In her bid to ensure greater citizens’ participation in the war against COVID-19 pandemic, Abia State Government has launched a new public sensitization drive through the churches in Aba, the commercial nerve center of the state.
Speaking to a gathering of Christian leaders of Pentecostal leaning on Saturday at the Assemblies of God Church, 124, Tenant Road, Aba, the State Commssioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, appealed to them to use their pulpits to sensitize their members on the realities of the disease which according to him is threatening to disrupt the lives and livelihood of the people living in the town.
“The Church must partner with the government to halt the spread of COVID-19 and protect our people, as this is one sure way we can all win the war and quickly get back to our normal lives”, he said.
Chief Okiyi who expressed the appreciation of the government for the fervent prayers of the Church following the infection of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu with the virus assured that the Governor is recovering well from the infection and is expected to return to work soon. He tasked the church on abiding by the regulations issued by the government and health authorities particularly with regard to safe worship, regular hand washing and compulsory wearing of face masks during church service and while outside their homes.
He said, “We do not wish to be compelled to shut down Churches that are not complying with the relevant protocols hence the need to come here and seek your buy in as well as self regulation to ensure that we collectively win this war as God’s own people. It is Biblical for the Church to work with the government for greater good and in this war against COVID-19 there should be no conflict between us. This government is your government and will not want to impose compliance on you or your members but rather prefers to dialogue with you to strengthen compliance within and outside the church.”
In her remarks, the State Epidemiologist, Lady Peace Nwaogwugwu, who highlighted the current trends in the spread of the disease in the state as well as the efforts of the government to halt the rampaging virus, assured that adequate resources are on ground within the state to manage those who come down with the disease back to health. She further informed that the state has established facilities to test suspected cases of the virus and appealed to those who experience symptoms to visit the sample collection centers in Aba and Umuahia or call 0700 2242 362 to get help.
Responding, the former Chairman of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Abia Chapter, Bishop Goddy Okafor, expressed appreciation to the government for carrying the church along in its fight against COVID-19 through sensitization and distribution of palliatives to the members and assured of their readiness to take up the message in their various churches as well as ensure compliance with the relevant protocols for safe worship. He also called for review of some aspects of the protocols on worship and promised that the members will make their position known to the government in writing after their meeting.