FEATURE ARTICLE

Tuesday, June 9, 2020
amobipchuks@yahoo.com

COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

n the sea, when there is a threat of shipwreck, the ship captain and crew embark on jettisoning of some goods in order to avoid the sinking of the ship. During the process of jettison, valuable and costly goods are willfully thrown into the sea in order to save lives. Such is done because human life is more valuable than goods. It is only a foolish man that would prefer losing his life or the lives of others in the ship while saving the goods. Ethics and Moral Theology state that human life is a primary value.

It is quite obvious that human life has no duplicate. In a certain town, one foolish man went into a duplicating office to duplicate his life so that he may have a spare in case something terrible befalls him. There the order is first come, first served. When it was his turn, the lady on duty asked him, "Sir, what materials can I duplicate for you?" The foolish man smiled and replied, "Fine Lady, here I am. I want you to duplicate my life so that when one dies, the other will continue to live. Should I pull off my clothes before lying down on the duplicating machine?" The lady shook her head in disbelief and stated, "Sir, we do not embark on duplication of human beings here. We only duplicate documents." But the foolish man insisted, "Either you duplicate me now or I strangle you here and now. Make your choice. I am not here for a joke." The lady looked at him with mixed feelings and uttered, "Sir, wait a little. I am coming back to duplicate you as you wish." To avoid uncertainties she sneaked out of the office through the back door. After waiting endlessly, the foolish man forced himself into the inner chamber. He switched on the giant duplicating machine and sat on it to duplicate himself. Accidentally his finger touched a live wire and he was instantly electrocuted.

During a flight, the pilot often embarks on emergency landing when he senses immediate danger and a u-turn is impossible. In that case, the plane and the passengers may land to safety or to fatality. It can land in a forest, on a highway, on a field or in a sea. If it lands on a wild fire, then hellfire begins for the pilot, crew and passengers. By God's grace experienced pilots make good emergency landing.

The moral law states that where there are two unavoidable evils, one should choose the lesser evil. Purgatory is a lesser evil than hell. Jumping into water is a lesser evil than jumping into fire. Being crushed by a bicycle is a lesser evil than being crushed by a vehicle. Suffering from poverty is lesser evil than suffering from cancer. Being a tenant in heaven is better than being a landlord in hell. Being a useless person is better than madness. Staying unmarried is better than marrying a heartless husband or wife. Which is better: Having hopeless children or being childless? Suffering from terminal illness or being dead, which is preferable?

As the coronavirus pandemic was spreading like wildfire and killing people like fowls, many presidents and governors worldwide embarked on the process of total or partial lockdown of their countries or states, geared towards curtailing the spread of the infectious deadly disease. This involves the crippling of economic activities. Vehicular movement and movement of people are restricted. Only people on essential duties and those conveying essential commodities are allowed to pass after due checks. Markets are shut down. Schools remain closed. Even churches, mosques and places of worship are not spared. Everybody is ordered to stay at home to avoid contracting the deadly virus or infecting others. Curfew is imposed here and there. Regrettably we experienced in 2020 Easter Sunday empty tomb and empty church. Holy Masses and Church services were transmitted on-line, through television and radio. Physical Communion transformed into Spiritual Communion. Even after COVID-19 some lazy people may continue worshipping God through electronic means as alternative.

Hygienically, washing of hands with soap in running water several times, social distancing, wearing of face masks and avoiding crowded area became mandatory. Shaking of hands, hugging and kissing became taboo. Are married couples and lovers exempted from these? During this COVID-19 period, I went home and wanted to embrace my mother as usual, but she displayed a sort of rejection attitude. I stood confused and speechless for a while. Then I asked myself, "So my mother is suspecting me of carrying COVID-19?" Well, I do not blame her because cornonavirus is not written on the face and prevention is better than cure. Waving of hands, bowing and greeting elbow to elbow have become the order of the day. The stay-at-home order becomes a rule that must be obeyed by idle and busy minds. Johnny Walker must learn to stay at home this time. After experiencing the boredom of staying at home for days, a certain lonely man decided to climb a giant mango tree in his compound and moved from branch to branch for a long time. He came down late in the evening and shouted, "Yes, I am glad to have gone out today. Hurray! Hurray!! Hurray!!!!"

Positively, the stay-at-home order united many disorganized couples and their helpless children once more. Negatively, the men who have nagging wives did not find it easy. They locked themselves up in their private rooms, murmuring and dying in silence. A certain woman during the lockdown forced her stupid and drunkard husband into an empty room and locked him up for some days. While in the home correction centre he knocked at the door from time to time, shouting on top of his voice, "My wife, what have I done to you? Instead of locking me up, please lock me down!" What is the difference between lockup and lockdown? This is an urgent homework. A golden prize awaits the best answer.

In developed countries, the citizens are cared for by the government during lockdown. But in some underdeveloped and developing countries, the experience of lockdown is similar to the experience of hellfire. How can you lock down the people and their day to day economic and human activities without any provisions or palliatives? A hungry man is an angry man. It is clear that most people in Nigeria live from hand to mouth on daily basis. How can such people survive during lockdown? One of such men with a hungry wife and five hungry children ran mad during the lockdown. He pulled off his entire clothes and started behaving strangely. The next moment he started running up and down the street in complete nakedness. Today he is a fierce patient in chains in a psychiatric hospital. Who is to blame?

The Nigerian Federal and State governments tried their best in providing some palliatives during the lockdown. However, they were not enough to reach all and sundry. The population of Nigeria is over two million. Also our economy is in a mess. The oil price has fallen drastically. Even the little palliatives provided at federal and state levels were not shared equitably. The richer continues to become richer and the poorer getting poorer. I learned that the Federal Government released billions of Naira for the poorest of the poor during the unpleasant lockdown. The majority of the populace cannot explain how it was shared. Some states of the federation neither saw the money nor those sharing it to the poorest of the poor. Corruption in this country is endemic. Some of those fighting corruption are corrupt themselves. How can you give thieves money to keep or to share? A Hausa adage says, "Tafiya barawo ya yi hakan, ya sata." This means that any movement made by a thief is geared towards stealing.

Thank God the lockdown by the federal and state governments have been relaxed gradually. If it stays for a long time, corpses will litter streets and homes. The World Health Organization recently made it clear that coronavirus may not go entirely as we expect. Therefore we must learn to live with it as we learned to live with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Also the symptoms of Covid-19 and malaria are similar. For decades we have learnt to suffer happily from malaria, which is often fatal. Mosquitoes, which are the carriers, inhabit with us. They are now accommodated in our homes despite our resistance.

Even after transmitting the malaria virus into our blood system, they make shrill noise in our ears to inform us that they are done.

Sooner or later vaccines and drugs against coronavirus will be available to fight the pandemic. Who knows if another more deadly virus will appear in future? God forbid! The World Powers should now concentrate in building nuclear and atomic weapons that would destroy viruses and not human lives. Human life is sacred and must be protected always.

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