DOCTOR Elijah Awosope is the president of Growth Leaders Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society, a group committed to the welfare of gospel ministers. In an interview with SAM EYOBOKA, he speaks on the group’s activities.
What is the latest development on the group’s land project?
To the glory of God, the group now has registration certificate from the Lagos State Ministry of Co-operatives. Out of the 100 acres of land that we are prospecting at Ofada-Mowe, we have paid for about 60 acres. As soon as the rains stop, we will move to site to clear about 20 acres that we have paid up. We intend to commence allocation to those that have paid up.
Are ministers subscribing to the offer?
The subscription has been encouraging but we realised that capital has been a major hindrance. Most members have not finished payment. To help them out, we have secured a National Housing Insurance Scheme (NHIS) loan of N5 million through Diamond Bank for those interested.
They will contribute N500,000 while the Federal Mortgage Bank will give N4.5 million. It is repayable over 20-25 years. We have also done a comprehensive layout for the estate. We are proposing that we would have a market, a fire station and schools for the children.
We have allocated five areas for those interested in running schools in the estate. It will be developed jointly meaning there will be a central fence for security.
How soon will the estate take off?
We want to do things in phases because we are not businessmen. For the first phase, we have allocated 20 acres that should give us about 520 housing units. That should be completed in the next two to three years. The major snag is that members have not paid up.
For the NHIS facility, not many of them have taken it up. Most of them are afraid of loans but we have told them this is not a commercial loan. If we can get 100 to subscribe to the facility, the estate will materialise in the next six months.
How about fears that the current price may be jerked up?
The truth is; as soon as we open up the place, the price will go up. Naturally, land owners will jerk up prices as soon as people move there. They have put us on notice already about that. That is why we are urging people to come on board now. Even those that have not paid up will have to pay at the current market value if they do not do so now.
But if the Estate is for ministers and Christians only, won’t it foreclose evangelical opportunities?
Ofada-Mowe is the most vibrant in recent times. Even if residents are Christians, there will be others in the neighbouring estates that they can minister too. There won’t be any church within the estate. We’ld only have a hall that will be rented for religious activities. So, the auxilliary communities will always be there for evangelism. It is strictly a residential estate and that is why we are asking churches and ministries to take up plots for their ministers.
You are talking as if ministers are poor. But the impression out there is that church leaders are among the richest in the society…
That is not true. You can talk about the big general overseers. But how many are they? There are far more poor ministers than rich ones. Most churches have money but not their ministers. The church staff are poor and it is this group that the estate is meant for.
Their big bosses won’t live in Ofada-Mowe. A ministry has acquired 30 acres for its workforce. Those that have spent 10 years can get the lands free of charge. That is what many churches and ministries should be doing.
Is it going to be like another Zion City?
It won’t be. One, it is not own-ed by a church. The inhabitants will be drawn from different churches and ministries. Besides, it is basically residential. You only retire to sleep after doing your work elsewhere during the day. So, we are not pulling ourselves out of the society.
Is the thrift arm of the society still up and running?
Yes! It is very much alive. We have been giving out loans to those who have maintained savings with us for, at least, six months. They get up to 200 per cent of whatever they have invested. Last year, we imported cars for members at just 70 per cent of the actual cost. We are even working on getting those cars at just 50 per cent the next time.