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FG to Nigerians: COVID-19 has come to stay with us

Regina Otokpa Abuja The Federal Government, yesterday, warned Nigerians to adhere strictly to the precautionary protocols put in place to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic as the virus might last longer than any one had ever expected due to its contagious nature.

 

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, who gave the warning at the grand finale of a 3-day Special Joint Fasting and Prayer programme tagged ‘Nineveh,’ organised by the Nigerian Interreligious Council (NIREC), said the disease, which has crippled social and economic activities since the beginning of the year, “has come to stay.”

 

Mustapha, who doubles as the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID- 19, urged Nigerians to take responsibility and strictly adhere to the nonpharmaceutical measures put in place to contain the virus, as there was no vaccine or cure in sight. His words: “COVID-19 is real, as we sit in this hall, there is COVID-19 whether you want to believe it or not because 80 per cent of people infected are asymptomatic; they do not exhibit any symptoms. “There is no vaccine and there is no cure in sight; the time frame given by scientists involved in research for vaccine likely to be on the table for people to acquire is between 18 months and two years. So, COVID-19 has come to stay with us.

 

“The only thing that you have for the good of yourself and for the good of your family and loved ones is to adhere to the non-pharmaceutical interventions that we have in place; they still remain the most effective fighting opportunity we have as a people to overcome this pandemic.

 

“These are the things we have been preaching, talking about and making personal appeals to people of our own dear country to adhere to,” he said.

 

Mustapha expressed displeasure over what he termed as the “reckless confidence” of some Nigerians who have continued to flout the guidelines put in place  by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, to contain the virus.

 

“I see a lot of Christians exhibiting reckless confidence and the Bible describes them as fools in Prov 22:3 which says the wise see danger ahead and avoids it, but fools keep going and get into trouble. Stay at home if you have no business leaving your home. That is the safest place you have. “Honestly, if not because this was a service not designed to be held at home, I won’t come into this gathering. It is a matter of conscious decision on my part to make sure I protect myself, family, friends and loved ones. “My admonition to the church is that we must take action and stop exhibition of reckless confidence and tell our people the truth and ask them to do the proper things so that they can stay safe for their families, their communities and for the body of Christ,” he said. The SGF stressed that the coronavirus pandemic was unpredictable and based on its effects on stronger economies of the world, it could easily overwhelm Nigeria if caution was not taken. In his message, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Ignatius Kaigama also raised concerns over the poor attitude of Christians towards consistent prayers and fellowship with God. He reminded the congregation that the world needs God’s help to be able to overcome the pandemic. Kaigama stressed that the social distancing rule, which has been imposed as a result of the pandemic, should not be an excuse to become distant from God or neglect the godly virtues of neighbourliness.

 

“As Christians, even in tough and challenging times, we should know that God is in charge. In the wake of disasters or grave danger, the tendency is to pray feverishly but as soon as it passes, we return to ground zero of prayer. “Obviously, this is a classic case of panic spirituality.

 

We must not run to God only when in the face of danger. God gives us 168 hours a week, 1,440 minutes a day. How much time do we spend in conversation with Him? Yet we spend far more time watching television, speaking to friends on the phone or engaged in social media activities.

 

“Prayer in our lives should be consistent, persevering and fervent, Pope Francis admonishes us. We are a people who believe that prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are as much a part of our response to the pandemic as those working on the frontlines trying to offer medical assistance or to find a vaccine or cure. “We need God’s help. He is our refuge, our strong

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