The Coronavirus pandemic has become a leveller of sorts.
Some months ago, staff of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada; would not have imagined having the son of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as a patient. The chances of him being admitted there in Gwagwalada would have been very slim.
The assertion above is not just for Atiku; but true of all our politicians, top civil servants, and the upper class.
Sen Godswill Akpabio had to travel overseas for medical attention after a minor road accident; despite building a “world class hospital” in his state. Also, the President, Muhammadu Buhari, has hardly led by example when it comes to medical tourism.
Unfortunately, with the outbreak of Coronavirus; Nigerians, irrespective of their status will have to use the same medical facilities.
However, it would not be surprising if our leaders start creating VIP sections in the dilapidated hospitals; in order to give themselves some comfort.
It is important to make this important clarification before going forward.
No matter the standard of medical facilities in any country; the novel coronavirus has shown it is capable of overwhelming any system.
Italy, with its cutting-edge medical/public health system, is a case study. Even the United Kingdom and the United States are struggling to cope with the virus.
However, this is not an excuse for the criminal abandonment of our healthcare sector over the years by Nigerian leaders. The doctors at the front-line are being owed salaries and working under terrible conditions. Most of them currently saddled with the onerous and risky task of managing the outbreak; will be doing their job at greater risk without proper kits and equipment.
As a matter of fact; some doctors in Abuja had even proceeded on strike in the course of the coronavirus outbreak.
The point is, if we had invested in our healthcare system; we would have a better chance of fighting this deadly outbreak. If we had invested properly in the healthcare sector; each state would have a better preparedness, instead of hoping that the coronavirus be limited to Lagos.
It’s not just our leaders that are guilty of this criminal abandonment of the health sector. The lack of philanthropic gesture from our well-to-do citizens is also a criminal negligence. Several hospitals in other climes depend on endowment from citizens. For instance, according to the US Census Bureau, over $203billion comes annually from Non-Governmental Organizations to the health sector.
It’s not too late for everyone to act because there is no abroad to go to. Even if Buhari’s daughter who is in self isolation should test positive; there would be no UK to run to for elitist treatment. Rather, she will have to be treated here.
Oyedepo: give unto Cesear what is due onto him
Once upon a time, the Church and the state were one and the same. But that era is gone now. The state is the Supreme organ. Every other entity is subject to the state.
The recent proclamation by the General Overseer of Living Faith, David Oyedepo that his Church will remain open; despite the directive by the Ogun State government that all gathering above 50 persons is prohibited; to curb the spread of the coronavirus is nothing rather than setting on a collision course with the state.
At a time of national emergency and an outbreak that has already killed thousands globally; Bishop Oyedepo must face the reality that his right to assembly is no longer guaranteed by the constitution; or any other convention. Unless, the pastor can prove his claim that the Canaan Land which is located in Ogun state; has some sort of healing powers that could be tested beyond reasonable doubt; keeping his establishment open is nothing but criminal, which no government should tolerate.
The Pastor has chosen to be in opposition against the government. That is a right guaranteed by the constitution.
Not even a coronavirus pandemic can change that. However, his right to keep his establishment open is not.
In the event that the federal government declares a state of emergency and asks the military to enforce orderliness; Oyedepo risks setting the nation ablaze along ethnoreligious lines; as heavy-handedness by the federal government could be interpreted as some sort of vendetta against him for his opposition.
As Jesus rightfully said, the state which is “Caesar” must be given what his duly his. The state has a responsibility to protect lives and properties, and as its stands; the action of Oyedepo is preventing the state from out that duty.
At the last service on Sunday, Oyedepo claimed that “shutting down churches is like shutting down hospitals.” He added that “we will jealously guard our right to assembly as brethren.”
This is morally wrong as several churches heeded the directive of government. Even the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries reportedly turned back folks who came to worship; while other churches observed their fellowship online.
The pastor must realize his influence and act responsibly. The earlier this coronavirus is curbed, the better for everyone to resume their activities. No one likes to have his freedom restricted, most especially the poor and vulnerable.
The big question is, why is the Bishop not keeping his churches in other countries open?
While regulation of churches remains a controversial issue that is best avoided; do we also have to call for rational and reasonable behaviour from our religious leaders?
However, there is another option for Oyedepo. Perhaps those who want to continue to fellowship should stay permanently at the Canaan Land; where government will make sure they all stay there to worship. When the country is finally coronavirus free, then those people should be quarantined for one more month.
As long as those people would continue to mingle with other people; then Oyedepo has no right to keep his church open.