By Raymond Oise-Oghaede
There is no gainsaying the fact that the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is the current most pressing global problem that requires urgent solutions. Since its outbreak, the casualty figures have been on the upward trend and there seems to be no solutions in sight. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to fighting it headlong to curtailing and eventually eliminating its catastrophic consequences. Expectedly, a lot of postulations have been propounded as the root cause(s) and motives behind the pandemic. So, aside from the weeping, wailing, mourning, and gnashing of teeth that are trailing the virus; serious misgivings, misconceptions, and bewilderments are not left out. While some people have linked it to the emerging Fifth Generation Wireless (5G) Network in some countries; some have posited that it is a fall out of supremacy battle between certain super powers; many have also averred that it is an act of sabotage by one country or the other; while, some others are of the opinion that it is a natural act of god to punish the enormous sins in the world; to mention but a few. As a result of the foregoing, and in line with my style; I have decided to take a closer look at the situation and appraise it generally with a view to bringing out some factors that will be beneficial to all and sundry. Therefore, this review is not to join issues with the above postulations/allegations or any other whatsoever; but, to contribute my little quota to supporting efforts being put in place globally to tackling the scourge. Thus, I will try as much as possible to internationalize its context and adopt a simplistic approach devoid of technical jargons for better understanding.
The virus which allegedly emanated from Wuhan in China has been spreading unabatedly from one country to the others across the continents of the world. As at present, efforts to finding globally recognized vaccine(s) for its cure have not yielded the desired results. Medical personnel and care givers have been overstretched in their efforts to managing the situation and minimizing its effects; unfortunately, a lot of them have paid the supreme price (of losing their lives) while trying to save the lives of others. It is my solemn prayers that the Almighty God will in His infinite mercy heal those that are infected; grant the dead eternal rest; and give their loved ones the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. Though, some countries/states have adopted either `partial or total lockdown` to curtailing its spread; this has also led to devastating and unpleasant effects on the socio-economic lifestyles of the people. In more organized societies, measures have been put in place to cushion the effects; while some developing countries are also trying within their limits in this regard; albeit, with majority of their citizenry still subjected to hunger and pains. A lot of businesses have collapsed as a result of border closure, cancelled flights, and the resultant interstates and intrastate movements’ restrictions.
Consequent upon the above, it is not surprising that some countries and groups of persons are already seeking `damages` and `remedies` from China to mitigate for their enormous losses. To a larger extent, one could say that these expressions of grievances and demands for compensations are understandably justified; but, I am of the strong opinion that there is the need to exercise constraints and tread cautiously in order not to plunge the world into crises that would be difficult to manage. All possible avenues must be explored to determining if the root causes of the pandemic was `natural` or `man-made`; and, whether it was `deliberately` or `erroneously`, and `unintentionally` inflicted on the world. There have been conflicting reports from some `findings`; and, the importance of establishing open, transparent and globally acceptable results cannot be overemphasized. “Everybody must go to equity with clean hands”; thus, world leaders should work in conjunction with relevant organs of the UN to constitute an impartial team of scientists/researchers/investigators who must be given unrestricted access to information and place(s) necessary to assisting in unraveling the true cause(s) of the virus and intention(s) of the `inventors`. It is only then that the culpable person(s) or state(s) would be made to face the full wrath of the law. In as much as there are still leaders with unequivocal integrity and uprightness; everyone should be rest assured that the truth of the matter would be brought to the fore. However, in view of the fact that the pandemic is still raging ferociously; the primary focus at this stage should be to pull resources together to finding lasting solutions to save the world. The issue of `unmasking` the culprits (if any) and making them pay for their crimes against humanity would be dealt with at the appropriate time. So, as it is, all conspiracy theories should be viewed as `allegations` and `suspects` should be seen as innocent until proven otherwise.
Apropos to the aforementioned, it will not be out of place to draw inferences and learn some lessons from the imbroglio. One of such is the fact that the virus is non discriminatory because its effects are not confined to a particular place or against any tribe, race, belief or gender. This means that we are in a “global society” where the challenges of a country or continent can have a spillover effects on others if not handled decisively and appropriately. In this case, the problem affecting one should be seen as affecting others and be treated as such for the goodness of all. However, standard rules and best practices must be strictly adhered to when dealing with such `interference` in order not to constitute `unjustified and unlawful encroachments` on the territorial integrity of the affected state/country. The USA, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, and Spain (without prejudice to other countries) to mention but a few, have been doing a great job in this regard; especially, in the areas of sustaining democracy; upholding the rule of law; and, fighting terrorism.
