As part of efforts geared towards increasing public awareness about the COVID-19, the Lagos State Government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday, engaged religious leaders in a sensitisation session on precautionary measures required to keep the disease at bay.
The Honourable Commissioner for Home Affairs, Mr. Anofi Elegushi, while addressing the religious leaders, appealed to them to educate their members with the right information about the reality and severity of the disease, while also allaying fears that might have arisen from the identification of an infected person in Lagos.
He explained that the State government was exploring every available avenue to sensitise the public on personal hygiene and other necessary measures that would help nip the disease in the bud.
Elegushi said, “this discussion and sensitisation could not have come at a better time and like a responsible and responsive government, it behoves on us to bring our Religious Leaders up to speed on the dangerous Coronavirus, that is subtly creeping into the State.”
While noting that “a stitch in time saves nine”, the Commissioner maintained that the disease must be contained before it becomes endemic, emphasising that it must be kept at bay before it spreads among the residents.
He recalled that religious colourations and sentiments have been introduced to the health issue since its discovery, stressing that the religious leaders must be engaged to set the record straight.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mrs. Adebunmi Adekanye stated that firsthand knowledge of the causes, effects, prevention and possible treatment from experts who are drawn from various government agencies in the State is key in reducing the spread of the disease.
She disclosed that officials of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs as well as the Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations, among other relevant government agencies, would provide different perspectives on the Coronavirus for the participants.
Adekanye appealed to the religious leaders to pay close attention to the resource persons in order to transmit the information to their worshippers and congregation when they get back to their respective locations.
Responding, the State Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Lagos State Chapter, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola described the engagement as very timely, saying that the spiritual leaders need to sensitise their followers from a very informed point of view.
“We need to get back to our places of worship to educate our people; because the virus had already destroyed the economy of some nations of the world, we really need to rise up and prayerfully tackle this virus”, Bamgbola said.
He stated that the prayers of believers are already manifesting in the State as the situation on the ground is already being contained, saying that as God stopped Ebola from wreaking havoc in the State some years ago, the Coronavirus will also die a natural death.
Also speaking, the Secretary-General of Conference of Islamic Organisation, CIO, Engr. Imam Balogun Luqman expressed the hope that the enlightenment session would go a long way in reducing the incident while calling for calm among residents of the State and advocating for precautionary measures on the part of every Lagosians.
The event, which witnessed the presentations by resource persons on the symptoms and prevention of the deadly virus, was graced by religious leaders from the Christian and Muslim communities among whom were the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Professor (Apostle) Alexander Bamgbola, the Grand Chief Imam of Lagos Central Mosque, His Eminence, Sheikh Suleman Abou-Nolla represented by Sheikh Gafar Mofesaye, other Christians and Muslim leaders from the five divisions of the State.