Editor's note: Philip Agbese, a UK trained human rights expert based in Abuja writes on the Garba Shehu, a media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari and his recent encounter with COVID-19. Agbese urged Nigerians to pray for God's grace and blessings on the leaders, especially President Buhari.
A loud compliments of the season to all Nigerians, and Africans everywhere in the world for God's priceless gift of another brand New Year.
From all indications, 2022 is our year of unhindered recovery, unbridled prosperity, the total defeat of all facets of terrorism and a terminal destination for the fulfilment of all dreams.
It is, therefore, pertinently my prayer point that we deepen conversations and dialogues among ourselves as a people and a continent to regain a coherence gravely shattered by conspiratorial and sponsored armed criminal gangs for permanent peace and progress in Africa, especially, in my beloved country Nigeria.
However, we cannot get to the desired destination except our thought process is reordered progressively. I am more concerned with Nigeria because charity begins at home.
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Conversely, I especially congratulate presidential Spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu on his instant recovery from the unexpected attack by COVID-19.
Sir, my prayers have always been with you and all victims of COVID-19 globally. We thank God for His special healing mercies.
This has inevitably dragged me to the palpable ascendancy of a few odious and nauseating tendencies in us. It is ironic that most Nigerians desire a sound, peaceful and progressive country but clandestinely work in breaking the essential binding cords of unity and teamwork.
It is quite pathetic, but we have lost our sense of humaneness; we have freely gambled away the spirit of collectivity or compassion at times of difficult and excruciating national or personal challenges in Nigeria.
We have become more aligned to our destructive enemies or foes than the beautiful coats of shared brotherhood. I am deeply saddened, pained and ashamed of some of my compatriots over this conspicuously blossoming trend.
I don’t belong to the clan of people who mock others when they are sick simply for partisan proclivities, clannish cleavages or whatever reasons and we are all humans, who are susceptible to ailment anytime in our lives, as decreed by only God.
I have elected to converse with my compatriots on this matter at 2022 New Year because of the auspiciousness of such a unique day. I felt it an obligation hence we have refused to discard the trend of deriding the sick and overindulgence in vainglory more than life.
Those professional mockers of sick people have had enough to feast or service their egos in recent times. It started with President Muhammadu Buhari when he visited London for a medical vacation between 2016 to 2017. Unexpectedly, each time Mr President officially sought permission to travel abroad for medical treatment, we fabricated all manner of tales on his ill-health.
Whilst our President or any other sick person needs our prayers for quick recovery, some of us were more interested in the power wielded by Aso Presidential Villa and how it can be accessed to sign -off Nigeria's commonwealth into their private pockets.
Only very few of us genuinely beseeched God in prayers for our President's quick recovery and subsequent return back to his duty post.
I can still vividly recollect the absurd tales of Mr President death or permanent incapacitation as if they were the giver and taker of life. That's how we unwittingly expose our shamelessness to the whole world.
A similar scenario was replayed when the former Chief of Staff (CoS), late Mallam Abba Kyari became the first high profile Nigerian to contract COVID-19. Until his death, most of us insanely spewed unspeakable narrations about his ailment and discernibly wished him dead from our noxious public comments many times before his actual death.
Then came the Mallam Garba Shehu episode. When he, unfortunately, contracted COVID-19, a few days ago, we again displayed our usual sinister wickedness.
I was appalled at what assailed me on social media dominantly. Some Nigerians who constitute what I prefer to describe as "social media mafia" directly or by noxious statements wished Garba Shehu dead, at a time it is globally endorsed that contracting coronavirus is no longer a death sentence.
Only very few of us ever remembered the good job Garba Shehu is doing for our country as a plank of enlightenment between the Presidency and the public to pray for his speedy recovery in order to resume work.
That's the weird kind of politics we play in this country. Like, Abba Kyari, like Garba Shehu, none of those who wished them dead could adduce any strong reason for it.
We now wish ourselves dead simply because we hate the faces of one another? Is that why we have domesticated and communalise bloodletting in our country? In 2022, we must consciously work to change this obnoxious mindset, which haunts and ridicules us.
It is better to avoid contracting COVID-19 by all means. I am a stickler to the observance of its official protocols. But we must also always remember our obligatory patriotism and loyalty to our beloved country. That Garba Shehu and a few others in Aso Rock have contracted COVID-19 today is not enough reason to shout hoarse or on rooftops, proclaiming the infestation of the whole Presidential Villa with the virus.
What I know with all certainty is the prevalence of the Coronavirus or its Delta or Omicron variants in the presidential palaces of prominent countries of the world. I will avoid mentioning names of such countries in order not to sound spiteful. But it is what is known to all of us.
Yet, the citizens of these countries do not pass such damning or condemnatory remarks on their leaders or country. They rather enlist in the battle against it and fervently pray for protection. Why is the case of Nigeria different? Let's strive to change this disposition in the Year 2022.
Personally, I am always of the belief that since nobody actually knows when the Grim Reaper could come calling, it is better to be cautious. So, no one is supposed to be excited at any man’s misfortune, because all men, whether of low or high degree, are bound to fall sick and must expire at God's appointed time.
Therefore, anyone's excitement over the ailment or ultimately death of any person, does not make our situation better. We must begin to put humanity and national interest first. Let's pray for the grace to act what we preach or learn in worship places, beginning from today. Once again, happy New Year celebrations.
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