Fred Ezeh and Doris Obinna
Lagos government has dashed the hopes of religious faithful as it said churches and mosques in the state might not be reopened soon.
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, said this on the sidelines of the 2020 Ministerial Press Briefing commemorating Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s first year in office, yesterday.
The Federal Government had on Monday lifted the ban on mosques and churches in the country, based on guidelines and protocols agreed with state governments.
Elegushi said that the reopening of the worship centres was not possible soon, as the state was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
“Even before the pronouncement by Federal Government, we have been having meetings with the religious leaders, we even had one with Safety Commission, looking at the possibility of reopening of religious houses.
“We also had one with the leaders of the two faiths and I want to tell you categorically that, at that meeting, possibility of reopening religious houses was ruled out totally.
“They claimed that they cannot take such responsibility of ensuring that only 20 or 50 people are praying behind them. Like an Imam said, he doesn’t know what is going on at the back immediately he is leading a prayer. He said if more than 20 or 50 people are staying at his back he is not going to take responsibility for their presence.
“So, in the meeting, we ruled out in totality the issue of reopening the religious houses until we have a clear coast for us to do so.
“The Federal Government mentioned it, but it never ruled out the state in achieving that pronouncement; so, all states will have to look at possibility of doing so in their respective states.
“We all know Lagos is still having more figures. So, definitely, that will speak to our decision,” he said.
The commissioner, however, said the governor would come out with further directives on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) branch, has decried the exclusion and selective implementation of hazard allowance of some cadres/personnel in the April 2020 increased allowances as announced by Governor Sanwo-Olu.
The union, in a protest letter to the governor dated May 11, 2020, accused the LASUTH COVID-19 committee and chairman, Medical Guild, Lagos State, of rolling out statistics and number of doctors who were tested positive to COVID-19 without a mention of its five health workers who were positive to COVID-19 and other frontline members such as nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, attendants/cleaners exposed on different occasions in places like Ayinke House, medical and surgical emergency, and oncology units.
In the undersigned letter by the chairman and secretary, Bamishe Adebayo and Ogunleke Idowu respectively, JOHESU said its members who are positive for COVID-19 are currently in isolation centers undergoing treatment: “The health risk, obviously, cuts across all cadres of health workers in the health sector.”
They said, “It can give the impression that other health workers are not at risk of the infection while discharging their duties. The exclusion of non-clinical cadres salary scale categories in the payment of the additional N20,000 hazard allowance, contrary to the governor’s directives, is said to be an upshot of the impression given to the general public that healthcare delivery is exclusive to certain category of the health professionals.
“The exclusion left out a total of 631 personnel in the salary scale categories from benefiting from the April 2020 increased hazard allowance and these staffs are also currently on the existing old hazard allowance of N5,000 from onset like every other staff in LASUTH.”
The union demanded an unconditional implementation and payment of arrears of the hazard allowance to the affected health workers in LASUTH as it was done for colleagues in April 2020 salary and subsequent payments of such enhanced hazard allowance, going forward.