Death has ‘laid his icy hands’ on our Kings, apologies to James Shirley. Kings and queens have died the world over. The year 2020 was the worst of it. The disaster did not stop happening in 2021. Death has been walking naked on our streets, killing men and women, old and young, parents and children. Perhaps one thing that can’t be understood is why the rich seem to be the worst hit. There could only be one answer to this. While the rich and powerful are ‘up’, the poor and wretched are ‘down’. In other words, as the rich die of Covid-19, the poor still die of malaria and other terminal diseases.
Death, no doubt, is a natural phenomenon. It happens to all and will surely knock on the door of everyone. The scenario will endure until William Yeats’ apocalypse dramatically happens. Yeats was longing to see the ugly ‘spirtus mundi’ “slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.” But before that envisaged battle of Armageddon, natural death will keep dragging men to the mud. Of course, as Shirley would put it, “There’s no armour against fate” because both the “sceptic and crown must tumble down….” None has ever been bigger than death, except He that was sent to reconcile humanity with divinity.
Normal death, however, has its pace and timing. It only comes when it must, not when it will. Humans are surely vulnerable to death owing to an abuse of natural place of habitation. In spite of this, death rate has not been escalated in recent history as it has happened in the last 11 months. It is this massive range that makes this death disastrous and a very ‘unfriendly enemy’ to humanity.
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The Corona virus also known as Covid-19 was reported first in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. As at Wednesday, March 24, 2021, the disease had reached every country of the world. It has infected millions of people and killed millions too. In Nigeria currently, while 2,031 people have so far died, 148,726 have recovered out of 162,178 were being infected by the ravaging virus. The first prominent Nigerian to have died of the virus was the former chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Abba Kyari. Many other high profile personalities have been cut short by the virus.
In Akwa Ibom State for instance, people holding sway in the corridors of power were crushed by the virus. The first to receive the deadly punch was the then director of finance and administration in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Ibanga Etang. A long silence ensued before Mr Covid came again in a rage. Mr. Ubong King followed. We mourned as a people and didn’t find our feet before Mr Death came snatching Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, Air Marshall Nsikak-Abasi Eduok, former commissioner, Arc Ime Ekpo, and the PDP State chairman, Obong Udo Ekpenyong. Virtually all these respected men were defused by Mr Covid.
Funny enough, this is the same Covid-19 that brought so much drama to the state. Governor Udom Emmanuel had said the state was named after God, as such, Covid-19 would not come to us. He seemed to have had immunity over the spread of the virus. Recall how our governor rejected the first five index cases? The state epidemiologist, Dr Aniekeme Uwah, was even sacked for allegedly sending more than the approved samples to the NCDC for testing. The mismanagement of the situation escalated. Kufre Carter was incarcerated over a leaked audio conversation with a known doctor. The situation got real and our governor constructed the isolation centre. It was during the inauguration of the centre that Governor Emmanuel condemned the death of Ibanga Etang. He seemed to have perceived that Etang was being ‘murdered’. And I’m sure wanted to take drastic actions to that effect. The question is, should we start suspecting that those big men in our state government reported to have died of Covid-19 complications were being murdered? Your guess is as good as mine.
Before the ‘harvest of deaths’, the immediate-past state chairman of the APC, Hon. Ini Okopido, had died. Although his death was clearly non-Covid-19, he was caught in his prime, when life could still mean a lot to him. Okopido was running around, making arrangements to bury his late elder brother and former Nigerian minister, Mr Ime Okopido. But alas, he went away, causing the aged mother to also ‘die in protest’. What a devastating grief! Was the only state named after God under siege? Indeed, death had arrived proudly and may have landed at the airport directly from Wuhan.
From then, the state was thrown into mourning. This has lasted for the past four months. The state really needs divine visitation. The Divine Creator who owns the Divine Mandate must visit us this time. For sure, all men shall die that must live. All men, also shall live that must die. This philosophy of righteousness was handed down by Jesus Christ Himself. But a situation in which prominent personalities are drained to vacate the plain makes no sense to the living. It gives us a sense of insecurity over life itself. But it sure has a brutal message of morality. We must know that no matter who we are, death has no respect for our titles. Whether positive or negative, life is a classroom of multiple lessons. Life is a walking shadow, as Shakespeare would keep saying all the time. Life is a marketplace of chaoses. You venture into one thing and bear the cost of another.
Meanwhile, the world has developed vaccines for Coronavirus. Though not without conspiracy theories, many countries have ordered for and administered the vaccines on prominent citizens and other high-risk workers, especially the health workers. Nigeria got her first tranche of 4 million doses of the vaccine which is currently being administered on citizens. President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, took their vaccine on a live TV to reassure citizens of its safety. In a recent survey in the United States of America, it was reported that the COVID-19 vaccine is 75 per cent active. This means that the rate at which people die of the virus will surely reduce.
Obviously, no one has what it takes to have a combat with death. No one even sees the monster when it comes. But as the world awakes to this deadly beast, it seems the battle will pay off. No death can be a thing of pride. Even very old men are mourned when they die. A condemned criminal killed in the act will still be mourned. The reason is that death ends the way of all.
On this note, we can say that we’re pained by the deaths of these prominent citizens of State and Nation. We hope the vaccine would deal its best to tame the wild virus. If that happens, we will be glad to wave a farewell to death. This farewell does not mean that we won’t see death again. Rather, like John Donne replied his wife, Ann, with a “Valedictorian Forbidding Mourning”, we are glad to say farewell to death, until we meet again.