It was a fine Sunday and I thought I should spend the night at my friend’s house. Philip and I have been best friends for ages, so it was only natural that we took turns at sleepovers in each other’s house. I got to his house around eight at night and he was preparing to leave for church. I was bemused and when I asked why, he told me there was a midnight service and it was going to be probably the most superb night service they would be having since the inception of the church.
“So, you people are going to probably break the COVID-19 protocols,” I pointed out, staring askance at Philip in an effort to rid of his folly.
“Shut up joor. There is power in the blood of Jesus. And by the way, we will be having a sealing service in church. Once my pastor pours the anointing oil upon my head, just forget it. Corona cannot affect me again,” Philip quipped and left afterwards.
On the 5th of January, 2020, popular Nigerian Comedian took to his official Instagram page to share his dreadful COVID-19 experience, urging Nigerians to observe all regulations that have been imposed to control the spread of the virus¹. I was scrolling through the comments and reactions to that post, and I came upon one particularly familiar commenter.
It was Philip, my friend. He lambasted the comedian for being keen on spreading falsehood and inciting fear among the Nigerian populace. Philip said that COVID-19 in Nigeria was merely a conspiracy by the Federal Government and politicians to keep people in their grip and about their bidding. To my rudest surprise, Philip’s comment had somewhat 430 likes, and that proved that 430 Nigerians agree with Philip.
It became clear that there are so many Philips in the country who would contract COVID-19 because of seemingly baseless religious and political views. The most suitable adjective for my friend, Philip, is ignorant. And while it could be said that ignorance could be Philip’s very end, I equally believe that his ignorance would be the doom of so many others around him.
According to a report from United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the 12th May, 2020, 61 choristers had met for their practice in a church in Mount Vernon, Washington DC². It so happened that one of the choristers was suffering from what appeared to be a cold, but was in fact COVID-19. And after the practice, everything seemed normal. In the following weeks, 53 of the choristers that were present at the practice got down with the dreaded virus, three were hospitalized, and two died from the virus.
Hence, a single carrier of this dreaded virus can affect as many persons as (s)he comes in contact with. Now, if there are 430 persons in Nigeria who, just like Philip, my friend, have reasons to believe that all sorts of anointing oils and special prayers mean that they are protected from the virus and can go ahead delving into all sorts of places, meeting all sorts of people, without the tiniest regard for the protocols stipulated by the Federal Government and/or believe that COVID-19 cases in Nigeria are merely a scam pulled by the Federal Government for the ridiculous reasons of trying to control the Nigerian populace, then, there are no arguments why Nigeria will not suffer a second and even a third wave of the dreaded virus.
It was on the 17th of December, 2020, that the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, chaired by Boss Mustapha, stepped out to announce that Nigeria has gone into a second wave of the dreaded virus³. And that announcement was preceded by tons and tons of predictions by several thorough and keen medical professionals in Nigeria and the diaspora concerning the trend of the positive cases in the country. They had been studying it all along and were only giving Nigerians what seemed like prophecies. If only we had stuck to very rather simple tasks, Nigeria would probably not be facing a second wave.
Data obtained from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that Nigeria’s rate of positive COVID-19 cases skyrocketed from 4.2% to 21.3% between December, 2020 – January, 2021⁴. This implies that one person in every group of five will test positive for the dreaded virus. Sounds hugely untrue, but it is this doubt about the figures available to us that has evoked another wave.
Sometime in December, Arise TV news had an interview with Pastor Ituah Ighodalo of Trinity House Church based in Lagos. The clergyman had made an open appeal to the Federal Government to close down churches and mosques as the COVID-19 positive cases were on the rise5. In his opinion, he thought that devotion to God wouldn’t be any less than it is if Christians and Muslims were ushered back into their houses until things died out. People like Philip, my friend, saw the clergy’s proposition as being one aimed at discouraging piety in the country, and there were no sorts of words that were not flung at the pastor.
In a statement issued by the Chairman of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Emmanuel Amodu, it was reported that no less than twenty doctors had lost their lives to COVID-196. While I believe in the power of prayer and the role prayers have played in making COVID-19 cases relatively low in this part of the world, that is no excuse for fanaticism. That is nearly the most suitable word that comes to mind when I think of Philip being asked to get back into his house to avoid the spread of a killer virus and he would get out his Holy Book and begin to chant prayers and march into busy markets.
In my proposition, I do not see the need of making suggestions of more solutions than have already been suggested in the past. There could be a height of truth in suggesting that the Federal Government has been treating the subject of COVID-19 in the country with a sort of peevish mildness that could only naturally incite a carelessness within the populace. However, there are no reasons whatsoever to think of COVID-19 as a fake and conspiratorial theory.
As of the moment of writing this article, update on COVID-19 cases shows that 1.9million people all over the globe have lost their lives to the deadly virus7 (January 11, 2020). That statistics supersedes whatever political edge there is in the report of cases in Nigeria, and should be enough reason to be dissuaded from going about public places without face masks, picking up a fight with anyone that as much as asks you to sanitize your hands before getting access to a public place, making unnecessary interstate travels, and other such activities that clearly violate COVID-19 protocols.
Clergymen have an impact on their laity, and they should not be ignorant of this important fact. While it is only natural that Nigerians should go about their businesses with the confidence that their God is directly involved in their safety, they should equally be reminded of the dangers of exposing oneself. In the early weeks of COVID-19 cases, there was so thick a fear in the air that Nigerians were eager to go on a lockdown even without relief funds or palliatives from their government. I propose that such a fear should be reignited.
COVID-19 is as true as our very existence, and as such should not be treated with flimsiness. As a nation, we would have a landslide victory over the second wave if only we do our part in putting ourselves in less exposing conditions. It is important to note that Nigeria is not the only nation in the world that is faced with a second wave of the virus. England, for example, has stepped into yet another lockdown8. For some nations, interstate travels are not yet allowed, and in more unfortunate countries, they are experiencing a third wave. Do your part. Be health conscious.
Johnson Onyedikachi is a teenage Nigerian creative writer who has unpublished manuscripts of poetry and plays. He recently picked interest in crime fiction and in August 2019, enrolled in an online course where he gained proficiency in article/journal writing including the use of referencing formats (MLA and APA style). He wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org