COVID-19: NOA raises alarm over disbelief in rural communities

The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has said that the disbelief of the dangers and impact of COVID-19 among rural communities in Nigeria poses a serious risk to the country.

NOA also said that Nigerians generally have remarkable disobedience to COVID-19 prevention protocols.

The Director-General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari made this known while presenting the Second report of the Agency’s observations on its sensitization activities in the fight against COVID19.

Dr Abari while presenting observations, said “Nigerians have shown persistent and remarkable disobedience to COVID-19 prevention protocols. In the cities where adherence to these protocols was high in the initial two weeks of eased lockdown, citizens are letting down their guards and this is of grave concern.

“Partial to total non-compliance with the use of face mask and physical distancing protocols by some members of the public are readily observed on our streets. Now, many Nigerians only use face masks to avoid security agencies or if the place they are going will enforce the masking policy.

“The disbelief of the danger and impact of COVID-19 still persists among some sections of Nigerians despite being aware of the disease.

“Expressions like “There is no COVID-19 in Nigeria” and, “Our religious leader says COVID-19 is not real” are commonly used in expressing this disbelief.

“The many myths about the COVID-19 pandemic, ranging from conspiracies about some persons using the pandemic to make quick gains to claims of certain herbal concoctions being sure cures for COVID-19 are still issues being grappled with in the COVID-19 sensitization efforts. NOA, however, remains relentless in debunking these myths.

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NOA said with the opening of religious centres, many religious centres, especially in the cities are complying with the protocols on worship gatherings.

“However, there are still some of them whose compliance levels are less than commendable. Efforts must be geared toward enforcing the protocols in places of worship”, Abari noted.

“As a strategy, sensitization and awareness creation should be the goal of government effort at the community level. NOA is committed to deepening our sensitization efforts.

“The task force on COVID-19 in states are useful in pushing for compliance with COVID-19 prevention protocols as outlined by the PTF.

The collaboration between the PTF and the state task forces should, therefore, be strengthened”, the NOA DG said.

He, however, called on State Governments to take the lead in the sensitization of citizens as preached by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We observed that many state governments are not supporting NOA sensitization efforts with logistics, equipment and Information, Education and Communication materials to enhance sustained sensitization.

“I appeal to State Governors to support NOA State offices. While thanking some state governments and organizations that have supported the Agency, realizing our important role in community sensitization, we appeal for more support for our community awareness campaign on COVID-19.

“State governments should take the lead in citizens sensitization as advocated by President Motamond Buhari two weeks ago, through consistent community mobilization and sensitization” Abari said.

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