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China to Lagos, the frightening timeline of a deadly virus

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By Olusegun Fafore

Fatality rate across the globe since the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Chinese town of Wuhan on December 31, 2019 has signalled that this is not the best of times for humanity.  With about 8, 988 deaths and 220,877 people infected in 176 countries since the first death was recorded in China on January 11, 2020, the pandemic has boisterously announced its immensity.

Frighteningly, the virus claims human lives daily while science is still struggles with an absolute response to the scourge.  More than before, humanity has become vulnerable, and at the mercy of government policies. From one end of the world to the other, governments and political leaders are facing a whirlwind that is testing their leadership. Leaders are subjected to unusual trials and are desperate for solution(s).

In search of safety from the grip of the easily transmittable coronamicrobe, man is turning to the State for actions that will stem the tide, and provide succour at this difficult period. Sadly, no nation is capable of shielding the other. The ravaging disease does not regard the medically and scientifically advanced nations in its manifestation, so it is every nation to herself first, hence the increasing instances of border closure and entry restrictions.

To humble humanity and heighten our fears, the epidemic started its cudgelling from the most advanced to the not-so-advanced countries of the world.  Nations like China, Italy, USA, Spain, Iran, Germany and France are the worst hit, while African countries like Nigeria, Togo, Somalia and Congo have had minimal impact. Only 12 deaths out of the 590 reported cases have been reported so far in Africa.

It may be safe to argue that the worst-hit countries, with records of deaths in thousands since the outbreak of the deadly disease, are ‘host country’ and ‘high-traffic areas’, but a different perspective will be that China is where the virus originated from, other countries classified as high-traffic areas, are inheritors like Nigeria and other sub-Saharan Africa countries, and should have had lesser impacts as well.

The truth is that danger is looming and humanity is under attack. While the response strategies by Nigeria and some other countries may have contained the spread of the deadly disease, especially in Africa; this terrifying development has justified the need for increased collaboration and support amongst the nations of the world. Humans have to come together to protect their turf.

The hurried spread of Coronavirus across the globe has shown that we are closer than the flight time from one region to the other suggests. People from one continent are just one person away from contingents from other continents. Asians are not far from Africans, so are Australians close to Americans, because there is no distance in human linkage(s).

We now know that the world is one small circle that can be covered in just few days. There is no better authentication of this statement than the number of human victims succumbing to the lethal calls of microbes globally. The fact that a disease starts in a remote part of the world and travels across the hemisphere to other parts in hours proves that we are not as isolated as we had always thought.

Outbreaks of pandemics like HIV/AIDS, Ebola and Coronavirus are compelling enough for us to rethink our humanity. More than wars, epidemics are greater threats to humankind. It is therefore important that global leaders, multilateral agencies and international organisations align on investment in critical health infrastructure and scientific breakthroughs to sustain our reign on planet earth.

Microbes and diseases are interested in our world. These horrible impostors are keen on displacing us in our hundreds, thousands and millions, if we continue to live the way we have always lived and refused to exploit our mutual strengths. For pandemics, the fate of Africa is always a concern to the global health community. This is because of the continent’s history of poor investment in health care and hindered scientific advancement.

The African continent was not known to stand-up to its health challenges, or any global health problems. Until the containment of Ebola outbreak in 2014 when Nigeria offered the best of Africa to the world, no one ever thought that there could be a coordinated response to a pandemic by Africans.

As one of the immediate destinations of the hemorrhagic fever (Ebola) which originated from Liberia when thousands were sick and dying in the West African regions of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (28, 616 cases and 11, 310 deaths), Lagos was gripped by fear and thrown into panic because of the devastating statistics.

The epidemic claimed the life of Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, the Lead Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at a private hospital in Lagos, who remains the heroine of the battle against the Ebola pandemic in Nigeria, but the capacity of the State to speedily deploy resources to contain the spread of the deadly disease and limit casualties to 8 deaths out of the 20 cases was globally commended by the time we defeated the outbreak in September 2014.

