FORMER vice presidential candidate Pastor Tunde Bakare has donated three buildings to the Lagos and Ogun state governments for use as isolation centres as part of his contribution towards the coronavirus relief effort.
Although Nigeria has been spared the worst impact of the pandemic, only having 4,399 cases and suffering 143 deaths, the economic impact of coronavirus has been severe. Apart from the fact that the country is running out of isolation centres, it lacks the stocks of essential supplies to keep a lockdown in place and with the collapse in global oil prices, the economy has been hit hard.
With the number of coronavirus cases growing daily, Nigeria is fast running out of bed spaces in isolation centres. Stepping in to help, Pastor Bakare, who stood as President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate when he ran for the presidency in 2011, has donated two church buildings to the Lagos State government and a private residence owned by the church in Abeokuta to the Ogun State government.
Pastor Bakare’s Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as the Latter Rain Assembly, is one of the biggest churches in Nigeria. Described as one of the most political influential clergymen in the country, Pastor Bakare, 66, has a large following and like most other evangelical clergymen in Nigeria is wealthy.
Commenting on social media yesterday, Pastor Bakare berated church leaders criticising the government over the closure of religious centres while markets have been allowed to open. He warned that such church leaders should desist from the act of criticism and rather support the government’s efforts at containing the spread of the pandemic by making some of their church buildings available for use as isolation centres.
Pastor Bakare said: “I will like to bring some ethical corrections to some of the lamentations of certain people within the church over the ban of congregational worship in churches while markets and hospitals are allowed to operate. I am so glad that not only churches are prevented from congregating, the mosques also are locked down.
“The government’s order to open the market for a few days is to prevent hunger, especially in the lives of daily earners because the palliatives by the government cannot go to all citizens in their homes right now. Not only that, those churches with multiple facilities, rather than their leaders criticising the government should collaborate with them.
“They must be prepared to offer some of their halls to government as isolation centres, in support of the efforts of the government. I am not suggesting what we are not prepared to do, as we have already done that in our church, offering two of our facilities to the Lagos State government and the private residence we have in Abeokuta, we have offered to the Ogun State government.
“Let the church lead in this campaign and support the government, rather than criticising them for all the arduous tasks they are presently confronted with. There is no distance in the spirit and the church is not the building but the saints of God, so, if we cannot congregate because of the lockdown, we can be very effective in our neighbourhood as our brothers’ keepers and at our various workplaces.”