By Duno Kogbara
I HAVE been shuttling between the UK and Nigeria for two decades and doing at least three multi-week stints in London per annum since 1999.
2020 was different.
I stayed in Nigeria all year to keep an eye on my mother…who is 85, physically frail and mentally incapable (she has dementia) of issuing self-protective instructions to the girls who help me take care of her in Abuja. And I feared that my domestic staff would not rigorously adhere to coronavirus-avoidance measures in my absence.
So I parked myself in Nigeria and relentlessly lectured and monitored them until I was sure that they fully understood the dangers the pandemic posed and the reasons why it was important to take handwashing, mask-wearing and social distancing seriously.
By early December, I reckoned that they’d been sufficiently trained (brainwashed even!) and could be trusted to not carelessly expose my mother to the dreaded virus; and I decided to finally take an overseas break and fly to the UK to enjoy a long holiday with my son, siblings, Brit friends and Naija friends who are based in Britain.
I arrived in London last Thursday, in a festive mood and ready to go through a five-day quarantine period (the normal quarantine period is 10 days, but you can halve it by paying for a test after five days; and if the test is negative, you are free to mingle, to some extent).
But guess what?
Exactly 48 hours after I arrived, the UK Government cruelly burst my bubble by announcing that a new, faster-spreading mutation of the virus had emerged…and that UK residents who intended to spend Christmas with extended families would have to cancel their plans.
Long story short, I walked slap-bang into a huge public health crisis that has triggered off a lockdown. Non-essential shops and services have been shut down. And the overall status quo is surreal.
London has been categorized as a Tier 4 (super-high-risk) part of the country; and people who live in Tier 4 “must stay at home over Christmas and must not meet up with other households.”
Luckily for me, my son Oliver lives in my UK home, so is officially part of my household. But my siblings live elsewhere and we cannot join them for a Yuletide blast; and they are not allowed to join us.
At least I won’t be alone and miserable today. But my heart goes out to the many individuals who are going to be alone and miserable.
Weirdly, if I want to see any UK-based pals, I can only meet one pal at a time; and I can only meet him or her outdoors…a massively grim prospect when one considers the fact that British weather is notoriously awful at this time of the year…as in freezing cold plus horrible icy winds and sometimes rain and snow and sleet as well.
If you are only allowed to get together with friends, family and workmates in near-zero temperatures outside, you might as well forget about real touchy-feely proximity and talk to them via zoom or whatsapp or facetime video calls, from the comfort of indoors!
When we first heard, a few weeks ago, that effective vaccines had been developed, many of us breathed jubilant sighs of relief, fervently believing that the global nightmare that is COVID-19 was nearly over. But it’s beginning to look as if we exhaled too soon.
Authorities of various nationalities are panicking like crazy about “uncontrollable” new strains of the virus; and a scientist I know has told me that 2021 could turn out to be even worse than 2020.
Meanwhile, I urge the Nigerian Government to slam down HARD on big religious and social gatherings. Too many people are hosting too many infection-spreading jamboree weddings, burials, parties and church events. Too many people are getting sick and dying.
Some of these COVID-ignoring chief celebrants are VIPs in positions of power and role models the masses look up to. They should be providing good examples, not spearheading hedonistic indiscipline!
Prove it then!
IN a statement issued on his behalf by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari berated critics who are writing him off.
One such critic is the factional minority leader of the House of Representatives, Kingsley Chinda, who recently called for the impeachment of the president.
According to Adesina: “The general public is hereby alerted to a smear campaign in the works against Mr. President and his office, by disgruntled political elements in the country…The game plan is to launch orchestrated campaign of calumny in the days ahead, in which President Buhari would be portrayed as not being in charge of the country…
“President Buhari remains focused and single-minded in his determination to serve the country to the best of his ability, bringing change to different facets of our national life. This is already evident in infrastructure as seen in roads, rail, bridges, airports, and many other strides round the country. Agriculture is another worthy testimonial…
“The fight against corruption, insecurity, and retooling of the economy also proceed apace, and the Buhari Administration will not be distracted, and will continue to serve with heart and might, irrespective of all shenanigans.”
Does Adesina not realise that this kind of statement achieves nothing and that the best way to prove his point is to organise a press conference for his boss and allow concerned citizens to ask him questions that have not been scripted in advance?
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL VANGUARD READERS!!!
Happy birthday, Judith!
JUDITH Amaechi is the wife of Rotimi Chibuike, the former Governor of Rivers State and current Minister of Transport.
Judith just turned 50 and I want to seize this opportunity to wish her many happy returns and many more years of good health.
Her husband used to be a great chum of mine and she always graciously welcomed me into their home. Even when I publicly quarrelled with Rotimi, Judith continued to treat me respectfully.
Even though she felt that I had been unfair to her man, she only grumbled mildly at me when we bumped into each other at a funeral. Judith my Dear, you’re a beautiful and charming gal and a half. May God bless you and yours.