By Sam Eyoboka who was in Warri

Economic activities in the emerging mega city of Warri in Delta State penultimate weekend received a big boost as members and their relations as well as associates who came in from far and near assembled in the town for the week long God’s Kingdom Society (GKS) annual Christian Feast of Tabernacles.

Hoteliers, food vendors and commercial transport operators as well as petty traders and sellers of GSM recharge/SIM cards made brisk business as most hotels in the city were fully booked for the influx of visitors who had converged in Warri for the annual spiritual fiesta.

Short distances that normally cost commuters N50 by motorcycle (Okada) drop were going for as much as N70 as the itinerant commercial motorcyclists took advantage of the ignorance of numerous visitors some of whom came from other far-flunged parts of the country, to charge exhorbitant fees.

Our reporter also gathered that hotels such as Palmgrove Hotel in far away Okumagba Estate area of town and others which received a touch of renovation apparently in preparation for the feast, were fully booked as a result of the spiritual event.

A supervisor at the Palmgrove Hotel, Mr. Simon Edenhanria acknowledged the boost in business when he said that the feast had enabled them to have a large number of customers at the same time.

“We always pray for such a thing because many people will lodge at the same time and the rooms will be fully booked,” he said, adding that the event had coincided with the launch of a new night club in the hotel. According to him, it is a policy of management not to capitalise on such influx to increase fees charged per night during such events to be able to retain such partnership.

He, however, maintained that running hotel business without adequate electricity supply was impacting on their services as the hotel had been forced to reduce the number of workers.

Also speaking in the same, a senior hotel staffer of De’lake Hotel also in Warri, who spoke on condition of anonymity, maintained that the annual celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles attracted different people to the city and in anticipation, the hotels made adequate preparations to accommodate the visitors.

“We ensured that at this time of the year we update our facilities in preparation for the feast. The GKS programme always brings people to Warri, so we are prepared to accommodate them,” he said. Our reporter also gathered from tricycle and motorcycle operators that there is always a business boom during the church celebrations as people visit the place all the time throughout the eight days of the event..

“Anytime there is an event in GKS or any other church we get a lot of patronage. Some families even charter us to the church,” a tricycle operator who described himself as Tony Ewubare said.

It was also a rosy business season for cloth dealers at neighbouring Igbudu Market as many of them supplied the various types of cloths used by men, women, boys and girls as uniforms to mark the Feast.

The annual celebration called Christian Feast of Tabernacles featuring lectures, seminars, talks, music concerts, carnival-like parades along major streets of Warri, is celebrated at the headquarters of the GKS in Salem City, Warri in Delta State. The event also included procession of colourfully dressed members through the streets of the town as well as cultural performances of over 40 choral groups from within and outside the country.

The celebration attracted thousands of delegates from different parts of Nigeria, Kenya, Liberia, US, UK, Tanzania, Ghana and Canada and was attended by eminent members of the church, like the Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Hope Eghagha, Delta State representative at the NDDC, Mr. Emmanuel Ogidi, Managing Director of Toshiba in UK, Brother Gboyega Obafemi, Dr. Ukechukwu Michael Nyemenim and many others.

The theme of this year’s programme was “Be strong and of a good courage.” On the Last and Great Day which also marked the end of the feast, the president and the leadership of the church joined a colourful procession of celebrants which started at the Salem City as they sang and danced through different streets of Warri as a public demonstration of faith and allegiance to the Almighty God and Jesus Christ—the greater and more perfect Tabernacle.

Events of that day included reading of good will messages, an address by the president, a public declaration of faith in Jehovah and Jesus Christ, a special thanksgiving to God and of course the lowering of the special ballon.

In his sermon, President of the church, Brother Emmanuel Oseghale Aighalua explained the rationale for the annual fiesta, saying that it was institued by God Almighty through Prophet Moses and was intended to be observed by all peoples of the world in this age—the lastr days. According to him, “God Almighty did give a command in prophecy to this effect (Zechariah 14:16-19) and Jesus Christ also set the pace for His followers when He actively took part in the Feast in His days on earth as recorded by John 7:1-17,37-38”.

He therefore charged members to stay afloat despite the storms of this age which require strong faith or courage based on accurate knowledge and understanding of the word of God so that He will continue to help us by His grace.

“We should exercise faith in God always and be patient so that He will continue to show Himself strong on our behalf.” he added.

“Brothers, sisters and friends, all we have been saying is that to stay afloat despite the storms of this age requires strong faith or courage based on accurate knowledge and understanding of the word of God so that He will continue to help us by His grace,” Aighalua pointed out.

The Delta State commisioner, Dr. Eghagha and the NDDC chieftain, Brother Ogidi recommended the Feast for all Christians who desire to be part of God’s Kingdom.

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