Abba Kyari: Mourning, Jubilation And The Way Forward With COVID-19 By Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman

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When the news of Abba Kyari’s death (President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff) was announced late Friday night, it came as a shock to some people with condolence messages all over the social media. However, to some, the news would equal Nigeria winning the FIFA World Cup.

HUMANITY OVER POLITICS AND TRIBALISM

It is baffling that one would gloat over the death of an 82-year-old man. The excitement, obviously due to political and tribal reasons is a pointer to the fact that except Nigerians come to the reality of setting aside their religious and tribal differences as well as playing healthy instead of the dangerous and in-humanistic politics, we are far away from being a successful nation.

When we receive the news of a man like Abba Kyari like we have been given the keys to the White House, what are we celebrating? That he was divinely punished to have died t 82 or that he died without an accomplishment in life? Or because he belongs to a different political party or a different tribe and religion? Or do we just conclude that those who celebrate his demise are simply blind, barbaric, petty and unintelligent.

In a popular narration, the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) stood up for the funeral of a Jew. Commenting on this narration, Ibn Qayyim (in his revision of Aboo Daawood’s Sunan) gave three reasons why the Prophet stood up. He wrote;

“The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, had three reasons for standing for the funeral:

The first reason is that he [Prophet] said: “Indeed, death is alarmingly frightful.” Imaam Muslim reported this as part of the Hadeeth narrated by Jaabir in which the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Indeed, death is alarmingly frightful, so if you see a funeral procession, stand up.“

The second reason: The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, stood up for the angels. Anas narrated: “A funeral procession passed by us so the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, stood up. We said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allaah, it is the funeral procession of a Jew.’ He said, ‘We stood up for the angels.’” [An-Nasaa’i]

The third reason: because it is a soul. Qays ibn Sa‘d and Sahl ibn Hunayf said: “A funeral procession passed by the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, so he stood up. We said, ‘It is the funeral procession of a Jew.’ He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘Is it not a soul?’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]”

Perhaps, we could learn from the life of the Prophet and act like humans that we are and not political animals and ethno-centric individuals.

COVID-19 AND OUR INCONSISTENCY

Our inconsistency is quite flabbergasting. When it was reported that Abba Kyari contracted the disease, the same set of people claimed that the Coronavirus case in Nigeria is a scam and that it is another attempt for the government to make money. Now that the old man died of the Coronavirus, the same virus that was said to have been a scam is being praised for doing a ‘good’ job. How inconsistent! Mr. Kyari is gone, may ALlah forgive him. Aameen.

CONTAINING THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS

Presently, Nigeria has almost 500 confirmed cases of the COVID-19. Truth be told, the attitude of some Nigerians and religious leaders towards the lock-down is defeating the purpose; to contain the spread of the virus. Actions ranging from defiantly attending religious gatherings, not maintaining social distancing, people sneaking into other states, etc.

With the death of Abba Kyari, there is the hope that this would now be taken seriously. The COVID-19 is not a disease of the rich, everyone and anyone is vulnerable and the best way to combat this is to strictly adhere to the lock-down order. It is one way the world conquered the Spanish Flu which killed at least, 50 million people worldwide between 1918-1920.

HUNGER AS A THREAT

In a nation where the poverty rate is high, it would be insensitive to disregard cries of those who worry about hunger. The lock-down order with an extension of two weeks is really challenging for the average Nigeria who has to go out to work for his daily bread.

Hunger is a threat to the lock-down order. The likely increase in crime rate, asides, the idea that only the vulnerable and the poor of the poor need relief packages is gone with the first two weeks of the order. With the extension, the one who is considered average is now one of the poor of the poor. With business closed and spending without income, the threat that hunger poses to the lock-down order cannot be overlooked.

The people need to understand and come to the reality that the government cannot see to everyone. While people need to improvise, the rich are encouraged to help the poor. Hunger, in this case, is not just about the grumbling in the stomach but also the psychological and emotional challenges it comes with.

Those who raise concerns over hunger should not be seen as gluttonous or unpatriotic.

PREVENTING CHAOS

While some people have their reasons not to believe the COVID-19 reports, it is obvious that some people all over the world have become very cynical and do not trust the government simply because there are too much of lies being spread. This has led to many conspiracy theories being sold regardless of how ridiculous it might be.

Some days ago, thousands of people gathered in Michigan, USA, for a protest demanding that they go back to their ‘normal lives’. This act from a country like the USA might be a reason for people especially in Africa to stage protests, revolts and defy government orders using hunger as an excuse.

Earlier, there was a two-week lockdown and now, it has been extended. A further attempt to extend the lock-down (as necessary as it might be) might do more harm than good. While it is understandable that the government does not want to create panic, playing games with the citizens may bring more unrest that what the diplomacy was to avert.

In a very politically and ethnically divided nation, the government needs to be more prudent as to how it disseminates and manages information. Already, some people are very skeptical about whatever news comes from the government, it could get worse when they have a reasonable point to hold on to.

It would be very difficult to bring people to reason as to the need to extend the lock-down after two weeks. As it is, the two weeks may not be sufficient to achieve the desired result. Other countries that conduct tests much more than we do have been locked down for more than a month, how much more a nation that is battling with tests.

Therefore, there is a need to prepare the people from now and not waiting for the end of the two weeks to serve them another two weeks. Also, other than an order in a dictatorial manner, there is a need to call the people to reason. Instead of an order, the Presidency should deliver a speech full of logic and reasoning to convince them to cooperate with the government. When people get angry, the guys with the guns can do nothing.

Lastly, Nigerians should understand that we are combatting an enemy that has nothing to lose and does not care about us. If it could kill us all, it would. The virus has no feeling, no emotion or compassion. A protest staged now is not against the government, it is against ourselves, our children, our loved ones, our beloved country and our existence.

The times are hard but we shall overcome.

Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman is the founder of KNOWISLAM PROJECT

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