• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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We must encourage use of home-grown remedies to cure threatening diseases – Umunna

Leonard-Umunna

Leonard Umunna is the general overseer of Bible Life Church and a public affairs commentator. In this interview with ZEBULON AGOMUO, the cleric gave his own perspective about the coronavirus pandemic, efforts of government, complaints about palliatives, lockdown and the need to try some of the home-grown remedies produced by some medical experts to cure threatening diseases. Excerpts:

 A lot of people are giving different interpretations to the coronavirus pandemic; how would you describe it?

The Lord said it that there would be many pestilences; we have had some before now. The World Health Organisation (WHO) was hesitant in calling it a pandemic; the thing came from Wuhan in China. The American President is alleging that they particularly tailored it to affect them and that it was in a laboratory first before it was taken to a market place from the laboratory. Whichever way, I think people are now even crediting China for the victory over the pandemic war; but America is shocked. That’s how the whole world is looking at it as at now.

Is there any spiritual perspective to COVID-19?

Well, some are calling out a pastor that he said something about 5G and relating it to the coronavirus, but sorry to use that word as I answered Chris Okotie when he was talking about presidency and how he claimed God had called him to become a president and all that, so also Chris Oyakhilome may have also veered off in this COVID-19 matter; clearly speaking like Okotie. He is trying to bring the two together. But I say no. Anything technology, the challenge is the radiation. We have had 2G, 3G, 4G and now we are having 5G; tomorrow it can be 6G, 7G, 8G or more. They are always associated with certain human defects or diseases such as could be carried by such torrents of currents in form of radiations. It might even go a bit in the form of being cancerous; but not this coronavirus. This is a virus that has nothing to do with technology. No technology has even come near defeating it. So, if somebody manufactured it, they should be weeping because China that is being accused has suffered it; I think even the equipment they manufactured and sent to places like Italy was rumoured to have failed. To me, it is just part of what the Lord said that these last days you will see various viruses. COVID-19 is a novel type of virus; it is not like any previous ones. My own view – the spiritual side is more to be emphasised; waking us up to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; that is the reality. The devil wants to use it to defeat the church but the gate of hell shall not prevail. Like I said in my Easter message; Christ can never be quarantined and Holy Ghost can never be under lockdown. Even the Easter was not cancelled but low-key celebration, making us to bond with our families; and in our chambers closer to God. That’s the way I see it. It has a spiritual side, to wake us up. And I must tell you, despite all that the devil does, the gospel is still being vibrantly preached; reaching out to even wider audience online.

How has your members responded to the social distancing directive by the government without denying them the opportunity of true fellowship?

God has already alerted me before we even knew that the thing was coming to Lagos. I was just on my own when I saw myself in a place where one of the church leaders I know was calling me that I should step into the matter; I should step into the matter. While he was shouting to me to step into the matter that they want to hear God through me; that they cannot come to church to worship in the assembly, I was surprised that the whole place was filled with bad odour of putrefying corpses. I didn’t see any corpse though, but just foul odour of decaying corpses around. So, as that church leader I know was shouting that I should come into the matter; he himself was collapsing; and I opened my eyes. I saw that I was in my room. The odour was terrible. The place (my room) is clean; there’s no rat there, let alone anything decaying. So, I decided to leave the room and went into my executive office and there was no odour there. I went to the admin office, to the press office and even the place they do laundering – there was no odour in any of those places. Then I returned to the place I sat and got that revelation; then the odour was now more horrifying. It lasted there for about one hour and I didn’t know what to do. I began to wonder if people were going to die en masse and they want to hear God through me. So, I picked up my phone and called the online department and asked suppose people want to reach us, do we have the necessary facility; the App, etc? I told them to give me the address we can publicise to people in case anything comes up that may demand it. So, the people in charge quickly sent those things to me and I told them to work on other ways we can reach people. It didn’t take days before we heard there was an outbreak of coronavirus in Lagos; that somebody has become an index case. Now, we have entered into lockdown. What we are doing is those pro-active measures we took not knowing that it could be COVID-19 matter have been very helpful in reaching out, not just to our members, but to the outside world using all the platforms on the social media. We also have our leaders ably responding by helping brethren to connect.

