Nigerians are spoilsports. They spoil good things. We were just busy enjoying the rapidity with which our rulers could build health facilities when they are pushed to the wall but we’re spoiling the fun already.
All over the world, Covid-19 is granting advance tickets to showing the end of all humanity and it looks like nothing envisaged while writing wills. That blockbuster is forcing the wealthy to embrace philanthropy and the poor to seek God early.
Prophet Bill Gates is not among the usual suspects. His eminence, Bill and bella Melinda convinced themselves that a ten-figure-table wealth would serve no purpose beyond this planet. They turned in their profits early to charity. For that, the almighty hid his plans from all the seers with high falutin titles in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa and revealed the future to Gates.
In 2015, Prophet Gates warned, that World War III would not involve America’s overrated army, but would be fought in the air. Not everybody enjoys petroleum subsidy, but we all need oxygen. Like a real prophet, Gates urged global leaders to plan ahead. But like the indulgent revellers of Noah’s days, global leaders wondered – is Gates among the prophets? Someone please holla me if you find Bill Gates’ church, because I want to enrol in its school of prophecy. Anyway, Nigerians got it right, our stinking rich pastors and prophets are hiding in olive oil bottles waiting for science to tame Covid-19 so that they could resume their sham miracle services. Like the rest of us sinners, they are hiding from the shadows of the wrath of Covid-19.
Some Nigerian billionaire Gates-wannabes have jumped forward to chip in their widow’s mite even though the gap between their paper wealth and Bill Gates’ is like the gulf between Dangote and me. Finance houses and other corporate citizens have chipped in although some of the names circulating on social media are anticipatory donors. Many of them have neither pledged nor actually donated. It is not every cat that has sucked fat from the nectar of Nigeria’s wàrà ati oyin (milk and honey) that cares about planting the flowers to feed the bees. You cannot blackmail unconscionable moneybags to do what is right anymore than you can force our rulers to effective facilities for times like this. Some states have only three ventilators. Funny enough Tesla’s founder is giving free stuff but they are too shy to join the queue. To the millionaires hoarding their wealth, may their mammon keep them safe from the scourge.
Meanwhile, who says miracles can’t happen in our country? Our rulers have performed the miracle of raising clinics in record time, although some have no doctors to man them and the instruments are inadequate for a pandemic. They have a saying in Warri – at all, at all, na him bad – meaning a little is better than nothing.
President Buhari out of the immensity of our foreign reserves has announced a N20,000 reprieve for 2.6 million Nigeria’s poorest of the poor. We missed the ticket to poverty competitions but our exclusion does not invalidate the verdict of the judges or the announced prices for the winners. Besides, re-runs are scheduled for all the 36 states of the federation. The Villa has confirmed 10, 695,360 identified winners in the first few hours of the announcement. While waiting for Maryam Uwais to come out of seclusion, be kind to disaster management minister, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouk and put on poorest garbs and the drone may identify and qualify you.
Policing the lockdown
How you police a lockdown depends on where you are and who your ruler is. Abia’s Okezie Ikpeazu shut down his state on Wednesday with orders to anyone trying to escape isolation centres to be shot. The distance between Umuahia and Warri is close to 300 kilometres, but it was there that Ikpeazu’s orders claimed its first victim. In Warri, armed soldiers killed a Covid-19 curfew breaker leading to riots. Military authorities denied the killing but immediately released phone numbers to ‘report any unprofessional conduct by Nigerian Army personnel during the Covid-19 lockdown’.
A video of people dressed in military gear circulated widely. It contained threats over the death of one soldier. In it, the speakers threatened Delta women with rape and deliberate HIV infection as weapons of retribution. The soldiers in the video are of course; unknown soldiers!
Rape is not a new weapon of intimidation. In Lokoja, Kogi State, Abdulmumin Ganga, the State Commissioner for Water Resources, reportedly kidnapped young Elizabeth. By her own account, she was driven to Lokoja where the Commissioner ordered her to be mercilessly beaten, then stripped naked. She was videoed naked, begging for mercy with threats of the video being released. Subsequently she was driven to a hotel where the commissioner allegedly raped her.
A Kogi government statement on the matter promised ‘an investigation’ while Ganga the culprit remains on his seat. With the sad history of violence targeted at women in Kogi, from burning a woman in her own home to burning opposition party headquarters and incessantly harassing opposition figure Natasha Akpoti, take the promise with a pinch of salt. After all, Nigeria is NOT a jungle!
This piece was originally published by Daily Trust on Sunday, April 5, 2020.