COVID-19: Do Wise Men Still Come From The East?

Casmir Igbokwe

When Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, the wise men who came to pay him homage were from the East. The South-East people of Nigeria are also considered wise. But considering the way they have handled the COVID-19 pandemic, one wonders what is happening to that wisdom God endowed them with.

I was in the South-East of Nigeria to pay my own homage in commemoration of the birth of Christ. The good side of my visit was that I enjoyed a more conducive atmosphere. The air was fresh, devoid of the pollution associated with city life. I had no single bite of mosquito. The food and fruits looked fresh and more natural.

I also enjoyed the communal life and philanthropy of the Igbo people. There were family and village meetings with the attendant conviviality. House warming, wedding ceremonies, football competitions and chieftaincy title taking were not left out. Wealthy individuals gave palliatives to indigent citizens. They rehabilitated and tarred roads. The only snag was that some of the roads did not have good drainage systems. Once rainy season sets in, some of them will go bad again.

Even solemn events like funerals presented people with an opportunity to throw banter and share food and drinks together. The burial ceremony of Mrs. Monica Anyaeche, the mother of Anambra business mogul, Chief Ernest Anyaeche (Ochendo),was a typical example. Chief Anyaeche, who hails from Aguluzigbo in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State, is the CEO of Sumec Firman Generators in Nigeria. His mother died at the ripe age of 113. I was there to witness the elaborate celebration of the life of this noble woman.

However, I felt a bit disturbed by the way crowds of people mingled at funerals of this nature and other festive events in Anambra. At Nanka, Isuofia, Ekwulobia and many other towns in the state, masqueraders and humans jollied in mutual obeisance to the gods of entertainment. There were no conscious efforts to maintain social distance. Nor did most people bother about wearing facemasks.

The worst is that cynicism and doubts about the existence of COVID-19 persist. In one of the Masses I attended, a Catholic priest told his congregation that coronavirus was nothing but an attempt by the Western powers to depopulate Africa. He prayed that it would not work for them. And the congregation chorused amen. He also pooh-poohed the COVID-19 vaccine already being used in many parts of the world. According to him, the vaccine was nothing but another attempt to poison and kill Africans. To cap it all, he said nobody should bring the vaccine to Biafraland. Knowing how our people defer to priests and religion, it is obvious that we are in for more trouble as far as COVID-19 is concerned.

Similar cynicism and myths seriously affected and delayed the efforts to combat polio in Nigeria. It was insinuated that the polio vaccine was to depopulate Nigeria, especially the North. Some accused Bill Gates, who was championing the war against polio, of sinister motives.

The level of misinformation about COVID-19 will be more devastating. Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State had no option but to address his people and warned about the dangers posed to the state by the disease. He further postponed school resumption by two weeks from the original date of January 18.

It is imperative to note that COVID-19 is real. People are dying daily because of it. Worldwide, it has affected nearly 100 million people with over two million deaths. In the United States alone, there are over 24 million cases and over 400,000 deaths. In Nigeria, there are over 100,000 cases and over 1,400 deaths. We need to be extra vigilant this time.

If there is any sinister motive behind the vaccine, the President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden, would not have taken it. The Catholic pontiff, Pope Francis, and emeritus Pope Benedict would not have taken it. Many other prominent global citizens would not have taken it. So far, about 25 per cent of Israel’s nine million people have been inoculated in just one month. Italy has given about one million people the vaccine. In Britain, at least more than three million people have been given a first dose of a vaccine. In the United States, Biden plans a big vaccination push. India also plans to reach 1.3 billion people with the vaccine.

I have a feeling that the Federal Government of Nigeria is confused about how to tackle this pandemic. Schools were shut down and asked to resume January 18, 2021. Different universities have announced resumption dates for their academic activities. But has anything changed between when the schools were shut and when they are to reopen? Does it mean that, from January 18, COVID-19 will disappear from our schools? What efforts are we making to ensure that our children are protected from the disease? What about markets and worship centres? Are they immune from coronavirus?

Were COVID-19 to kill Africans the way it is killing in Europe and America, we would be in big trouble. The festive period may have helped to spread it faster in the East because a greater percentage of Igbo people travelled to their villages this period. Imposing lockdown may not work this time. The onus is for us to continue to observe the safety protocols: regular washing of hands, use of hand sanitizers, wearing of facemasks and face shields. etc. Let us try to emulate the virtues of the biblical wise men, if we must survive this pandemic.

