The owner of the building on which the DANA Air plane crashed last Sunday, Daniel Oluranti Omowumi, has attributed the survival of his family to God who used Bishop Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church to delay him after the church service.
But for the meeting Bishop Oyedepo held with Pastors after service on that faithful day, he said he would have been home with all members of his family and his aged mother before the plane crashed into his building. The meaning is that the entire family would have been wiped out if he were home before the crash. Pastor Omowumi believes that God has special purpose for his life, because even his dog in the house was saved. In this exclusive interview, Pastor Omowumi tells his story. Excerpts:
Can you please tell us about yourself? My name is Pastor Daniel Omowumi of Living Faith Church, Winners Chapel. I worship at Canaan Land, Faith Tabernacle. By the grace of God, I am a Pastor in Winners Chapel.
What actually happened last Sunday when the DANA Air plane crashed into your residence in Lagos? On that fateful day, I was in church for service in the kingdom and God saved me by the reason of service. We Pastors were called for a meeting after service and it was right in the middle of the meeting that I got a persistent call and I put my phone on silence because we were in a meeting with the servant of God (Bishop David Oyedepo). I kept seeing the call because my phone was on silence. I had to text the person that I was in a meeting. After the text, the person kept calling. I decided to listen and he said: “There is an emergency in your house, please pick your call.” He happened to be one of our districts pastors covering my area.
So, I came out of the meeting and made a call through to him and he told me there is a plane crash and everywhere is burning. So I excused myself from the meeting. By the time I got home, it was a different story entirely.
What did you meet? I met nothing. Everything was gone.
What of the crowd? The crowd was something else. It took me hours to break through the crowd. I had to trek from a place called Puposola in Abule Egba down here because of the crowd. It took me almost two hours to get to my house from the railway line behind my house.
What is the distance between your house and the railway line? It is about three electric poles.
As a servant of God, did you have an inkling of looming disaster? I never think of disaster. I always look ahead. What I mean is whether you had the premonition of this tragedy or a message from any of your co-pastors.
This is not the time to begin to make up stories. I never had any feeling like that. The only thing I noticed was that, on that faithful day, I told my wife that we should go to church with the Xtera Jeep. But on getting to the car, I just said no, let us take the Toyota. That is how we left for church.
How do you take the accident as a man of God? We should get something clear: that a man is devoted to God does not mean that circumstances in life will not affect him. The bible says: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth them from all of them.” The most important thing is that God preserved my soul and every member of my family. If there is anything I have lost now at the moment, God is the reason everything is not lost. If there is anything I have lost, God is the reason I have not lost everything.
Tell us what you have lost in term of your property?
Well, are you talking of the cost? Yes.
There is no way I can give you the cost now. I can’t give accurate figure now because I have to really sat down to calculate it. The press has always asked about the cost. But to me, though my loss has come to stay the first thing that struck my mind was the life of the people in the aircraft and the nearby buildings where five people died.
That is the first thing that struck my mind. My loss has come to stay. But members of my family are all preserved. I have myself, my wife, three children, my aged mother and two other people that came to spend time with us. There is also the house help. We all went to the church. Even our dog was saved.
How do you mean? Our dog was under the seat in the main house- that is in the duplex in the front. So, our dog was right under the seat. But a day before, my younger brother came and relocated the dog to an extreme end. We had two warehouses in the compound and a bungalow at the back. So, he relocated the dog to the second warehouse. Part of it is damaged. When the plane hit the place, it did not catch fire on time until somebody came and removed the dog. So, even the dog was saved. It is an indication that God has a unique interest in my person. That is my definition of what has happened.
What exactly did you leave in the house that was destroyed? I have a duplex with a penthouse; a Swiss bedroom duplex with a penthouse, all en-suite. There were two large sitting rooms, visitor’s toilet, the kitchen and two standard warehouses. It is the kind of standard warehouse with iron thrust pillar and iron thrust roofing. I had a bungalow at the back that covers the back of the two warehouses.
