Welcome to Armageddon!

In my several years of columning, I have not come across a situation where I would be at sea as to what to write about other than dwelling on the same issue(s). Repetitive commentaries have become a kind of ennui to me. And that is what the pandemic called Covid-19 has foisted on yours truly since its rampage gathered more speed a couple of days ago.

When I first commented on the plague in this space two weeks ago, describing it as the World War III, the number of those sickened by the ailment was a little over 300,000 globally with about 20,000 hurried to their early graves. As at the time of cobbling this piece together, the global statistics have accelerated to 1,030,600 cases and 54,100 dead.

For starters, there is a theory making the rounds on the social media that the entire world has been caught up in an economic war of supremacy between the United States of America and China with the latter employing biological arsenal (COVID-19) to bring the former down to its knees and the rest of the world flat on their bellies.

Those that propounded the theory have been wondering aloud why Beijing in particular, the capital of China, has been free of the COVID-19 onslaught, whereas the other capital cities of the world, from Washington to London, Rome to Teheran, Madrid to Paris, Berlin to Lisbon, New Delhi to Riyadh, Abuja to Accra, Pretoria to Cairo, Algiers to Abidjan have all been reeling under the relentless offensives of the plague, leaving in its wake frightening casualties. And no cure is in sight.

The argument is that why should China start the war with the United States from one of its most populous cities, Wuhan? Many Wuhanians were wasted by the cruel plague when it broke out. In any war situation, there must be casualties. No nation goes to war and expects its troops to return home as they went… unscathed. China has a population of over 1.1 billion. For a nation that knows next to nothing about God let alone fear Him, it can sacrifice a fraction of the population in an attempt to conquer the rest of the world, economically.

And what other weapon could be more potent to accomplish this misadventure other than COVID-19? It does not involve any deployment of arms and armaments. No fighter jets, no ground-to-air missiles, no APCs (not to be confused with the ruling political party in Nigeria). APC here means Armoured Personnel Carriers and no logistics palaver. The carriers of the deadly virus are the foot soldiers. It is a war you prosecute from the comfort of your bedroom. Simple! Chikena!

Right now, Wuhan is fast rising from the ashes of the war. The other parts of China are also on the rise again, its stock market is sneezing back to life, while the rest of the world, including the United States, is battling to save their citizens from total annihilation. Right now, over 245,500 Americans are sickened by the plague and over 6,000 are dead.

Overwhelmed by the cruel plague, the United States is shutting down on all fronts, while several palliative measures have been rolled out to ease the pressure being exerted on the people. In the United Kingdom, the British Government has also swung into action to ensure comfort for its citizens across the board in terms of palliatives while ordering them to stay at home and/or maintain the social distancing rule.

In Nigeria, government at the federal and state levels has also swung into action. Measures are being announced on daily basis to halt the dangerous march. Some states like Niger and Kaduna have imposed curfews. Others have shut their borders. Social and economic activities have been put on hold. All schools, low and high, have been dragged under lock and key till further notice. Market places, churches, mosques, etc., are not spared. Social distancing has become a sing-song. Any gatherings exceeding between 20 and 50 people are prohibited.

Both the federal and state governments have been outsmarting one another with precautionary measures against the pandemic. The most worrisome of the steps so far taken is the stay-at-home order (curfew) or partial lockdown as obtained in places like the United States and the United Kingdom.

On Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation on the grave situation and ordered a lockdown on Lagos state, the epicentre of the plague, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja and Ogun state to slow down the rampage. He then announced some palliatives aimed at cushioning the negative groundswells that  the lockdown would throw up, especially among those classified as the poor and vulnerable members of the society.

Consequently, the process of dishing out N20,000 conditional cash transfers to vulnerable Nigerians has been activated through the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. But many have questioned the methods employed to achieve the aim, describing it as selective or discriminative and fraught with fraud… especially in a cashless economy when such payments should have been made to individual accounts for proper accountability. What many are also advocating is that the government should go the extra mile by working out something across the board during the period.

Unfortunately for us, this is not the US or the UK where the government has palliatives or social welfare schemes for its citizens, including the jobless. The US, for instance, is shelling out over $2trn to its citizens to cushion the effects of the scourge. Hunger is worse than COVID-19 and can kill faster. Everyone is a responsibility of the state like the government “pikin” in the present circumstance. They are the helpless orphans.

For the kind of system that we run where the wealth of the country is cornered by a tiny clique, it is going to be every man or woman to himself or herself other than those caught by the safety net. Government at all levels is short in palliatives but tall in the stay-at- home order, leaving millions at the mercy of starvation which has been stalking the land long before the unseen army of Wuhan invaded the globe.

Government must do something fast about garrisoning people away from their means of livelihood because as it is said, survival is the first law of preservation. In Nigeria, many folks live by the day. If or when hunger begins to knock harder on the tummies, the citizens would become angry and resort to banging on people’s doors, asking for food/cash or their lives even in the daytime. As it is now, the end of the monstrosity is not in sight. It is not just enough to bombard the entire country with all manner of jingles and messages to educate the people on how to stay safe and alive but on empty tummies! If it gets to that level, no security folks can stop them.

One of the latest developments is the fleeing of the citizens of the European Union from Nigeria in droves. Over 600 of them have been flown out to their home countries ravaged by the plague. So far, less than 180 cases have been recorded in Nigeria with only two deaths and 10 people rescued from the plague. But in Europe, victims are marching to their early graves in hundreds on daily basis. You will be wondering whether it is not safer to be in Nigeria. The pandemic is like a falling sky where nowhere is safe! Although we should not lower our guards, the theory that hot climate is a waterloo for COVID-19 makes some sense. The Armageddon strives well in a temperate environment. I challenge the monster to dare Maiduguri, Lokoja, Gwagwalada, Kano, Yobe and such places with inclement weathers!

But wait a minute, have you noticed that since the pandemic came calling, there has been a downturn of criminal acts like kidnapping, armed banditry, farmer/herders clashes, etc.? Indeed, every dark cloud has its silver lining. I pray that by the time the pandemic is conquered, the criminal elements in our midst would have turned over a new leaf.

I did not hear a loud Amen. Is it because I did not say the prayer in a church?

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