In the area of palliatives, where is the church on this, either to members or to the community as CSR at this period?

We have been doing such things before helping the needy every year (we don’t publicise). We have been on such things through scholarships and very many other ways (you are aware of it). On this COVID-19 matter, we announced that our brethren should help one another. Some have bought items which we distributed and the branches are also doing similar thing. The church’s idea is that we are our brother’s keeper; it is not to rely on government but to look at how we can be of assistance to one another at this time. The women group; the men group and various other groups are doing their own separately and it has helped a great deal.

 

Are you satisfied with the Federal Government palliative efforts and what advice do you have on how the efforts can be improved upon?

A lot of people are shouting that the amount they said they have spent, they have not seen let alone benefiting from anything. God warned me not to say anything about this Federal Government. So, I am very careful not to go against that instruction. What I can say is about the Lagos State government that is honouring their senior citizens and trying to distribute some packages. Some people say they have received, only that the package is small. The only advice I would have given if such advice was sought would have been that they should know that every community has a sort of organisation; virtually every street has got people that man it. So, it is not just going through the local governments but through the community and hand the packages to them to distribute to the people and they demand accountability; if not, then the whole thing could be seen to have been politicised. If you look at the Federal Government arrangements, some state governors say they were not being carried along; when you come to the state level, some local government chairmen say they are not also being carried along. So, they have politicised it. But I tell you, if they had passed through the leaders at the grassroots that know the people, it would have been better. They could have even also brought in church leaders, traditional leaders and hold them accountable. They should go through those that are known to the people. Many people are losing faith in government authorities or agencies. The manner of sharing the palliative packages has generated complaints. Many people are complaining. You said you have spent trillions of naira but people are saying they have not even seen millions being spent. When you are not using transparent method and people who have integrity, the result is what we are seeing and hearing – complaints everywhere. The advice is that the best method is to go through the leaders of the people at the grassroots and religious leaders and hold them accountable; even if you use the Bank Verification Number (BVN) it would not get round because many Nigerians do not have it; any other method being adopted is just making a mockery of the palliative scheme.

 

What advice do you have for the citizens in relation to the lockdown order?

My advice is what I have said online. The bible says that a city is destroyed by the ways of the wicked or that a city is overthrown through the ways of the wicked. I think anybody speaking evil of the President or government officials is in line with what the Bible calls wicked ways. The President is also trying to escape the pandemic like any other person; that he has given order for a lockdown, he is just taking the step of other nations that have passed through the pandemic. It is a trend that he is just following. If you asked me what I would have done if I were in authority, I would say that I would not just follow those people like that. Look at Dr. Abalaka who came up with the solution to AIDS; did they take it? Professor Iwu has come up with his own on this COVID-19; are they listening to him? Why can’t we try our homegrown recipe to some of these deadly diseases so that the world would copy us? Why must we wait for Europe, China, Russia and America whereas we are greatly endowed; only that our leaders, according to the late Chinua Achebe, are not ready to do the right thing. When the right people are in authority, the masses rejoice. My sincere advice is that government, for their own good, should review the lockdown; is it working out the purpose? Is there no other means? I have told people to pray and fast; do something to keep themselves busy while observing the social distancing and take proactive measures to prevent the virus catching up with them, since prevention is always better and cheaper than cure. If I were in authority, I would review it in line with our population and African setting. We have the drugs; we have the local herbs, and God says the herbs are for the healing of mankind. We can easily access them- they are in our lemons, lime, onion, and they are in our shea butter (Ori). Vaccines can be developed. Our people should be given the chance to develop these not just waiting for the ones made outside. One professor in Nigeria said he has got the cure. The other one said few days ago that he has got the cure. Why not bring them together and let the government bargain with them and put other medical experts to look at what they are doing? We cannot continue putting down our own and always expecting help from outside. Instead of indefinite lockdown – people can no longer feed their families, criminals (one million boys) are now reigning terror in Lagos, no peace in the nation; anger everywhere, some are shouting that hunger virus is worse than the coronavirus itself. I don’t think that the lockdown is doing our economy any good; I don’t think that trust in government is better now than before the pandemic; I don’t think that what government has promised in terms of healthcare and security is working. Why not try the home-grown cure in some selected states to determine their efficacy?