Saturday 25 April 2020

Covid-19: The Equal Opportunity Heart Breaker

I was thinking this morning..... about discrimination. I have been following the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme embarked upon by the Federal Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and have had good reason to question the criteria being used. I have also listened carefully to complaints from some governors, North and South of the Niger river about how their States were left out of the palliative rain. CACOL (The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership) had lamented that “Whereas, other states of the federation, especially in the northern part, received significant financial assistance and feeding materials like rice, beans, flour, etc., people in Lagos and many other states of the federation in the south remarkably, were left in the lurch by governments in most instances.” All in all, the dominant smell of the whole exercise to me is one of discrimination, which some may prefer to call bias or favoritism.

I am able to ignore when people discriminate or openly show bias during steady state operation in Nigeria, but wonder if the administrators are human when they do so at a time when Covid-19 is killing people without discrimination. While this thought was brewing within me, I read the pop-up notice by Gayle King about her upcoming programme on BET titled 'Black America's Fight.' She had this catchphrase for the programme that gave me mixed emotions. It says 'Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker.' Hmm!!!

Truly, Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker. Think about it. More than 150 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, most U.S. adults, according to Pew Research Centre, say the legacy of slavery continues to have an impact on the position of black people in American society today. Hence, most Blacks, Hispanics and Asians in America feel they always get the short end of the stick in almost every opportunity that presents itself. They have prayed and looked forward to that opportunity that will not discriminate based on ethnicity or the colour of their skin. That opportunity came, Coronavirus, but not to bless them but to break their hearts. When it comes to Coronavirus, there is no inequality. It embraces as many that welcomes it by their lifestyles, black or white. Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker.

There are many young people that believe the Coronavirus discriminates against the old and therefore tend to be less cautious. Well, while the statistics say one thing, the individual cases say another. 5-year old Skylar Herbert from Michigan loved to dance and dreamed of being a pediatric dentist one day. She contracted Covid-19 and died on Sunday 5th April. She was just a child. And then I remembered the 106 year old Great-grandmother Connie Titchen of Birmingham, UK, who has lived through two world wars. She was diagnosed with Covid-19 but recovered and has since been discharged from the hospital. If you consider both cases, you will agree that truly Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker, your age notwithstanding.

The coronavirus deals out death and despair equally, whether male or female, North or South, PDP or APC, Fulani or Igbo, christian or muslim. It is an equal opportunity heartbreaker. The only time it discriminates is in how profoundly those infected are affected, as it seems to kill those with underlying conditions more. But thank God our case is different (Gen 47:15-27). In the next few days the difficult decision will be made on whether the lockdown should be extended. Whatever the decision, never forget that the equal opportunity heartbreaker is real and does not discriminate. Therefore the distribution of the Federal government palliative should have no ethnic, regional or religious colouration, otherwise 'yawa go gas o.' 

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

Saturday 18 April 2020

They Didn't Die of Covid-19

I was thinking this morning.... As the nation woke up Saturday morning to the sad news of the death of Mallam Abba Kyari, the powerful Chief of Staff to PMB, I could not but spare a thought for those dying from Covid-19. According to Worldometer, from the 210 countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances affected by the Covid-19, Nigeria sits uncomfortably at No 98 on the Covid-19 Impact Medal Table. As at midnight Friday 17th April, the USA, like in most competitions, sits atop the medal table with a whooping 37,175 deaths with 710,272 cases. The silver medal goes to Italy with 22,745 deaths and 172,434 confirmed cases and Spain coming third with 20,002 deaths with 190,839 confirmed cases of Covid-19. The UK is 6th with 14,576 deaths and 108,692 confirmed cases. As I pondered on the infamous medal table and Nigeria's position, I knew the organisers were wrong. 'Dem don play ojoro,' I thought. How can they say we have had just 17 death from Covid-19?