Lagos State Government showed the world what Africans could do in times of crisis to forestall a continent-wide spread of dreaded diseases. The promptness and efficiency of the State response system protected Nigeria’s over 22 million population, occupying a landmass of approximately 3345km2 , from the highly infectious disease.

The averted calamity, considering that Lagos population density was 20, 000 per persons per square kilometre in built up areas, would have been colossal. Poor management of the situation would have spelt a total disaster for the country, and perhaps Africa’s over 1.2bn people.

That was a global tragedy contained. Really, such an incident should attract and induce multilateral support, in form of capacity building and investment in health infrastructure in certain areas of the world. Weaknesses or lack of capacity in certain locations in the face of pandemic outbreaks endanger the whole world, no matter how distant anyone may be from the originating country.  Before Coronavirus, China was very far, right?

Locations like Lagos are central to global wellbeing and progression of human health agenda for a number reasons. Notable amongst these is that the world cannot afford a weak link in the aggressive campaign for health security and wellbeing.

For a destination with two domestic airports, an international airport and two seaports, which are adjudged to be the largest and busiest on the African continent, a national or subnational government can only do little in combating security, socio-economic and health challenges or threats, when they emerge from the interconnectedness of our world.

Lagos is only exemplary in fighting the scourge of COVID-19 because of deliberate government policy and leadership commitment to quality public health.  The Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, before the outbreak had taken a strong position that made the State response to the menace adequate.

As Incident Commander, his outlook inspired great confidence in the Lagos State Incident Command Team battling the menace of the deadly disease in Lagos, but would this have been the story if Africa was the origin of this deadly virus?

What would the pressure on Lagos facility and the outcomes of the unanticipated stretch of the State health facility and preparedness for incidents, which have drawn commendations from far and near, especially by the World Health Organisation (WHO) been?

Yes, since the detection of the first case of Coronavirus on February 27, 2020, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Sanwo-Olu has remained resolute in curbing the spread of the virus and preventing human casualty. But in reality, megacities like Lagos and other densely populated regions in the world require increased global support and collaboration towards improving healthcare and proving world-class facility. This will not only strengthen the State’s capacity to combat situations such as this, but also bolster its ability to provide support for other destination in the region during emergencies.

So far, Governor Sanwo-Olu’s decisions and actions have significantly moderated the possible spread of the microbe and doused fears that Coronavirus could sweep the entire country in matter of days. To manage the situation, Lagos State activated its emergency health management and response framework, embarked on a mass enlightenment campaign about the importance of personal hygiene, closed schools and prohibited public engagements with more than 50 participants at a single location in the State.

Some of these decisions are tough because of the socio-economic texture of Lagos. But indeed, times are hard, and only tough decision could help humans chase microbes off our streets. As social animals, the chances that these aliens will creep into our system are very high, and definite, if we fail to demonstrate a certain level of watchfulness over ourselves. We need to help the response system work by following simple guidelines. When government demonstrates political will, citizens should reciprocate with commitment.

But more importantly, it has become better known that our spaces in the world are shared facilities. Therefore, we need to increase our humanity. Leading nations, global leaders, civil society activists, well-meaning individuals, international organisations and multilateral agencies, need to rethink what our investment priorities should be. The focus of innovation and scientific advancement need to shift to healthcare infrastructure and systems in high population density regions of the world.

#coronavirus

Fafore is the Executive Assistant on Public Relations and New Media to the Governor of Lagos State.

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Enugu State Government and the Quest for Growth

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…with a special focus on rural development and the execution of feasible policies)

Enugu State got recently recognized in the National news as one of the top six states of the Nigerian Federation surviving on its internally generated revenue. This news sparked off debates among people from resident citizens to political stakeholders and diaspora communities straddling the fence in either support or opposition

.