Another important lesson is the obviousness of the fact that no race, religion, gender and geographical location are superior to the others. The pandemic has made us to realize that we are mere mortals. It means that there are certain things that can happen beyond immediate human comprehension. As a result, no level of civilization or technological advancement can take the place of God in the lives of men. We should all continue to look up to Him through our different modes and styles of worship because He is ONE AND ONLY; anything to the contrary is better left for Him to judge. Let us try as much as possible to keep our sentiments and biases away so that we can tolerate one another and gradually phase out religious crises from our world. The fact that the virus is not distinguishing between Africans, Asians, Americans and the Europeans is also a good reason for us to love one another as ourselves. Racial discrimination, bigotry and abuses should be discarded in all ramifications.
In the same vein, we should also learn that since the pandemic is affecting countries with enormous human and material resources as well as the less endowed ones; it is an indication that “we are in it together; and, we shall come out of it together if we work together”. Therefore, the richer and economically balanced countries should inculcate and or continue to extend supports to countries that need assistance.
The situation should also be seen as an `eye opener` to all countries of the world to invest and concentrate more on researches and inventions that will improve co-existence and prevent the outbreak of such pandemic in the nearest future; rather than on the proliferation of weapons of mass destructions which are capable of causing unmitigated disaster to humanity. All world leaders should lend their full supports to the relevant arms of the United Nations (UN) to give them the desired impetus for taking decisive actions against recalcitrant leaders or governments from indulging in acts of irresponsibility that are capable of spelling doom to human race. This will also ease the pressure on some leaders/governments who have taken up the functions of `policing the world` for the common good or betterment of all. This will also erase the misconceptions that have degenerated to mutual suspicion amongst some countries/leaders. No country should be seen as too big to be controlled when it comes to the issue proliferation of weapons of mass destructions. If we love one another and see ourselves as the same, there would not be need to continue to invent such weapons in anticipation of armed conflicts.
Also, the situation is an avenue for leaders across the world to do self appraisal of their capacities and capabilities to responding to `state of emergency`. This will afford governments to know areas requiring urgent attention and drastic changes to improve the discharge of functions towards ensuring that dividends of good governance are felt and enjoyed by all and sundry. Understandably and in most cases, the situation will create dilemmas that would require tactfulness and acumen to do the needful. For instance, in a situation where a country decides to adopt `partial` instead of `total lockdown` in order for businesses to continue for the fear of avoiding economic recession; that country may lose on both sides, if such decision boomerangs. Apart from unmitigated deaths, the economy will still be grounded when the unpleasant consequences and circumstances compel such government to adopting total lockdown eventually. So, there is need for every country to rely more on professional advices in taking appropriate decisions.
On a lighter note, the situation has made it crystal clear that emphasis should be placed on food production as much as possible. Cash, mineral resources and technological advancement cannot be transformed to edibles in the absence of food; they can only boost the production and or exchanged for food where it is available. Though, there is a general saying that “man cannot live by bread alone”; it should also be taken, that “man cannot live without bread (notwithstanding the availability of supplements) for sustenance”. Thus, investments in agriculture should be prioritized (for countries with comparative advantage) because it will lead to creation of more jobs; increase in food production & supply chain; and, upward revenue trend.
Most importantly, people across the world are hereby enjoined to show high level of perseverance and decorum in the face of the pains and inconveniences we are presently experiencing. We should endeavour to co-operate and join hands with our respective governments by adhering strictly to directives given in the fight against the pandemic. Let us embrace the fact that, no responsible government will watch people suffer and perish without putting efforts to averting/curtailing such unfortunate development. They are expected to take the best decisions for us; and, it is incumbent on us to also play our parts to compliment their efforts in tackling this monster. Let us practice all health and safety precautions including personal hygiene and social distancing. We should also abstain from things that could aggravate the situations. Virtual mode of learning and information dissemination should be encouraged and sustained in the absence of large gatherings during this period. Journalists, analysts, commentators, bloggers and other broadcasting practitioners and social media users are advised not to sensationalize the issue by the use of sentimentally biased reportage and posts for personal and selfish gains/interests. Let us use all available platforms to propagating and educating the people on the need to practice personal hygiene and other steps necessary to keeping safe during this period.
Finally, governments across the world should continually review the situations in their respective locations at regular intervals to guide them in taking prompt and best decisions for the benefits of all.
