On Tuesday, June 16, 2020 the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu stunned Christians and Muslims faithful in the state when in a press briefing held at the government house in Marina, Lagos, he announced the indefinite suspension on the re-opening of worship centres. This came barely few days to the resumption of regulated activities on Friday and Sunday, June 19th and 21st in that order, just after the government had lifted the ban imposed on Churches and Mosques to curtail the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. The sudden u-turn by the government when preparations were already in top gear to resume worship and observe the precautionary measures spelt out by the authorities to avoid bodily contact, has sent tongues wagging as to the government sincerity to allow worshippers in Lagos come together soon.
Even then, the excuse by the Lagos State governor that the daily rise in the number of people infected with the virus informed his action in order to flatten the curve is not convincing enough. It is worthwhile to note that Churches and Mosques have remained closed for well over three months while motor parks and markets that are largely unregulated have opened for travellers and businesses. Many wonder why worship centres have remained closed till now. For instance, it is a known fact that the Catholic Church traditionally known for its doggedness and organisational ability has gone ahead to spend millions of naira providing the necessary infrastructure, equipment and testing kits in preparation for the resumption of worship across the over 180 parishes that make up the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, bearing in mind government regulations that bind worship centres in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The argument that the Churches and Mosques could possibly become centres for community transmission of the virus, if allowed to operate, cannot stand. Even with the worship centres since stopped from activities, the rising cases of the infection in Lagos are still high owing to the I don’t care attitude displayed by an equally ignorant population, who, unfortunately are in the majority, that have bluntly refused to take responsibility for their health. Walk through the city it will amaze you the number of people on the streets of Lagos who deliberately ignore the preventive measures to contain the virus such as the wearing of facemasks. Not only that, bus stops are congested and buses filled to the very brim undermining the much talked about social or physical distancing.
More public education and enlightenment are what we need from the government and not to see worship centres, speculatively though, as possible centres for the transmission of the disease. For the Lagos State government not to be seen to favour some sectors over others in a bid to curb the pandemic, we advocate a total lockdown, for at least one week, to take stock and determine whether there would be a significant drop in the number of infections as daily recorded by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) rather than sacrifice the gathering of the people of God who want to come together, cry to the Almighty One to put an end to the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic in the country