The Ondo State Inter-ministerial Committee on COVID-19, says that government’s decision to ban Crossover Vigil in churches across the state is not in any way aimed at any religion.
Prof. Adesegun Fatusi, Chairman of the Committee, said this at a meeting with religious leaders as well as stakeholders in Akure on Wednesday.
Fatusi, also the Vice-Chancellor, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, said the decision was aimed at strengthening public safety and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
He noted that the meeting was part of the committee’s strategies to strengthen the fight against COVID-19 and better educate leaders on the need to play exemplary roles in fighting the virus.
Fatusi, while commending some religious leaders and stakeholders for supporting the government in mitigating the spread of the infectious disease, appealed to the church to remain an agent of change.
He observed the need for every stakeholder, including church leaders to key into the fight against COVID-19.
According to him, government will continue to carry out advocacy and sensitisation programmes to re-educate the people about the pandemic and its dangers.
Fatusi urged religious leaders to obey government’s directives regarding the ban on the crossover vigil, promising to convey their appeal for the lifting of the ban to the governor for further directive.
“We are talking about a matter of life and death, people have talked about maintaining protocols in markets and other places, but the focus on churches and mosques is because by their designs, there is the tendency for COVID-19 to spread faster than in open places.
“It is an enclosed place and people are more active therein, the likelihood of higher infection is very prominent.
“The decision to cancel crossover vigil is not about churches, you will recall that the government cancelled Muslims gathering too.
“It is about a subsisting order for the prevention of an outbreak of infection and reducing further spread of COVID-19,” he said.
He reiterated that the government was not biased to any religion, but mainly concerned about the safety of its citizens, thus the call on religious leaders to cooperate with the government.
Meanwhile, Dr Oladipupo Durojaiye, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, harped on the need for people of the state to celebrate in moderation and to join hands in fighting against the virus in the interest of all.
According to Durojaiye, the coronavirus is novel and has continued to exhibit series of variants, thus the need to avoid large gathering or staying too long in enclosed occasion.
Responding, Rev. Ayo Oladapo, Ondo State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), appealed to the government to permit churches to celebrate the crossover vigil.
He stressed that churches had been educating the people on the preventive measures against the pandemic.
Oladapo described CAN as a law abiding association, noting that it would not work against the directives of the government.
He, however, requested for a stronger working relationship between the church and the government.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the state government had on Dec. 23, issued a statement restricting churches in the state from holding crossover services to check the spread of COVID-19. (NAN)