As a nation, we have now registered over 1000 recoveries from Covid-19. Though this remarkable story remains largely untold, owing to human nature’s proclivity to fake news and bad news, what that story teaches us is that for most people who contract the virus, there is life after Covid-19. It further teaches us that the efforts of our hospitals and health workers in providing treatment to the sick are not in vain. Now, the likelihood of recovery for anyone infected does not mean you can afford to get complacent in taking preventive measures to protect yourself and others from the virus. But it does mean you should refuse to turn your vigilance into paranoia or paralysis and refuse to respond to any confirmed case with despair or despondency.
My Administration’s response to the pandemic is fueled by hope, the kind that has two trademarks. Firstly, ours is a hope that energises us to work hard and work smart in stopping the virus from spreading or claiming lives. To advance that work, this past week I have appointed Hon. Chiponda as Minister of Health with a mandate to provide the needed leadership to the health sector in general and the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 in particular; I have reconstituted the Taskforce itself and will be reviewing its effectiveness on a weekly basis to ensure that expert advice from the scientific community is brought to bear on its work; I have committed to personally give the nation an update on the state of our fight against the pandemic every fortnight, which will coincide with my weekly address on emerging national issues; I have established an office within the presidency exclusively dedicated to the fight against Covid-19. Laborare est orare.
Secondly, ours is a hope that inspires us to pray that our concerted efforts happen under favorable conditions and lead to favorable outcomes. We have the privilege of living in a society where we are as free to worship according to the dictates of our conscience within the law as we are to not worship at all. As such, no public office or state institution can be used to coerse any citizen to pray. Even so, the law does not forbid public officials from practicing their faith publicly, but rather allows it even in the act of being sworn into office by placing their hands on the holy book of whatever faith they profess or none at all. In my case, it is no secret that I am the first Head of State who is also an ordained minister, and so I have chosen to couple my efforts against the pandemic with prayer and fasting from today until Saturday and to invite those of you who are religious to do the same.
This is an invitation and a call to prayer for your consideration, not a decree for your compliance. I have no power to force you to pray at all or to pray a certain way, any more than I have the power to make you wash your hands or wear a mask. I only continue to champion these measures out of my belief that the power to create social change is not in Government, but in you making the most of the opportunities provided by God. It is He who has not only given us the strength to work hard and smart in defending ourselves against this merciless viral army, but has also given us the faith to seek His help as we fight. Therefore, we will never sibstitute our work with prayer, but will always conjoin the work we ourselves must do and the work only God can. Orare est laborare.