The general overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Enoch Adeboye, has advised his church members to consider taking the coronavirus vaccines.
Mr Adeboye, who heads one of the largest pentecostal churches in Africa, said he was ready to take the jab if mandatory for his evangelism work. He noted that he had never told his followers not to be vaccinated.
He, however, condemned the decision by some states to make the vaccination a prerequisite for attendance of major gatherings such as church services, saying the number of vaccines available in Nigeria cannot justify such positions.
According to a report by Punch newspaper, Mr Adeboye said this on Friday night during the monthly Holy Ghost Service programme of the church at the Redemption Camp along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, in Ogun State.
The newspaper quoted Mr Adeboye as saying; “I have never said to you, ‘Don’t be vaccinated.’ You’ve never heard that from me. Rather than live in fear or doubt, get vaccinated. If you believe that getting vaccinated will put your mind at rest, then go ahead.
“If vaccination or no vaccination is going to hinder me from doing the work God has called me to do, even if they ask me to be vaccinated 100 times, I will be vaccinated.”
Other pastors’ position
Religious leaders in Nigeria and Africa as a continent command huge followership and sometimes even more than political leaders and have the power to boost vaccine acceptance and reduce the chance of death from the pandemic.
However, some popular Nigerian pastors have consistently campaigned against the vaccine, expressing doubts about the scientific basis for the pandemic and the vaccines.
For instance, another popular pastor and head of the 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, have also reportedly condemned the vaccine administration and referred to it as some anti-christ products.
But there are a few of these Christian ministers who have risen to encourage their congregation to take the vaccine. Among them are, Matthew Ashimolowo of Kingsway International Christian Centre; Mike Okonkwo of the Redeemed Evangelical Mission; Ituah Ighodalo of Trinity House; Sam Adeyemi of Daystar Christian Centre, among others.
There are also others who have yet to declare their stance on the development openly. They include Daniel Olukoya of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries; William Kumuyi of Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Wale Oke of the Sword of The Spirit Ministries International and President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria.
COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria
According to data from National Primary Health Development Agency (NPHCDA), out of an estimated 206 million population in Nigeria, only five million have taken the first dose and only two million are fully vaccinated.
This is nowhere close to the at least 10 per cent vaccination benchmark 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 as of the time of filing this report.
According to the Africa CDC vaccination database, Nigeria has received 10,927,520 vaccine supply and administered 6,734,764 doses.
Also, by these statistics, Nigeria may also miss the 40 per cent benchmark set for the end of the year 2021.
The NCDC on Saturday reported 138 fresh infections bringing the total number of COVID-19 infections to 206,064 with 2,723 deaths.