The management of funding in Nigerian states is an ongoing uphill task, as evidenced by the low number of 6 out of 36 states that survive without the monthly federal allocation and reflects a major achievement by the Enugu State government.

This feat is due to the combined efforts of the leaders who have shown consistency in pushing and prioritizing top policies that positively affect the state both in real-time and future long term.

 

The Leadership

Right from the inception of the fourth republic in Enugu State in 1999, Enugu continues to recover from the history of military-style administration and repression which has existed for over two decades. There have been noticeable improvements in the state’s administration that continues to date in the Ugwuanyi’s administration.

In Enugu State, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi popularly addressed by the moniker, GburuGburu is the third democratically elected governor since 1999 who came into power in the 2015 general elections, after he defeated competitors to emerge as the winner.

He was sworn into power to succeed Governor Sullivan Chime on the 29th of May 2015 at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu.

On resumption of duty, he instituted his cabinet and members of the current administration. Subsequently, they continue working to grow and build the state with a special focus on rural development and the execution of feasible policies.

In addressing the varied policies of the Enugu State government that strives to impact all the sectors of the state ranging from education, business, and security among others. From the court of public opinion, these policies rank on different levels of effectiveness with positive and negative responses. We explore the verifiable facts on ground.

Enugu State Policies

As earlier mentioned, the policies of the state government have been varied and cover most sectors of the state’s economy. The most important of these policies which are highlighted below are those that have positively impacted the standard of living and quality of life for Enugu State’s residents and indigenes.

One wonderful aspect of the democratic government since 1999 is its continuous focus on human capital development with the policies on:

  1. Education

The most important policy that shows governance focus is its provision of affordable and quality education for the children and youth populations. “Education is a weapon through which people can become better or fight subjugation” – Nelson Mandela.

The Enugu State Government is continually funding, expanding and improving access to quality education. By making basic education relatively free and affordable, the state literacy rate has risen to nearly 89%.

This was done by broadening the foundations set by past governments for public schools through the provision of over 50 new classrooms and the renovation of more than 150 old classrooms across several of the public schools scattered through the entire state.

Furthermore, the government of Ugwuanyi, in a bold and unprecedented move to close out competence gaps, also employed an additional 2000 teachers who were posted largely to rural areas.

The consistent payment of teachers’ salaries, building new classrooms, provision of numerous school supplies, students’ scholarships and staff training are among some of the ongoing measures been driven by the government to improve literary levels within just the Basic Education level. Complementary efforts in secondary, tertiary and adult education levels would be examined in the future.

 

  1. Business Development/Investment Attraction

The ease of doing business in Enugu is another aspect that has borne fruition due to efforts by the current administration. The Ugwuanyi led government has fully improved the available resources and facilities that help establish businesses. With Enugu State’s huge available workforce that allows interested parties to tap into available markets. For instance, ICT which holds more than 20% of the world market share and is currently the largest biggest sector worldwide has risen in Enugu with organizations like the Genesys Tech Hub and TechX Innovation Hub who have set up headquarters in the state to train skilled software developers and programmers with support from the government.

The government also established the SME center that connects young people and small-scale businesses to entrepreneurial opportunities. This center provides loans at minimal rates to small scale businesses and conducts training for skilled and unskilled participants interested in setting up businesses.

This focus on business drivers for the state is sure to yield positive results as these SME startups begin to set up, grow and expand in the future.

Moreover, there exists low, effective and transparent taxation, good security and accessible road networks that help boost businesses within the state.

Despite the set governance limitations in not getting directly involved in the establishment and running of industries, the Enugu government seems to have largely focused on creating a more secure and business-friendly environment to encourage private-sector investments.

