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The small axe of coronavirus and the Neighbour Principle




I trust that you are staying safe, dear reader, only stepping out to buy essentials, visit the newsstand and such like. We are in the age of Coronavirus and all of mankind is in search of the small axe. The metaphor of the small axe applies to both the coronavirus and the search for solutions to what it has caused.
My favourite reggae artist, the late Robert Nesta Marley, popularised the Bible verse on the efficacy of the small axe.  Indeed, there are several Biblical references to the small axe. Bob Marley, however, sang about those “working iniquity to achieve vanity” and declared
So, if you are a big tree
We are the small axe
Ready to cut you down (well sharp)
To cut you down
The coronavirus has become a small axe with the capacity to bring down the giant tree. It has humbled the leading nations of this era, from the United States through the United Kingdom to the nations of Europe. It has taken a tiny invisible virus to bring every nation and high-ranking official down several notches.
The small axe of the coronavirus hit several nations hard. Italy is number one. Experts are still trying to unravel why the preponderance of deaths per case of more than ten per cent in Italy against the norm of less than five per cent in other countries. Because of coronavirus, the world is shutting down. Cities across the world are on lockdown.
Wise people learn from the experiences of others as direct experiencing can be very expensive. Unfortunately, Nigeria did not learn in the first two months of this pandemic as it ravaged various countries. We refused to take positive and hard decisions to ensure that we do not go the route of those countries.
Now, we are at Corona Gate. The numbers of the affected increase daily. More significantly, disclosures about parties and meetings by our eminent citizens across the world bear out the claims previously underground that our numbers are grossly under-reported.
The small axe of coronavirus is humbling the high and mighty of Nigeria. Nigeria’s “big men” distinguish themselves by recalcitrance, boorish conduct and disregard for the laws they either made or are supposed to implement. It is thus not surprising to learn that members of the National Assembly disregarded the simplistic tests FAAN officials carry out at the airports. They just walked past and refused to self-isolate. Very typical.
The coronavirus has become a small axe with the capacity to bring down the giant tree. It has humbled the leading nations of this era, from the United States through the United Kingdom to the nations of Europe. It has taken a tiny invisible virus to bring every nation and high-ranking official down several notches
Coronavirus has declared war on nations. Each day, we watch as leaders of various nations, from the developed world to other African countries, lead from the front in briefing their citizens and acting decisively. It usually involves both the executive and the legislative arms. On the contrary, our war councils shut down in apparent abdication. From the Federal Executive Council, the National Council of States through the National Assembly, they took off rather than lead from the front and assure citizens of their commitment to tackling the issue.
From being a small axe, coronavirus has transformed into the big tree. Coronavirus in Nigeria has commenced with the elite, bringing out the many paradoxes of governance and leadership in our land. Our clinics are “mere consulting clinics”, the reason the man who popularised that term always goes abroad despite voting huge sums for the clinic right where we house him.  Reactions online to the incidents of positive tests for coronavirus by the high and mighty speaks volumes about social relations in our country. It is sad and frightening.
Nations and their citizens must now bring out their small axes to cut down the big tree of coronavirus We must do so collectively, each person lifting the other.
We must apply the Neighbour Principle that urges all to ensure that our actions do not cause harm or injury to our neighbour. Our neighbour is anyone likely to suffer a consequence, positive or negative, from our actions. It is best to be the Good Samaritan of which the Lord Jesus spoke in the Christian Holy Book.
On this score, Guaranty Trust Bank earns huge plaudits for its action that epitomises both the Neighbour Principle and best practice in Corporate Social Investment. Tomorrow, according to GTB MD Segun Agbaje, the bank will open to the public its 100-bed hospital that would equip Nigeria further to tackle care for persons afflicted by the coronavirus.
The GTB bequest represents more than a million small axes to help cut down the big tree to which the small axe of coronavirus has transformed. Nigeria needs more of such. Who can manufacture ventilators in sufficient numbers and quality for when we need them? Who has the capacity for doing masks? Who would supply sanitizers? Are our pharmaceutical firms ready to manufacture drugs such as oxychloroquine identified as promising? Which labs can do the test for coronavirus? How quickly can we build and equip robust laboratories across the country?
The fact is that many of our citizens in big cities such as Lagos may not have farms in the backyard from which to pluck essentials during this period. Reach out to neighbours. Visit. Assist those who may not be able to stock up.
The call of today is for citizens, corporate and individual, to bring out the small axe of kindness, apply the Neighbour Principle and serve as Good Nigerians (Samaritans) one to the other.
Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire – Matt 3:10
Chido Nwakanma

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