FAITH bodies the Christian Association of Nigeria (Can) and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) have begun drawing up guidelines to govern safe worshipping in churches and mosques ahead of an impending lifting of restrictions by the government.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, all churches and mosques in Nigeria were closed to curtail the spread but the measure has been hard to police. Several religious houses have been ignoring the warning and last weekend, several governors lifted the ban on religious services, allowing Muslims to troops to prayer grounds to celebrate the Eid festival at the end of the Ramadan fasting month.
More than any other set of Nigerians, religious leaders have been applying the pressure on the government to lift the restrictions. Nigeria has one of the highest concentrations of mosques and churches in the world as the sector is a multi-million dollar industry which generates huge sums for clergymen.
With the pressure now mounting, the government looks set to back down and allow faith houses to open. To soften the impact of the easing of the restrictions, Can and NSCIA have begun drawing up guidelines on how things will work, which they intend submitting to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for review and advice.
According to the NSCIA, a committee it set up was working on the guidelines, while Can’s committee on the matter is due to meet today. NCDC director-general Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, had asked professional groups and faith-based organisations, including churches and mosques to submit guidelines for their reopening for review.
Can spokesman Adebayo Oladeji, said: “We are working on the guidelines and whenever the NCDC and the presidential task force are ready, we will surely submit. The highlights are based on the guidelines on how to safeguard our members during the worship with a view to stopping the spread of coronavirus while the worship lasts. It is about the social distancing, soap, water and sanitizers.”