FEATURE ARTICLE

Wednesday, July 1, 2020
amobipchuks@yahoo.com

THE ERA OF CORONAVIRUS

n era is a long and distinct period of history. In other words, it is a period of time in which particular events happened. On my own side, I was ordained a priest during the 'Oso Abiola'era, when there was commotion in Lagos as a result of MKO Abiola's effort to reclaim his mandate in the annulled June 12, 1993 free and fair Presidential Election, which he allegedly won. The people residing in Lagos then envisaged that bloody violence would erupt. Life has no duplicate. Hence most non indigenes living in Lagos ran to their various homes with their families. The era ended when Abiola mysteriously died in prison on 7 July 1998. On the day I was ordained a priest on 5 September 1993, the church was filled to the brim as a result of the returnees from Lagos and other Yoruba states. When I enter heaven at the end of my sojourn on earth I shall discuss about the era with Abiola, if he is found there.

Few days ago, a newly married couple blessed with male twins came into my office to register them for infant baptism. The husband was carrying one of the twins while the wife was carrying the other. Immediately they came in, I saw happiness and sadness written on their faces. After exchange of greetings I offered them seats and enquired, "Please, what can I do for you?" The head of the family spoke, "Father, thank God with us for blessings us with two varied male twins during this era of coronavirus. We are here to register them for the forthcoming infant baptism in this parish." I expressed my gratitude to God for the safe delivery and double blessing just nine months after their wedding. Then I asked them the baptismal names they wish to give to the baby twins. The mother spoke this time. She said, "Father, looking at the faces of these twins, their names become quite simple and distinct. The one I am carrying should be called Cornelius because of his saintly face. But the one my husband is carrying is to be named Coronavirus because his entire face is infected by virus. On hearing the second name I shouted, "What did you say is the name of the other twin?" She repeated, "His name is Coronavirus. The virus sneaked into my womb and infected him seriously. Do you not see the virus all over his face?" I looked closely at the baby and saw mysterious red spots all over his face. Laughter was killing me inside but I controlled it for courtesy sake. I told them that the name Coronavirus is unchristian and unacceptable for baptism. But they insisted on it. I went further to ask, "Please what is the twin's native name? The father replied with sighs, "Obumneke." This means 'Am I the Creator?" This time the laughter in me burst out. The couple jointly interjected, "Father, it is not a laughing matter. Register the names of our babies as spelt out." I obliged and finally declared: "Papa and Mama Cornelius and Coronavirus, I have heard you. The twins belong to you. However, the scheduled infant baptism has been postponed till further notice." They left my office murmuring and confused.

Again, just last week I went into a popular supermarket in town to purchase some essential commodities against the current COVID-19. As soon I stepped in, a strange incident happened. A strange man putting on a fearful face mask with only his eyes visible suddenly came into the supermarket. He was also wearing red trouser and red shirt bearing on the front and back large drawing of human skull and two crossed skeleton of the pectoral limbs with the inscription: 'CORONAVIRUS ON THE MOVE.' Instantly pandemonium broke out in the supermarket. The manager, accountant, security man and sales girls ran helter-skelter. They all disappeared through the back door. I made the Sign of the Cross and also disappeared through the same back door because life has no duplicate. After about two hours of hiding, we came back ready for any further eventuality. The manager went round the supermarket shelves and discovered that the strange human coronavirus stole many food items and took to his heels. An alarm was raised. Three days later he was caught by some red-eyed policemen in another supermarket. On interrogation he confessed that it was hunger that pushed him into coronavirus camouflage crime. Please shine your eyes during this era of coronavirus.

In a similar crime, a group of miscreants painted an 18-seater bus with fearful red colour and used it for interstate robbery. On both sides of the bus was written in bold letters: "Beware! Coronavirus patients are on transit." Whenever they stop at police or military checkpoint, the policemen or soldiers on duty would abandon their rifles and run into nearby forest. Then the robbers would pick up the riffles and drive away. A journalist interviewed one of the runaway policemen on duty and he said, "My brother, life has no duplicate. Will you train my children at home for me? It is better for the coronavirus patients to drive away unchecked than for me to lose my life to the dangerous and infectious virus.

Many strange things and crimes are happening during this coronavirus era. Theft, armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion and cyber crimes are on the increase. In the midst of the current economic hardship, miscreants have emptied the bank accounts of unsuspecting victims. They call the account owners on phone and give them true details of their accounts. Then they demand from the account owner to supply them some information. Immediately the information is received by them, the money in the victim's bank account would be cleared. A certain man ran mental immediately he got the alert of debit of his entire money in the bank by the miscreants. Please be alert. Never give anyone details of your bank account. If you have any problem with your account, go to your bank in person.

The World Health Organization protocol against COVID-19 abhors close contact, kissing, hugging and shaking of hands during this era. Sadly, rape is on the increase now than never. Some of the rape victims were raped and brutally murdered in cold blood. It has also been envisaged that millions of girls all over the globe will not go back to school after the coronavirus era. This is because some of them have been put in the family way due to idleness and bad company as a result of closure of schools. Others have been untimely married off.

Are you aware that the numbers of people who are dying of other diseases in Nigeria today are more than those who die of coronavirus? Even many have died from hunger, anxiety, loss of job and uncertainties. It is said that coronavirus is not a death sentence but the tension arising from its outbreak has become a death sentence. It is high time we managed living with it than to live in fear of its contagion. Who can tell us when the coronavirus era will end?

The last has not been heard. Many Corolla car owners are losing sleep nowadays because of coronavirus disease. The 'coro' in Corolla has become fearful. Hence some Corolla car drivers are disposing them off. Some remove the Corolla iron tag entirely. Someone removed his own Corolla tag and replaced it with Comic. Most of the Corolla cars are marked for sale in the market. A passerby saw one of them marked boldly with this inscription on cardboard paper: FOR SALE. He spat thrice and shouted, "God forbid! Who will see deadly virus and buy?" Please if you are afraid of using your Corolla vehicle, kindly offer it to me. It will be useful for service in the Lord's Vineyard because Jesus Christ is greater than coronavirus. If you believe it, shout Amen!

Since the outbreak of the infectious coronavirus in late 2019, the world has not been the same again. Things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold. Where is Chinua Achebe? The world economies have fallen. Hunger is mesmerizing numerous families worldwide. Even though government at different levels, groups and individuals are sharing palliatives, yet the hunger persists. A certain couple, dying of famine, decided to kill their only 2-year child for meat. As they were eating the meat, a ghost in form of a child appeared and struck them dead there and then.

The coronavirus era has witnessed the shutdown of churches and mosques. As an invisible demon, the coronavirus has attacked the spiritual nerves of humanity by the closure of worship centers where we ought to have assembled in small groups and pray communally against the satanic virus. Satan has thereby triumphed. Prayer is the most powerful instrument against coronavirus pandemic disease. Mere observance of World Health Organization's recommended protocols are not enough. They have only external effects. But prayer fights the demon from within. Coronavirus is more of obsession than possession. Therefore it must be fought spiritually through ardent prayers.

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