On Sunday 10th April 2016, Nigerian ‘Prophet’ T.B. Joshua warned the nation of Ghana of an impending foreign terrorist attack, prompting a furious storm of reactions nationwide.
“Pray for these two nations – Nigeria and Ghana,” the cleric said near the end of his service at The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), broadcast live on the popular Christian television network Emmanuel TV.
“I am seeing an attack. It will be in a foreign way that the attack will come, not a local way. Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, pray for these two nations for protection against [a] foreign attack that will happen in any gathering.”
Joshua described it as “a battle between the Holy Spirit and evil spirits”, calling for the country to be alert throughout the entire month.
Within hours of Joshua’s prediction, a clip hurriedly uploaded to YouTube by a viewer began spreading on social media.
Football star Asamoah Gyan was among the first to share the clip with his Twitter followers, as did star actor John Dumelo to his over three million fans on Facebook.
By Monday, tension was so rife in the country that the Ghanaian police force were forced to address the public and call for calm.
“The Ghana Police Service wishes to urge the general public to remain calm in the wake of the terrorist attack prophecy by the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Prophet T.B. Joshua,” read the letter circulated nationwide.
“We lose nothing by taking T.B. Joshua’s prophecy seriously,” summed up Supt. Cephas Arthur, the Director of Police Public Relations in Ghana.
Pastors and politicians alike were quick to comment on the prophecy, as Ghanaian news channels replayed the clip and newspapers posted the warning on its front pages.
Joshua was commended and condemned with almost equal ferocity, some suggesting he should be ‘arrested’ for stirring up public panic with such ‘doomsday predictions’ and others calling for President John Mahama to invite him to lead a national prayer session.
Evidently anticipating the reactions that would emerge, Joshua had addressed his proficiency to give ‘negative’ predictions earlier in the same service. “You would expect me to say every good thing but 99% of words from God to you are warnings,” the cleric revealed, explaining that his reason for making such a revelation public was to intensify prayers.
“I believe that two believers are better than one. If I say this [prophecy] to you, you should join me in prayer but instead – you attack me, turn the words upside down and incite people against T.B. Joshua,” he added.
The cleric was perhaps alluding to the President of Malawi, Peter Mutharika, who publicly accused Joshua of being a ‘fake prophet’ after misinterpreting one of his predictions earlier this year to mean his death was imminent.
In other predictions, Joshua reiterated a message he gave earlier this year about worldwide food-shortage, adding that the economic challenges would only worsen, leading to further ‘insecurity’.
“Since I was born, I have never seen the situation like this all over the world,” he bluntly stated. “If every country came out to tell their citizens the truth, it’s better so that they can be prepared. You have to cut your coat according to your size. What you have now – manage it. What you are expecting – don’t put much hope on it.”
Joshua warned Nigeria that the era of reliance on oil was near an end. “The world will discover mineral resources better than oil and more valuable,” he stated, echoing a call he has made frequently over the years to invest heavily in agriculture.
The reaction to Joshua’s prediction within Ghana highlights the rife fears of terrorism among citizens, especially after attacks in neighbouring countries Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso in 2016.
It also adds credence to Joshua’s reputation as one of Africa’s most influential voices, his few words in a church service in a different country provoking frenzy throughout an entire nation.
Joshua’s visit to Tanzania last year evoked a similar nationwide furor, his close relationship with the new President John Magufuli making newspaper headlines across the country.
Ihechukwu Njoku is a freelance Nigerian journalist