There have been several Covid-19 matters miscellaneous to comment on at this time. More trees keep falling on trees and it has been intricate getting to identify which one has been on top at any time. It is not easy to ignore the economic capital of the North Kano, where an unknown soldier, sorry virus has struck down many prominent citizens.
Investigations have not been rounded off on the strange deaths. It is good that the Governor of the state, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje has cried out for help from the nation’s capital. Just as it is also gratifying to note that the federal government has dispatched a special medical team to Kano to drive the NCDC containment plan. This is not a time to apportion blame. It is a time for healing – and messages of hope. Nor is it a time of lamentation.
Lamentation has never and will never grace any management journal as a strategy. The Kano city is always accident-prone. And so it is too important to be left to Kano government and people alone t this time. Even Lagos, the country’s economic capital cannot be uninterested in events there. The reasons are too clear to bear repeating here. Can we ignore a news lead that there are “fears in South West over the influx of northern youths”? Though Sarkin Hausawa of Sasha Lagos is saying, “they are looking for survival”, it is not arguable that this is not the right time to migrate to Lagos and indeed Western Nigeria. There are consequences for such illegal movements despite all the interstate lockdowns. Before the implications of our checkpoint compromises manifest, can we brush aside another story lead at the weekend: Why explosion is imminent in Nigeria: Disease real but many Nigerians, still do not believe…Lifting of the restrictions premature… Nigeria records 238 new cases total case soars to 2, 170…”
This is the crux of the matter that is quite likely to deepen the black man’s dilemma this week. The black man’s power to re-invent himself will be thoroughly tested this week when the most populous black nation on earth begins to question the basis for science and logic. Even while the most powerful nations in Europe and North America including Germany and America are trying to redefine the power of discipline, propriety, decency and orderliness as expressed in the ancient word, which says, “let everything be done decently and in order”, Nigerian leaders want to play the ostrich and leave everything to God – just because they can’t handle complexity as expressed in basic things, notably welfare of the people. They can’t distribute basic needs to the people through the 774 local governments as can be easily done at this time. Here is the real thing that not many people want to note at this time: Lockdown is being relaxed, not because we are already winning the battle against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. We are relaxing it because the federal and state governments cannot afford to meet the basic needs of the people at home and longer than necessary. Most people including our representatives in all democratic organs are well aware that to continue to ask hungry people to stay at home may have unpleasant implications. They are afraid of revolt. They don’t want revolution now! So, the authorities know that they are doing the wrong thing. But they can’t afford the right thing.
They don’t mind if we all perish. Is there any correlation between rising confirmed figures amid a scarcity of test kits and lifting of restrictions? New York City, the world’s most prosperous financial capital just announced that their school children are too precious to be wasted at this time and so there will be no school for the rest of the (school) year. They are mulling summer school. Germany, the strongest European economy is backtracking as the partial lifting of lockdown has triggered more Covid-19 cases. South Korea with their sophistication first experienced that and they returned swiftly to discipline. The British Prime Minister who just resumed after surviving the killer virus just announced strong measures to contain the resurgent Covid-19 that has claimed 28, 131 lives in the U.K. The message here is that you should freeze your great expectations from the capitals. You are on your own from tomorrow. You need to design your family’s survival strategy. The black man’s dilemma may, therefore, be compounded from this week beyond the fertile imagination of Elder Areoye Oyebola who looked into the seed of time in 1976 and contextually reported that the black man’ backwardness was becoming too complicated in what he called a dilemma – that has not been resolved. The iconic Nelson Mandela evaluated this dilemma before he joined his ancestors on December 5, 2013. He had noted to Nigeria’s Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed in an interview: ‘The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence….’