In the warehouses, I had six-container load of educational materials. I believe it was the load inside the warehouse that stopped the aircraft from penetrating to the next street. I had five-container load of kitchen utensils comprising pots, plates and stoves. I had the Xtera Jeep there. I had my machineries for furniture because I am into furniture and decoration. I had machines just acquired that we were just installing. Some are not installed. They are all there. I lost 447 doors. They are standard doors already completed. We have 70 pieces left. Others were burnt. There were keys to install those doors. I also lost some cash, which I cannot quantify now.
How come there were so many textbooks in the warehouse? Those are the books soaked with water by the firefighters. Those books belong to a publishing firm with whom I am into partnership. Those books were all printed abroad. It is in six-container load. That is how I came about those books. Many think it is a printing press. No. It is not a printing press. Immediately the aircraft hit the warehouse, the books spread. I learnt some thought the books fell from the plane and people were just packing them.
I also have four standard fishponds and each of the fishponds measuring ten feet by thirteen feet. I had about four thousand five hundred fishes there. They are all gone now.
Exactly when did you pack to the place? I moved to the premises January 5 this year. The duplex is fully completed. Nigerite Nigeria Plc roofed it and it is not just any building. Everybody here saw them when they were coming here to do the roofing of the house. It is made up of soundproof material produced by Nigerite and they roofed it themselves.
How come your neighbours say they don’t know you and members of your family? It is possible for them not to know me because I am a peaceful fellow and I go about my business. On Sundays, I leave home early and come back late. During the day, they see me drive in and drive out. They see me but they don’t know anything about me. Since I have come to this area, I have been engaging most of the youths that are idle here. Everybody knows me as Pastor. But they don’t know me closely. There was drainage at the back that was demolished and I constructed it.
There was drainage at the culvert at Olaniyi entrance and I constructed it. The one before the railway line, I constructed it. That was why people know me as Pastor and they see me drive in and drive out. The people that I will say know me well are members of the CDA. I have attended meetings with them three times.
There is no truth in the claim by your neighbours that they heard voices in your house three minutes before the plane crashed? No. That is a wrong statement. All members of my family were in church with me. We went to church early in the morning. That day, my wife had a meeting, a commitment in her family setting. The arrangement was for us to get to church and after the church rush home and then for her to proceed to the meeting. But when we got to the church, there was an instruction from God’s servant after service that all the Pastors should wait and there was a particular office we were involved in and all the Pastors in that range were to wait for the meeting.
But for that meeting, you would have been home before the crash? Yes. If not for the meeting with the Bishop, we would have been home. That is why I said my family was saved via service.
Can we conclude that God used Bishop David Oyedepo to save you and members of your family? Yes. I believe he is a man of God being used. It is not too far from it. If he did not call for the meeting, I would have been home with members of my family. As I am talking to you now, immediately the incident happened, it was Bishop Oyedepo that housed me. I was asked to get back to the church and he put me in the church guesthouse for two days. From there, the church gave me an apartment at Alimosho area of Lagos, without paying a dime. It is fully furnished by the church.
What of the upkeep for you and members of your family since the crash happened? For that day, we got there; the church took care of us. You know the Winner family is a wonderful family. The dress you see me wearing now was bought for me by a member.
A member also bought the one I wore yesterday. The dress I had after the incident was what I left home with. I have some very vital documents in the Xtera Jeep. There are also vital investment documents such as invoice, receipts and everything are all gone.
What do you hope to do about your property damaged by another company? Of course, I expect them to come up with a discussion. I expect them to see me. Up till now, I have not seen anybody. I expect them to come up with a discussion. I expect the government to ask questions about the property. The President of the Federal Republic was here and I was not even allowed to talk to him. The Lagos State Governor was here and I was not allowed to talk to him.
