From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Some call it Uma Ukpai Prayer City Centre, others refer to it as Greater Ohafia for Christ Cathedral. Whatever name it is called may not in any way matter. What matters most is that televangelist, Dr. Uma Ukpai, is bringing ‘Mecca’ to his country home, Ohafia, in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.
With the commencement of the construction of a 120,000-capacity Uma Ukpai Prayer City cathedral, Ohafia, when completed, it is surely going to turn not only Ohafia but all of Abia State into a Mecca of sorts.
One of the coordinators of the project said it would be known as Greater Ohafia for Christ City, while the grounds accomdating the sprawling auditorium would be called Uma Ukpai Prayer Cathedral.
It was gathered that, on completion, the project will become the largest prayer auditorium in Nigeria, going by its capacity to accommodate 120,000 persons during crusades, prayers and other gospel events to be held there.
It also gathered that the Uma Ukpai Prayer City will comprise auditorium, lodges, car parks, access roads and other mind boggling structures. To ensure quality delivery, the project will be handled by a reputable Italian building construction firm.
An insider disclosed it would not only be a place for spiritual wellness but will in no small way transform the fortunes of the host community and Abia State’s economy at large.
“This is judging by the expected traffic of thousands of local and foreign worshipers, missionaries, priests solution seekers, faith builders, God’s lovers, researchers and students to Isiugwu-Ohafia, the site of the project.
“Above all , souls would be saved from sin with salvation enriched gospel, to the glory of our Lord Jesus,” the source said.
Performing the ground breaking ceremony, Ukpai said the Prayer City Centre would be a place of freedom for those who are in bondage. He declared that any body with burden and steps into the ground with faith, would be set free while those with difficulties in achieving their life goals, shall actualise their dreams, on stepping into the prayer ground.
Blessing the land, the tele-evangelist declared that God would break every chain holding the destiny and career of any person that would come to seek the face of God in the city.
“The land would serve as a place where God will reconcile repented sinners unto himself,” he remarked.
Narrating how the 1996 Ohafia for Christ crusade gave birth to the city, one of the organizers of the event said: “After a prophecy was made in 1990s that God will punish Ohafia for iniquities of her ancestors, Ukpai after being told of the impending calamity, was saddled with organising a prayer rally at Ohafia LGA secretariat at Ebem aimed at averting the prophesied God’s wrath.
“Unfortunately, the 1995 rally was disrupted by some belligerent Ohafia youths who insisted that it was not only Ohafia that sinned against God.
“But undeterred, a crusade called ‘Greater Ohafia for Christ’ was successfully held in 1996 after which Ukpai conceptualized the centre, and the planning began through the support of the coordinating members of Greater Ohafia for Christ.”
The source said, since then, the task of winning souls for Christ in Ohafia has become a permanent feature with the popular slogan of “to win Ohafia for Christ is a task that must be accomplished.”
In addition, end-of-the year-Ohafia for Christ programme has since then become a regular and successful event.
“And in reward, Ohafia was saved from the wrath of God while uncountable miracles have happened in the lives of the citizens with many fetish practices either completely eradicated or relegated to the background,” he said.
No matter how beautiful a mental picture of a given project is, if not backed with the wherewithal and the enabling environment for its actualization, the concept would return to point zero. To ensure that Ukpai’s dream never remained in the pipeline, his associates and fans began to make donations, pledges and contributions towards the realization of the project.
However, an outstanding contribution was made by a young man, Mr. Emeka Oke Nmaju, the CEO of Uhuru Global Construction Company Ltd, who donated a total of 371 plots of land to Greater Ohafia for Christ, to build the Uma Ukpai Prayer City.
Apart from this wonderful feat, Nmaju was said to be the one who facilitated the engagement of the Italian building experts as the contractor for the world-class evangel project.
Speaking about the project, Nmaju while describing Ukpai as a selfless servant of God, congratulated him for “this spiritual awakening not just to the people of Ohafia but to the Eastern region at large.” He promised to do more in support of Ukpai’s works for God.
Lending his voice equally, the national co-ordinator of Greater Ohafia For Christ, Leo U.Oke, described the 120,000 auditorium and the entire Uma Ukpai Prayer City Centre as a landmark and milestone in the history of the spread of gospel in Ohafia, explaining that the city shall be a home of answered prayers for all that may enter it. He assured that the project would be delivered according to plans.
Access roads have been created in and around the proposed Prayer City, waiting for the full erection of structures, which would soon commence.
Several guests, including the chairman of Ohafia LGA, Dr. Okorafor Ukiwe, some traditional rulers from Ohafia, top government officials, clerics from Abia, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states graced the event
There was praise galore, which preceeded the ground-breaking ceremony.