Think about it. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) through its Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu disclosed that whereas COVID-19 has led to the death of about 11 patients as at Tuesday 14th April, law enforcement agents have extra-judicially executed 18 persons to enforce the Covid-19 Lockdown regulations. Of the 18 persons killed was one Joseph Pessu that was shot and killed in Warri by a soldier for allegedly flouting the state government’s sit-at-home order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While NHRC was making the announcement last Wednesday, two youths were allegedly shot dead by the Police at the New Tyre Market Area of Nkpor, Anambra State, while enforcing restriction of movement over the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the authorities say only 17 people had died in Nigeria from Covid-19. Oh I see, Pessu and the 19 others did not die of Covid-19, they died of COVIB-20. COVIB-20 meaning Coronavirus Induced Brutality 2020.

I am challenging the number of death being reported for Nigeria. When the Phase 2 of the lockdown was announced, so many that earn a daily wage and struggled to survive Phase 1 knew it was death staring them in the face. In spite of the very commendable steps taken by many Nigerians, churches and organisations in providing food and succour to the less privileged, we have watched videos of mob attack on vehicles carrying food in certain areas. Area boys are attacking estates and neighbourhood forcefully dispossessing people of food and money. For as many that can't beg or steal, but have no food at home, God save their souls. Should they die, they will not be counted among those that died of Covid-19. Yes, they died of COLIH-20. COLIH-20 meaning Coronavirus Lockdown Induced Hunger 2020.

Lockdowns are being extended in many states and regions, meaning things will remain dire for many. Like a friend said, the government palliative is even more invisible than the virus. If you are following the trend of events in Nigeria, you will agree that while many countries are asking for ventilators, what the vast majority of Nigerians need is 'Foodilators.' Because of the hunger, millions of Nigerians are flouting the lockdown and social distancing regulations, trooping out to street corners, just to scavenge for what to eat. Should they contract the Coronavirus, and God forbid, die, please know that they didn't die of Covid-19, they died of COLIH-20. We all must come together and continue to provide the very vital foodilators that will keep many Nigerians alive. And as you do so, keep hope alive because Ecclesiastes 9:4 says 'For to him that is joined to all the living, there is hope.'

Happy Sunday.

.....Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

Saturday 11 April 2020

Easter and the Prisoner in the Fattening Room

I was thinking this morning..... about how people see themselves during this lockdown. A few days ago, my MD, during a staff engagement session told everyone that he had put a call through to a friend to find out how they were doing. His friend had responded, 'All inmates are intact and doing well.' Riding on his metaphor, my MD asked him, 'Who is the chief warder?' His friend replied, 'I can't exactly tell who the chief warder is, but I can assure you that we are complying with the Geneva Convention that says it's the right of all prisoners to be fed.' While we all giggled at his little story, my mind was asking 'what is your perspective?'

Though my MD's friend joked about his lockdown being akin to a prison, it got me thinking about how many people see themselves from a similar prism. Prisoners are locked up to serve time as a form of correction for wrongdoing. They hardly derive value from being locked up unless they change their perspective about why they are there. I therefore surmised that your perspective defines purpose and purpose creates value.

What is your perspective about this lockdown? Many are like the Efiks of Southern Nigeria who view being fat as a symbol of status and power. Therefore, they see this period of lockdown as being in the 'fattening room.' In the Efik tradition, a bride, prior to a wedding, is subjected to seclusion for a long period of time and fed a large quantity of rich native delicacies loaded with calories like Ekpankoko, Edikang-Ikong and Afang generously filled with snail, bush meat and fish, as well as meals consisting yam, rice, beans and garri. She is also allowed lots of sleep so she can gain excess weight and become obese. The isolation of the bride also means she gets no visitors either male or female and is restricted to her immediate family. The reason? They believe 'bigger is better,' without prejudice to the Gino Max seasoning cube advert. That is the state and mindset of many during this lockdown and believe me, they will come out of the 'fattening room' looking like 'orobo' unless they change their mindset and stop eating and sleeping. Your perspective defines purpose and purpose creates value.

