN, who contributed to the survey, told BusinessDay by phone.
“This was why we had a decline in the number of medium-sized businesses. The growth recorded in micro businesses was as a result of so many retrenched workers starting up micro businesses to keep life going,” Opara explained.
Micro enterprises are businesses that employ less than 10 workers and are worth less than N5 million. Small businesses, on the other hand, employ 10 to 49 workers and are valued at N5 to less than N50 million. Medium enterprises, however, engage 50 to 199 staff members and are valued at N50 to less than N500 million.
“The number of MSMEs grew but the increase in numbers are made up of micro enterprises involved in trade, and not production, “Femi Egbesola, national president, Small Business Owners of Nigeria (ASBON).
“This is not what we need to grow our economy and create the needed jobs. The economic situation has been very challenging for SMEs and these have forced lots of them to close shop or operate far below their capacity,” he said. In August 2016, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the NOI Polls reported that 222 small-scale businesses closed shops, leading to 180,000 job losses.
Grif, maker of aluminium drums, exited Nigeria, including Federated Steel from China, maker of iron rods, which sold its assets to MNIL Limited.
Another iron rod maker, Universal Steel, was also among firms that shut down. These are medium-scale manufacturers. Frank Jacobs, former president of MAN, said 54 firms closed their factories between 2015 and 2016 owing to foreign exchange shortages.
Oil prices showed signs of peaking in 2013 and 2014 under former President Goodluck Jonathan. It eventually slumped below $50 in 2015. After the general elections in 2015, however, Muhammadu Buhari won but could not appoint his cabinet six months into his administration.
These and other factors helped to tip the economy into recession in 2016 and the unemployment rate reached 23.1 percent, according to the NBS, with almost 50 percent of the 200 million Nigerians in multidimensional poverty cadre, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“The challenge is that it is even the medium enterprises that create the jobs that are closing down,” Ike Ibeabuchi, a manufacturer and analyst, said. “Micro enterprises can only employ one, two or three, but medium businesses can employ up to 100 at a go. This calls for a policy shift and serious introspection on the part of the Nigerian leadership,” he added.
Most SMEs commit 40 percent of their expenditure to energy and pay 54 taxes introduced by different levels of government, according to experts. The World Bank ranks Nigeria 146th on its Doing Business Index, which reflects the difficult situation faced by businesses. The SMEs are left to battle with various issues ranging from a tough environment to restrictive economic policies, overbearing regulatory agencies, and tax multiplicity.
Access to finance is poor, with interest rate on loans from banks hovering between 20 and 35 percent.
The Manufacturers CEOs Confidence Index (MCCI) survey conducted by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in the first quarter of 2019 highlighted various issues hurting Nigeria’s productive sector.
According to the MCCI, CEOs confidence stood at 51.3 points in the first quarter of the year, slightly above the 50 points benchmark of a good performance. Issues around foreign exchange, double-digit interest rate, government capital implementation, multiple taxes, overregulation and raw materials were identified by chief executives of Nigerian firms as some of the challenges dragging the growth of the sector backwards.
Younger people will benefit from better, more accessible housing, says architects’ body
A lack of homes which meet the needs of the country’s ageing population is resulting in a “hidden housing crisis” across England, according to the RIBA.
In a new report the RIBA said that with a quarter of the country’s population being over 60 in five years’ time the failure to plan for the growing number of people living longer was putting enormous strain on public finances, due to what it called “the health and social care costs of inappropriate housing”.
Such housing would cost the NHS £1bn a year by 2041, while demand for age-friendly homes currently outstripped supply, according to the report, which features data from research outfits Centre for Towns and ComRes.
The way housing is planned, designed and built must change to tackle the situation, the RIBA said.
And the institute’s president Ben Derbyshire said prioritising age-friendly design would not just benefit the over-55s but was central to tackling the broader housing crisis.
“Local authorities have largely ignored this need and opportunity, focusing instead on basic, short-term solutions. This is England’s hidden housing crisis. We must encourage more innovation and plan properly for the future.
“Older people should not feel that they need to move if they don’t want to, but they should have options available to them. We urge policy makers and local authorities to modernise their thinking on housing and consider the differing needs in this country.”
Among the RIBA’s recommendations was for local authorities to ensure that enough specialised housing for older people was allocated through local plans, including specific sites for age-friendly housing across all tenures, and for a requirement that all new-build housing be accessible and adaptable.
Better information and support ought to be available for people who wanted to move home, “including signposting accessible housing and piloting fiscal incentives to support older people to move home”.
But housing for older people did not necessarily mean specialised retirement housing, the RIBA said. “Adopting improved standards for new homes would benefit everyone whilst ensuring that what we are building does not exclude or impede the quality of life of older people,” it added.