 

  1. Skill Acquisition Programs/Youth Empowerment

Youth unemployment in Nigeria has reached crisis proportions and Enugu is also affected by this national issue. Although the resident youths are vibrant, skilled and intelligent, too many remain unemployed or under-employed and poses a challenge for the government. This crisis is being managed with targeted collaborative efforts to provide skill acquisition programs as well as offering business aid to young entrepreneurs. This is evidenced by the over 400 traders who are beneficiaries of the popular Ugwuanyi market traders’ initiative, promos and grants.

 

  1. Health

The health status in Nigeria is another area of national crisis and this has been brought to light with the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. At the State level, Enugu is better suited in comparison to neighbouring states in the South East region in the management of health care with reports of coordinated efforts by the government in managing the pandemic.

Under primary and tertiary health care, there are over 360 primary health care centres, 35 cottage hospitals, several district hospitals, and this is topped with the State university teaching hospital, Parklane.

The current government has consolidated on the achievements of the past governments by building new clinics and hospitals alongside improving health infrastructures for existing ones.

The government continues to prioritize the health system of the state to meet the needs and demands of public healthcare which takes a huge chunk of the state’s funding and budget.

This support is further reflected through its offering of free antenatal care and treatment of children under 5 years and free treatment for special cases like HIV and Tuberculosis.

There are ongoing studies in academia on the impact of these health infrastructural developments in the health statistics of the state and these will likely be explored in the future.

  1. Roads

“Good roads breed good development”. This oft-quoted phrase perfectly describes the status of roads within Enugu State. Considering the cost implications, yet building public roads is one major infrastructure that the state government continue to invest.

The efforts by the Ugwuanyi’s government in constructing roads that cover most parts of the state to connect rural and urban areas has been extensively extolled.

These roads have given the impacted rural communities a sense of belonging and pride in their state. With farming as the major occupation for most rural indigenes, the improved transportation routes ensure agricultural produce are less likely to perish. Thus food items are easily processed, effectively supplied and made accessible to the public at affordable market worthy prices without complications.

A cursory examination of the human interest perspectives will provide numerous anecdotal evidence as this focus on rural communities has strongly impacted the state’s agricultural industry growth.

 

  1. Security

The final aspect worthy of commendation is the management of security within the state. Across the years, successive governments have enacted policies and procedures that help boost the security levels in the state.

Recently, the government created the Enugu State Neighborhood Watch that works in tandem with community policing and this has reduced the crime rate in numerous communities.

Furthermore, with public outcry and complaints about herdsmen invasion of the state’s forests and farmlands, the Enugu State government created and continues to finance Forest Guards who help police the state’s lands and their efforts have helped immensely.

Also, the government set up channels of communication through the aid of community stakeholders to foster bonds among the Hausa and Fulani migrants where they encourage self-monitoring in these communities to help security agencies fish out deviants who try to threaten the peace.

Finally, the Ugwuanyi’s government has constantly provided automobiles such as cars and trucks from local suppliers like the Innoson Group for the state security agencies to aid their monitoring and safety measures.

Despite these highlighted good policies being driven by this administration, it is not without criticism.

As this administration focuses on improving Enugu State’s capacity, there are some decisions in need of execution to ensure consistent progress.

For instance, in their attempt to get effective government delivery to the people and manage public expectations, the state spends a large part of its funding in employing civil servants and managing political stakeholders. Too many people seem to be the government’s payroll.

Besides, constant acquisition of some non-essential items like cars for public convoys seems to take a toll on the state’s finances. The governor and other politicians need to reduce the number of cars in their convoys and stop buying more.

Lastly is the defensive way most of the government’s criticisms and decisions are handled. Too often, politicians with personal interests, who sometimes are in the same ruling party seem to constantly be on the attack.

Honest and constructive criticism is good for the development of the state, but malicious attacks without evidence seek to divide the state and create bad public opinion among the citizenry.

This distracts the people in government and can better be managed by sharing more stories, facts, figures and information of the collaborative efforts they take in reaching decisions that affect the public.

Adopting these suggestions will help all who are working towards the state’s peace, unity and development.