Let’s freeze African politics for a moment. Let’s pretend that all the vaunting from Ghana, Senegal all even Madagascar about their Covid-19 medical ‘breakthrough’ and organisational capabilities exist. Sadly, these countries put together cannot be equal to the potential powers that Mandela contextualised here. So, the deepening dilemma will be put to test (from) this week when the ‘African giant plunges into Covid-19 risk management. The idea of lifting restrictions while the figures keep rising, even as NCDC managers are complaining about the scarcity of essentials is bound to produce some strange results. But let’s wait for the consequences as we take the plunge tomorrow if tomorrow comes, as Sidney Sheldon would have noted. Lest we forget, the once rejected Oronsaye Report on rationalisation and efficiency in the public service has become another truth kept in a grave. It has come out. A comprehensive symposium discussion and contextual reporting are available on the front page of this newspaper today. Read it and digest the land mines in the new deal. Apparently, the report is stale and deserves an update before the implementation of the already compromised White Paper.
READ ALSO: COVID-19 WATCH: ‘TRY A LITTLE KINDNESS’
Retired Commander Femi Adeoye arrests my attention this week as my man of the moment. A report of his uncommon courage at such a time as this is my pick as a news item of the week. Reason? It is unusual, bizarre and odd in this place. And so this is what makes news to us as journalists. Citizen Adeoye, a father and retired public servant turned down his son’s request to travel to Lagos, the President had locked down – to prevent Covid-19 transmission in the country’s most populous commercial capital. The son defied the father’s advice and travelled to Lagos amid a shutdown of interstate borders. The recalcitrant son returned to the father who didn’t know the son’s Covid-19 status. The father said, no, I would not accept you into my house. The son thought it was a joke. The father reported his son to the Ekiti State Task Force on Covid-19 and asked his son to be quarantined for two weeks to determine his status. Then a state public officer who recorded the scene revealed the typical Nigerian character: made jest of the father and son: asked the son to enter the father’s car in a tragi-comic way. The State Governor Dr. Kayode Fayemi promptly cashiered the undisciplined state official. And events moved faster than usual in our wonderful country. The unusual father, Adeoye was honoured with not only a letter of commendation personally delivered at the State House by the Governor. The Barnabas, a good man, was also appointed Covid-19 Ambassador for the State. This is the executive summary of the not-so-prominent human-interest story at this perilous time.
For me, as Rick Warren, the purpose-driven cleric and author, well known on this page, would have noted here, Citizen Femi Adeoye by Nigerian standard is not a prominent person, and so what is the big deal about his refusal to accept his stubborn son? Doubtless, Adeoye is not prominent but he is quite significant. If Pastor Warren were to write a line for this same Adeoye who just retired from Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), he would postulate that most prominent people are not significant just as most significant people are not prominent… But God the almighty is not looking for prominent people to change the world and shape His kingdom: He is constantly in search of significant people. There are far too many prominent people in our country. But most of them are not significant for nation-building. There have been too many big men but very few great men. We don’t have role models anymore in Africa’s most populous nation of about two hundred million people. That is why I feel that Citizen Adeoye deserves the honour bestowed on him by the Governor of his state. This is a country where we now celebrate thieves as chiefs, morons as barons, dealers as leaders as someone once put it.
In the main, with citizens such as Adeoye, I see the hope of a better country where there will be ‘men with chests’. C. S Lewis, (1898-1963) was one of the iconic modern thinkers about the responsibility of adults in educating the young wrote on “Men Without Chests”. In ‘The Abolition of Man’ a classic he wrote, he makes a compelling case that if we fail to pass along specific values of right and wrong, of what is worthwhile or worthless, admirable or ignoble, then we must share blame for the consequent failings of character. In this treatise, Lewis posits that “You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that we what civilization needs is more ‘drive’ or dynamism or self-sacrifice or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly creativity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful…”
I mean I see the hope of a better tomorrow in a country where some parents will no longer work out school certificates and unified tertiary matriculation examinations for their wards through special centres. Meanwhile, Governor Fayemi to deserves commendation for recognising a significant citizen, a spring of hope for Nigeria we would like to see. Ambassador Adeoye, please take a bow as a significant Nigerian.
*This article was first published by The Guardian on Sunday, May 3, 2020.