Did you make any move to see the two of them when they came? I am not a ruffian. I requested but the security operatives said I couldn’t see the president. I will consider what the government have done right. With a right thinking person, everybody should be concerned with the lost soul. We had in the aircraft dignitaries, about 153 according to what I heard and there were five people in the adjoining building that also died. Those are the things that will draw the attention of every right thinking person.
But when I requested to see them, not for anything. I think they should ask questions. To enter the place was something else. Our security operatives do things upside down. In a right thinking society, if that happens, it is not the end of the world. For me to gain entrance, it was something else.
What would you have told the president? I would have told Mr. President and the governor that they should do something about the aviation industry so that we stop killing innocent souls. You can begin to think of the number of innocent souls killed and the family they left behind. Where are they going to start? In as much as I say my own losses have come to stay, it is a tragedy. It is all I have worked for in life. The way I am standing before you now, I don’t have anything anywhere. It is a property of four plots and everything fully built.
Hope there has been no theft on your property? Before the whole place caught fire, people took advantage and entered areas they could enter and they carried away books. That tells you the level of poverty in the land. If things like that happen and people still go there to steal, that tells you that the government has a lot to do.
On Monday morning that the governor came and saw that mammoth crowd, that tells you the level of indolence in the country – idle people, people with idle mind. On a Monday morning when people should be at their work? Look at the crowd that turned out. That shouldn’t be from the community alone. They should get the tape and watch it. Look at the crowd. That is why we have robbers and hoodlums there. That tells you the enormous work there is to do. I told you it took me two hours to walk from the railway line to my house that is just three electric poles away. I have not seen that kind of crowd all my life and it was on a Monday and Tuesday.
The government should be concerned with more job creation. If you have that level of people idle, you expect a society full of criminals. We are told that an idle hand is the devils workshop. I was passing and I heard them saying: “The man must be a stinking millionaire. Look at the vast land he acquire”. So, when such a thing happens, they take advantage to begin to do all sorts of things. They go to such places and steal anything they can steal. They went to the neighborhood and stole. That tells you the level of poverty in the country. Those are the areas the government should concentrate.
Have members of your family resume formal life? My children resumed school today (Wednesday). They have to go to school in mufti. I told my wife to organize their school bags and books. My wife is at home. As for me, I don’t know where to start.
Where is your office? My office, my factory and the house are together. What is going on in your mind right now? I have asked myself series of questions: Where do I start? I don’t have a place to go as my office now.
What do you expect from Dana airline and the government? I am a Nigerian. I will consider myself as somebody who has worked hard. I am not a liability on the government and I also have staff that I pay. Families benefit from it. When this kind of thing happens, they should try to know about the person, find out if there is any way they can come in. They should ask questions. It is not enough to look at the place and go and nobody is saying anything.
When I was to do my approval, I knew what I went through. It is a pity in this country that when you are doing anything through government, you pay through your nose. But by the time this kind of thing happens, you don’t expect yourself to be going after them. They should ask.
Who is the owner of the place? What exactly has happened? How can we help? But if it is to collect dues, they will go after you. You pay all manner of rates and they will ask you to pay everything. When I was doing the project, I went from one office to another. They won’t get anything done until you have paid. Why should this kind of thing happen and you don’t see anybody asking questions?
Do you expect assistance from government? Well, if they give me I will take. Why not? What of DANA airline? I told you earlier that I am waiting for them.
What would you tell them when you see them? They will ask me questions on what I have with proof. They should know what to do. I don’t think I should ask. They own the aircraft and it is an accident. If it is a collapsed building, Lagos State government would have taken over the place. But this is an accident and the accident happened as a result of an external force coming in.
I am not the owner of the aircraft and they were doing their legitimate business and I am also doing my business. So, if there is an accident on my property resulting from their own error, they should find out what has gone wrong. They should come up with something. I don’t think I should go and be asking who is DANA airline? I should not be going to local government, state or federal government.
Source: Sun Newspapers