The general supervisor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Enoch Adeboye, advised members of his church to consider taking the coronavirus vaccines.
Mr Adeboye, who heads one of Africa’s largest Pentecostal churches, said he was ready to accept the jab if it was compulsory for his evangelistic work. He noted that he never told his supporters not to get the shot.
He, however, condemned the decision by some states to make vaccination a prerequisite for attending large gatherings such as church services, saying the number of vaccines available in Nigeria cannot justify such positions.
According to an article in the Punch newspaper, Mr. Adeboye said this on Friday evening during the Church’s monthly Holy Spirit service program at the Redemption Camp along the Lagos-Ibadan highway in Ogun state. .
The newspaper quoted Mr. Adeboye’s comments; “I never told you, ‘Don’t get the vaccine.’ You never heard that from me. Rather than living in fear or doubt, get vaccinated. If you think getting the vaccine will give you comfort, then go for it.
“If the vaccination or no vaccination is going to prevent me from doing the work that God called me to do, even if they ask me to be vaccinated 100 times, I will be vaccinated.
Position of other pastors
Religious leaders in Nigeria and Africa as a continent have huge numbers of followers and sometimes even more than political leaders and have the power to boost vaccine acceptance and reduce the risk of death from the pandemic.
However, some popular Nigerian pastoralists have consistently campaigned against the vaccine, expressing doubts about the scientific basis for the pandemic and the vaccines.
For example, another popular pastor and head of Living Faith Church International (Winners Chapel), David Oyedepo, reportedly said he would not take the COVID-19 vaccine because “he wouldn’t want to be a guinea pig.”
Other pastors including Johnson Suleman of Omega Fire Ministries International; Chris Okotie of Shepherd of the Household of God Church International Ministries; Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy; among others, would also have condemned the administration of the vaccine and would have called it certain anti-christ products.
But there are a few of these Christian ministers who have stood up to encourage their congregation to get immunized. Among them, Matthew Ashimolowo of Kingsway International Christian Center; Mike Okonkwo of the Redeemed Evangelical Mission; Ituah Ighodalo of Trinity House; Sam Adeyemi of the Daystar Christian Center, among others.
There are also others who have yet to openly state their position on development. They include Daniel Olukoya of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries; William Kumuyi of Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Wale Oke of Sword of The Spirit Ministries International and President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria.
COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria
According to data from the National Primary Health Development Agency (NPHCDA), out of an estimated 206 million population in Nigeria, only five million took the first dose and only two million are fully immunized.
This is far from the vaccination threshold of at least 10 percent for September set by the WHO.
Nigeria has received three different vaccines for its population – Oxford AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson, with only AstraZeneca and Moderna approved at the time of this report’s filing.
According to the Africa CDC immunization database, Nigeria received 10,927,520 vaccines and administered 6,734,764 doses.
In addition, according to these statistics, Nigeria could also miss the 40% threshold set for the end of 2021.
The NCDC reported 138 new infections on Saturday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 infections to 206,064 with 2,723 deaths.
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