✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters

Revise that draconian COVID-19 law

I am a COVID-19 compliant individual. Nobody understands the dilemma associated with breathing better than an asthmatic. In our crises in the abundance of free…

I am a COVID-19 compliant individual. Nobody understands the dilemma associated with breathing better than an asthmatic. In our crises in the abundance of free oxygen, an asthmatic is completely misunderstood by others. He gasps for the air that others take for granted. If help does not come early, he dies needlessly. To avoid this, the asthmatic must first be aware of his or her situation and convert those around him to rally in a crisis situation.

Asthma is managed with a variety of medications, all of which have side effects. But you need to stay alive first before worrying about side effects, same with the arguments against COVID-19 vaccination. To those with no problems breathing, this simple narrative could be taken for granted. Now, I am not equating COVID-19 with asthma. I am just drawing allusions.

Governments all over the world have no luxury of politicking on COVID-19, from the initial shock to scepticism they moved on to following the science. They impose mask wearing on their citizens and, to prevent annihilation, they subscribed to global COVID-19  survival protocols. They have no choice and it is not an easy road for many of them.

This is why it is not easy to observe that the recent presidential directive on compliance with COVID-19  protocols signed by President Muhammadu Buhari is totally wrong. The Buhari administration knows it has done almost nothing to upgrade the standard of basic healthcare in Nigeria. Our people fed on the dogma of religion deny the science and except care is taken we are prone to die needlessly.

However, jail terms for non-compliance to COVID-19 protocols is overkill. In normal climes, our jails (now absurdly called reform centres) are the worst in the world. Every time a camera is focused on the inside of a Nigerian prison, it reminds of scenes from the holocaust. Human skeletons barely able to stand, cramped in dingy and clammy conditions where inmates take turns to breathe through a hole and often come out with tuberculosis and other lung or bronchial infections – the Nigerian prison is a sad reason to not sentence anyone to prison in the first instance.

It is the 21st Century equivalent of a holding hall for the Holocaust gas chamber. It does not qualify as a pigsty, but then we do not talk a lot about it because when a camera is focused on some tenements in Nigeria, the only difference is the relative freedom of residents to go and come as they could. If loyal citizens are robbed of their God-given rights to quality life, what happens to those incarcerated?

According to the science, not everybody can wear a mask. Everywhere, medical exceptions are made. Nigeria should be no different. In a country where 80 per cent  depend on daily going out to eke a living, it is criminal to expect everyone to wear a mask and to impose jail terms for non-compliance. We should at best impose fines. Protocol compliance should reflect the proverbial milk of human kindness.

President Buhari should issue an amendment if the lessons learnt from the #EndSARS protests are anything to learn from. There should be no task force to enforce this because it would be abused. Laws should not criminalise rules that should be enforced with moralsuassion.

 Still on the herdsmen debacle

These are frighteningly interesting times to be a Nigerian. For one, our contraption of a nation has revealed fault lines and why we are here.

Like their Biafran agitator- counterparts, the Yoruba nation has threatened to hoist the Odùduwà flag except its demands are met. They want the Fulani out, but have not banned the sale of beef. In drawing the prospective map of their dream empire, they have expanded territories to spots that are questionable at best. That usually happens when opportunistic elites draw maps to expand their potential spheres of influence. Everyone within the scope of their view is fair game. Future cartographers should do better than their colonial predecessors in carving out nations if Nigeria ever splinters or the attendant wars would never end.

When Babafemi Ojudu wrote his encounter with Sunday Adeyemo Igboho, the beloved new generalissimo of the Yoruba nation, his kinsmen called him names and called for his head. They tagged him a greedy and grabby elite who has done nothing for his constituents. All hail the faultless Adeyemo, beloved generalissimo of the Yoruba nation.

I am not a spokesman for Babafemi Ojudu. I think the respected man of letters and politics is able to defend himself. A big question is – who burnt Igboho’s Ibadan house? Herdsmen?

There is something curious in the many rejoinders to Ojudu’s encounter note a poignant one of which is the fact that Mr Adeyemo is a veteran of Yoruba internecine wars. He does not deny earning his chevrons from the Ife-Modakeke war – a war in which the Yoruba fought their own kin. A generalissimo from that kind of war is a curious hero to behold.

This curia opens our minds to why every patriot must work on the reform of this Lugard contraption rather than tear it apart. The Ife and the Modakeke have sheathed their swords – perhaps as a result of battle fatigue. Let us hope it remains so.

What is evident is that even in an Oduduwa nation, things could still fall apart and brothers could still take up arms against brothers. That should be said of every aspiring republic hoping to sever itself from present-day Nigeria. We remember the war of attrition between the Umuleri and Aguleri in present Igboland, or to borrow a popular brand – Biafra.

We should not forget the eternal strife between the Tiv and the Jukun of Benue and Taraba states in the North Central or Middle. The idea that once we have a confederation or split into sub-nationalities, our troubles would be over is not supported either by logic or history. They had such rhetoric in Sudan before the creation of Southern Sudan exacerbated the internal strife between the Dinka, the Nuer, the Shulluk, the Bari and the Zande. Ethnic jingoists – beware!