By Anthony Kila
Dear Pastor Tunde Bakare,
Readers and especially addressees of these epistles will readily confirm that it is not our habit here to praise people or thank them for their acts or deeds. Our country abounds with characters devoted to the arts and skills of trampling upon the weak and vanquished as they rush to give succour, encouragement and praises to the strong and victorious regardless of how vicious or dubious is the battle or status of the winner. To each its own.
We have opted to limit ourselves to pointing out simple and grave inadequacies of our times and environment and to propose simple and commonsensical solutions to topical issues that affect us with the aim of nudging all towards a more perfect union. When shunned, as often is the case, we take solace in knowing that our duty is to inform and educate whilst it is the duty of others to implement. We are humble enough to notice that the voice of common sense and the ways of reason are not the most popular in our times.
Dear Pastor Bakare you have, with one simple commonsensical and logically explicable act, disrupted a dangerous and nauseating pattern that gives credence to the suspicion that thinking is alien to those that can do and that those that think cannot say in Nigeria. You have not changed the world but you have sown a seed that is worth celebrating.
When last week Sunday you announced that your church is offering parts of your current Church facilities to be used as an isolation centre for COVID-19 cases. You gave the country a special gift for which we must be thankful. The donation is not just the material space to which the sick can go, it is also the spiritual and moral message that came with it and for that we pray and I am sure that history will be kind to you.
Let us put things into context.
Part of the social economic consequences of this pandemic is the vehement emergence to all of the dangerous weakness in a lot of our institutions and in our mode of operations. I have postulated in another epistle that part of what this pandemic has shown us all is that it is ‘Time to Rethink and Reset’ our ways of doing things. At a time when the whole world accepted that the best way to keep people safe from spreading a virus from each other was to keep each person at bay from the next. Some people simply refused to get it.
The two major problems we face are: On one side how to keep people lock down in their homes to prevent the spread, on the other how to test and treat the sick. No activities mean no access to sustenance and since the government is broke and the country has never really put in place plans to know and cater for citizens, getting help to citizens became a problem. Wide spread infections and fear of it means the need for a lot of medical centres, equipment and practitioners but since we have not invested in health education or health services there was nowhere to go when the crisis came.
For some strange reasons, the richest and theoretically the most exposed of the members society decided that the best way to help the poor was to donate money to the government rather than use readily available effective and efficient channels such as technology in the form of BVN and proximity in the form of community organisations such as churches, mosques, national groups such as the Yoruba World Congress and even Femi Kuti’s Afrika Shrine. They must know an efficient part of the government that we don’t know.
Some people were confused on the need to keep churches and mosques closed for worship. The lamentations of some seem to be obfuscating the mind of many. Some Pastors and their followers began seeing antichrist in common sense; a Pastor even offered to provide cure to the virus provided while people congregate.
Thank you Pastor Bakare for standing up to remind us that there is no distance in the spirit and that the church is not the building but the saints of God, that is the body of Christ.
Let us imagine for a moment that in this time of need where government is clearly incapable of attending to people, all churches and mosques across the country decide to open up their places of worship for all not for worshiping but to provide help in form of becoming palliative distribution centres and or health centres.
Given that one is more likely to meet thirty churches before one library or hospital, I am sure that with the number of churches and mosques we have in the country it can easily be argued that shortage of space for isolation or testing centers will be the least of our problems.
No need to contend the obvious, churches and pastors have conquered important positions in our society but beyond offering songs and places to show off our new clothes, churches can contribute a lot to our moral and physical wellbeing if they choose to do so.
With his clarity of mind and courage of voice Pastor Tunde Bakare has sown a good seed let us pray that it grows in the heart of others.
Prof Anthony Kila, Centre Director at CIAPS Lagos can be reached @anthonykila