BY Jejeniwa Olamilekan
I had a very rough childhood and my entire community can testify to that. Think of any atrocities a child can commit, I have done it. Many times, I have even brought handouts of my wahala to my parents and my disciplinarian mother whipped me every time. I got used to the whippings so much that I’ll brace up for them each time I know of a report that is waiting for me. My stubbornness was at its peak and till this present time, I am haunted by some memories of my old days. Funny but true. Some people in my community who bore witness to that time calls me by the different nicknames I was given that time, many of who I always avoid to meet. Well, even though I was incorrigible, I didn’t lose my values and faith in some things.
I remember the old Barrister song that my father listens to back then. “Democracy welcome to Nigeria – Democracy welcome to Nigeria – We are happy – We are happy – Democracy welcome to Nigeria – Omo Nàìjíríyà emà kú isé o…” I would dance a robotic choreography each time I listen to the first few lines of the song as the beat that ushers in these statements always turn me on. Also, King Sunny Ade in one of his premitive songs intensified on Nigeria’s need for unity with this song; “Nàìjíríyà yíí ti gbogbo wa ni – koma gbódo bàjé – torí kòsí ìbò míràn tí a lèloo – gbe kéèmi gbe…. and we’ll dance joyfully. Only the indomie generation will not remember these songs. Having grown listening to these songs, I was rooted to become a good citizen and not give up on Nigeria.
However, with all these spirited rush, who would have thought that one day, we will all bear witness to our nation’s President who in a national address would openly give up on his countrymen. This trying time had called for it. The national address of President Mohammadu Buhari of Monday 27th April marks a new beginning for every thoughtful Nigerian. The confusion shown by the first citizen in his speech reminded me of who I used to be; how easily I would up on things that matters to me just because they would not come easy.
We are at a crossroad, all leading to an abyss. The Covid-19 pandemic have in less than two months brought Nigeria to its knees. Omí ti tèyìn wògbín lénu o, àsírí orò ajé ilè waa titú. Kásàà, àsé nkan le padà rí báyìí. Wájú ò séélo, èyìn ò sé padàsí; ìbèrù bojo ti gbalè kaan. Nkan ti dàrú, eku oò ké bí eku mo – eiye ò ké bí eiye mo – kódà, omo ènìyàn o fohùn bi ènìyàn mó. Óti wá súmi. English Language cannot succinctly express how downtrodden I feel right now. It came as a shock to me to have my hope in the Federal Government taken away just like that. I know Nigeria is weak but I didn’t know she’s this weak. President Buhari’s April 27th national telecast shows Nigeria’s weakness and helplessness.
By implication, President Mohammadu Buhari have given up on Nigerians. The ground implication of the idea of gradual easement of lockdown he presented in his speech shows the Federal Government have lost its grip on the situation. They taught they could but now they have learnt of the civil unrest that would arise should they not add lubricants in-between the frictional surfaces; a lubricant which by indication the Federal Government of Nigeria do not possess, considering its eventual large-scale need.
It is noteworthy to state that this forthcoming gradual easement of lockdown nullifies every effort already put-out to keep Nigerians indoor till that day; to contain the spread of the virus. This means many like me who have kept a somewhat “Gurumaraji” moustache as a result of fear of going for haircut, have only sacrificed our goodlooks in vain. This decision also waste the sacrifices of families who had experienced a reduced ration and many more who tolerated hunger in fear of contracting the virus.
President Muhammadu Buhari made the decision to start gradual easement of lockdown in many states of the federation because he has lost his grip on maintaining Nigeria and Nigerians during this period of Covid-19 pandemic. This is coming from a President who announced a total lockdown when it recorded less than hundred Covid-19 cases but will gradually relax the lockdown when her cases is significantly above a thousand and figures still climbing fast. President Buhari must have realised that Nigeria’s internal economic reserve and policies cannot keep it sane for two months of wild insanity.
Hitherto, if keeping Nigerians indoors could not contain the already recorded Covid-19 cases from jumping from 323 to 1,273 within two weeks, imagine what will happen as from May 4 when modulated economic normalcy will is returned as the proposed gradual easement of lockdown takes effect.
It is no gainsaying to affirm that there is hunger in the land. The poorest of the poor who are the most vulnerable are going crazy. There are reports that palliatives here and there did not reach the ones who needed them the most. Nothing works properly in Nigeria and the distribution of palliatives was not different. There were reports of unequal share of relief packages across the nation and fingers are being pointed to the North, and again! The masses have complained and even the “well-informed” President Mohammadu Buhari knows the civil unrest that will rise should he extend the lockdown. Now he has made his decision, he is living us for death. Rather than him having to deal with mass civil unrest, he’d rather allow the virus spread and fill up the three thousand capacity isolation centres nationwide with millions of Nigerians who one day will be forced to buy Life; doctors on the other hand will get to choose who lives and who is left to die. It is a tough choice but Buhari has made his call.
President Buhari has given up on all of us as a broke Nigeria can no longer save its citizens. Today, four hundred and fifty naira is exchanged for one American dollar (#450 – $1) and Crude oil now sells for $1 per barrel. Nigeria’s economy is down and the next Federal Allocation will not be enough for neither Federal or State Governments to pay salaries. Covid-19 has brought Nigeria to its knees and her vulnerable citizens have been sentenced to Death.
In his address, he mentioned that some businesses will during the period of modulated easement of lockdown be allowed to operate but did not tell us the modalities by which these businesses will be selected. Rather, he is imposing dusk to dawn curfew which clinically will have no effect in containing the ravaging pandemic. Also, non-essential interstate travels will not be allowed but still, new people will get to contract the virus from those who had travelled into their locale essentially. Only a confused President could have said these things not minding the holistic implication.
If a cure is not produced and admistered soon, no one will be able to sleep (neither the rich nor the poor) and our Nigeria may lose her hard-earned sovereignty. When this phase unfolds, the songs of Barrister and KSA amongst others would have been long forgotten. Until then, I shall remain a Nigerian on a death sentence.
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©Jejeniwa Olamilekan Samson
♧A Graduate of Mass Communication from The Federal Polytechnic Offa, Kwara State.