Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, has explained that many Nigerians are afraid to accept the COVID-19 vaccine because they believe that the health crisis is being manipulated by some people.
Kaigama, who stated this yesterday in Abuja during his homily at St. Jude’s Parish Zuba, however, urged Nigerians to disregard insinuations that the vaccine is not medically safe and affordable.
He argued that even though many people will seriously question facts about COVID-19 and fear that there is manipulation by some people, he insisted that the pandemic is real.
He said: “People very dear to us have died of COVID-19. There is no doubt that our world is currently sick, ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The fear today is that the menace of COVID-19 will continue to be with us for a long time, and so we need to be watchful and vigilant.
“Many in Nigeria, however, ask if the vaccines are medically safe and whether the poor can also benefit from them, considering that even the palliatives meant for the needy ended up in the homes of a few favoured ones or were needlessly hoarded in warehouses.”
Kaigama insisted that before vaccinating Nigerians, stakeholders must ensure that the vaccines have been subjected to appropriate tests for genuineness and were properly stored, to allay the fear of contamination.
He also stressed that the economic difficulties on account of the pandemic were palpable.
“The other fear is that if it takes so much time and money now to do a test for COVID-19, will it be that easy for the poor to have access to the vaccine?
“As basic as the face mask, which is seriously recommended to be worn by everyone is, I have seen individuals wearing dirty face masks for days because they cannot afford new ones, another reason for more infections!
“I understand that the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) is considering increasing the polling units in Nigeria to beyond the present 119,973. Could the same polling units be used as free vaccination or face masks distribution centres?”
While referencing the Biblical book of Mark 1:29-31, the Abuja Catholic prelate noted that being a Christian was not an insurance policy against sickness, suffering, and hardship.
“Life is not a bed of roses. Pain and suffering and joy and fulfillment coexist, but our faith teaches us that the suffering of Jesus gave meaning to our sufferings. Even though God permits suffering to take place, He intervenes in human situations to alleviate suffering.
“In the midst of the coronavirus health crisis, we pray that things will return to normalcy soon and our God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever will grant us both spiritual and physical healing.
“I urge that in all the circumstances of your life, remain solidly rooted in the Lord Jesus, and do not yield to superstition and wander from one juju healer to the other,” he explained.