Coronavirus, Abule Ado Tragedy And Vanity Of Life

Casmir Igbokwe

I attended their wedding late 2018 in Festac, Lagos. The bride was a first-class graduate and worked in an oil company. The groom was also an epitome of success in his business. Their parents were overjoyed that their only son and only daughter had finally settled down in life. But, penultimate Sunday, death ultimately settled Mr. Emmanuel Aniakor, from Igbakwu in Anambra State, and Mrs. Jesofa Aniakor, nee Udoakonobi, from Isuofia, also in Anambra. Like a candle in the wind, they were blown off within seconds by the unfortunate explosion that occurred in the Abule Ado area of Lagos. At the last count, over 20 people perished in that incident.

This tragedy has been punctuated by the coronavirus pandemic that is currently ravaging the world. The virus is said to have originated from Wuhan, China, late last year. Presidents and their wives, Prime Ministers and their concubines and all the other powerful people in the world are cowed. Why won’t they, when the coronavirus death toll has exceeded 12,000 and almost one billion people are confined to homes worldwide? In Italy, 793 people reportedly died in one day. Businesses and schools have been closed in many countries. Face masks have become an essential commodity. Hand sanitisers are in the bags of many women.

Even religious bodies are also in panic mode. The seat of Islam, Saudi Arabia, has banned pilgrimages. In the Vatican, the Pope has halted his usual mingling with the masses. Down here in Nigeria, the churches have taken precautions. The Catholic Church, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles, the Redeemed Christian Church of God and many others have placed some restrictions on public worship. So far, the powerful men of God have not been able to cast and bind this plague out of existence.

In our usual way in Nigeria, we only started running when the rain had drenched us. The first index case landed from Italy. We took it for granted. No serious checks at the airports and other entry points. No immediate ban on flights from endemic countries. Perhaps, we had to wait for our President’s daughter, who just returned from London, before deciding to ban flights from the United Kingdom and some other countries. Perhaps, we had to wait for some powerful men in power to return from overseas before we decided to restrict foreign flights to Abuja and Lagos.

Thank God for this small virus, we now know that the power we think we have is ephemeral. The money we think we have is nothing. The houses and cars we boast of don’t really belong to us. The first-class brains, the beautiful children, the adorable wife, the rich and gentle husband all belong to the ultimate leveller, death. Like the scriptures say, vanity upon vanity, all is vanity.

That is why I have continued to wonder what is wrong with humanity. Why do some people kill one another because of money? Why is our world permanently unorganised and permanently unorganisable? Why do some people rant, “Do you know who I am?”

You are nothing but food for maggots. A few months ago, many Italians were boisterous. They partied and clubbed. They ignored or dismissed the visit of COVID-19. Today, they are dying like fowls. Let us learn to humble ourselves, no matter our achievements. Whether you are an executive President or supreme leader of your country or religious organisation, you have just one life. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and Sani Abacha were once very powerful. Their words were law. Today, we only remember the good or bad legacies they left behind. Nigeria is still recovering the money Abacha looted while in office over 20 years ago.

COVID-19 has exposed once again our inadequacies as a nation and poor leadership that has continued to bedevil Nigeria. So far, President Muhammadu Buhari has not spoken to his subjects on this major threat to human existence. He also did not deem it fit to visit the scene of the Abule Ado disaster. This, perhaps, is because death has become so cheap in Nigeria. Many more people have died elsewhere in the country compared to a little over 20 that reportedly died in Abule Ado. Perhaps, the number of deaths in Lagos is not significant enough for our President to visit. The next thing we heard was that the Federal Government was planning to take over the place.

Perhaps, the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on global oil economy is pushing the Federal Government to think seriously about developing other sources of income at Abule Ado. We depend almost entirely on oil. Even the agriculture we claim to be developing is having hiccups, as herdsmen kill and harass farmers at will.

The ultimate lesson in the current predicament is that we came to the world empty-handed, we will leave it empty-handed. That we are Igbo or Fulani or Ibibio is just an accident of birth. We didn’t know when we came to this part of the universe. We do not know when we will leave. If our current rulers realise this, nepotism and hubris will be a thing of the past.