 

Edited by Ese Okereka

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NDDC Acting MD, Daniel Pondei lists contracts allegedly paid for

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Daniel Pondei

Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, has listed some contracts the commission allegedly paid for under duress before its 2019 annual budget was approved.

 

Pondei who alleged that some lawmakers, especially members of adhoc Committees have held the Commission hostage over the years with the annual budget approval, also disclosed that they were arm-twisted to pay for some contracts that “were never done or sometimes, never completed.”

 

In a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media, Edgar Ebigoni, the contracts and benefiting firms were listed as follows;

 

Kith Global Ventures Ltd; Remedial Works at New Ogorode Roads Lot 3, at the cost of N493,684,169.00 and paid on the 17/03/2020, 301 Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Nja Road to Akoku Uno Lot 1, at the cost of N350,027,919.80 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Cracked Stone Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Ajaolubeti Road Environs Lot 2 at the cost of N394,010,952.10 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 7, at the cost of N 431,053.035.20 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 3, at the cost of N361,357,276.20 and paid on the 17/03/2020 and Grapik Ltd; Emergency at Umudee Internal Road, at the cost of N207,673,107.70 and paid the 17/03/2020.

 

Others were, Southland Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Umuduru Chukwu Umuorlu Road, at the cost of N518,409,089.30 and paid on paid on the17/03/2020. Southland Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Umuduru, at the cost of N519,949,949.10 and paid on the 17/03/2020.

 

Grandfox Global Services Ltd; Emergency at Ope Road Okigwe LGA, at the cost of N580,438,578.00 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Town Road Lot 6, at the cost of N348,853,184.60 and paid on the 7/03/2020 and Crism Constr. Building Ltd; Emergency at Eziama Osuama International Roads Isiala Mbano LGA, at the cost of N561,592,377.80 and paid on the17/03/2020.

 

Also paid were, Argento Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 4, at the cost of N382,805,411.60 and paid on the 18/03/2020. Two Rocks Cont. Ltd; Remedial Works at New Ogorode Road Lot 4, N500,875,848.00 and paid on the 18/03/2020. Elkan Zibson Ltd; Emergency Repairs of failed and unmotorable sections of Ezumoha Internal Roads Isiala Mbano LGA, at the cost of N531,150,414.29 and paid on the 19/03/2020. Cracked Stone Constr. Ltd; Remedial works on Failed and Unmotorable sections of Benin Township Road Lot 8, at the cost of N417,806,787.01 and paid on the 19/03/2020. PDH Global Logistics Ltd; Emergency Repairs of Failed and Unmotorable sections of Umuezuo Umuagbavu Road Remedy Failed and unmotorable sections of Chikwe Orlu Street Environment, at the cost of N543,247,587.35 and paid on the 20/03/2020. Aritel Oil and Gas; Remedy Failed and Motorable sections of Chikwe Orlu Street Environment, at the cost of N550,100,132.34 and paid on the 24/03/202.

 

Dis Concept and Solutions Ltd; Urgently Remedy Failed and Un motorable sections of Jessy and Jenny Road off peter Odily Road PHC, at the cost of N476,794,367.22 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Ogugo Concept and Solutions Ltd; Emergency Repairs of Failed and Unmotorable sections of Environs Yenagoa LGA, at the cost of N300,029,695.14 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Webster Global ventures Ltd; Instruction of emergency Repairs of failed and unmotorable sections Benin Township Road Lot 2 Oredo LGA, at the cost of N357,242,054.35 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Webster Global ventures Ltd; Remedial Works of Failed and unmotorable sections of Akuku Illah Road Oshimili North LGA, at the cost of N 463,489,890.13 and paid on the 26/03/2020 and Webster Global ventures Ltd; Remedial Works of failed and Unmotorable sections of New Ogorode Road Lot2 Sapele LGA, at the cost of N 466,416,380.71 and paid on the 26/03/2020.