May the Almighty God crown all our efforts towards fighting the pandemic with resounding success.
Raymond Oise-Oghaede writes from Suru-Lere, Lagos. He can be reached via email@example.com
Let Me Shine!
By Odunayo Oluwatimilehin
I am a little creature,
created to fulfill a special purpose on earth.
I am a product of human consummation.
I developed first as a foetus, and progressed gradually,
into a living being composed of a spirit, soul, and a body.
I am the long awaited bundle of joy,
A symbol of conjugal completeness,
A magical color that beautifies Marital vows.
I brought joy, happiness, and change of status to the family I was delivered to.
I was the reason behind the bright moon smiles on faces.
I was cherished, loved, and cared for at my arrival.
Now that my parents desire to have me has been granted.
I have just “One wish”.
Just one wish and I’ll be fine.
One wish to express my inert dreams.
One wish to be ‘Me’.
One wish to leave an indelible mark on the sand of time.
One wish to dazzle like Diamond.
One wish to shine forth as Gold.
Please, strengthen me when I’m weak.
Counsel me when I’m discouraged.
Hold my hands often, and affirm your love to me.
Just like houseplants,
Nurture me to grow on the right path.
Do not spare the rod when I’m wrong.
Release me like an Eagle when the time is right.
No matter the heights I’ll reach,
I will forever remain your little child.
Let me Shine!
Dedicated to Children all over the world, in celebration of May 27th, 2020 Children’s Day
HAPPY CHILDREN’S DAY!
Odunayo Oluwatimilehin, OYEWOLE.
An Open Letter To Governor Ifeanyi Okowa
Your Excellency Sir,
This open letter is a direct response to the official press statement that was made by the secretary to the state Government, Mr Chiedu Ebie on the 19th of May. In the press release, he announced that the government of Delta State is putting measures in place in other to establish a security organization which will be positioned to combat the rising insecurity in the State. I agree with your decision considering the porous security situation in the country and coupled with the covert moves of the powers that be to export hundreds of Almajiri folks to states that are unconnected to their political and economic misery.
Indeed, your decision is commendable but there is an observable error in it. This error is not telling good about us. Gains will not be made if what was mentioned in that press statement should come to be. People who are fighting for survival must apply common sense when it comes to their security. This letter is simply designed to remind you that the idea to include some Northerners into the yet to be established Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution calls for a serious concern.
Your Excellency Sir, there won’t be any need for me to start schooling you again about insecurity in the country. You are the chief security officer of your state and moreover you duly understand the security situation in the whole of Nigeria. I still don’t understand the rationale behind the planned inclusion of some Northern extraction into the Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution. After examining the decision, I can prognosticate dark days ahead. Things are not done that way. The decision of your government is somewhat misplaced and makes us to look like people who can’t do things on their own.
Dark days are truly ahead. We the Easterners should stop acting to love Nigeria more than others when at the end the people whom we are trying to align ourselves to doesn’t care about our ‘one Nigerianness’. Damning this mentality of ‘let’s do it this way so that nobody will see us as divisive people’ is one necessary thing that must be done. We owe no one apology or explanation on how we can go about our security in as much as it’s done according to the extant laws. Perhaps, it’s a matter of survival and not a cry for political correctness!
There is hisbah police in the North and Amotekun in the Southwest, how many Easterner can we see both in Hisbah and Amotekun security formations or any of their affiliated committees? Can they even conceive such dastardly idea? These people for a minute don’t trust us but we easily trust and unnecessarily engage them into sensitive issues about us. This is a country that thrive on suspicion. No oneness! No trust! So I wonder what your government is planning to achieve by getting these Northerners involved in the so called committee. Don’t quote me wrong. I’m not trying to say that your government shouldn’t engage the stakeholders in consultation when it comes to matters like this. But the main point is that limitations should be defined in sensitive issues like the one at hand. Some people are meant to stand outside while certain problems about us are being discussed.
We know the solution to farmers and herders clashes in the region. Open grazing should be completely banned in the state. A defined space should be made available for grazing of cows. 24 hours surveillance should be mounted in the place. Any herder caught with firearms should be arrested and prosecuted without minding who is infuriated or not. As the chief security of your state, you are constitutionally responsible for the security of your constituents. Adequate security decisions and actions should be made to work in consonance with the present security reality.