Some others see this lockdown as being in the prayer room. Before the lockdown, you hear some say they are going to 'the mountain' (what my yoruba friends call Ori-oke), away from the noise and distraction of the city, for prayers and to seek the face of God. Wow! Congratulations, the noise of the city has been shutdown and the mountain has come to them. Their homes have become their prayer room and after two weeks of being locked in, 'kabashing,' they are literally moving mountains. Remember, your perspective defines purpose and purpose creates value.

Yet for others, this lockdown is a golden opportunity to reinvent themselves like the proverbial eagle. One will usually not go into hibernation willingly, but nature holds the ace card and has conspired with Covid-19 to render one impotent in the things one love to do most. Many have yearned for an opportunity where the world shuts down so they can hear themselves think. Boom! They have it and they are maximizing the opportunity. It's all about perspectives. 

During these weeks when the world has literally shutdown, what is your perspective about your self isolation at home? In prison, fattening room or prayer room? This is an opportunity to do that one thing, you have not had the time to do all these years. Read a book, write a book, woo your spouse all over again, bond with your family or refire your spiritual life. Whatever it is, please don't be the prisoner in the fattening room. This Easter day is a reminder that with the right perspective, Jesus endured isolation on earth that we all might be saved. Hebrews 12:2 says 'Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.' Endure this lockdown knowing that your positive perspective to any situation creates value.

Happy Easter.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

Saturday 4 April 2020

No Fooling around with Covid-19

I was thinking this morning..... about last Wednesday. I woke up early that day, 1st April and sat up on the bed, feeling refreshed. I thought of my itinerary for the day, racking my brain and thinking of all the places I will be visiting that day. The long list gave me a sense of urgency to quickly get off the bed. As part of my plan for the day, I will be visiting the bathroom, kitchen, balcony, sitting room, boys room, the food store and the backyard, all within the 450sqm my building is sitting on. For a split second, I shook myself wondering if all was well with me considering my strange list. The day was April 1, so my mind must be playing tricks on me. But it dawned on me that being locked down in my house for weeks like a rogue politician under house arrest, is no April Fool.

I said my prayers and turned on the TV, it was set on CNN. For seconds running into minutes, my eyes were glued to the static highlights and scrollbar showing that close to 900,000 people across the world are infected with Coronavirus, 44,000 dead, economies shutdown and gloom everywhere as a result of the pandemic. I immediately switched channel to Sky News, then to BBC and then Al Jazeera, it was the same story of doom. What is happening? Could this be the apocalypse we have read and heard about? Or are my eyes playing tricks on me? No, it can't be, I encouraged myself. Oh, today is April 1, so it must be the media playing pranks, or so I thought. Alas, I quickly realized that the damage being caused by Covid-19 is the new reality and it is no April Fool.

I was calm all day reflecting on the different conspiracy theories and how the world found itself in this predicament. As the clock ticked and it got to 4pm, my spirit man came alive as I remembered that it was Wednesday. I must get dressed and set out for the midweek communion service. I am always so glad to be with the brethren in fellowship. But no, I cannot go to church today, because we are on lockdown. I must stay indoors and join the service online. I never thought there will ever be a time when we cannot gather in church for public worship. The government must be playing pranks on us. But no, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our social life is no April Fool.

April Fool's Day is an annual custom by some on April 1 consisting of practical jokes and hoaxes. Jokesters often expose their actions by shouting "April fool" at the recipient. I still wonder why any serious person will call another a fool as a joke. The Coronavirus pandemic is no laughing matter and these are certainly no times to fool around. Heed the directives of the authorities and practice personal hygiene to avoid 'stories that touch, like '2nd Samuel 3:33 that says 'And the king lamented over Abner, and said, should Abner die as a fool dies? Please stay home and pray because this too shall pass.

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey