By Prince Okafor
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese, Rev, Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, has advised the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 to ensure that people continue observing the basic COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical Protocols, rather than contemplating another lockdown in 2021.
The Archbishop disclosed this during his New Year message with the theme: ‘Be Courageous, Don’t Enter the New Year with Fear’ hinted that lockdowns have always created many other problems.
He insisted that the church has a huge role to play in the fight against COVID-19 especially in educating people on what needs to be done and how it needs to be done to stem the tide of the pandemic.
According to him, “I will suggest that the church should follow the COVID-19 protocols that have been laid down by government, it might be uncomfortable, but it is a small price to pay for safety of oneself and others. I hope there will not be another lockdown.”
The clergy tasked government at all levels to be proactive in addressing the myriad of fears being expressed by the citizens.
Martins expressed concerns with the rising insecurity issues from kidnappings, ritual killings, endemic rape; the ongoing health crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic; and the challenges from the current economic recession, collapse of some industries, and worsening poverty.
In his words: “Government needs to urgently address the insecurity issues by putting in place appropriate measures and policies that would mitigate against the projected renewed economic challenges that may come with the New Year.
“There is need for more pragmatic approaches in tackling the health challenges occasioned by the new strain of the COVID-19 virus in order to guard against another round of total economic lockdown; in view of the colossal losses it would cost the entire nation.
“We thank the good Lord for making it possible for us to see the beginning of the New Year 2021. We pray that the souls of our brothers and sisters who died in the year 2020 may rest in peace.
“In this New Year, my admonition to Nigerians is to be bold and courageous and not to allow fear to rob them of the joy of seeing a New Year. I understand so many predictions have been going around in the social media that the year 2021 will be a tough year. But I urge you to be strong and not afraid.
“Rather than succumb to fear and its corresponding apprehension, people should be optimistic and place their hope and trust in the Almighty God who is able to turn around all things for good. Yes, there are ominous situations that indicate that the year would be tough but faith and trust in God should make us optimistic and encourage us to go into the New Year with courage.
“Let us start each day with prayerful optimism and go about our responsibilities with utmost caution and in strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols. However, as we pray with hope for divine intervention, we must also be prepared to work hard and be more productive in order to make the New Year a good and fruitful one. Each one of us is required to make necessary sacrifices and meaningful contributions towards the growth of our nation.
“Certainly, government has a crucial role to play by diligently attending to its constitutional responsibilities without playing unnecessary politics with issues that affect the daily lives of the masses. For instance, so many challenges came up in 2020 in various areas: particularly in the economic, health, security, and education sectors.”