 

Re: A senator’s funny bill to ban generators in Nigeria

Dear Casmir, I heard that the two Niger State senators, Bima Enagi and Mohammed Sani Musa, have been celebrating that their names are now heard in Nigeria, and published in popular newspapers, for sponsoring the “Ban of Generators” and “Social Media Death Penalty Bills” in the National Assembly. In this season of anomie, who blames the legislators and their newfound, penny radicalism? To them, the elixir of “pseudo-populism” and let’s-deal-with-them mentality by far surpasses the nitty-gritty of your informed analysis of Nigeria’s total energy generation of 2,039MW, which gives the country just a twinkle of light, as against current energy generation of 60,000MW by South Africa, to maintain 24/7/365 days power supply in their country.

Perhaps not many Nigerians can appreciate the patriotism of this dude, when I quote from Dan Brown’s epic book “Dante’s Inferno”…

“The hottest parts in Hell

Are reserved for people

Who keep quiet

In times of tyranny/moral crisis”.

– Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, 08085914645

 

Dear Casy, the present National Assembly members and the laws they churn out have become a great disaster and disgrace to Nigerians and to themselves. Since their inauguration last June, check the laws that came out of that hallowed chambers: the immunity from criminal prosecution, the repentant Boko Haram terrorists, the $22 billion loan, the hate speech, the railway appropriation that excluded South East, the trillion naira national budget that brought hardship, underdevelopment, hunger, job losses and insecurity, ethnic cleansing by Fulani terrorists across the nation. I don’t blame them. APC government under this leadership is akin to Pharaoh’s during the Exodus.

– Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495

 

Dear Casmir, unknown to some thinkers, law has precautionary measures. There should be avenue for workability and for the binding force to stay before laws are made. Recently, land borders were closed without proper plans for local production. If gens are banned, candles will be used for light; homes and hostels could be gutted by fire. The French say “faites attention”.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215

 

It is unfortunate that my country produces irresponsible senators. Like father, like son; like APC, like its senators! No wonder Achebe posited that the trouble with Nigeria is simply leadership. What is wrong with Niger senators? Irresponsible senators and irresponsible bills! A stitch in time saves nine, as they say. But Niger people should do the needful by recalling them.

– Smart, Abakaliki, 08134774884

 

My dear Casmir, thanks a million times for your candid advice to our ‘idle senators’, who once a while make a little noise to remind us that they’re still there! Please, the bill to ban generators in Nigeria should be jettisoned. Thanks.

– Godson, +2348033429133

 

I take the proposed ban of generators by our lawmakers as joke of 2020. How can they bring a bill to ban generator importation when there is no regular power supply in Nigeria? Who is fooling whom?

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

 

Having completely lost hope in the power sector of the country, Nigerians – both the rich and poor – have for years resorted to the use of generators to power our domestic and business concerns. Therefore, the senator’s purported move to ensuring steady power in Nigeria is laughable and indicative of one who has been living on the moon and not in Nigeria. The senator has rather put the cart before the horse. Is the cabal that imports generators not also involved in the manipulation of the power sector in Nigeria? Is our power sector immune from the endemic corruption in Nigeria? Or do we attack the effect of a thing in order to cure its cause? No, we must as a matter of priority tap the causes of our poor power situation in order to cure its inherent effect!

– Edet Essien Esq, Calabar South, +2348056615168

 

Casmir, the state of power in the country has reached an abysmally low and worst level. All our leaders who ruled from Independence till date should cover their faces in shame. They have been a disservice to the populace hence the popular use of generators that they now want to ban without first improving supply. It’s a pity that our children still say ‘up NEPA’ when power is restored.

– Mike, Mushin Lagos, +2348161114572

 

Casmir, my brother, how can a full-blooded Nigerian make such a suggestion by this time when power supply is at its lowest ebb? It is possible that the senator lives on the moon and on each legislative day, he steps down, presents his bill and steps back to his abode in the moon.

– Anonymous, +2348033119751

 

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, March 23, 2020

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