COVID-19: Archbishop Ede challenges FG, hits security agencies over compromise

The Chairman of the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), Archbishop Christopher Ede, Enugu State chapter, has urged the Federal Government to show a sense of transparency and accountability in the sharing of COVID-19 palliatives.

Several Nigerians have called to question the method being adopted by the ministry of humanitarian affairs in the sharing of the palliatives.

Ede, who is also the Methodist Bishop of Enugu Diocese, made the call during the flag-off of CCN’s special COVID-19 outreach tagged “Operation Share the Face Mask,” in Enugu, as part of the group’s efforts to sensitize citizens of the State about following the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and Enugu State government’s safety directives.

He noted that the pandemic is at war with all Nigerians and that the government should eschew ethnic, political or religious considerations in the distribution of the stimulus package to Nigerians.

The CCN boss also called on the federal government to publish details of the distribution of the relief materials as a way of convincing the general public about their fairness in carrying out the exercise.

On what prompted CCN to embark on COVID-19 sensitisation and face mask distribution project, the Archbishop said that it was to help in containing the spread of the pandemic by imparting the right knowledge about the pandemic to residents of the state.

“We are joining forces with the government and NCDC through this massive sensitization project, to ensure that our people are safe and COVID-19 free.

“The social media has trivialized the anti-COVID-19 campaign, with some saying that the whole thing about the pandemic is a scam; and so, people are taking the issue for granted.

“But the truth is that COVID-19 is real.

“The level of infection may not be so much in Nigeria now, by the grace of God, but from local and international reports, the tests that have been conducted show that the pandemic has been spreading across the globe, including Nigeria,” Ede said.

He explained that the CCN’s exercise was not targeted to church members alone, but that it was interfaith and intertribal, stressing that the outreach is for the entire populace.

He said: “We go into the streets, markets and households to speak to both believers and non-believers alike, sensitizing them on the need to stay safe during the prevailing pandemic.

“It is said that prevention is better than cure, and that is what the exercise is all about, trying to help our people to be preventive.

“Our message is that wherever you are, in market places, in your offices, at motor parks or inside commercial vehicles; once you are at any public place or with people, wear your face mask and maintain physical social distancing.

“That we must ensure regular and proper washing of our hands, avoid touching our nose or mouth, and observe all official safety protocols and personal hygiene.

“That once we do that, we shall all be safe and free of the deadly virus”.

On the COVID- 19 status of the South East, especially Enugu State, the Archbishop expressed displeasure over the continued flouting of executive ban on interstate travels, describing it as a very unfortunate development.

“It is unfortunate that people are frustrating the government’s effort by repeatedly devising various means to flout official restrictions on interstate movement, including hiding themselves inside trucks conveying essential commodities to various locations in the country,” Ede lamented.

He further noted that, “All the COVID-19 patients in Enugu State imported the virus from outside the state, mostly during the ongoing restriction on interstate travel.

“Coronavirus is not inborn but imported.

“Therefore, if we are able to control our borders and various entry points, the pandemic would be contained with ease,” he added.

While encouraging the governors not to be demoralised, the prelate maintained that, “In Enugu, the governor, Rt Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has been working so hard; his counterparts in Ebonyi and other states are also very proactive about the fight; but people are employing various tricks to flout official orders and sabotage the governors’ efforts thereby causing more problem for the society.

“How can somebody leave Lagos, Kano, Abuja or Sokoto and pass all the numerous checkpoints along the road and be stopped at Obollo Affor, and nobody is made to explain that?

“That tells you that some people have turned this country into a country of compromisers – people who for various political, religious and nepotistic reasons, allow evil to thrive in this country.

“My message to the security agencies manning these entry points into various states is that war against COVID-19 is a war that all of us are involved in; and so for anybody to compromise on grounds of nepotism or pecuniary interest and allows people to import the dangerous virus to infect people, such person should realise that throwing a stone into the market could be counter-productive because it could hit his mother.

“So, our appeal to the people is that everybody should join hands with the government to contain the virus once and for all.

“All the South East governors are working hard in the fight against COVID- 19, but they must realize that the people they are working with are sabotaging their efforts.

“My advice is that the governors should continue to carry out regular personal impromptu inspection of all entry points in their respective states.

“They should also incorporate people who live around the entry points, such as the neighbourhood watch, Forest Guards and others into the border post security.

“Let them also find a way to install surveillance cameras as some states have done. I believe that these measures can drastically curb compromise at the border posts,” he stated.

On his part, the Youth Coordinator of CCN, Enugu State, Dr Emeka Ejim, said that the youth wing of the Christian group was in the special COVID-19 outreach project to support the church leaders and elders in sensitizing the general public on how to observe the COVID-19 prevention directives of the NCDC and the Enugu State government.

He added that apart from distribution of face masks, that the CCN also carries out a series of education and reorientation outreach to the people.

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