Seyi Makinde’s Unenlightened Self-Interest

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Seyi Makinde

By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

The article you are about to read suffered an inexplicable disappearance last weekend.

It is still some sort of mystery to me, and perhaps a glitch of technology. Two Wednesdays ago, April 10, 2020, I had completed the creation process: thinking, applying, writing, editing and proof-reading. To season it, and be sure no sediment was not lurking somewhere, I decided to “sleep on” it, and do the needful the following day, Thursday, in spite of over-stretching my editor’s deadline.

So, on Thursday, after a quick review… satisfied, I sent it as email to the editor – or so I thought! Then, last Saturday, I sat calmly in a lockdown mode to read this newspaper. Alas, Counterpoint was missing! I scrubbed the internet, nothing. Then, I asked the editor if he had exercised his power to shunt the column for pecuniary reason; mind you, advertising revenue is more than a king nowadays. He hadn’t seen my mail…or nothing came from me. He simply assumed I had fallen victim to the underwhelming aroma of the Lockdown!

I still cannot fully grasp how the article disappeared between my Gmail draft box and the outbox – the ‘sent’ box was empty! Nevertheless, I am persuaded that the thought and position which influenced the article almost two weeks ago, are still tenable and relevant. Here we go…

It is obvious to all that the young governor of Oyo State is eager to serve, and possibly leave telling legacies in the nooks and crannies of the ancient cities that make up the nerve centres of the state. Observers have taken keen interest in his programmes and pronouncements…some of which are commendable, and some in which he has been forced to recant or remonstrate himself. We have seen him own up to gaffes in public actions worthy of severe reprimands. There have been occasions where he has impressed with his doggedness and thinly veiled hunger to surpass his predecessors of assorted pedigrees….and some unworthy of recollection.

Our current dismay is the speed and stuff of the governor’s recent encounter with the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19). He was one of three governors (others are Bala Mohammed of Bauchi and Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna) in a sensational moment of continental recognition for the awesome power and limitless disregard of COVID-19 to infect and overpower anybody.
He admirably announced his contract with COVID-19 on his Twitter page on Monday, March 30 (same day Lagos, Ogun – neighbouring states – and Abuja went on lockdown). Makinde declared briskly: “I just received my COVID-19 confirmation test result. It is POSITIVE.

I am asymptomatic (yet without symptoms) and will continue to self-isolate.”

This turn of event was not entirely surprising to observers of Oyo politics. Few weeks earlier, after a trip to Europe, amidst the pervasive careless, lethargic attitude of most parts of Europe to the spiralling coronavirus pandemic, the politician in Makinde led him against common sense and enlightened self-interest to host a political rally of his party, People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Widespread condemnation and opprobrium impressed on the young ambitious governor to flog himself, and contrary to usual pigheadedness of Nigerian politicians, to admit wrongdoing, and take responsibility for acts of impunity. Makinde declared a “lapse in judgement”, and a belated realisation that the gathering, at that point in the maturity of the dreaded disease, was less than responsible. Consequently, his ratings soared, with bipartisan praises for doing the unimaginable, and trusting that he would have learnt from that “lapse”.

Now, some of his discerning watchers are wondering if, indeed, he needs more chastening lessons in the fine balance between political expediency and statesmanship. What with the manner and attitude displayed in handling his positive/negative treatment of the COVID-19 personal invasion.

Exactly one week after he tested positive for Coronavirus, by his own admission; he also certified himself negative, and a relieved nation shouted hallelujah. But wait a minute… who did the test? Who signed the result? When was the first negative test confirmed? By whom? How many days were observed before the second mandatory test was conducted? Who did the second test? When? Where? What sort of treatment regimen was followed? Or did he simply depend on the alternative condiments spruced by his doctor friend? And all this was achieved within seven days? Were the people he came in contact with, ‘at work, home and abroad’, identified, tested and isolated accordingly? Shall we take it that the oft-mentioned 14 days of self-isolation, even for those merely suspected of coming in contact with a COVID-19 victim, is no longer necessary? Can a hitherto positive victim, though asymptomatic, be free to resume active duties (a couple of days after being confirmed negative)? And continue to move around in a frenetic desire to manage the biggest city in West Africa in a state as massive and susceptible as Oyo? So many questions… with answers nowhere in sight, as usual.

Perhaps, one particular answer lies in the governor’s remarkable recovery regimen as eloquently prescribed in a media interview where he declared himself negative. Earlier this month, while chatting with a private radio station in Ibadan, Makinde revealed his use of honey, Vitamin C and Blackseed Oil to conquer the might of the novel coronavirus.

His quote: “My very good friend and brother, Dr. Muyideen Olatunji is the one in charge of the Primary Healthcare for Oyo State. He came to me and said, look, I am going to send to you this blackseed oil, it boosts immunity. So I mixed it with honey and took one teaspoon in the morning and one in the evening.”

“So, there are local solutions to boost immunity. Our people should not fret. Just as I have been able to get the virus out of my system, so will it be for majority of our people.” Amen to that!

Well, we join his Oyo compatriots to wish him sustained health, and capacity to govern effectively, especially during this time that the state, and indeed the country, need competent, hardworking, sensible and intuitive leaders.

While in celebratory mode, it is pertinent to drop a note of warning. It is understandably worrisome what the huge population of Oyo State can take away from Makinde’s miracle return, a revival seemingly based largely on home-groomed concoction. We strongly fear that a surge in self application of alternative medicine, as prescribed by Makinde, may lead to abuse, misuse, and consequently a recurrence of public devastation as cruel as those wreaked by COVID-19 in some parts of Europe.

While we chant “God forbid!”, it is advisable that the governor and his handlers release into public domain more information surrounding the speedy recovery of Seyi Makinde…let it be made clear how and where he observed the mandatory 14-day isolation…the need to protect himself, family, aides and others to avert possible relapse, or further contamination…and the consistent aggressive measures, homegrown or transferred, to combat the spread and threat of the pandemic in the state.