Tuesday, November 05, 2013

That Uke vigil tragedy

Venue of the ill-fated vigil, Uke, Anambra.
Credit: Informationng
Warning to APGA and APC warlords: I belong to neither. So save your bullets.

Did anyone else see the irony in the promise of Governor Obi to send 20 people to Jerusalem while speaking at the ill-fated Uke Vigil? A couple of hours later over 20 people were dead.
With the benefit of hindsight, a pertinent question for the governor should have been: “Bros, is it the Jerusalem here on earth you want to send people to or the one in heaven?” May the souls of the dead rest in peace.

In my opinion, there are two key take-away lessons from this incident:

1) Church leaders should discourage politicians from mounting the pulpit. They can attend and worship quietly like anyone else, but no speech-making. Naija politicians cannot pass up an opportunity to play politics, and the church is meant to accommodate all shades of political opinions.

2.) Not all venues are suitable for worship sessions that draw thousands of people. For safety reasons, some venues are simply unsuitable because of access issues. Some years ago, we read in the British press how Pastor Ashimolowo’s church in London was denied a permit to build a worship centre in a particular area.
It was easy to dismiss the affected council as anti-Gospel, but they actually knew what they were doing. Their explanation was simply that the area was built to accommodate a certain number of vehicular traffic per day and that the proposed church would draw higher vehicular traffic and upset the council’s plans.

We need to reach that level of sophistication where we can dimension the number of human and vehicular traffic for a particular area and use that to determine suitability for huge gatherings, religious or not.
Even though we do it all the time here, it is never a good safety practice to host hundreds of people in a space that has only one entry and exit or narrow access.    

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