Considering recent event about the flouting of government’s directives by a few worship centers over the social distancing policy in the face of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, God may have nullified some supplications for putting His creations in danger.
Recall that the contribution of a South Korean Church to the Coronavirus spread, which represents about 60% of the country’s confirmed cases of over 4,000, influenced restrictions on the number of people who can congregate at any time during this trying time.
In Rome, the Pope suspended Mass while in Saudi Arabia, Muslim pilgrims were barred from all Umrah related activities. These decisions, are not only unusual, but are far-reaching, and genuinely reflective of the value placed on citizens’ lives.
Public safety sentiment echoes across the globe. It is a critical index for measuring purposeful leadership at this unnerving period in human existence.
Forget the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s calm demeanor. Every additional case of Coronavirus in the State naturally worries him. Since the first case, which later turned negative was announced in Lagos State, the Governor’s determination to contain the pestilence has increased. Every update, he wished had included the announcement of a vaccine, or drugs that can permanently wiped-out the deadly Coronavirus from our World.
“There are about 22 million people in my care and everyone is only an arm’s length away from the other. This pandemic is highly transmissible and travels in the air from one person to the other. Aside from my domain being the most populous in the country, with an incredible density, it is also the major entry point into Nigeria. Daily, thousands of travelers come into Lagos from different parts of the world, even from Coronavirus worse-hit countries”, captures the minute-by-minute thoughts on Governor Sanwo-Olu’s mind.
So, his mind cannot idle away from the conjectures coming in gushes. Even, complicating the situation is the centrality of Lagos to managing the containment of the deadly virus in Nigeria. The level of the State’s preparedness and quality of facilities make it a destination for case management and patient treatment.
As the facilities get stretched by cases imported from outside Lagos, his mind skips because of the ever-present imbalance between needs and available resources in life. If not for our recklessness, may be the number of cases in Nigeria would still have been as low as five, and Lagos will be zero with the index case turning negative. And this would have perhaps contributed to reduction in his anxieties.
But we are a strange and very funny people. It is unbelievable that government needed to enforce compliance with directives to stem the tide of a lethal microbe that has claimed 21,367 lives from the 475,879 cases in 198 countries.
We sneered at instructions as basic as restricting congregating anywhere at any point to 20 for just 14 days to abate the spread of Coronavirus amongst us.
Even, the call to avoid public places and social gatherings at this perilous time is pointlessly ignored, just as much as the need for personal hygiene is discounted.
Excuse me, why are the doctrines of “wash your hands regularly with soap” and “observe the principles of social distancing” to protect yourself from a deadly infection difficult to obey? Are we just being suicidal, or deliberately inclined to committing large scale murder?
Don’t we understand that our disobedience endangers other people’s lives and diminishes government efforts at protecting the land against pandemic? If we assemble somewhere in the name of prayer or worship, and enable coronavirus fly at a geometric progression through community spread, we have not only disobeyed civil authorities, but also committed evil in the sight of God. Good citizenship is one of the conditions precedent to Godliness. For Christians, Apostle Paul espoused this in his homily on civil obedience in Roman 13: 1-1.
The holy Quran does not defer on civil obedience and respect for constituted authority. In verse 59 of Surah An-Nisa in the Quran, which is known as Uli al-Amr verse, Believers are ordered to obey Allah, obey the prophet and those vested with authority (Uli al-Amr).
So, where did the disobedience come from? If your recalcitrance increases the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria and results in loss of several lives, you are a murderer! If you fail to self-isolate when you return from overseas or are exposed an infected person, you are killer because your indiscretion will infect people with the novel coronavirus.
We need to comply with the social distancing and personal hygiene precepts. No one should commit suicide by disregarding these principles. God holds human life sacred. That is why the 6th commandment in Exodus 20:13 says: “Thou shalt not kill”. This is a clear directive to preserve human life.
More importantly, suicide is a grave sin before our creator. It is true that in times of pestilence, prayer is a means of privileged communication with the Almighty God. No one is in doubt about the efficacy of prayer as a source of strength in moment of crisis, Christians and, indeed, everyone that believes in God must heed the call of Apostle Peter to conduct their lives properly; so that their “prayers be not hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).
If your actions or activities cause self-death or death of others, or endanger the society, God may not answer your prayers.
Stay safe. Wisdom is profitable to direct.
Fafore is Executive Assistant on Public Relations and New Media to Lagos State Governor