On several occasions, the marauding herders have killed and displaced hundreds of farmers in the Eastern region with little or no actions by the governors to arrest the escalating tension. Without minding the damage the activities of the herders have caused on the region, you unfortunately fell to the trick of wanting to involve a total stranger into the Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution. It is unacceptable Sir! That decision can blatantly result to self sabotage.
However, when Hisbah was formed, no Easterner was there. And when Amotekun was constituted, they never invited an Easterner to be a member of any committee so why are we inviting strangers into important issues about us? Remember, he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon. The purported plan of involving some Northern elements into the Office of Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution is a slap on us. The plan should be revised. There is no benefit in it. It will only complicate matters and magnify the arrogance of these tormentors. Don’t make the mistake of buying a baby lion that will grow and turn around to devour our flesh.
In conclusion Sir, I will suggest you reassemble your security tink tanks. All of you should sit and do a deep brainstorming on your decision. Weigh the future implications and make proper amendments. Let’s avoid the issue of had I known.
Kalu Nwokoro Idika
Kalu Nwokoro Idika is a political analyst, investigative and freelance journalist. He can be reached via email: Kalunwokoroidika@yahoo.com
‘If You Can’t Take Blows, Don’t Throw Blows’
By Femi Adesina
Let me start by giving due credit for this headline, which is not original to me. I lifted it from the 1983 song by reggae star, Peter Tosh, in the album titled Mama Africa. The song is Glass House, and it goes thus:
“If you live in a glasshouse
Don’t throw stones
And if you can’t take blows brother
Don’t throw blows.”
I’ve recently found out that it’s the opposite that some Nigerians want. They want to use foul language, harangue their President, abuse him, and then, nobody must respond to defend the President. They want to dish out blows, and they don’t want to take any.
But it doesn’t work that way. If you can’t take blows brother don’t throw blows. That’s the way life goes.
For about five years, some people have made it a pastime to talk about President Muhammadu Buhari anyhow. They attempt to lead him by the nose, order him around, and call him names. The man just ignores them, and continues to work calmly for the country. And he’s making the difference in different spheres of national life. Steadily.
Last week, I chose to give out some light blows. Very light ones. That was when I realized that those who had been dealing out the blows for years have nothing but glass jaws. They collapsed, and saw stars.
I had got a request to appear on the breakfast show of Naija Info FM. There were initial scheduling difficulties, but eventually, we found a mutually acceptable time.
It was like the station was the bastion for some angry Nigerians, the type that saw nothing good in government, and who took delight in negative criticisms. No problem. We have learnt to deal with all sorts.
I responded to questions from the show presenter, the relevant and the not so relevant ones. And then the phone lines were thrown open.
One man first charged that the interview session was a waste of time, as I had parried all the questions thrown at me. Oh ho. What did he want? Dabble into issues that do not involve a presidential spokesman, and then make a mess of eating an egg? I simply referred the interviewer to those who could answer his questions in government. As spokesman to the President, you were not Jack of all trade, otherwise you would end up being master of none. Whatever was outside your purview, just refer to the right quarters.
Another man came on the line. When would the President talk to us, he charged. At least we voted him into office, so he has a moral duty to talk to us. He said he was a school principal, and he talks to his students every morning at the assembly hall.
Wrong premise. Wrong conclusion. You can’t parallel a President leading 200 million diverse people with a principal superintending over less than 500 or 1,000 students, who were even half paying attention, or giggling, and poking fun at the shoes or shirt, or tummy of the man talking to them.
Now, this narrative of ‘he must talk to us’ is a common one in the country. I’d responded to it more times than I could remember. But what made it a bit irksome last week was the fact that the President had just made three major national broadcasts over the previous four weeks. And here was a man commanding him to ‘come and talk to us’ once again.
I threw my own jab. Why was the man sounding like a broken record, repeating itself endlessly? Before the series of national broadcasts started, you said President Buhari was not talking on the COVID-19 pandemic, when he had set up a team of experts and professionals, who were handling the emergency adequately, and briefing Nigerians daily. Then he makes three broadcasts, and you still say he’s not talking. He must do a media chat. You want a talkative President? Soon, you would say again that he talks too much.
I explained that it was not the President’s style to chirrup like a cockatoo. He is a man of few words, who preferred action to words. I even pleaded that we should understand the nature of the man we have elected to lead us, and let him do the work.
