By Hannu Afere

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It is the weekend and you can tell by what’s playing on TV or on the radio.
It is interesting to note however, that quite unlike a typical Lagos Saturday or Sunday, the streets are completely devoid of Owambes, of the honking of vehicles, the megaphones of evangelists or the muezzins of mosques. Even the children playing football in front of their compounds are muted.
It is quite obvious that, at least in the metropolis, the new Coronavirus is a present danger everyone is aware of.

In an earlier article for Ajispeaks.com, I wrote that the level of awareness amongst the hoi polloi was not that high, but perhaps I spoke too soon.
Never mind Prophet TB Joshua’s latest gaffe—that the virus will be gone by the 27th of March. Never mind the insensitivity of Pastor Adeboye’s videos basically claiming that only unbelievers will be casualties of the pandemic. Never mind the conspiracy theories of Apostle Suleman or the ones spun by our favorite jerry-curl prophet, Pastor Chris. As far as I can see, everyone is wearing face-masks and refusing to shake hands.

This morning, as I venture out towards the ‘Love Lagos’ Jetty on a jog, I am surprised to the see the entire area desolate—like the rapture had happened and no one told me about it. For context, this is a relaxation spot favored by the young and hip, featured at one point in an Olamide Baddo music video. At any given time of the day, it has at least fifty to seventy young bodies, milling about, pepper-souping and suyaing or gyrating to the trending tunes blasted from loudspeakers.

An older woman, who, to my hearing over the phone, bemoans the implication of the situation for her pastries business makes me sad. Another woman trying to console her in Yoruba says she also sells perishable food items but because of the closure of businesses, she and her children will be forced to eat all the food at home.
At my favorite roasted chicken spot, the Hausa guy is conspicuously missing and so is the aroma of the delicacy he sells. We have all been told to stay at home, to work from home, without stimulus packages or even electricity in some areas, what happens when all the food we’ve managed to set aside finishes?

In his speech to his employers, the President His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari stated that his administration will be implementing ‘international best practices but adapting them to suit our unique local circumstances.’ That may be his intention, but so far we see nothing of the sort.
What we see instead are videos on WhatsApp, of military personnel taking advantage of the ban to flog, maltreat and humiliate real or perceived offenders. To avoid being punished, you allegedly have to pay a fee. There is one video of a uniformed fellow singing rather drunkenly ‘Koro, koro, korona why you do laidis e’ while having a middle aged man kneel in front of him with his hands raised.

Trust the Task Force, give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. Vestiges of the military regimes of the 80s and 90s. While they can’t wait to return to the days when they were gods, we can’t wait to see the back of this virus.
Some days, I am tempted to borrow a leaf from Prophet Odumeje’s book questioning the thing ‘Who bring you? How do you exist? How do form? Where do you come from? Who born—who you?’ This is a reference to a video making rounds from the stables of the Mountain of Holy Ghost Intervention and Deliverance Ministry Incorporated aka Land of Freedom skipper. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It is premium comedy material. Honestly, why pay two thousand naira to go see the latest poorly thought out A.Y movie flick, when you can just watch this fellow’s services free? Well, you’ll still have to pay tithes and offerings, but at least you’ll have a good laugh.
He break dances, wrestles and kung-fus his way through deliverance sessions and threatens his enemies (real or perceived) with Yahweh’s wrath straight from the Old Testament. Why is he not channeling his energies to combating this virus? His arrogance and mendacity is second to none—can only be imitated by a juvenile high on crack cocaine.

Elsewhere, the response of religious fanatics to the lockdown is to foment trouble and burn police stations to the ground. In Kano where an Imam stood his ground and refused to open his mosque for prayers in obedience the instructions of the NCDC, he was mocked and called a betrayer of the faith.
Why is the first response of religious people (in any conflict,) a need to physically defend and fight for a spiritual, All-powerful being? Is this not the same entity who used one angel to wipe out legions of the Assyrian army in one night? Is this not the same Omnipotence responsible for providing accommodation for Jonah in the belly of a whale? Why is it so difficult for religious nuts to realize that right now the NCDC is not the problem—the real enemy is the new Coronavirus. And it will not hesitate to sweep us all away if we don’t take it seriously Bible believer or not, Quran believer or not!

In Yaba, where the Mainland (formerly known as Infectious Disease) Hospital is located, there is a certain degree of calmness in the air. There are a few private cars here and there, but as far as I can see no Okada. Bolt, the e-cab hailing app, is busy and I wonder why that is so. I get my answer when I look at the bottom of the screen: ‘Prices currently higher due to surge.’

Apparently the same rules do not apply to all of us.

 

Hannu Afere (c) 2020