Reverend Femi Popoola, pastor in charge of Divine Mercy Baptist Church, Ikosi, Ketu, Lagos speaks on government’s handling of the pandemic and the need for Christians to intensify prayers on the pandemic. He urges government to relate more with Nigerians with a human face. Excerpt by SEYI JOHN SALAU
For the past five months, the world has focused on the coronavirus pandemic. So far, are you satisfied with government response to the pandemic?
No. The government response was not impressive. People were asked to stay at home during the total lockdown and there was a lot of hunger in the whole nation; people were hungry, people were angry because for the first time we were asked to stay at home: no provision, nothing, unlike in other places where the social welfare is functional. Also, during that period as well, we saw the law enforcement agency using that platform to rake in money again. So, all these things make it so unimpressive the way the government has responded to the pandemic.
Let’s agree government’s response was poor based on limited knowledge and information about Covid-19. How should the church relate with the new normal occasioned by the pandemic?
Definitely, God is in control of everything that happens and that the church belongs to God; and before Jesus Christ left the earth he has already said that whatever happens the gate of hell shall not prevail against the church. And this is not the first time the whole world is witnessing pandemic. So, in all the pandemics that had taken place, the church survived. This time also, with time – it may not be immediate but with time the church will definitely come out of it. And as we are praying we know that God is the one in control of everything; God knows how to rescue us from it. And again we are hearing news of the discovery of vaccine to combat this pandemic. So, in all of these things we know that God is going to make it work together not only for the good of the church, but for the good of all.
In a bid to curb the spread and contain the pandemic, government took the lockdown option on businesses, worship centres and other event centres: What lessons has the pandemic taught the church, five months after lockdown?
There are so many lessons – the first thing is that for long, some people in some quarters have believed that until the church come together worship cannot take place. I think this pandemic has actually proved that to be wrong – we know now that it is not until we gather that the church can actually influence the society that we are living in. Then two: I think it has also taught us that anything can happen at any time. So, we should always be prepared, and in addition to that, it’s also here to let us know that when it comes to the business of the church; it is not only about taking care of the body, but it is about the condition of the soul at every point in time – that the soul is so important and we must not do anything to neglect the need to take care of the soul at all time.
Looking at the traffic situation around Lagos and the security concerns among Lagosians especially with regard to the 3rd Mainland bridge that calls to question the plan of the government and the need for stakeholder engagement. Are you pleased with government action?
Honestly, I think we need to continue to pray for our government because it’s like they do not take us for anything. Yes, this 3rd Mainland thing is not today that the bridge should have been taken care of, it is something that they should have planned a long time ago and not something you do in one day or one week. I don’t think that showed any seriousness; but be that as it may; as a people we must be law abiding, we must follow all the instructions and diversions given so that on our own part we may be able to say to God that actually we have obeyed the government even though they are not doing very well, at least, as regard the arrangement.