By Ephraim Oseji
Bishop Charles Ighele, the General Superintendent of Holy Spirit Mission (aka Happy Family Centre), shares his perspective on Covid-19 and the consequent lockdown of Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation on Monday during which he extended lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory by a week. What is your reaction to this?
It was a good address following earlier addresses delivered by world leaders including African leaders. I saw the President’s address as defensive rather than offensive. In a war, you attack and defend. In my opinion, the address was as if we are defending ourselves against the virus. All measures we’ve taken against the virus have been defensive. I would have expected that our leaders should have asked our experts how to attack the virus headlong, what measures do we take to attack? In a war, you defend yourself and also attack, like in football.
If that is the case, what should the Federal Government or the Ministry of Health or the National Centre for Disease Control have done which they didn’t do?
We have to look for home-grown solution. The defence against the virus is good but we have not attacked the disease the way we should. I’ve listened to experts talk about how the new virus can be handled. I’ve listened to the Director-General of National Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye. I’ve heard of India banning the export of chloroquine. What is Nigeria doing to discover a cure to this particular virus? I would have wanted the President to look inward. We shouldn’t totally depend on other people. I believe that there is a solution here.
We cannot compare our social life with that of the United States or Europe who are more advanced than us in virtually everything. Going forward, my thinking is that we should adopt a local solution to this pandemic. We must come up with an African solution and Nigeria must proffer a solution to it. This is what I meant by attack. We have a challenge at hand, Nigerian leaders should dig deep to find an acceptable local remedy. Our leaders need to gather experts in the various medical fields related to the pandemic, let them look into it clinically and come up with home grown solutions. Madagascar came up with their local solution in an attempt to attack the deadly virus. Let us develop local solution to attack virus.
Nigeria is a signatory to many international treaties like the one with the World Health Organisation (WHO). Are we going to jettison recommendations given by WHO because we are looking for home grown solution to contain the spread of or attack COVID-19?
We respect the World Health Organisation and we also know that it is a body globally recognised on disease prevention and cure, their advice is crucial. But as it is, the organisation isn’t under political leadership. Nigerian trained medics are under a political leader. What I’m saying is that the political leader should assemble professionals, give them the assignment to come up with an acceptable solution to the challenge at hand and see how we can help WHO succeed.
We should not copy and paste the Western world solution. Government must embark on aggressive campaigns at the local level. Social distancing has not achieved much; that is why I believe we should look for home grown solution.
What is your stand about closure of churches especially in Nigeria?
Churches in the United States where there are more deaths were not closed. 10 people were allowed in the church hall and many stayed in their cars in the Church’s car park. From the 3rd of May, churches in the U. S. will be opened. There will be no restriction on the number of worshippers permitted provided they all wear face masks and maintain social distancing in seating arrangement.
I do not believe that corporate shopping, burials etc are more important than corporate worship. So churches in Nigeria and other countries need to be opened.