Shelter Afrique is urging governments to establish a housing microfinance fund improve access to housing finance by those in the lower end of the market.
Speaking at the Affordable Housing Investment Summit in Nairobi recently, Shelter Afrique’s Chief Executive Officer Andrew Chimphondah said most policies had an exclusive urban focus, and non-consideration of the low-income groups and the rural areas, adding that the establishment of such a fund would make it easier facilitate efficient and inclusive housing market systems and make affordable housing a reality across Africa.
“Access to adequate housing for low-income earners is a critical development issue globally, and more so for Africa. A safe and stable home is the first step to a productive, healthy life, yet owning a home is beyond the reach of the vast majority in Africa. Currently, 90% of Africans cannot afford to buy a house or qualify for a mortgage,”Mr. Chimphondah said.
Mr. Chimphondah said majority of African countries were facing housing crisis and that the continent housing industry required at least minimum of USD 2.5bn in new investment annually for any meaningful impact.
“The combined value of the housing shortage of Africa’s first and second largest economy, Nigeria and South Africa respectively is estimated at USD97bn, stemming from huge annual housing deficits of 17million and 3millionunits for Nigeria and South Africa respectively,” he said.
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Shelter Afrique’s Chairman Daniel Nghidinua said with the right enabling policies and by following coordinated and inclusive approach, African countries have and can mobilize requisite capacities and resources to tackle the shortage of affordable housing.
Limited long-term financing
Mr. Chimphondah noted that in sub-Saharan Africa, majority have very limited access to long-term financing for housing, which is almost invariably limited to commercial banks offering formal, multi-year mortgages.
“For instance, only 2.4percent of the Kenyan population is able to afford typical loan rates. At the end of December 2018, there were only about 26,000 active conventional mortgages in the whole country – the majority of which were granted to urban professionals. In Uganda, which has a population of 42.8 million, the number was just 5,000 in 2018,” he said.
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He said there is an urgent need to expand mortgage finance option, designing appropriate mortgage finance products, and enhancing access to capital markets
“There is also a need for alternative housing finance products such as medium-term non-mortgage finance instruments, mini-mortgages, and micro-finance for housing,” Mr. Chimphondah said.
Recent report indicate that more than 60% of sub-Saharan African currently lives in Slums.
Nigeria’s ability to weather the storm from external shocks or sudden deterioration in economic conditions is waning as the country’s increasing appetite for foreign borrowings continues to outpace accretion to external reserves.
Since the 2014 collapse in oil prices that caused the spread between the Federal Government’s actual and projected revenues to widen, the country has resorted to tapping debt from the international market (offshore) to fund its planned expenditure and this has caused external buffers to thin.
A country’s external buffer is the difference between external reserves and total foreign debt (borrowings). Put differently, in the event of a downtrend in oil prices and foreign portfolio outflows, the external buffer shows the extent to which the countries could withstand such pressures.
For Africa’s largest economy, external debts have almost tripled and despite improvements in foreign exchange reserves, the country’s external buffer has declined in the last six years as the upsurge in offshore debt during the period weakened the economy’s shock absorber.
The country’s defence against external shocks to the economy has weakened by a Cumulative Annual Growth Rate (CAGR or constant annual growth) of 7.24 percent since 2014 owing to increase in foreign debt of 23.59 percent (CAGR), while reserves accretion grew by a CAGR of 5.48 percent.
External buffer has declined since 2017 where the cushion broke a downward trend and grew to $19.86bn. The growth in 2017 was on the back of a 50 percent increase in external reserves as Brent bounced back from the 2016 price fall.
However, since buffer rose 38 percent in 2017, it has steadily declined by 14 percent to a current amount of $17bn, the second least recorded in the last six years and only $2.57bn higher than when Nigeria entered recession in 2016.
“The data reflects that the Nigerian economy still remains vulnerable to external shocks, particularly downturn in global oil price,” said Gbolahan Ologunro, equity analyst at Lagos-based CSL Stockbrokers. “Notwithstanding, there is still some sort of headroom for urgent fiscal measures to avert the impending crisis.”
One of such measures, he said, is fiscal consolidation to improve revenue and reduce government reliance on borrowings.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a country’s foreign reserves are those external assets that are readily available to and controlled by a country’s monetary authorities. They comprise foreign currencies, other assets denominated in foreign currencies, gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs) and IMF reserve positions that can be used in directing the finances of international payments imbalances or for indirect regulation of the magnitude of such imbalances via intervention in foreign exchange markets in order to affect the exchange rate of the country’s currency.
Nigeria’s foreign reserves stand at $45 billion in the month of July while external debt stood around $28 billion as at the first quarter of 2019, according to data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Debt Management Office (DMO), respectively.
A $28 billion external debt would mean the country only has about $17 billion from which it would settle its import bills and probably intervene in sustaining the naira at its current price of N360/$1 in the foreign exchange market.
Analysts are of the view that a fall in crude oil prices which accounts for about 84 percent of the country’s foreign earnings, and a reversal in capital flows, could mount pressure on the CBN’s firepower in stabilising the economy.
The government’s inability to generate as much revenue to finance its project has lured it to cheap foreign debt in order to avoid crowding out the private sector in domestic debt market.
“If anything happens negatively to crude oil price, we might be forced to devalue and the value of the foreign exchange debt becomes a big burden,” said an analyst in a leading investment banking firm.
“The end result is that the integrity of the naira which the apex bank had hoped to protect would worsen,” the person explained.
Nigeria’s external reserves have been growing steadily since 2017 but foreign debt has leaped. External debt soared in 2017 following the global oil crisis, caused a devaluation of the naira and pushed the country into a recession. Nigeria’s external borrowing rose 65 percent in 2017.
Although the rate at which Nigeria increased foreign debt has slowed from 34 percent in 2018 to 11 percent so far in 2019, the DMO announced earlier in the year that it would increase borrowing from external sources as strategy to balance its overall debt stock.
Some economists are of the view that countries of the world can borrow to spend on social welfare, public sector wages and capital expenditure (investments in buildings, roads, public facilities) in order to grow their economy.
However, for Africa’s most populous country, the argument does not “hold water” as increasing debt profile has failed to reflect in economic growth.
Within a five-year period, Nigeria has grown its total debt profile by 116.9 percent to fund its recurrent and capital expenditure in its budget without this borrowed money translating into a corresponding increase in economic growth as GDP has averaged a 2 percent growth.
When EXPO 2020 opens its doors in Dubai in October 2020, the world’s first ropeless elevator for skyscrapers will be featured prominently. thyssenkrupp Elevator’s pioneering system was selected as one of the EXPO’s lighthouse projects.
The world’s first ropeless elevator for skyscrapers by Thyssenkrupp will feature at Expo 2020.
Known as Multi, the system can move multiple cars in a single shaft, vertically and horizontally, and has been selected as one of the lighthouse projects to be presented in the German Pavilion during Expo.
“Dubai is both a significant global business hub and a tourist destination. It’s a city that provides a platform for new inventions, attracting people and businesses from around the world. Multi will support this aim, demonstrating to those at Expo 2020 precisely how technology can support the growth of urban mobility,” said Peter Walker, CEO at Thyssenkrupp Elevator.
Multi requires fewer and smaller shafts than conventional elevators and can decrease a building’s elevator footprint by up to 50 percent – current elevator-escalator footprints can occupy up to 40-percent of a high-rise building’s floor space.
As well as moving vertically and horizontally, Multi also moves on inclines. And instead of one cabin per shaft, it offers multiple cabins operating in a loop, resulting in a 50 percent higher transport capacity, as well as reduced waiting times for passengers.
The new technology, which was first revealed in 2017, removes height limitations and can be used for skybridges to shuttle from one building to another. It can be also used to open up new directions of travel in underground transport hubs.
Multi moves with a top speed of five to six m/s and requires dramatically lower peak power – as much as a 70-percent reduction when compared to conventional elevator systems
St. John’s Church Igbein is 67 years older than Nigeria. Following social media debates over its proposed demolition, Daily Trust on Saturday investigates the matter. Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, parades a number of historical and architectural masterpieces built in the 1880s and 1900s, and such structures have stood the test of time.
A drive through Igbein Road in the heart of Abeokuta, one would catch a glimpse of the architectural masterpiece of St. John’s Church Igbein, built from stone and marble. It was built in 1847. The 172-year-old structure located about half-a-kilometre from Government House, was recently caught in a web of controversy over its remodelling plan. Looking at the building from afar, it could be mistaken for a modern-day structure, because of its contemporary design and other features. The linguist, Samuel Ajayi Crowther who is also Africa’s first bishop, was the first vicar of the church. Crowther who translated the Bible into Yoruba language, was reportedly, also reunited with his mother in this church after 25 years of separation, thanks to the slave trade.
The church which once sat on a huge expanse of land, is now being cramped with other structures due to urbanity and development. The whole church building as well adjoining structures including the vicarage, could hardly boast of four plots having been caught up by development in the metropolis. Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, father of the late Afro Music maestro and legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, attended the church. He is among other notable Egba Christian leaders buried in the church premises. Save St John’s Church Recently, human rights activist, Prof Chidi Odinkalu came up with the #SaveStJohnsIgbein campaign on Twitter, kicking against the planned new church building at the expense of the old architectural masterpiece. In a series of tweets Odinkalu who was chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) castigated the plan alleged to “demolish” and “uproot” the church, describing it as “unimaginable and vandalism against the patrimony.”
Odinkalu argued that “In any sensible country, St John’s Igbein will be protected as or listed building be an acknowledgement of historical character of the building and will make it difficult to simply destroy the building at whim. He added that, “No country survives without a history. Those who seek to deny #Nigeria, access to history, deserve to be fought and stopped.
That’s why it is important to rally those still interested in our past to an effort #SaveStJohnsIgbein. It is just the right thing to do.” His social media campaign generated many reactions from those who believed the church must not be “demolished.” A former commissioner of Health in the state, Olaokun Soyinka, commended Odinkalu for raising the awareness, but promised to investigate the matter. He wrote on Twitter, saying, “Thanks for raising the awareness of this. I’m sad that anyone would even consider demolishing a church built in 1847.
Do you have any more details? I’ll investigate, amplify the message and be on standby to get out on the streets if necessary. It must not happen. #SaveStJohnsIgbein.” But the Vicar of the church, Venerable Bamidele Odutayo fired back at those behind the campaign, describing their positions as “being judgmental on fallacies.” Odutayo wrote: “It’s very important to get facts on an issue than being judgmental on fallacies.
May God forgive you all. Current facts will soon be revealed.” When Daily Trust Saturday visited the church on Thursday, Venerable Odutayo was out or town. However, the Peoples’ Warden, Surveyor Adetunji Adegunle gave our reporter a tour of the building explained the situation, he called “expansion of the church building.” He frowned at what he called propaganda against the peoples’ wish, saying there is no plan to demolish the church. “These things have been on for almost six years now. And two years ago, the foundation stone of the new church was laid during the 40th anniversary of our diocese, it was one of the projects embarked upon by the Diocese,” Adegunle said. Pointing at a peeling plaque which reads:
“To the Glory of God, the foundation laying of St John’s New Church Building was laid by His Grace Most Reverend (Prof) Adebayo Dada Akinde, Ph.D supported by Bishop E O Adekunle on Saturday 6, August, 2016 to mark Ruby Anniversary of Egba Anglican Diocese.” Describing the expansion plan, Adegunle told Daily Trust Saturday that, “What we wanted to do is to have a new church.
This is because we have realized that anytime we have a special programme, the church barely takes half of the population. So, the need to get more space for the church’s activities has arisen. “So, we decided to have a new church, leaving the old church as it. We tried to get land especially the houses beside the church. It took us almost two years to look for the owner and at the end of the day, the owner said they cannot sell their land. “We now decided that we should use the space between the old church and the Vicar’s House (for the new church).
But we discovered that the space is small and it cannot occupy what we want to do.” ‘We are not totally demolishing the church’ Six years ago, the church’s leadership conceived a ‘remodelling idea’ due to lack of space for the congregants if they were to hold special events. Also, during Sunday services, members often seat in the premises of the health centre outside the auditorium.
Aided by an amplifier, positioned outside, they listened to the ongoing service. However, the ‘remodelling plan’ was taken further in August 2016 with foundation laying of the new church building during the 40th anniversary of the Egba Anglican Diocese, which the church belongs to. In what appears to be a dramatic turn of events the development is generating controversy three years after. Adegunle said, “We engaged an architect who designed for us [the new church building]. What we intend to do now is to build a new church that will enter into the old one.
The altar area will be removed and another building from behind into the old church in such a way that the altar will be at the centre. So, there will be congregation from the side of the old church and there will be congregation from the other end of the new church building.” He also said, “We are not totally demolishing the church, what we want to do is to expand the church. But definitely, it is going to affect the west end of the church. That’s what we want to do. We have got the structural and the architectural design. Everything is now set.
We are going to have the church as it is and another four-storey building.” According to him, the leadership of the church had factored in the need to preserve the old church building including the tombs, describing them as heritage. “The foundation of the church was laid in 1831. If in 1813 such huge church was built and I know the people of Christians then could not even occupy the auditorium, so if we are building another church in the 21st century, we should be thinking of a church that will accommodate people in next 20 to 25 years.
This is the essence of what we are trying to do. We know we need to perverse our heritage because the church is our heritage. But in this case, there is nothing we can do than to marry the two together,” he said. Asked whether the leadership considered relocation of the church, he responded, “It is difficult to relocate this kind of church. It’s a metropolitan church. It’s not easy. Most of the people that come to the church are from this area – Imo, Igbein and Kemta. If we decide to move to another location, are we going to move the people too? It’s not easy.
That is why churches are planted around other areas to cater for those living there.” On the social media campaign, Adegunle said, “These days when people are not in agreement with the decision taken by the majority, they try to throw up propaganda against the peoples’ wish. We know that propaganda started among our members who are not pleased [with the decision]. Majority of our members know that we are not demolishing the church.”