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Taking churches to tourists’ destinations

Since Sunday, November 15, the city of Calabar in Cross River State has been agog with humans, who have adopted white garments as the trademark of their religious belief. This is not the first time that Brotherhood of the Cross and Star (BCS) is holding major events in the state capital, but the influx of people in white garment since Sunday has, once again, revived the debate on the role of the church in developing the tourism potential of the state.

Hundreds of people are currently massing around the international headquarters of the foremost church located at Mbukpa district of Calabar South Local Government Area in preparation for the celebration of His Holiness, Olumba Olumba Obu, whose birthday falls on November 20 every year. Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, first started in 1956 at Eton street in the same Calabar South, reportedly moved to Ambo, its present location at Mbukpa in a procession that was said to have aroused curiosity and interest in residents of the area.

Since then, the church has grown in leaps and bounds, spreading across over 50 countries and developing infrastructure in those countries. In Calabar, the church has acquired nearly half of the Mbukpa district, developing the once remote area and turning it into the present state where modernity has taken over. Indeed, Mbukpa today has become an attraction given the fact that people from various countries, including but not limited to, the high and mighty, have come to see the BCS headquarters as a heaven of some sort. According to the Spokesperson of the church, Christ Shepherd Edet Archibong, the birthday celebration of His Holiness, Olumba Olumba Obu, is a result of the impact he has created both spiritually and physically.

One of his contributions to humanity that many have come to revere the Brotherhood leader is his opposition against same-sex marriage, notwithstanding that countries like the United States have legalized the act. He once told his adherents that “sodomy could ignite crisis and disturb world peace.”

He argued that since sodomy was a direct disobedience to God’s injunction, leaders who subscribe to the act were unwittingly dragging the world into moral crisis. “Sodomy is a direct disobedience to God’s injunction, which stands out in opposition to procreation.

This is affront, an act of irreverence and deliberate attempt to bring the Word of God to naught. World leaders must seek the face of God in their leadership in order to lead their subjects with the fear of God,” Obu said. According to him, the practitioners of this act were trying to indoctrinate children who, he said, are offspring of procreation and they will grow up to be like them.

“The world truly needs the message of peace. Those who indulge in sodomy must retrace their steps even as their leaders lead aright. People must live in a decent manner and avoid things that will set them against the will of God,” he said.

Other than this, Obu has been at the forefront of establishing businesses in the city of Calabar. Some of these businesses include the Royal Farms Limited “which is a conglomerate made up of the farm, the rubber plantation, palm plantation, Bakery and table water factories.” Other companies include a radio station tagged Sparkling Fm, Star Cross television, a publishing company, the Browland Hotel and the First Royal Micro Finance Bank. On the rubber processing plant, Archibong said: “A new rubber processing plant has been established in Biakpan, Biase Local Government Area of the state to process rubber and produce Technically Specified Rubber10/20f, for local use and export, used for the production of tyres, tubes and soles.

It has a capacity of one tone per hour; sixteen tones per day and at full capacity could get up to 3,500 tons per year.” On the First Royal Micro Finance Bank, he said: “It was established by His Holiness, Olumba Olumba Obu. It provides banking services for the Kingdom and the general public.

It is now licensed to operate branches within Cross River State. This is as a result of prudent management made possible by the Divine Monarch’s guidance and directives.” The infrastructural development in places where Brotherhood has its institutions, business concerns and churches has attracted the state government which has proposed to go into partnership with the church to shore up its tourism potentials.

On this partnership, Archibong shed more light thus: “In realization of the enormous tourism potential of the BCS, the Cross River State Government has proposed to partner with us to harness it to the benefit of the state.

Thousands of visitors throng the state on a yearly basis to take part in BCS mega events and to perform the pilgrimage to Biakpan, the birthplace of Leader Olumba Olumba Obu. Economic benefits accrue to the state in terms of inflow of foreign money, patronage of the hospitality industry, transportation and local businesses.” In fact, Brotherhood of the Cross and Star is currently the second employer of labour in the state after the state government. Many Nigerians have been employed by the cable television owned by the church as well as the newspaper arm of the organization, while the micro-finance bank of the church has also employed many people.

Archibong said: “The Holy Mother Elizabeth Home has a population of 50 children personally catered for by our Leader; a secondary, Nursery and Primary school has been established and approved by the state government and they are offering job opportunities to a broad spectrum of the populace without discrimination,” he said.

He also disclosed that Obu has been doing everything to settle dispute among communities, pointing out that but for his effort, many communities in the state would have been experiencing communal crisis.

“In recognition of our Leader’s effort at engendering peaceful co-existence, many communities have been approaching him for the settlement of their disputes and have been going back with positive testimonies,” the church said.

With the array of business concerns, religious institutions, community development efforts and spiritual persuasion embarked on by the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, and with the enormous goodwill the church has garnered over the years, adherents believe that the Olumba Olumba Obu deserves being celebrated and they have mobilized all manner of resources to give their leader a befitting celebration.

As Olumba draws multitudes of his adherents to Calabar during his birthday holding on November 20, residents of the state are appealing to the governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, to restore the pride of the state which was known as the most peaceful state in the entire country, and stop the current spate of kidnappings in state for the sake of tourism development which, arguably, Brotherhood has contributed so much to enhance.

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