FEATURE ARTICLE

Sunday, June 21, 2020
balooy2k@gmail.com
Arizona, USA
COVID-19: AN OPEN LETTER TO RELIGIOUS BRETHREN IN NIGERIA

Dear Brethren,

"Normlessness is a state where the expectations of behavior are unclear, and the system has broken down." --- Sociologist, Emile Durkheim

am sending you this concerned message of admonition. It is no news anymore, and it is imperative to be candid and honest about the menace of Coronavirus currently ravaging the entire world. It is also not news to note that thousands of lives have been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, and millions of people are still suffering and dying from its unending affliction.

This letter to brethren is far from preachment from the concerned Nigerian writer. It's not to influence your relationship (mode of worship or beliefs) with your God but to admonish you to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and save vulnerable lives in Nigerian society. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 early this year, it has been the fear of international experts on disease control about the vulnerability of the hapless people, and the corruption of the leadership of African countries.

In the last few days, I have been overwhelmed with fear and nervousness about the recent lifting of the ban by the Federal government on congregations of people in places of worship (Churches, Mosques, and Shrines), and schools in Nigeria. It's concerning and disheartening to see these religious leaders jostling for the reopening of places of worship amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. But the expectations and naivety of the religious adherents to congregate at the synagogues, and mosques at the expense of their lives and the lives of other citizens is not only sacrilegious but morally wrong and disturbing! The trepidation and stupefaction of the WHO--World Health Organization global experts on disease control are born out of the potential spread or explosion of the novel virus in Africa. And that it might go beyond the control of the African countries to combat the spread of COVID-19. This is the main reason why this letter to you is more expedient and sensible at this auspicious period.

The Federal government of Nigeria surprisingly, and for the first time in its wisdom, was initially able to proactively control the spread of the novel Coronavirus. Unexpectedly, this singular act of expeditious leadership has saved many lives. Despite the government's measures (though inadequate), some lives have been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This writer is a Muslim, and I respect people's choices in their faiths and beliefs but have an aversion for people who do not have respect for other people's opinions and existential right to safety and life. It is not undeniable, and no exaggeration to note that Nigerians are the most religious people in the world. Nigerians are more Catholic and Saudi than Catholics and Saudis, but it is an onus on the Nigerian people to worship God responsibly. Saudi Arabia recently canceled the Hajj (the annual pilgrimage of devoted Muslims globally to Mecca and Medina) to save the lives of its citizens and intending pilgrims. Currently, as a result of menace COVID-19, there are no religious congregations in Israel and Rome. Why do our religious leaders in Nigeria act and speak ex-cathedral, even more than Pope and Sheikh in Rome and Saudi Arabia respectively? Why are people pretentiously holier than thou? These are moral questions that may not get honest and unbiased answers in a nation full of contradictions and hypocritical citizens.

Lastly, it is crucial to trigger an honest conversation with our minds--Coronavirus is real! The decimation of lives by this deadly virus is real. Let's take necessary precautions and listen to experts of disease control to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. God is an understanding and omnipresent-omnipotent God. He understands our intention and deeds. Endangering your lives and the lives of other people to mock God through religious blasphemy is ungodly and normless. God sees our hearts and through His Alpha order to discern our hearts and intentions. Therefore, the honest question to all of us going forward is: are we worshipping God for salvation and to serve Him, or are we praising Him for our expectation of existential prosperity and ephemeral? Let this question be our moral compass to ease our collective encumbrance and amnesia.

NEWS SECTIONS