…On COVID-19: Time to rally round humanity
By Adesina Wahab
Olugbo of Ugboland, Oba Frederick Akinrutan, appears to have renewed his position that he is the number one monarch in the South-West region, as he says the issue of supremacy has been settled in his favour. Akinrutan also speaks on Covid-19.
As a major player in the oil and gas industry, are you not concerned about the survival of the sector in the face of COVID-19?
Yes, I am concerned. I am concerned about the fact that the current prices of oil in the international market cannot even sustain the cost of production. I am concerned that almost all the consumer-countries of the world are on lockdown. I am concerned that consumers, local and international industries, are not working.
I am concerned that the aviation industry, also a major consumer of oil and gas, is down. There is also a restriction on human economic activities globally. Is that not a great concern? Recently, the DG of LCCI, Dr. Muda Yusuf, put the global economic loss to lockdown at trillions of dollars. In the international market, the price per barrel is less than the cost of production. I am not only concerned, but I am also disturbed.
How do you see the handling of lockdown and provision of palliative?
I must not fail to commend the President. He has shown leadership and direction. It is quite commendable to see the President not politicizing such a national emergency health issue as COVID-19. It takes a man who loves his people and their welfare to be so open-minded on the issue of palliative as the President has done.
The expansion of the social register by one million and the directives to the Customs Service on rice distribution to the states are also right steps in the right direction. Furthermore the setting up of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 is heart-warming. I must also mention the efforts of the various state governments, religious and community leaders, organizations and individuals on the palliative issue as commendable. In my kingdom, I also distributed food items and cash worth millions of naira to the sons and daughters of Ugboland.
What do we all do as we await a vaccine or cure for the disease?
As we await vaccine or cure eagerly, let us begin to do partial opening of the sensitive aspects of the economy, particularly the formal sector. In the formal sector, back to work protocols like social distancing, regular hand washing, wearing of face mask and avoidance of crowded places will be easy to observe. However, we should try hard to avoid the Germany experience of rise in cases during relaxation of lockdown. Our testing capacity must increase while more isolation and treatment centres must be built.
Enlightenment campaign must be localized using the traditional and religious leaders to drive it. With the several clinical trials of vaccines ongoing across the world and the recent emergency approval of Remdemsivir drug for use to treat COVID-19 in the US, I am optimistic that in no time, it will be a thing of the past. We must also encourage our local researchers so as to join Senegal and Madagascar for home-grown solutions to COVID-19.
Where do you see Nigeria after this COVID-19 pandemic?
As a natural optimist, I see a beautiful Nigeria and indeed the world after COVID-19. Although it took the world a while to bounce back after the Great Depression of 1930s, I do see the world nay Nigeria experiencing rapid recovery after COVID-19. I say this on the basis of the fact that today’s financial and economic spectrum is more technologically-driven and intellectually focused.
As for us in Nigeria, the CBN should make funds available to SMEs at a very low interest or no interest at all. The manufacturing industry and other income earning industries should be granted bail-out and tax exemption. Farming and agricultural practices must be made attractive. Cost of governance at all levels and across MDA should be reduced substantially. We should also patronize locally made goods and live less ostentatiously.
Is the dust raised among the Obas in the South-West concerning who is supreme settled?
I would have loved not to talk about this matter on a forum such as this. But because you are curious, I will say a few words. There has never been any dust raised on account of who is supreme among the Obas in the South-West.
What you have been witnessing is a drama badly rehearsed and badly staged. I say this because all the historical facts available in the local and international archives are clear on the issue of who is supreme. My style has never been that of noise making. I draw my inspiration and confidence from the numerous historical books that support my position as the custodian of the Yoruba race. None of these books was written by me.
The books were written by local and international scholars who have no pecuniary benefits in the matter. In fact, a good number of books were written long before I became king. I challenge anyone who has contrary facts to the position of Olugbo of Ugboland on this issue to come forward. I wish to tell you that all the manipulators in this matter know the truth but are adamant not to embrace it because it suits their political and economic ambitions. I would like to see how far those manipulators of history can go.
Your condolence message to Mr. President on the demise of his Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari, was very elaborate. What informed it?
I have always been an admirer of someone who is dedicated, conscientious, patriotic and loyal in the discharge of his duties and to the cause of his master.
This is the story of Mallam Abba Kyari. One needs to have a disloyal and undependable partner to appreciate the worth of the man Mallam Abba Kyari. What you described as elaborate is a celebration of the uncommon hard work and trust that Mallam Abba Kyari brought to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
I beseech the Almighty Allah to grant the deceased aljanah fidau and grant the President, government of Nigeria and the deceased’s family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.