Nigeria recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, on February 27, 2020, a development that shocked many Nigerians. Several expressed fears over Nigeria’s poor medical system. There were doubts about the nation’s readiness to combat such fast-spreading disease as COVID-19. The fears were not unfounded.
Realising the poor state of things in the health sector, the Federal Government called on individuals and groups to support the nation’s fight against the pandemic. As cases rise, many states struggled with bedspaces for isolation and treatment, a development that worried the government. During one of the national briefings of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, called on states to embark on preparing at least 300 bed spaces for COVID-19 isolation and treatment. He emphasised the need to securely isolate and treat infected cases.
Many responded to the government’s call for support, among which was the Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). The conference donated all its 425 health facilities across the country as isolation centres for COVID-19. It also released its Public Health Specialist to support the PTF in coordinating access and utilisation of these facilities. The move was a gracious one that drew plaudits from several quarters.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, subsequently asked state governments to take full advantage of the facilities. He called on other faith-based bodies to join in the prosecution of the war against the pandemic.
The CBCN did not stop at donating its health facilities, it was also involved in several donations to vulnerable Nigerians who were hard hit by the negative economic effects of COVID-19. For instance, in May, the Abuja Archdiocese of the Catholic Church flagged off the first phase of the multi-million-naira worth of palliatives for vulnerable persons to cushion the economic impact of the lockdown imposed by government to check the spread of COVID-19.
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, noted that the human race was engaged in a global war for the survival of humanity. He advised that only a common front, devoid of envy, colour differences, religion and status could ensure victory for mankind in that situation. According to him, the palliatives shared were to support vulnerable people in rural parishes, the prisons and orphanages.
He further called on well-meaning Nigerians who had enough, groups and organisations in the country to reach out to the needy and poor around them, so that these people would not suffer at that critical time.
Archbishop Kaigama emphasised that the Church’s gesture was not premised on tribe, religion, age gender or status. “There are going to be consequences, so we must all be part of this war,” he said. “This difficult period requires goodwill and show of love to minimize the hardship and suffering of vulnerable people in the society.”
Also speaking at the ceremony, the President of the Catholic Women Organization, Abuja Archdiocese, (CWOAA), Mrs. Mary Imaezue assured that the CWO would mobilise her members, not only in Abuja, but all over the country, to ensure support for the vulnerable in the society.
Since the emergence of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the Catholic Conference has been involved in several efforts to ensure that less Nigerians feel the tough effects of the harsh economy. For being there when their country and countrymen needed them, members of the Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) are our #ALEDEHCOVID19Heroes for the week.