 

 

 

The statement added;

 

 

 

“This blackmail scheme explains why the 2019 Budget of the NDDC was passed by the NASS Committee in March, 2020”, adding that, “we are talking about a budget that was billed to expire in May, 2020. This implication is that the management of the NDDC had only five weeks, to implement the budget of one fiscal year, and present a performance report on the same budget.

 

“This scheme has continued to play out, because as at this Month of August 2020, the budget of the NDDC for the 2020 fiscal year has not been passed by the Joint National Assembly Committee on NDDC. Sadly, nobody seems to care to ask questions because people are falling for the well-scripted smokescreen playing out in the two Chambers of the National Assembly.

 

“This document, is among the many others tendered before the NASS Committee, which never saw the light of the day, and which the NDDC Committee were never allowed to speak on, when they eventually appeared before the Committee, during the public hearing. It was based on this evidential claim that the IMC of NDDC staged a walk-out, on the first day they were to testify before the Committee.

 

“The details of this list can be verified from the Central Bank of Nigeria, through a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request.

 

“Indeed, the same allegation informed the reason all well-meaning Nigerians urged the Committee Chairman, Hon. Tunji-Ojo to recuse himself from the Chairmanship of that hearing. This is in keeping with the Nemo judex in causa sua, which is a Latin phrase that upholds the principle of natural justice that no one can judge a case in which they have an interest”.

 

“It is very unfortunate that against all objective appeals and moral persuasions, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, alongside some other accused members of the House Committee on NDDC, proceeded to hold a public hearing, which was initially slated for two days, being the 15th and 16th of July 2020, but which effectively ran till 20th of the month, only for him to decide, at his own pace and time, to recuse himself from the hearing, on the last day, an action which cast a dark shade on the entire public.

 

“This is because, the same reason for which he recused himself on the last day was enough for him to steer clear from the matter, ab initio. The foregoing points to a clear fact that the Committee set out to do a bidding, that was never in the interest of the public. They obviously needed a public hearing to tell the public what they wanted the public to hear, rather than the facts of the matter.

 

“The Spokesperson the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, on a National Television Programme, recently, admitted publicly, that Contractors often approached Chairmen of the House Committees and the members, to use their office to compel MDAs to pay them. This definitely should be the new height of the abuse of the oath of office they swore, not to allow their personal interest interfere with the discharge of their official duties.

 

“Recall that since these allegations were first made by the Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh on National Television, Hon. Olubumni Tunji-Ojo has not deemed it fit to discountenance the allegations by way of a law suit”.

 

DRC gets $7.5m additional US aid to combat Ebola

The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing more than $7.5 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help end the 11th outbreak of Ebola in Équateur Province in Northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  The funding also will support Ebola survivors and maintain a rapid-response capacity in Eastern DRC, where the DRC’s 10th outbreak, also the second-largest outbreak of the disease in history was declared over in June 2020.  The U.S. Government remains the DRC’s principal partner in countering Ebola:  USAID has provided nearly $350 million since August 2018, including for preparedness and response activities in the DRC and neighboring countries.  The funding announced today is in addition to contributions from other U.S. Departments and Agencies and the U.S. private sector.

 

Through USAID’s NGO and UN partners on the ground, the United States is scaling up to providing life-saving assistance in Northwestern DRC’s Équateur Province, where a new outbreak of Ebola was declared on June 1.  This assistance includes support for the deployment of rapid-response teams to remote areas, surveillance for cases of the disease, and treatment facilities.  Additionally, this assistance will help survivors facing stigmatization, as well as fund continued engagement with communities on prevention and post-outbreak training on safe and dignified burials.

 

The U.S. Government is the largest-single bilateral donor to the response to Ebola in the DRC.  U.S. support and expertise played a major role in helping the Government of the DRC and its partners bring an end to Ebola outbreaks across the country, including the recent epidemic in South Kivu and Ituri Provinces.  USAID’s Disaster-Assistance Response Team, made up of disaster and health experts, continues to work with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, humanitarian partners, and the Government of the DRC to help contain the latest outbreak and bring it under control.

 

Stopping the spread of Ebola requires a concerted, unified effort from the international community – all in close partnership with the Government of the DRC and affected local populations.  USAID strongly encourages other donors to provide additional financial and technical support to help end the outbreak in Équateur Province.

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Nigerian politician as a symbol of vanity….Dr. Muiz Banire

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In the last couple of months, much prior to the invasion of our earthly space by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigerian politicians had resumed their usual political gymnastics against the next series of elections in the year 2023. The struggle is today getting fiercer already with its toll on the ruling party, particularly. This is no news, as the belief in Nigeria is that the power of incumbency at the centre is crucial to success at both the central and all other levels of election. Hence, the pressure is usually on the ruling party by the various aspirants to public offices.
As apparent to all, public offices in Nigeria are big attractions in terms of the glamour and perquisites they dangle, more so in a battered economy where such public offices now remains the major industry left for the citizens to survive on. This explains why the strife for public offices is often inordinate. Politicians in Nigeria believe they own time and space in fee simple absolute and are able to determine their tenure in this world.
They seem to have secured certificate of long or eternal life from God. This often confirms the lunacy in most of them as reflected in their primordial sense of accumulation of property and the ambition to control public resources for selfish benefits. With apology to atheists, I believe that most people of faith, Christians, Muslims and even traditionalists, believe that we do not own more than the moment we are alive. The very next moment belongs to God. This certainly is not true with this species of human beings called Nigerian politicians as this “theory” doesn’t resonate with them. They have planned and deludedly actualised their plans for the next 30, 40 and 50 years. They are, however, not far from the trend in the country where we have multiple number of religious people but a very negligible number of godly people.
The interesting thing is that not even the reality of COVID-19 can checkmate their blind aversion to the transience of human existence and the absoluteness of death. Regardless of the high-profile deaths among them, they are not scared nor cautioned as they are never alive to the truism that iku t’o n pa ojugba eni, owe lo n pa fun ni (the demise of a relative is a signal of one’s mortality).
This is why, in the midst of the pandemic, they are still very much alive, boisterous and dynamic in their trade. They still gallivant around with reckless rodomontade and unrestrained sense of invincibility. Recent statistics around the world on a daily basis prove the worthlessness of human aspirations that do not serve the benefits of humanity. Should their struggle for power be for public good, one would not have been bothered about their strife. Experience has shown that their struggle for public office is essentially for personal aggrandizement and selfishness. It is no news in Nigeria today that no citizen or voter believes the electoral promise of any candidate, and Nigerian politicians have never disappointed the people in this respect. The interesting thing for the politicians in the struggle for power is that they know no limit. They can go to any length in the bid to secure power both physically and spiritually. They contest the divine pronouncement both in the Bible and the Quran that all powers belong to God, and that all good things are exclusively in the hands of God.
While they may quote generously from the scriptures to mask their avarice and fetishness, their aversion for the scriptural truth is of zenithal monstrosity. As far as they are concerned, their dexterity and sagacity, and, at times, their wealth (ill-gotten, most times) and monopoly of force, can secure them those positions they lust after. This explains why they rig with reckless abandon knowing that the state of the law has prettily made it impossible to prove rigging in law courts, especially when it comes to proof of violence and fraud. In the event that such gruesome politicians, as I would like to describe them, succeed in occupying public office, they become monsters.
Let me, for whatever it is worth, remind the politicians that the various public offices they hold are subject of trust. This necessitates public accountability of the resources vested in them. However, what we experience most times is betrayal of this sacred trust. There is no shred of transparency in governance in Nigeria. With the pandemic, one would have thought that Nigerian politicians would have learnt one or two lessons, but this appears not so. This is the crux of our discussion today. An average politician today, as said earlier, struggles for public office in order to amass wealth and power. They often forget that the acquisitions are worth nothing but amount to building vanity upon vanity.
The Bible says, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” In the same tone, the Quran admonished us that the search for power and wealth is a mirage. Till a man’s death, nobody can attain his wants. The net effect of the divine injunctions is that we shall certainly in the hereafter account for the acquisitions, which, unfortunately, we cannot even transit with into the other world; the hereafter. The truth is that all that we acquire in this earth belongs to us temporarily, while the true and permanent ownership remains with God. Why the unbridled acquisitions then? My take is that, with the ravages and grim harvests of COVID-19, the urge and zeal for power and material things ought to reduce. Hundreds of public figures have succumbed to the toll of the pandemic while thousands of less privileged persons have taken sudden exits from this world, which should remind us of our mortality and the fact that it can happen to anyone and at any time.
Today, we can’t ride our best cars to most places again as there is hardly any more social function where the glamour of impressive cars used to steal the latest of shows. Our best clothes acquired for events are on vacation in our various wardrobes, accumulating dust that we all shall ultimately become. Our Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton shoes that we used to knock the earth in angry display of arrogance took a long leave of absence that ought to tell us they could really do without us.
Money itself is beginning to be meaningless as the enjoyment of it is restricted by the pandemic. In fact, societies where their medical capacities in the past put life expectancies on enviable pedestals have been humbled by coronavirus with multiples of death on hourly basis. Yet, here, where we have no capacity to rescue from ordinary malaria, our politicians still wax strong in licentious gusto for wealth and intoxicating power grab. In the face of all these, I reckon that sane people should be having a rethink about uncontrolled acquisition of material things or the strife to acquire power, which will ultimately leave us if we do not leave it. Not so for most politicians, however; the crazy struggle continues, not even with the demise of some of their contemporaries and loved ones. Is this not idiotic or stupid?
It reminds me of a story of a politician of over 70 years of age who recently built a two-floor duplex to move into. Bad enough that he failed to realise that he was at the departure lounge already. Here is a man with severe arthritis. How he intends to be moving up and down in the newly acquired mound of concrete remains a mystery! While it is a truism that death is not a function of age nor ailment, by natural order of things, however, most of these politicians are really in the departure lounge already just waiting to be boarded onto the lonely flight and fright of the grave. Why the acquisition beats my imagination!
The only explainable reason might be to secure the future for their children, which, regrettably, is not in their hands. As characteristic of politicians, they always believe they can fix all things with their skills. The sad commentary is that even where they succeed in leaving behind this vast wealth, it ends up being a burden to their children. It is usually a catalyst for chaos and anarchy in their families.
Nobody can secure the future of his children by wealth inordinately accumulated to the detriment of the masses. A house moulded with spittle will crumble to the gentle touch of the morning due. The children of the poor they initially deprived may be the ones to come back and purchase the properties from the children of the once-upon-a-mad politician. What a shame! How are the legacies of the lunatic frittered to unintended beneficiaries! When are our politicians going to learn? It is in the hereafter definitely. These are the ones Yoruba call ad’orun mo ooto, that is, those who only discover the truth in the grave.
What is required of man to live a life of moderate comfort is far below the acquisition of an average Nigerian politician. He does not only struggle to acquire power for himself but aspires to plant his beloved surrogate with whom he is most pleased in power, believing that the latter would preserve his accumulation and cover the secrets of his vanity while in office. But nemesis has been judging them while alive as most godsons and godfathers never enjoy a cordial relationship beyond the celebratory mood of victory after the elections.
Rather than allow society to govern itself, the Nigerian politician wants to rule in perpetuity, forgetting that history has never recorded such a feat in favour of any mortal. I hope that the Nigerian politicians will turn a new leaf towards life and public office.
It is VANITY UPON VANITY!
Culled from The Sun Newspaper
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