The great Oyo Empire which spanned across a large part of the West African Coast was yet to reach the height of its glory when Emperor Sango Olukoso reigned as a powerful emperor in material and military terms 800 years ago. As faded in memory as that era might be today, emperors like Sango are remembered as sovereigns who considered themselves as answerable to their people even when their claim to power was primarily legitimised by conquest and heredity, rather than through elections based on universal adult suffrage which are considered the ideal in this contemporary.
After Sango had mounted the throne of his ancestors and conquered the territories of his dreams, he faced the dilemma of managing his gallant Generals; Gbonka and Timi Agbale Olofa ina. He had no idea of how to manage the facilitators and instruments of his success and he decided to create a feud between the two friends. Ultimately, Gbonka was eliminated, Timi survived but not Sango, with all the support he had from his formidable Nupe maternal relatives.
He eventually committed suicide for the kingdom of his heart was in insurmountable turbulence. Sango’s subjects were devastated, they were in denial, they could not contemplate or mouth the reality of his suicide. They told themselves the king did not hang himself. Oba Koso, Sango Olukoso was what they uttered, and the legend of Sango goes on.
In more recent times, the Nigerian state has embraced the attitude of Sango’s followers in a culture of denial to the detriment of our survival and prospects. Since the calamity of Boko Haram’s emergence, it is common practice for the Nigerian Army to bicker with the press and intimidate people who insist on seeing the good in washing our dirty linens before the world.
Even when native wisdom in this part of the world is that ‘when you are silent in adversity, all that is wrong with you will get cosy with that adversity. ’While the Chadian Army courageously told the world that it lost 92 of its soldiers to the Boko Haram fighters and it would retaliate decisively a few weeks ago, the Nigerian government attempted to project journalists who reported the death of 47 of our soldiers as unpatriotic elements while we habitually file away the truth in classified quarantine.
Chad retaliated and wiped Boko Haram off the Lake Chad region as promised while our army appeared like an on-looking group of Boy-scouts in the videos we saw online . In this moment of uncertainty over the Corona virus pandemic, the political class also keeps playing the proverbial ostrich hiding its head in the sand as they seem to learn little from the conspiracy of silence that foreshadowed President Yar’dua’s death .
This is in exception to the flickers of light from Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State who asked for prayers after declaring that he contracted COVID19 and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State who also made a similar declaration. Our beloved Governor of Kwara State however chose the company of the Aba Kyaris of this world and followed their path even when they heard the 71 year old heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, tell the world he had Corona virus and we all saw him get cured.
The wife of Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, also announced that she had corona virus and she got rid of it. An Iranian minister similarly made a video at the onset of his Corona virus illness and British Prime Minister; Boris Johnson, made a video of himself when he contracted the virus before he was admitted into intensive care last Monday .
Governor Abdulrazak of Kwara State on his path disappointed many of us who are inspired by the simplicity of his style which is devoid of the mindless razzmatazz and extravaganza that characterised the days of his predecessor tenants of the Kwara State Government House when he went into self isolation, without informing his paymasters, the Kwara electorate.
Thankfully, he emerged hale and hearty after his hushed period of quarantine but not without a serious damage to his reputation and to the well being of Kwarans. Before the Governor went into isolation, there was no single case of Corona virus, suspected or confirmed, in the state .
Perhaps the Governor believed that he had to be secretive in order not to be stigmatised, even when he did not have the virus. Or he feared he might inspire panic if he told his employers about his suspicion. At the end of the day, however, the common Kwarans on the street are worse off today after some of them chose to adopt the thinking of their Governor and that is having dire consequences. Perhaps, if the Governor had told citizens in his state about his fears and announced that he was going into isolation, the late Alhaji Obanimomo whom some are stigmatising even in death and his Professor friend would see themselves in good company with their Governor in relation to how they handle the major Covid-19 case at hand .
They probably would never have towed the line that they followed. And hush, let know one hear this: Ekiti and Oyo States, both of which have borders with Kwara had reported COVID-19 infections for weeks before the Obanimomo incident. Osun State which also shares a border with Kwara also reported COVID-19 infection before Kwara. Yet, none of these borders were closed to commuting.
While the photograph of the deceased Mr. Obanimomo and that of his wife are being circulated as the faces of the people who brought COVID-19 to Kwara even when there is another unnamed person who is independently infected following a trip to the United Kingdom, and despite the fact that the World Health Organisation had warned Nigeria of the unfolding scenarios as far back as January, I believe the buck stops on the tables of the Federal and State governments.
We need to know whether Alhaji Obanimomo was at the Kwara State isolation centre at any point and whether he was prematurely discharged before the unfortunate incident at the UITH, as being rumoured.
As I write, many COVID-19 victims are spreading death silently, all over Kwara, without knowing it. In other climes, such persistent grave errors of judgement by occupants of positions of trust would have commited political suicide. But hush, the emperors in our age do not commit suicide, unlike king Sango.
All that the federal and state government officials have to do is get some stuttering Garba Sheu pretend to be spin doctors and insult the Wole Soyinkas of our world while the masses dream of a government that is truly alive to its obligations towards learning from Lagos State and removing COVID-19 from Nigeria while delivering the palliatives that we deserve.
Mubarak Oladosu is of the Directorate of Corporate Affairs, University of Ilorin.