, 19 April, 2020 / 6:36 PM
The leadership of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos in Nigeria has moved in to support the State in providing for the people of God facing hardships after the government put in place restrictions to help curb the spread of COVID-19, a cleric in the Archdiocese has reported.
“Archbishop Martins said that the task of managing the pandemic and taking care of the less-privileged was enormous and so the government should be supported,” the Director of Social Communications in the Archdiocese of Lagos, Fr. Anthony Godonu reported Friday, April 17, referencing the move by his Local Ordinary, Archbishop Martins Adewale, to provide for the needy in society amid COVID-19.
“We cannot but admit that providing for all the people in our state is a herculean task and it must create its own nightmare for the government,” Fr. Godonu explained the reasoning behind the intervention on the part of the Church leadership and added, “As a Church, we hear the cry of the people as well as understand the challenges of Government.”
Nigeria has recorded at least 542 cases of COVID-19; 19 have died and 166 have recovered.
In a bid to combat the spread of the virus, President Muhammadu Buhari, declared a 14-day lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states on March 30. On Monday, April 13, the lockdown was extended by another two weeks.
While the shutdown was welcomed, the Prelates in Africa’s most populous nation raised concerns that people without savings are “getting close to starvation” and the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) called on his brother Bishops to come up with ways of reaching out to the poor people in their respective pastoral contexts.
Recently, the CBCN also granted the Presidential Task Force committee full access to all health facilities, owned by the Catholic Church.
In line with the CBCN offer, Archbishop Martins announced the decision to make St. Raphael Divine Mercy Hospital, Ijede available for use as an isolation centre if the need arises.
According to Fr. Godonu, “The Archbishop later revealed that the support offered to Lagos State Government was in addition to the provisions for the poor that he directed the over 180 parishes of the Archdiocese to make in their different localities spread all over the State."
He added, “About 78 smaller parishes that could not afford to make the provisions without some support were assisted with various sums of money from the nearly 10million naira that was raised from the Archbishop’s Appeal to the faithful at the beginning of the lockdown.”
"The Archbishop thanked the Priests and the faithful of the different Parishes for taking action on the directive, thereby revealing Jesus’ love of the poor in the provisions they are making for the people," Fr. Godonu reported.
“The hard work that has been done in ensuring that we are a model state in the effort to stem the spread of the virus (and) the effort that has been made to provide palliatives to support the most vulnerable among us,” Archbishop Martins was quoted saying.
Speaking on behalf of Lagos State governor, Dr. (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, on behalf of her husband, thanked the Catholic Church for its kind gesture and assured that the donated items will be properly utilized for the purposes they were meant for.
The Archdiocese donated relief items that included 500 bags of rice and beans and 4000 hand sanitizers.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa