For Nigeria, it has been a slow response in staving off an epidemic that was first discovered in China in December 2019. Like other countries that were almost too late in raising the red flag against the infection, Nigeria’s assurances on its preparedness to contain the virus all turned into an uproar when the first index case of the disease was discovered and confirmed on February 27, 2020. Even before the pandemic berthed at our shores, fear had ripped through citizens over governments’ competence to battle the virus. In the face of dearth of equipment and necessary testing laboratories for COVID-19, both the federal and state governments had simply resorted to the hysterical option of slamming lockdown on cities and states in a bid to combat spread of the illness. Unfortunately, the lockdown option was taken without recognising the fact that over 70 percent of Nigerians depends on daily incomes.
Long before the shutdown order was issued by the federal and some state governments, it was obvious that battling the virus was far beyond the demonstrated capacity of government. For a country that has continued to pay lip service to the development of its healthcare sector, the absence of testing centres for Coronavirus proved a long walk to tackling the plague.
To give hope and provide respite to citizens in times of need, religious organisations have often take up the gauntlet by rising to the occasion. In discharging the church’s Christian Social Responsibility (CSR), the Founder/Senior Pastor of the Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Dr Paul Enenche, had moved swiftly to donate equipment and other essentials towards improving healthcare delivery services for the people. Amidst the Coronavirus fear, the Dunamis Church recently came under heavy criticisms for conducting Sunday services on March 22, 2020 in its 100,000-seater Glory Dome in Abuja. The Founder of the Living Faith Church Worldwide International, popularly known as Winners Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, was also not spared of invective by some of these impudent decriers who called for his prosecution for daring to hold service on March 22, 2020 in Ogun state.
One fact must be stated here: Both services held by Bishop Oyedepo and Pastor Enenche were not in contravention of any executive order/law issued by either the federal or the state government. For Dunamis Church, the Sunday service of March 22, 2020 was held after a meeting between officials of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN) leadership that granted approval. However, despite the approval, these irreverent and cheeky traducers of Enenche won’t just give up on their false charges. For Enenche’s critics whose resentment has grown since he achieved the feat of building an awesome church auditorium reputed to be the world’s largest, they have refused to let go the sparks of bitterness that is eating them up. Some of them have called for the prosecution of the Senior Pastor, including revocation of his medical certificate to serve as deterrent. The call to prosecute the two front line clerics is ridiculous as there was no law/executive orders banning congregational services. As long as there was no law then banning churches from holding services, it would be preposterous for anyone to allege any act of illegality against these clerics whose fame cannot be diminished by mischief of these faultfinders.
In what seems like a determined act to smear the reputation of the Dunamis Church’s Senior Pastor, On March 29, a letter, bearing the official seal of the Ministry of Finance had listed Pastor Enenche as having donated equipment worth N2 billion to fight COVID-19. The Dunamis Church promptly denied the donation through a statement signed by Pastor Adah O. The storm over the alleged donation was brought under control when the Ministry debunked and described the letter as ‘fake news.’ It remains a puzzle why such an announcement was made without passing through necessary checks for verification.
For Enenche, who has been committed to the public good, his refusal to be under the floodlights over the many good deeds of Dunamis Church is well known. Heading a commission that is reputed for taking care of her members, including other members of various denominations and faiths, the Dunamis Church has broadened its CSR far beyond her fold. Apart from spending whopping sums to provide support for the indigent, the Dunamis Church has always been in collaborative efforts with government in improving infrastructure and lessening the burdens of existence for the poor.
Like the proverbial fruitful tree that is destined for stoning for its fruits, Enenche’s footprints is a walkway towards achieving the best for the common good. For his commitment in uplifting the lives of Nigerians and sensitizing the public on how to avoid COVID-19 during the March, 2020 Sunday service, some mentally unhinged airheads, claiming to be social critics and writers, have resorted to treading barefoot on ground angels fear to tread. At the successful completion and consecration of the church’s Glory Dome that chased away joy from these miserly critics, Enenche’s traducers took to questioning why he did not build industry to employ Nigerians. Unknown to these information miscreants attempting to smear Pastor Enenche, thousands of Nigerians, across denominations and religious divide, had earned their living in the construction of the edifice that lasted for over four years.
No doubt, Christian clerics have worked unceasingly in assisting Nigerians and government to survive desperate times. Against current demands on clerics to donate funds to fight COVID-19; such a demand is a misplaced priority as not a few Nigerians, including yours sincerely, are of the opinion that such could be turned into an oil bloc by greedy politicians and top public servants. When churches engage in donating funds to government to fight infections, it could turn out a deliberate ploy to distract attention from government’s inability to perform its duties of improving people’s welfare. That does not in any way denounce the moral obligation of the Church in assisting humanity. When such assistance are to be given by the Church, such donations should be directed through appropriate channels and not through government that is fraught with greedy leaders. Discarding the doctrine of the Church on giving creates an opportunity for enemies of the Church to cast mud on Christian clerics whose passion for humanity remains unquestionable.
For Pastor Enenche’s critics that have remained relentless in casting him in dubious cloak, it’s still a long walk to achieving their dream. For these disrespectful critics of the Church whose inspiration is from the unfathomable depth of hell, there’s nothing they can do to affront the name of the Senior Pastor of Dunamis church and other religious leaders working tirelessly to improve humanity.
If only these faultfinders of the Church can deploy their skills in questioning why Nigeria is not a working society, perhaps, things would have changed for the better. For now, let them know that their constant barking cannot stop the wheels of God in the affairs of Nigeria. Now that some states have announced softening measures of the shutdown order by allowing for congregational prayers, we wait to see their reaction.
Having been convinced that Nigeria has been kept from the dreaded virus by the divine powers of God, any attempt by these confused critics to continue desecrating efforts by clerics for God’s mercy could turn into a recipe for national tragedy. May God continue to bless Pastor Enenche and other religious clerics praying and working so hard to give hope to a despondent citizenry.