You know what? If it was former President Olusegun Obasanjo that had come under the ‘you must talk to us’ barrage like that, and on live television, he would have first cleared his throat noisily, adjusted himself in his seat, and then bellowed:
“And who are you, that I must talk to you? I say who the hell are you? Who is your father? Who is your father’s father, that you are commanding me to talk to you? Were you born when we fought a Civil War to keep this country together? Where was your father when I received the instrument of surrender from the Biafra Forces? Don’t come here and tell me nonsense. Talk to us, my foot!”
But President Buhari would not upbraid anyone like that. He rather keeps his peace. And some people have now taken liberty for license, till they begin to sound like broken records. Yes, no apologies. That’s how they sound.
The fact that you have voted a man into office is not carte blanche for you to lead the man around by the nose. A leader worth his salt would not even submit himself to such cavalier treatment. Definitely not President Buhari. I made that point clear on the program.
Another caller came. Why are you talking to us like used toilet paper? You are too arrogant.
Oh, really? Well, if you see yourself like used toilet paper, then, I can’t help you. ‘If you don’t say you are, nobody would say thou art,’ goes a popular saying. If you see yourself like grasshoppers beside the giants in Canaan, just like 10 of the 12 sons of Israel sent to spy the Promised Land, then you can’t be helped. You will end up like grasshoppers. Like used tissue paper.
Then came another angry man. Things are not going well in this country. We are even tired of this government.
We? Does a single man use that collective pronoun for himself? The man could only talk for himself, but why was he talking for other people, without a power of attorney? I calmly told him: another election is due in 2023. Who says you can’t be President? You should simply run for office.
The Good Book says by the measure with which you mete to others, so shall it be meted back to you. The callers chose to be pugnacious, unruly, and I didn’t go back home to fetch replies for them. That was what they asked for. Part of the duties of being a presidential spokesman is that you must defend your principal, particularly if you had calmly explained for years, and some people chose not to listen. If they throw blows, then they must be ready to also receive. Once in a while.
Some people revel in trying to bring down those in government. The moment you choose to serve your country, they try to position you as enemy of the public. They try to dress you in borrowed robes. Oh, he’s a liar. He is in government to feather his own nest. He has become pompous and arrogant. He talks to us anyhow. He will end badly. Didn’t the ones before him end in oblivion?
Hateful people. Envious souls. In vain do you wish some people reversals in life. And let me tell you: my destiny does not rest in the hand of any man. Yes, not you, evil wishers. You missed it this time. My case is different, because God has got my back. He brought me into government at a time I didn’t aspire for it, didn’t even want it. He is the master of my fate. The Master Mariner will land me on halcyon shores, however stormy the voyage could be. And President Buhari will succeed.
My friend, Kurtis Adigba, a dyed-in-the-wool Buharist, not like some fair weather supporters we have known, was the first person to call my attention to an attempt to demonize me on social media, arising from the interview.
“They want to bring you down, smear your reputation,” he told me on phone. He said they were already sharing video clips of where I spoke sharply to people, and saying I was rude and arrogant. I laughed, and thanked him. Adigba went ahead to mount a robust defence of me on his Facebook wall, as did many others. I thank them. There are friends that stick closer than brothers.
My family, relations, acquaintances, all got the video clips home and abroad. They called, asking if I was allowing some nasty people to get under my skin. I explained to each one. I was firmly in control of my emotions, and what I did was deliberate. The President has been insulted enough, and it was time we fought back. He that throws blows must be ready to receive. It’s only pathetic that they have glass jaws.
I remember a story I heard in the late 1970s.I actually knew the couple, and the woman was like four times the size of the man. But the husband was always rough-handling his wife, beating her up at will.
One day, the woman was said to have purchased Indian hemp worth sisi (five kobo). She smoked it. And there came the husband to beat her up again. The woman simply packed the man, spun him round and round on her head, and threw him against the wall. The man saw stars, but he thought it was a fluke. He got up, attempted to lay his hands on the wife again, and the woman gave him a bear hug. After almost choking him to death, she threw the man against the wall again. When the man managed to get up, he took to his heels.
That was the last day he ever raised his hands against the woman.
You Tarka me, I Dabo you, God no go vex (the younger generation may not understand this. A story for another day). What am I saying in summary? Those who run down our President on every platform for inexplicable reasons should not think they will always get away with it. If you live in a glasshouse, don’t throw stones. And if you can’t take blows brother don’t throw stones.
United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, recently warned against what he called the “virus of hate.” His words: “We must act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.”
Yes, that virus is well and alive in Nigeria. It is even deadlier than Coronavirus. But those who harbor it will not always get away with it. There will always be a fight back.
~ Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari
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