Gbenro Olajuyigbe

‘No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its power of acting and reasoning as fear.’ –Edmund Burke

It’s a time for hostage. Each one, its game! For COVID-19, It’s game of death.For those bare handedly but brutally fighting COVID-19, it’s game of grafts. Hunger and anger for the poor and vulnerable locked in to give way for COVID-19 to pass! COVID-19 is a tyrant! The only difference between it and those pretending to be fighting it is that it is invisible; killer without gun or pen! What is obvious and certain is that both are indescribably cruel! Even in humanitarian contexts, de-humanization of response continues. COVID -19kills! Hunger kills; even security agents! We must fight COVID with equal strength we expend on fighting tyrants. We cannot make ‘new normal’ out of a tragedy. Mouths and nostrils of human are not created to be masked. That’s slavery! That’s tyranny.

Humanity must defeat this new dictator called COVID. We must because even in humanitarian contexts, humanization is not a policy word in Nigeria. Power backed brutality has made it a strange concept; both in practice and in tradition. COVID, a bad viral infection with fangs of tyranny that got people locked down in their homes approximates Nigeria’s rulers’ notion of power.

Armed with tools of COVID, they expanded the base of their own tyrannical rules; and like devil, moved to town with power, to steal, to kill and to destroy. They adored it and it sits well with their power philistinism. Democratic tyrants!

Nevertheless, three tangible dicta shape democracy – Supremacy of law, Equality before law and Civil Liberty. These are ingredients that define Rule of Law.Power must use laws to construct the road to justice and justice must compel power to thread on road constructed by law. Powerful primitives with unfettered freedom are now disrupting democratic balance, uprooting laws and stabbing justice. Like the circus Prophet of Onitsha, they are the law, the war and the COVID. They are the raw rod that afflict their peoples and bruising the nose of humanity.

Democracy is about taking lawful collective decisions that ultimately benefits society. It never envisions picture of omnipotent rulers becoming the law, the accuser, the jury and the jailer. In spite of laws, we present society of powerful rulers that battle for power only to end up as captives of power. These are rulers who get to power by laws only to discard the same laws in pursuit of dangerous expansion of political authority that was never conferred on them. They run against inherent boundaries set by constitution and assume imperial kingship status with full force of brute to dismantle tripod of rule of law and command enforcement of rule of thumb!

The crisis of our democracy is in its contradictions. Rather than limiting governmental power and expanding citizen’s rights and power it continues to shrink spaces for engagements, empowerment and even citizenship. This has pushed people to overcrowded space of frustration, anger, latent and manifest revolts that have ended up preparing crimes for people to commit; people resulting to self-help because of crippled democracy and amputated justice.

In one of the ugly incidences, i pitiably watched a periwinkle bleeding from his shell inflicted injury after illegally destroying properties of some persons in the name of fighting COVID-19. A cup of rivers was needed to prevent his suffocation from abyss gas of arrogant megalomania and impudent lies on television trying to justify his intoxication with power after a backlash. What a strikingly smelly bratty mediocre of Port Harcourt I saw that day!

Yes, I can confirm that COVID-19 is real, but I cannot deny the scam it has become in the hands of subterranean looters in high places, who pretend to be fighting it but will later appear on pages of crime in a lawful clime. He became a champion of the ignorant. He could not impress me. I knew clearly that he and most of his peers were riotously occupying the space for effective national response incompetently abandoned by those who have responsibility to act. All is not bad about him.

He had the agility of youth. He does not have the power of restraint. His is absolute power; and power without control is deadlier than COVID-19. Only agile competent capable youth with strength of character can effectively replace the slow paced gerontocrats that have reined power from us.

It is a dangerous disease of change to have allowed the past invade our lives inform of gerontocracy. Old ideas no longer drive wheel of development. Worse if the driver is old too.

A banana tree that could not protect us against rain when it was young will not save us from sun smite when old. A nation that walks into the past to recruit its ruler should not blame that ruler for going into the past to source his aides. The coven of wizards is stationary and dragons know where to swim in pool of blood. If the head is good we won’t be discussing the tail .

Cow tail will not give you nutrients that cow head can’t offer! It’s only in deadly tsetse fly infested land that tail wags the head! Where things are normal, head wags tail! New technology is the new block of development. Any country that raises its soldiers from old pool will not win the war!
Our rulers are spoiled children. Our people, wallowing in opium of religion and fatal indolence made them to believe that even if they don’t perform their duties, God will do them.

God has become canon folder for timidity and stupidity of mass of people who willingly surrender their rights to be transparently and accountably governed to rudderless rulers who know neither the price of progress nor value of honor. Rulers feast on Nigeria. The nation has become their cash cow. More tragic is that the people continue to empower their reckless rulers with their own morbid ignorance and unconscionable indolence.

No virus question gets answered without laboratory just as no any civilization advances without conflict. Actions and reactions of leaders around the world transcend immediate fire brigade and poorly coordinated national and sub-national responses in our clime. They go into probable and possible future that promote functional science and technology, embrace imperativeness of preparedness supported humanitarian actions as well as comprehensive acts that treat risk reduction and emergency response as cardinal duties of government.

A government that fails to provide functional health infrastructures with easy process of access has not only expanded boundary of risk, it has increased vulnerability and possibly endangers recovery. This must cut deeper because development is an eco-system. It is not possible to have functional health facilities without having functional educational and research institutions whose graduates and bye products will become raw materials that will oiled the sector. Decent and competent leaders will emerge from functional schools. Every revolution starts from school. You can’t be clapping for those on the Frontline of public health emergency response while hurting the teachers that produce the soldiers. In the end, every nation is a reflection of her education

Virus-dazed rulers who result to act of brutality to pretend to be responding to emergency should not be allowed to design a new order for us. A more significant effort to define our future must be stretched to how we recruit our ‘leaders’. Election is a critical part of development ecosystem. The will to swiftly change our perception of governance and politics is sine qua non!

Nobody is doing you a favor by governing you. People is the center piece of democracy, civil liberty is its pedal. No society on path of civilization will glibly verbalize rights and liberty in democracy without citizens actualizing them, more so in the eye of humanitarian storms created by virulent virus. It is bad to allow tyranny to flourish. It is even much more irresponsible to allow tyrant of any species strip you naked, in market place of virus, where COVID-19 is being fought fraudulently, by phantasmagoria privileged primitives!

•Olajuyigbe is the Executive Director of Emergency and Risk Alert Initiative.


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