 

Re: Leave Bishop Kukah alone

Your piece, “Leave Bishop Kukah alone,” was classical. It had superlative ingredients of creative mastery and artistry. The northern political elite are holding Nigeria and Nigerians by the jugular. Taking the cleric to the cleaners by managers of this failed state for reharshing known facts is most uncharitable. Buhari has abdicated his constitutional responsibilities. He has run this country aground, like the famous crashed Titanic. Poverty is all over the land, with the highest record of insecurity in our chequered history.

– Chief Obinwa Akanwa, +2348134909795

Mine is, let everyone go their separate ways. Nigeria was never created by God. What Lugard and his girlfriend, Shaw, did was evil (bringing discordant entities together). Yet, some political raptors do everything to keep it together. Woe betide them! Nigeria was founded on fornication! That’s why it can’t work! I don’t believe in restructuring. The North has been kicking against it from time immemorial not until recently.

– Henry Uche, mercy4henryuc@gmail.com

Casmir, more than 60 years after independence, Nigeria is still in a sorry state. This is because of ethnic and religious politics. There’s no national ideological belief as to how to move the country forward. Greater number of years has been controlled by northern Muslims. The best option is restructuring, where we can remain as a country but allow each entity to move at its own pace.

– Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922

Dear Casmir, the North is indisputably the section of the country with the greatest clamour for the unity and oneness of the country with shouts of One Nigeria becoming their mantra. Yet, they are notorious for acts of disunity. Portraying Bishop Kukah’s lamentation in bad light is at best clannish and nepotistic. This shows that their purported criticism and condemnation of the security situation in the country in general and the North in particular is pretentious and farcical.

– Idongesit Inyang, Uyo,  +2348084318845.

What did Bishop Kukah say that has not been said before? The wailers should leave Kukah alone. The best friend of democracy is opposition and protest; if you don’t like the opposition then rule well. If you can’t rule well, get out of power.

-Emma, Wuse 2, +2348035585109

Dear Casy, governance has scorecards but the trappings of office, in addition to sycophants and cronies around the power-wielder, often blind him from taking note of this important feature. Again, governance, just like accounting, has debit and credit sides, representing bad and good governance, respectively; wherein the performance scorecard of Nigeria’s government at the centre today bears the following: (1) Insecurity-Debit (2) Unemployment-Debit. (3) Corruption–Debit (4) Nepotism-Debit (5) Economy-Debit. With this kind of scorecard, the likes of Lai Mohammed can only tell a blind man that there is no oil in a plate of soup but they can’t definitely tell the blind man that there is no salt or pepper in the same soup.

– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731 

Dear Casmir, the issue at stake is not just with the North but Nigeria as a whole. The West never supported Obasanjo in 1999 because then he appeared as a national leader. By 2003 when he pretended to take sides with his people, they voted for him en masse but ended up regretting it. When will Nigeria unite?

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215

Dear Casy, in this present rot where truth is no longer coming from the pulpit, Bishop Kukah is a real man of God. If Obasanjo’s government had implemented the report of the Oputa panel packaged by Justice Oputa and Bishop Kukah, Nigeria wouldn’t have degenerated to this level. Prof. Ishaq Akintola, Sultan Abubakar and other leaders in the North should dismantle their hegemonic system of leadership in the North where the political and religious elites have destroyed the masses.

– Chima C. Eze, Lagos, +2347036225495

The outrage occasioned by the unimpeachable truths of Kukah’s homily is not unconnected with the messenger’s religious affiliation, just as Charly Boy and Sowore’s protests were linked to their emerging from the ‘wrong’ zones of the country. Whereas some emirs and Islamic adherents were unsparing and more caustic in their choice of words in criticizing the obvious state of insecurity and undisguised nepotistic inclination of Buhari, it is Kukah’s play on words concerning the same issues that is ‘newsworthy’. It is beyond doubt that Kukah’s attackers have deliberately burnt his very serious message on the altar of ethnicity and religion in order to achieve their intended mission.

– Edet Essien Esq. Cal. South, +2348037952470    

With the message of Bishop Kukah over the state of the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari and his men should wake up for good governance because more criticisms are coming from Nigerians.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, January 18, 2021

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