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Interfaith Dialogue Forum embarks on sensitization campaign to curb spread of COVID-19

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

An ‘Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace’ (IDFP), comprising of renounced Christian and Muslim religious leaders in the country, has embarked on a one-month (30 days) sensitization campaign on curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria by supporting the government through the instrumentality of religious/traditional leaders.

Leader of the team, Rev. Dr. Zaka Ahuche Peter, in company of Sheikh Yusuf Abdulazeez, disclosed this is Jos, while donating sanitary packs, buckets, hand washing/hand sanitizers and face-masks in Jos South and Jos North local government areas of Plateau State.

Rev. Dr. Peter explained that, “This will be achieved by producing educational and sensitization video and audio campaigns to raise awareness on COVID-19, including the use of Biblical/Qur’anic teachings on managing pandemics among religious leaders and disadvantaged communities.”

He also disclosed that, IDFP has selected 10 states to include Plateau, Kaduna, Borno, Niger, FCT, Lagos, Oyo, Ebonyi, Imo and Kano to carry out the aggressive campaign to halt community transmission of COVID-19.

The IDFP leader further disclosed that, the campaign became necessary “Owing to the complex nature of Nigeria with a large population, majority of whom are ignorant of this pandemic, due to several factors, including socio-cultural and religious biases, lack of adequate information in their local dialects and access to correct information on the pandemic.

“This campaign is to stop community transmission of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic in 10 states of the federation,” IDFP assured, stressing that they would partner with relevant government agencies such as the NCDC, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, State Committees on COVID-19 and Ministry of Information, who are responsible for managing the current pandemic in the country through information sharing, capacity building and result collation.

IDFP observed that, “The case of Coronavirus (or COVID-19) is no longer news all over the world. It has grounded almost all activities and all sectors in all continents of the world. The socio-economic and religious implications of this pandemic on both human and nature can never be overemphasized.”

It also explained that, “The Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP) is an important platform of Nigeria’s interreligious community, who have the capacity to reach religious leaders and actors throughout the country, including those denying the existence of COVID-19 and mobilize them to take responsibility and act to stop the spread of the virus.”

IDFP noted with emphasis that, other factors that are increasing the risks for Nigeria include citizens’ refusal to adhere to instructions, as well as lack of basic medical supplies to curb the spread of the virus.

Rev. Peter noted that, Africa and, indeed Nigeria’s culture of communal activities – relegating women and children to the background and hindering them from access to information due to cultural biases – influence and activities of social media are already circulating false information, which some religious fanatics capitalize upon to disobey government’s directives, and the use of false medications heightening the risks. 

Those, who participated in the campaign in the state include, Duala community, Zawan Community, CAN, JNI, NURTW, NUJ, FOMWAN, WOWICAN, YOWICAN, NACOMYO, Security agencies, SSG, Commissioner for information, Chairmen of Jos North and South, GM NTA, GM PRTV.

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