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Growing signs still: Standing in hour of the great, final reckoning

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My colleague has a way of dispelling gloom in his environment, in gatherings, at meetings, and among friends. He is a bundle not just of talents, but of humour. I am referring to no other than celebrated writer and columnist, their learned friend, one and only Dr. Reuben Abati whom we simply call Reuben Abati. He was at it again on Tuesday. It was the second time he was treating the subject: Coronavirus alias Covid-19. His piece, a mixture of seriousness and hilarity, was captioned “E ku Corona O,” crafted in his inimitable flowing prose laced with history, learnedness, and informed prognosis. Of course, I laughed to my heart’s content, almost breaking my ribs—the credential he knows I don’t fight shy to brandish: Laughter! But then, I quickly gave myself a jerk for the issue is a very serious one. What happened, you may ask.

Reuben Abati was at his native town, Abeokuta, for the yearly celebration of Lisabi Day, in memory of the Egba Generalissimo who went by the name Lisabi. The first man he met greeted with a sense of concern: “Deputy, e ku Corona Virus O.” We may need to recall that he vied for the deputy governorship of Ogun State last year. Another person said to him prayerfully, “A o ni ri ogun Corona lagbara Jesu.” Yet another: “Corona ko ni ko wa lo o;” which translates to “We pray Coronavirus will not sweep everyone away.” Another in sympathetic concern: “E de ku ti Corona yi o.” Reuben Abati in understanding acknowledgment of his people, the Yoruba, writes: “The way Yoruba people greet and pray, you simply can’t stop them. Every hello is a paragraph. Every greeting is a philosophy. You just need to be patient.” And here is the clanger: Nigerian politicians grin, bite their lips with a wry smile, shrugging their shoulders and take in its stride encounters with their followers. He was accosted on his way out: “Deputy, e sanwo Corona oo. E fun wa lowo Corona o!” The man wanted money. Abati left Abeokuta with the reinforced impression: “…the fun-loving people of the Southern part of West Africa have a habit of greeting people for everything.”

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Of course, the arrival of Coronavirus has thrown up several doctors; real and pseudo, official and non-official, admonishing Nigerians on what precautions to take to protect themselves since Coronavirus came knocking within our frontiers last week Tuesday. Social media is awash with tips and prescriptions. The official admonitions we already know: face masks, washing of hands unceasingly, latex gloves. Yellow card is now mandatory for all international travellers. In Lagos, it’s obtained at the Ministry of Health, PORT Health Office. It is located before the Airport toll Gate, the closest building by your left. Ensure you make a photocopy of International Passport, so goes an official announcement.

One must give kudos to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi. Governor Sanwo-Olu, like Babatunde Fashola before him at the time of Ebola, rose unswervingly to the challenge and there are daily briefing and update either by him or his commissioner. Almost simultaneous, once Abuja was alerted, the Health Minister also rose to the occasion. It is hoped the plea from unbelief about Nigeria’s readiness to combat the advent of Coronavirus in our land will be proven misplaced. The concerned Nigerian knowing Nigerian leaders for their tardiness made the sarcastic plea to the Coronavirus not to believe Nigerian leaders that they were ready to welcome it. “China is overwhelmed; WHO is overwhelmed; Advanced countries are scared,” he said. He prayed that the virus should consider staying away from Nigeria. Practically all states in the country have put reassuring measures in place to combat the virus.

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Another person has added another dimension: Collection of money bills. He in loving admonition stated, not wanting Nigerians to take anything for granted: “I don’t want to scare anyone, but the Coronavirus may spread irreversibly soon. The main way to get infected is through money bills. Collect all your notes with gloves and place them in a sealed envelope outside your door!”

The emergence of the virus has sent cold shivers down the spine of nearly all nations. The world is upside down, adding to the panic-induced creeping collapse in different facets of life be it in economy, politics and social relations. As of last week, deaths arising from the Coronavirus came to 2,666 in China that the disease has chosen to make its base; 14 in Iran; South Korea 10; Italy 7; Japan 4; Philipines 1; Taiwan 1; France 1; and the United States 1. Confirmed cases were as follows: China 77,799; South Korea 977; Japan 853; Italy 229; Singapore 90; Iran 63 US 53; Thailand 37; Taiwan 31; Australia 22, Malaysia 22; Britain 13; France 12; Canada 10; Bahrain 8; Kuwait 8 and Israel 6. Nigeria is grappling with only one.

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What makes the emergence of the virus all the more frightening is that there is no cure yet, although some miraculous recovery has been reported in some countries. The only glimmer of hope seems to be coming from Israel where scientists at the Galilean Research Institute are said to be a few weeks from developing the first vaccine. The estimated time to make the vaccine available is 90 days after the vaccine is passed for usage. The team leader, Dr. Chen Katz, was quoted as saying: “Our basic concept was to develop the technology and not specifically a vaccine for this kind or that kind of virus.” The scientific framework for the vaccine is based on a new protein expression vector which is expected to make the body form anti-bodies against the virus. “Let’s call it pure luck”, Katz is quoted as saying to Jerusalem Post. “We decided to choose Coronavirus as a model for our system just as a proof of concept for our technology.” Our own Professor Maurice Iwu has said he has something to give hope to coming from his laboratory.

Prayer warriors in our land have chosen not to be left out. “If my people who are called by my Name shall humble themselves and pray, He will hear and heal our land. That is what the Sovereign God says,” one set is quoted to have said. Trump urging Americans not to panic was reported to have stated that the Coronavirus would disappear from April; it cannot survive the heat. It cannot survive in hot weather, so the report quoting him said. He and President Buhari are right in counselling that Nigerians people should not panic. It is an admonition that should be heeded. With fear and panic, there ensues a dark ring around the fearful one resulting in severance from help from Above, from the Creator. This is because the luminous helpers heeding the prompting to render help will distance themselves from darkness so that they are not soiled

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A few weeks ago, this column drew attention to hints about the Trumpet of Judgment blaring which only those who are attentive may hear and those with a clear vision can see. Many in Christendom and across lands must by now be familiar with the prophesied signs of the approach of the end-Time. According to the Gospel of Mark, the attention of the Lord Christ was drawn to ‘Massive stones’ and magnificent buildings” by one of His Disciples. The Lord was reported to have replied: “Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone here will be left on another, everyone will be thrown down.”

He was then asked by the Disciples when all these would happen and “what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled” to which he was said to have replied: “Many will come in My Name, claiming ‘I am he’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nations will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famine.” “Brother will betray brother to death and a father-child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death, and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive.”

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With the arrival of each day comes perturbing and distressing news of events from different parts of the globe—from West to East, North to South. It would appear there is today a current sweeping from country to country. Where it makes its port of call it touches off upheavals of monumental proportion. There are social, economic or political flare-ups. There are catastrophes that confound the mind. Then, for a while in that particular country, there is a respite, only for her to be re-visited by the raving current heavily laden with tribulations and death. Only a few days ago, the tornado was reported to have killed 19 persons in Tennessee in the United States. The feature of these times is intensification and acceleration. Is it difficult to see how Coronavirus is sweeping all lands? The World Health Organization (WHO) says COVI-19 is worse than SARS, and Ebola. It is coming to Nigeria on the heels of Lassa fever which has been present in 27 states of the country which has killed more than 100 people.

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