Islam

Friday Sermon: Dying Wrongfully

By Babatunde Jose

‘A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.’ Solomon

The New Year was ushered in with a deluge of deaths, some unfortunate while others were due to carelessness, non-compliance with health protocols and utter disregard for personal and group responsibilities. There is no doubt, many who have died have died wrongfully and in other words the actions that led to their being exposed and afflicted could be tantamount to misadventure.

We have seen footages of people holding parties at this time throwing precautions to the wind and behaving as if the dreaded virus never existed. They go about without wearing the facemask, which today is the simplest line of defense in the war against the virus, in a country where we do not manufacture vaccines nor the drugs to fight the afflictions, where we cannot produce enough oxygen for the patients and where our hospital staff have devised devious schemes of cheating people of the oxygen necessary to save their lives. This is one hell of a place to live.

What is it with our people and parties? Must we party at all during this pandemic? Yet, at every opportunity events place are rented and we delude ourselves by arranging chairs and tables in a manner suggesting that we are maintaining social distance. What manner of social distance can be maintained at a party which is an event where people mix socially for group jollification and revelry?

The recent spike in the pandemic is particularly worrisome as the speed with which it kills is much faster than the previous strain. The national death toll is now 1,543, as of Wednesday, January 27. Also, the nation raked in 1,861 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the overall total to 126,160.  Yet, we have not learned any lessons. Some organizations still believe in person-to-person meetings at a time when the world has moved on with Zoom and other applications that offer opportunities for excellent virtual meetings and some have even devised ways of serving food and drinks to participants without leaving the confines of their homes. Why we risk our lives for a handshake or hug, or peck or kiss cannot be understood. Many of us at the end of the day are the architects of our own death. Remember, the real owner of life and death is God. So, just as murdering a person is akin to murdering all of humanity, so too is suicide considered a despicable act. God says, ‘And do not cast yourselves into destruction with your own hands-and adopt righteousness.’ Quran 2:195

Advanced nations are shutting dense spaces like schools, worship centers, sports grounds, etc., in the hope of curtailing the more severe second wave of Covid-19; despite their relentless efforts to roll out the new anti-coronavirus vaccines. “Here, our own government, with hardly any shift in containment protocols. . . are busy choking the schools with free-wheeling children, religious rites and social activities, and little or no regards for preventive protocols” wrote a commentator.

There is hardly any day that we don’t read of one death or the other – and that’s only those who break on the news or social media…yet, Nigeria appears to be on the business-as-usual mode.

Despite the federal government’s messages that coronavirus is real, it has done little to earn the trust of Nigerians.

Influential people like government officials, political leaders and celebrities have not helped in this situation. They are always at events without observing social distancing or even wearing masks. Many of them even host or attend weddings, funerals, chieftaincy ceremonies, etc.

Another set of people who are helping to fuel this attitude towards the existence of coronavirus are some religious leaders who practically dismissed the existence of COVID-19. With their actions, they mislead millions of Nigerians who are their followers.

Public adherence to preventive measures is still being influenced by individual choices, knowledge, and attitude of citizens towards COVID-19.

There are many people on the streets, roads and in markets, and hawkers along the major highways who carry on their daily activities as if they are exempted from taking preventive measures. Some people have even dismissed the precautions, claiming that COVID-19 is scam by government. Some other people insist that the virus is only meant for the rich, while some regard it as ordinary malaria that could be easily cured with herbs.

In Nigeria, we have not even tested 1 percent of the population, so it is safe to assume that for every official death reported, are were ten other unreported and undiagnosed deaths. There is no reason why the government cannot make testing for Covid-19 free in the country; why they should allow some medical facilities to be making fortunes from the mysteries of the citizens. It is even worse in the big cities where the matter is being compounded by the activities of Shylock medical institutions that charge astronomical deposits and fees for Corona patients, only for the patients to suffer death a few days later. The government need to urgently investigate the scam that Covid-19 has become. Not only are people dying, but their families are also being swindled.

Among the dead are our friends, colleagues and acquittances. It is hoped that their death would serve as a lesson to us all. We however wonder what they would tell their maker when He ask them why they have returned ‘home’ so soon. We however take solace in the escape of some of our friends and family who have survived the dreaded virus: In this regard we thank God for the life of our brother Muyiwa Akinsete who was discharged from the Yaba Isolation Center on Tuesday. May Allah be praised.

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

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