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Once upon a dime

By Kole Omotoso
31 May 2020   |   2:27 am
We could argue until the end of this piece as to what should be the title of the piece. The argument is fun but this column and it’s writing are not about the argument.

We could argue until the end of this piece as to what should be the title of the piece. The argument is fun but this column and it’s writing are not about the argument. Something happened recently and those who should learn a lesson from it did not say they learnt a lesson from it. Our political leaders, especially the successful ones, have not told us that they have learnt their lesson and they will never do it again. And what is it that they will never do again?

You do know that our leaders are our leaders because they are in charge of our money. We elect them to be our leaders. They beg us to elect them as our leaders. Once we elect them as our leaders, and they are in charge of our money, they forget about who elected them. They concentrate on the money.

What do they do with the money? Are you asking me? What did General Abacha do with our money? Do you remember? Can you remember how many countries money, by the grace of Abacha, is being delivered to Nigeria? United States of America. The United Kingdom. Switzerland. Let’s stop at those three countries. How many banks from each country? You don’t know? You can’t count? That’s one head of state. How many heads of state have we had?

What about their deputies? What about their ministers? What about their various (I thought the predictive machine gave me virus!!! As alternative to various!!!) what about their various assistants? And special assistants? All earning their normal pay. Maybe you’ve ever heard that the government has ever forgotten to pay itself once since this country began on January 01 1914. I have not heard such good news. So, they get their salary. But like the South African laborer of the apartheid time, they took the job not for the salary they were to be paid legally but for the money they could steal from the system. After all, apartheid was a stealing system that was stealing black people blind in broad daylight. So, it was only fair to steal from them. Same thing. They stole from us.

The money they stole from us should have gone to make roads, to build bridges, to build schools, to provide water to our cities, towns, villages and streets. They could have provided electricity in our dwellings. But one thing that pained all of us are the hospitals they refused to build. It pained us because our loved ones went to those hospitals to die because the medications were not there. The medical staff were not there. The doctors in their specialization, and the nurses in their specialities and even the cleaners in their capabilities preferring to go and clean the hospitals in foreign lands.

Whenever they were ill or their relatives were sick or their friends were ill-disposed they ferried them off overseas in their private jets or in rented or hired private jets that waited for them to take them back after their treatment. What they didn’t provide for us here, which they could not have here they go and get it in foreign countries. And do some shopping on the way back.

Then some things began to happen in the last 48 months. A certain important man quarreled with a lesser important man and promised to show him who is who in the Nigerian zoo. He took away his ministerial money bag so that the minister of health could not buy medications, hire doctors, rent nurses, employ sweepers and cleaners and build new hospitals. He gave the health money bag to the minister in charge of agriculture.

And after the president was reelected and did not appoint the old minister, the strong man did not restore the money bag to the ministry of health for whatever reason on earth. So, things continued as they were. No medications, no doctors, no nurses, no cleaners, the hospitals were empty.

Then, vengeance came down through the medium of corona virus nicknamed COVID-19. It started far, far away in WUHAN, in China. Remember about taking a slow boat to China. Well, corona virus flew from Wuhan, no slow boat for this one. By the time he arrived on our shores nobody knew what vengeance he had come to pay. There was no medication for what he imposed on those it touched. Some people tried malaria medicine. Some tried shoe polish. Others collected some African bush, added salt and sugar and drank the concoction. Some survived and were welcome back to life. Others did not make it and people blamed corona virus for being so unpredictable.

Our important man was infected by the virus. In the mean time all countries were closing their borders. No flights were allowed into every country. People who belonged to countries were asked to wait wherever they were until the sickness is over. Those from other countries were encouraged to go back to their countries. Our important man who took away the money of the minister and gave it to the agric minister had caught the illness.

There was no where to go. Planes were parked in the desert for want of open spaces to park planes. No motorcycles moved. No motor cars stirred from where they were last parked. No planes flew anywhere any more. Nobody bought petrol. The price of oil went to minus 1 dollar. Which meant that you needed to pay someone to relieve you of your petrol to find space store it. There was no foreign country to fly to for treatment. He was flown to Lagos. They were just newly replenishing their hospitals and it take some time before stuff arrived. The important man died.

You can say that before I start preaching at everybody, who tells me that the minister of health would have used the money to buy the medication, to hire the doctors and rent the nurses and employ the cleaners? I don’t know. But let the minister decide himself. The point is their for people to learn the lesson that those who dig graves for others end up sleeping in them. Or more crudely, he who pours the ashes is pursued by the ashes. The greatest gift you can gift yourself is the care of others. In taking care of others, you take care of yourself.
And who says the countries of our moneys will not take our health tourists back once the virus has gone away?

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