Sam Adeyemi, the senior pastor of the Daystar Christian Centre, says churches, mosques, schools and markets were shut in Nigeria during the influenza pandemic which hit the world in 1918.
In a live Instagram chat with Poju Oyemade, the senior pastor of The Covenant Nation, Adeyemi said he researched into how the 1918 pandemic affected Nigeria, so he could give perspective to his followers on the novel coronavirus disease.
Taking a question from Oyemade on how a leader can handle a crisis like the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Adeyemi said people were giving extreme interpretations to the crisis.
He added that the leader’s role in a crisis is to give perspectives, stating that he studied the last global pandemic before COVID-19 to give the right perspective.
“I went online, there was a pandemic 100 years ago, let me go and study it and check it out, because the interpretation that people are giving to this pandemic, they range from one extreme to the other,” Adeyemi said.
“I don’t even want to go into the details now, but there’s quarrel on social media now; from 5G to 10G and other things. I decided to check, how did it affect Nigeria?
“I found a research article by a history lecturer at the University at Birnin Kebbi. Beautiful research! I had to buy it. But I was happy buying it, because when I read it, it was amazing, it dug into the British archives, all the records that the colonial officers kept.
“[In] 1918 September, when the thing hit, the way air travel now is the main thing for global transportation and it was air travel that moved the coronavirus around, it was sea travel that spread influenza around then.
“The ships that brought sick people into the Lagos port; I got the names, the dates they arrived, how it spread in Nigeria.
“I’d tell you the one that I saw and almost screamed, they closed churches, they closed mosques, they shut down schools, they shut down markets. 1918. So, some of us now think it is the anti-christ that is at work, he does not want us to gather together and fellowship.
“We should just be thanking God that we have the internet now and we can be relating without meeting together. They shut churches in 1918. So when the leader takes perspective like that, then you can calm people down and tell them there will be life after this thing.”
Adeyemi said there are opportunities in every crisis, and it is the leader’s duty to see the opportunities and not to project fear on his/her followers.
According to an analyst, in the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the worst the Earth had ever witnessed previously, Nigeria also experienced casualty. The South-South and SouthEast — that is, Calabar, Ogoja and Owerri provinces were heavily hit. Rivers state was under the Owerri Province at that time.
The 1918 pandemic started from Lagos with about 3,000 Lagosians dying in the end. Almost 22,000, however, died in Rivers while over 100,000 died in Cross River state. Lagos eventually had the least casualty.
This is because Lagos laboured especially to contain the pandemic.