By Douglas Anele

As usual, in Nigeria the official response to covid-19 pandemic is hampered seriouslyby shambolic health care system, inadequate number and quality of health professionals in the relevant fields, non-existent testing and contact-tracing infrastructure, and conspiracy theories coupled with scepticism in some segments of the population about covid-19.

That said, the effort to deal with the disease must not be restricted to therapies or vaccines developed outside Africa. Oftentimes one wonders why Africans, especially black Africans, seem to be suffering perpetually from dependency syndrome, that is, the irrational disposition of relying on others to solve their problems, including the ones they can handle themselves.

The answer lies in a combination of complex historical external and internal factors, but persistent poor quality leadership in most sub-Saharan African countries after independence has crippled their capacity for self-reliance that engenders sustainable development.

Accordingly, Africans must wake up from slumber and face the covid-19 challenge squarely. The relevant health authorities in Nigeria should investigate without delay the encouraging claims of Profs.Iwu and Ezeibe about developing an effective cure for covid-19, and promote other home-grown prophylactic and therapeutic medicines that are efficacious against the deadly disease.

There is no doubt that home remedies that can prevent coronavirus from invading the body or cure the resulting illness already exist: the challenge is to identify and improve them,which reduces reliance on foreign medications.          

Enough has been said about covid-19 such that it is time to shift gears and discuss other things. As consistent readers of this column might have noticed, in the last couple of years I usually celebrate in the first or second month of a new year individuals that made positive impact on my life in the preceding year.

That practice is even more justified at this time because of the current pandemic that has tested most people to the limits of their endurance. Therefore, I want to place on record that without several people life for me last year would have been like a car without engine oil or as the British novelist, Thomas Hardy, aptly puts it, a fraction without its integer.

Let me begin with Ijeoma (Ij baby), my beautiful but sometimes temperamental spouse, and our two lovely rascally daughters, Nwanyioma and Nwadiuto. Like all marriages, mine faced challenges exacerbated by staying in the house for prolonged periods due to covid-19. It would be uncharitable to blame solely either my wife or myself for our quarrels since both of us are culpable in one way or another.

Still, I use this opportunity to thank Ij baby very sincerely for her resilience and commitment to the union -and for her great meals too because I really savour the delicious nutritious food she prepares for the family. My wife is a good woman, a prudent manager of limited resources; but she needs to calm down anytime we are quarrelling because raising her voice harshly when talking to me pushes the anger button in my brain.

To be candid, my unorthodox beliefs and behaviour sometimes can test the patience of most women to the limit; that is why I have decided to try really hard to minimise occasions for friction in the family. My two daughters are growing into beautiful women.

The fatherly love I have for them must be blended with discipline to ensure that they become responsible members of the society. Overall they are good children, but lately their academic performance is drooping. I have challenged them to improve or run the risk of losing some of the privileges they currently enjoy. I am very grateful to my big sister, Ihuoma, who was elevated to the position of a high court judge in 2019, and her husband, Dee Sam.

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They have been really good to me and I wish them peace profound, excellent health, and lasting happiness this year and beyond. At the University of Lagos, Akoka, where I earn my stomach infrastructure, there are individuals that contributed meaningfully to my life also. To begin with, Prof.OluwatoyinOgundipe has been like a kind-hearted friend to me even before he became Vice-Chancellor and I hereby express my undiluted gratitude to him.

Profs. Ben Oghojafor, FolasadeOgunsola, and Oluwole Familoni – thank you for your amiable disposition towards me. My sincere appreciation goes to colleagues and staff in the Department of Philosophy including Drs. Chris Osegenwune, Kazeem Fayemi, Tony Okeregbe, Modestus Onyeaghalaji, Debo Gbadebo, Peter Oni, Fatai Asodun, Peter Osimiri; Mr.Dan Ekere, Philo Egbe, Steve Oriaku, Bukky, Mrs.Tytler, Abe,Cordelia, and Abigail.

I wish to acknowledge Profs.Ngozi Osarenren, David Aworawo, Ademola Adeleke, Olufunke Adeboye (Dean of Arts), Muyiwa Falaiye, Chiedozie Okoro, Joe Abugu,Iyaoola Oni, Victor Ariole, Austin Nwagbara, Chimdi Maduagwu, Tunde Okpeibi-Davies, A. Akinyeye, R.T. Akinyele, Alabi Soneye, P.K. Fogam, T.O. Nubi, J. Mojekwu, Uche Udeani, Samuel Owualah, Ndubuisi Nwokoma, Friday Ndubuisi, and Iwu Ikwubuzo, Chris Agulanna, Isaac Ukpokolo, Francis Offor, and O. Oyeshile.

Warm greetings to my co-residents at C block, highrise, University of Lagos, especially Profs.Ezeike, Nwabueze, Macaulay, Nwadinigwe, and Badru; Mrs.Solanke, Drs.Bayo Ogunkanmi, Gbenga Akinmoladun, and YemiOke. My acknowledgements will be grossly incomplete without the names of my friends: Lugardo, Simon, Dele, Bede, Bishop, Dee Tony, Bashorun, Ralph, Victoria, Hajiyah Ajoke, Pompoli, Ikemba Henry Achonwa, Pastor Jake Epelle, Drs.Ayeni,Isaac Nwogwugwu, Henry Ogunjewo, Chris Anyaokwu, M.M. Fadakinte, Gbenga Fasiku  and Robert Obioha; Uba and Fredo. I remember with smiles the pleasant attitude of staff of UBA University of Lagos branch which makes banking a pleasurable experience.

My sincere gratitude goes to ageless Uncle Sam Amuka and to the hardworking staff of Vanguard newspapers, particularly Gbenga Adefaye, Eze Anaba, Wale Akinola, Madam Titilayo, and Moses. Lekan, Eko-for-Show, Babatee, and Segunrewire – thank you most sincerely for taking good care of my vehicles. I genuinely appreciate avid readers of this column such as Profs. Fidelis Ogah and Obasi Igwe; Dr. Isu, Chief Agbalaya and the man from Agulu who lives in Idah.

My cobbler, Tunde, and tailor, Blackman; I hereby put on record that both of you are good at what you do. A ship load of gratitude goes to the eye doctors at the 68 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Yaba, who took care of my extremely painful cornea ulcer last year.Now, if you were good to me last year and your name was not mentioned, it simply points to the imperfection of human memory – special thanks to you all the same.

The death of my friend, Jifeson(CEO of Publishers Express) on December 25 was my saddest experience last year. Jifeson was a good man, a generous personality whose untimely demise is another painful reminder of the transitoriness and fragility of human existence.

Indeed, every death is a solemn indicator that we all are moving inexorably to our graves, which ought to make us take the Socratic dictum “Man know thyself” seriously in solitude. The same ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, also reminds us that the unexamined life is not worth living.

So, how many of us engage in periodic self-audit of our lives in order to pay more attention to things that really matter and minimise frivolities? Or are we so immersed in the rat race for primitive accumulation, promotion, power, instant gratification and so on that we forget the fundamental insubstantiality of our being?

It appears that most people live mostly in blissful forgetfulness of death to the extent that they suffer from the illusion of grandeur and exaggerated self-importance. I made this point some years ago and it bears repeating again: every adult should visit the mortuary once in a while to have a deeper understanding of the meaningful meaninglessness of human existence.

Surely, life is a hard learning process, which implies that it is our business to help one another. And even if you are unwilling or cannot help the person next to you, at least do not compound his or her problems. In 2021, our philosophy of life should be “help when you can with what you have wherever you are.”


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