Parishioners of St Rita Parish, Obadeyi, Lagos, have reacted differently to the state government’s sudden reversal of the opening of worship centres. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had earlier lifted ban on mosques and Churches that had been closed since the outbreak of the coronavirus. He had asked Mosques and Churches to reopen on Friday June 19 and Sunday, June 21 respectively for public worship. However, last Tuesday, the governor withdrew the earlier decision to reopen them because of what he termed the astronomical hike in the number of cases of coronavirus in the state.
Following this development, some parishioners expressed anger and shock while some accepted it with calm, urging Nigerians to continue to pray to God for the solution to the pandemic. Reacting to the development, the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Philip Uchendu, said “I’m pained and short of words.” The Vice Chairperson of the Parish Church Council, Lady Winifred Omodara, called for calm, adding that government should be allowed to take the right decision. She said, “It is observed that people are no longer using their face masks and not observing social distancing as recommended by the government.
“I am sure that is the more reason why the government decided to cancel reopening of Churches and Mosques. “COVID-19 infection is real, no doubt about that. People should take all the precautionary measures seriously and follow them to the letters.” She advised Churches and Mosques that have started putting in place measures to check the spread of the virus in line with the Archdiocese directive not to relent. “They should be ready to adhere strictly to the government recommendations for reopening.
Our citizens should adhere strictly to the precautionary measures to put an end to this pandemic so that places of worship will be opened as soon as possible. “COVID-19 infection is real, stay safe.” Mrs Igiewe, the treasurer of the Parish Laity Council, expressed shock but called for calm She said, “What’s their problem? Anyway, let the will of God be done?” Another respondent and a former Vice Chairman of the PPC, Sir Don Ibekwe, took the news calmly saying “it’s well. We shall all be patient.
God’s time is the best.” Another parishioner simply called Anthony, expressed surprise that while markets, motorparks and public transport are allowed to open with restrictions on their operations,, worship centres have remain closed. He asked, “Are they saying it is only in the Church or Mosque that one can contract the virus? “The government should have allowed worship centres to reopen and roll out measures to control the spread of the virus as they have done, to control the spread of the disease.” At a meeting of members of the PPC, PLC and Parish Finance Council, Fr. Uchendu had enumerated the various measures adopted by the parish in line with the directives of the Archdiocese.