By Sylvester Odion Akhaine
The Lord has spoken. The fire is lit on the mountain and everyone is on the run. Those who bestrode the world yesterday like colossi are themselves seeking hiding places. Peter Tosh, one of the prophets of the Rastafarian sect, warned us in his Downpressor Man, there is nowhere to run on judgment day. If they run to the sea, the sea will be boiling; if they run to the rock, the rock will be melting. No hiding places for our oppressors. The rulers in our country as Claude Ake once argued have no development on the agenda. To them, governance is equal to looting of the commonwealth. Their ego, conceit and hubris have all been hobbled by the invisible debris known to science as virus and famed by its atrocious conquest of humans as Coronavirus disease discovered in 2019 (COVID 19).
The debris which ails the world is somewhat like the famous origin of the Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS): From apes to man. Corona virus is a new strain caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS COV-2). And according to experts, it jumped from animals to affect humans. Its gene expression is Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) and was not supposed to affect humans with Deoxyribonuclcleic Acid (DNA) profile.
But it has the capacity to bifurcate the DNA into two RNAs and therefore able to multiply by destroying more of human cells. As an envelope virus, it is able to hedge off the human antibodies. Although no ultimate cure has been found, there have been clinical trials of cocktails. Head of the Russian Federal Medical Biomedical Agency, Veronika Skvortsova announced the wonders of Mefloquine. Combined with antibiotics, it produces maximum effect, allowing increase in the concentration of antiviral agents in blood plasma and lungs. For the French, the remedy is Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.
Globally, the virus has affected circa 669,312 and mortality rate is put at 30,864. Unless toppled by human inventions and innovations, the number will soar. A vaccine takes months or a year at least to produce and given the multiple strains of the virus, the only remedy lies in social distancing, continual testing and unhindered supply of respirators. In our country, the present tally is 111 and we are still counting with less than five testing centres, the future looks ill.
Earthmen in its bid to unravel, in other words, to understand the dialectics of the virus have resurrected the philosophical debate: idealism versus materialism. Idealism is the belief in the apriori existence of things irrespective of their objective manifestation while materialism espouses the primacy of nature, i.e., “objective reality given to us in sensation”.
There is the interesting astrological interpretation of the pestilence by the 14-year old Abighya Anand, who asserts that Mars will conjunct with Saturn and Jupiter (three powerful planets on the outer ring of the solar system and whose alignment bears on earth) while the Moon and Rahu (northern node), will also conjunct. The Moon is the “planet of watery spreading” while Rahu is the “communicator planet”. The conjunction will lead to watery spreading with a corresponding increase in coughing and sneezing. March 31st is the deal-day for the climax of the COVID19. Thereafter, this planetary alignment will shift and become more favourable to cure.
In a related analogy, Dr. Thomas Cowan in his, Virus et Electrification de la terre, argued that the cause of the virus is as a result of the quantum leap in the electrification of the earth since humans are electrical beings, the chemicals are only the by-products of the electric impulses. It is plausible with the earth clogged with radiation emitting satellites and electro-magnetic radio waves. Some argued these fall within the sphere of conspiracy theory. There is geopolitics to understanding what hit the world. It is alleged that biological warfare is going on between the United States and China.
In an article titled “Promoting the National Interest”, Foreign Affairs of January 1, 2000, Condoleezza Rice stressed the need for the US to ensure that China never rises to the super status and every step must be taken to bring China down. Convincing is the narrative that the US used the Wuhan military games to deliver the virus into China and the Chinese intelligence uncovering what had happened, re-engineered the virus and delivered to US and its allies in Europe. These have the trappings of conspiracy theory as well as objectivity.
There is the loud dominant idealistic voice that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore, we should ask God for forgiveness. The way a small virus has driven every one into the inner recesses of their bedroom should convince one that we are mere mortals watched over by a transcendental being, Osanobua, in other words, God. An unrelenting materialist perspective would argue that those things we call spirit are actually forms of existence of matter. The dialectical essence of things in nature is such that we reap what we sow and earth men are merely reaping the consequences of what they have sown by their unconscionable assault on nature.
Nigeria is part of the global party of sinners. Its sins are multitude. As observed elsewhere, the rulers have so devalued life that dead bodies are begging to be picked from the streets for burial. We killed human beings in rituals for money; we manufacture fake drugs for money; we kidnap for ransom. We sleep with people’s wives for fun. Those saddled with the running of the affairs of the state take the country as their colony. They loot public funds and invest them in the United Arab Emirate; they purchase golf courses in England and Island. British supermarkets have learnt, in some cases, to hire speakers of Nigerian languages to pander to the tastes of the looters of our national resources. They frolic in adultery and product of malt and barley. Twenty-two years after, the money one of them stole is still being recovered from foreign vaults.
In its current complexion, this class minds genocidal exploits of herdsmen who between 2016 and 2018 alone killed about 3600 innocent Nigerians. The killers are even being rewarded by payoffs. Also in league with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, Boko Haram is ravaging elements of the Nigerian army in a war some have called ATM machine.
For this set of rulers, self-interest takes precedence over public good. They do not care about education neither do they care about the health sector or hospitals they once qualified as “consulting clinics”, now mortuaries. An Octogenarian and past leader of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Edmundson Thompson Akpabio said recently, “The NMA under my leadership did everything possible to persuade the government to see the need to give a little more attention to improve the grossly inadequate Health Care System in Nigeria.
All our pleas fell on deaf ears. In the argument that followed. NMA was proscribed, the entire leadership of the NMA, including yours truly, was hunted down even in the streets like rabbits, including our younger-than-teenage children, arrested and clamped into solitary detention under inhuman conditions with occasional torture for six months.” Dr Philip Idaewor who was working in the UK about the time I was a doctoral student at the University of London told me that the medical equipment in Nigeria at the turn of the century was exactly what the British transited from in the 1970s. Indeed, no one cared about tomorrow.
If you quantify our sins as humans one would actually exclaim that God has been merciful that He waited this long to exact His pound of flesh. Just a few days ago, the Nigeria Academy of Science (NAS) called for a national lockdown since “the disease has invaded the highest level of our government and is threatening our national security.” A social media posting is more appropriate: “the corona virus is carefully picking its targets one by one in Nigeria. It’s like it is fighting corruption more than EFCC”. It is judgment day for the crop of rulers running the country who denied tomorrow; who as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti put it sow “sorrows, tears and blood”—“their regular trademark”.
Akhaine is a Professor of Political Science at the Lagos State University.