Curfewed crossover – Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics


Hardball

 

If you needed proof that Nigerians are largely and overly religious, and nearly fetishly so, you had the proof in the popular rite of crossover into year 2021 one week ago.

The crossover is an annual rite of passage whereby most Nigerians prefer to be religiously engaged on the dot of 12 midnight when a new year rolls in and the old one rolls out. It is a rite more pervasive among adherents of the Christian faith, perhaps so because they are primarily subscribers to the Gregorian calendar; but it is also observed by many Moslems, possibly animists too, who as well organise prayer events to usher in the cosmic milestone. There are also seasonal votaries who hurry into the nearest worship centre at two minutes to 12 midnight – some of them straight from drinking pubs or brothels where they had dutifully suspended their hedonistic enterprise, to which they hurry back at two minutes past midnight. Tokenistically, the new year had met them involved in religious activity that they may not engage with again until same time next year!

But with the Covid-19 second wave averaging some 900 new cases across Nigeria per day, state governments like Lagos, Ogun and Ondo, among others, resolved to enforce a daily curfew between 12 midnight and 4 a.m. that the Federal Government ordered to curtail the spread of the pandemic. That meant people could not be out of their homes at the traditional crossover hour. (Apparently owing to the sensitivity of the issue, some other states like Osun and Oyo temporarily stood down the curfew.) Many big churches found a way around the constraint by scheduling early in-person services that ended in good enough time for members to return to their homes before 12 midnight, with some continuing their services online to coincide with the strategic crossover hour.

Some other churches were not as obliging regarding the curfew restriction. Cottage churches in inconspicuous locations held in-person services that were tightly congested, partly for afore-stated reasons, far beyond midnight. The Covid-19 precautionary rule of social distancing did not feature on the radar, much less the curfew. A popular mega church located in Alausa, Ikeja Lagos, not only held a jampacked service where attendees wore no facemasks all through the night, but also streamed the service live on television. You would think the prescribed curfew and safety protocols of social distancing and using facemasks were the new persecution against which they were role-modelling defiance.

Worship consciousness and determination to begin a new year ‘with God’ is by all means a good thing. But defiance of rules prescribed for the protection of all was not. Frankly speaking, defying protocols meant to keep society safe from Covid-19 made the crossover rite by some devotees more fetish than spiritual.

 

 


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