27.04.2020 Feature Article

Lockdown/Open Matters Arising: Death or Survival, Which Way To Go?

Lockdown/Open Matters Arising: Death or Survival, Which Way To Go?
LISTEN APR 27, 2020

Fellow Ghanaians, a child who is a sojourner or adventurous, the Dagombas say, is indeed “older” than his father. That is to say, an experienced child with great exposure would certainly be older, in terms of experience, than his never-go-any-where parents.

Fellow Ghanaians, according to James Freeman Clarke, "a politician thinks of next election, and a statesman is concerned with the next generation".

Obviously, with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo and his government's goodwill clearly curling up in smoke, and his once dignified presidential speeches gradually becoming demotic and demoted to every day conventional conversations, the President has adopted a smarter way of redeeming himself through "prayer rallies" and preachments any time he shows up.

It was not necessary for the President to remind Muslims about what to do in times of disasters or emergencies in respect of their religious obligations.

Our elders say, “it’s definitely an eternal shame to the dog if the goat barks at and bite the stranger.” All our Ulamaa (leaders of Muslim communities) must bury their heads in shame.

There's nothing wrong for the President to have said it, but it is disturbing that many Islamic leaders have been at one another’s throat, fighting the battle of attrition over “popcorn”, and the majority of Muslims are languishing in acute ignorance of the religion of Islam. To the point that, some have decided to practice “social distancing” in the Mosque instead of simply praying at homes out of predatory ignorance! What a shame?

Let’s fast forward. You see, with our much talked about December general elections just around the corner, it won't be too hard a task to now distinguish statesmen from political buccaneers and vultures in this bitter moment of our national crises. And as we gradual count down to December amid the Covid 19, the true colors of those who want to perpetually be made custodians of our collective wealth, health, welfare and general well-being, continue to be exposed.

Whilst I have no doubt the governing party's main motive is, unfortunately, about "opportunistic populism", I have taken the pain to ascertain whether there are traces of elements of patriotism in their "vigorous and rigorous efforts" in the fight against the Covid 19.

Disappointingly however, I'm not finding any shred of either compassion or patriotism. It’s about populism. The only things I continually find galore are breach of honesty, seemingly attack on commonsense, declaration of war on justice, and a frustrating decisional myopia.

Consequently, I have been scavenging and scouting, globally, for proposed solutions by thinkers and technocrats all over the world who have suggested remedies in order to possibly address our current state of affairs as the human race.

My aim has been to see whether our government is on track or pursuing parochialism. Trust me, our government is a joker on this score.

From very objective and unbiased opinions, dozen thinkers have suggested possible solutions worldwide that I have chanced upon. Though I have, on several occasions, lacked the intelligent quotient or mental magnitude to grasp and appreciate some of them, there were others I understood.

Apparently, the world has been kept on its toes with all countries in a kind of trial-and-error mode, including the advanced countries that have been badly hit by the pandemic despite their sophisticated medical and technological war-chest. God is indeed great!

One interesting suggestions to help survive the storm of the pandemic, was that of Professor Isaac Ben-Israel's, an Israeli mathematician, whose research, in a nutshell, demanded the removal of lockdowns. I duly noted it in my previous column though vehemently objected to his findings on grounds that, his own backyard (Israel) didn't pay attention to that research because Israel herself was still under lockdown as of last week. I also raised objection to his research because of its obvious "armchair professor work" background, considering the period the research was conducted.

I have read many, many, other ideas and outputs from First-class brains on what to do in order to navigate our way out of the novel corona virus and its devastating economic, political, and social pandemic looming to further crush mankind in the days ahead.

Again, another interesting opinion I stumbled upon during this my curiosity voyage around the world, was offered by a former Governor of the Federal Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo (I hope I got the name right, a fasting person can sometimes see a goat as an elephant).

This economics professor proposed that there be collapse of border closures and opening up of the lockdown so that economic activities can continue in order to avoid "Abdul Kaleem Luwa" as we say in Dagbani (a double failure of losing Ghanaians' lives to the pandemic, and at the same time with an economic nose dive we may not be able to resurrection when the pandemic subsides).

His argument was similar to that of the Israeli professor of Mathematics. Professor Soludo pointed to the USA's Congress passing a Bill for $484 billion for "More Small-Business Stimulus", plus $320 billion "Paycheck Protection Program" to enable their small-scale businesses to clear their workers' salaries for two months. According to Prof. Soludo, that came after an exhaustion of an earlier $350 billion to cushion Small Businesses under a $2.2 TRILLION DOLLARS Stimulus Package in the USA.

He therefore argued that this, and among many other things, is what the West is doing as a token of financial commitment to support their lockdowned citizens! If we therefore mimic them blindly without the financial muscle they possess to be able to respond and rescue our Small Businesses in Africa here, we are causing a great harm to ourselves with our virtually comatose economies under lockdown.

He coined a slogan that's particularly enlightening and intellectually inspiring: “Stay at home if you can, or smartly go to work if you must”.

Yet, there are also other experts who think closing down borders and locking down are what must be done for now in order to avoid possible extinction of the human race on the surface of the earth should the virus snowballed beyond our control through movements due to economic, social, religious, or political activities. With the exception of essential services.

And one such group of thinkers is the World Health Organization, WHO.

Obviously, the world is perplexed, and technocrats and experts tend to proffer solutions in line with their area of expertise. Whereas medical experts say lockdown, economics engineers want lifting of lockdowns and collapsed borders.

Now, let's come back home. Our government led by a lawyer and one of humanity's stingiest beings (economists), appear confused. They neither yield to WHO by locking down nor entirely toeing the line of "Dr. Bawumia" (economics) by opening up.

Reading the now demotic speech of the President, I could not rub my brain around the balance between he lifting of the ban and at the same time discouraging gatherings.

In these obviously contrasting, staccato and flip-floping views, one couldn't understand why one side of the country can get together, and another side is forbidden to get together.

If I can board a "Trotro" with “unknown” passengers from Ayeduase to Kwadaso in greater Kumasi in the Ashanti Region for about more than an hour, why can't I stand with a fellow “known” Muslim to pray within five to seven minutes in a Mosque?

I do agree Christians celebration of the Easter was also being robbed by the pandemic. However, theirs could have been denied because of its celebrations beyond the four walls of the Church unlike observing Muslims' month of Ramadan with intensive prayers preferably in the Masjid.

Besides, our Christian friends celebrations began during those chaotic days of the news about the virus finally creeping its way into the country. And again, the celebration was on few specific days and country-wide compared to Muslims 29 or 30 days of fasting with enthusiastic observation of the Five Daily Prayers and other optional ones, performed in Mosques throughout the month.

My humble opinion is therefore that, government should decide to either side with WHO or economists who are calling for either lockdown or lifting ban respectively. And we must all be affected by any of these two ways they decide to take.

This "middle path" chartered by the government smacks of gross injustice.

If banks, shops, Electoral Commission (EC), can operate and people can sit in commuter buses for more than half an hour together, the Churches and Mosques can operate as well.

If “uneducated” market women can observe basic Covid 19 fight tips while in the marketplaces, university or tertiary students can observe them better while on campus. Otherwise, everyone must stay at home.

Government must remember that there are “commercial men of God” whose daily bread are earned from thighs donations in Churches and Sadaqa (charity) donations in Mosques, especially in Ramadan.

There’s no point locking places of worship and opening markets and banks.

Submitted By:

Abdul Hakeem Iddrisu

(Young Prof.)

[email protected]

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