COVID-19 jab: Death corruption and those Hallelujah men

Death - often from fear - magnify all surrounding objects of danger and insecurity to paralyze the will of its victims and prevent them from saving their lives with the needed action. Under the vertigo of the many, the greatest crimes in history were committed by the emboldened few.

In Nigeria, fear from the present pestilence has not only multiplied new venues of crises and corruption at the corridors of power but has also magnified the hubris of Hallelujah men, who imagining themselves at heaven’s gate is as busy as ever collecting the final tithe while misinforming the people on the reality of the rapidly mutating contagion. Even the well-received scientific resolve by the Federal Government to make available the COVID-19 vaccine jab to all Nigerians has become an opportunity for the ruling class and their partners in crime to practice their chicanery against the people.

Is it not troubling that a languid fatality, not science and action seem to temper our philosophy and national response to a coronavirus that has globally claimed the lives of over 3.5 million people and infected over 170 million individuals with the growing capacity to kill more people from its increasingly emerging and more virulent strains? Unless the nation wakes up from its sleepy slumber, it may return to its formal mean and white masters, the slavery days or become fully dependent on imperialism as we still bear its neocolonial scars. The hard facts stated by The Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) are that the economic recovery of nations, their rate of industrialization and assimilation into the globally dominating new digital technologies and employment are directly proportional to the percentage of their population that are vaccinated or have overcome the contagion. Also, long durations to vaccination may enable the virus to mutate into more virulent strains that become resistant to presently available vaccines making recovery of the labour force more difficult.

It is amazing that over four months after its importation, most of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine reported to be in the cold storage rooms of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory under the supervision of the governors has yet to make its way beyond the privileged class to the common majority of the people. The national and state bureaucracies charged with mobilizing and administering the vaccine – The Presidential Task Force (PTF) with The Presidential Adhoc Committee; The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and to cap it all, in the words of the government “for accountability and transparency”, the Independent Corruption Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). Perhaps the government with its ICPC desires to douse the angst of the Nigerian people who were robbed of the past palliatives by their governors meant to serve as a remedy to the hardship and unemployment due to the COVID-19 lockdowns ordered by the government.

The Nigerian people do not expect the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines to be purloined and sold to the lucky few that can afford it as their palliatives were sold to them by government agents through the black market. It should not become another business venture. Why should the streets of London, New York and Delhi be lined up with their citizens for vaccination, while those of Enugu, Port-Harcourt, Kano and Ibadan remain empty? How many people among the health workers, the millions of elderly people in our remote villages and over-crowded local markets, or the several thousands of students, back to their campuses from the last strike to their over-crowded classrooms and hostels have been given the opportunity to receive their vaccine jabs, beyond the hopeless surrender to an unprogrammed herd immunity or the fatalistic resignation that what will be, will be?

The procurement of limited boxes of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines, and the demonstration to the people by the President, Vice President and members of the Nigerian ruling class through the mass media that the vaccine was harmless by receiving their vaccine jabs, does not ensure the effective vaccination of the Nigerian population. It may perhaps be a commencement, but a genuine solution for getting the vaccine to the people should include the technology transfer for COVID-19 vaccine production from a friendly fraternal nation such as Cuba. The nation can then be self-reliant to its own production. Such a self-reliant approach can then be supplemented by imported and procured COVID-19 vaccines in order to expedite the rate of vaccination to reach all parts of Nigeria in the shortest time. Without a genuine transfer of technology and self-reliance in the production of the vaccine, the Nigerian people remain vulnerable to exploitation and at the mercy of foreign powers and vaccine imperialism. Such a useful technology, also remain necessary for the manufacturing of vaccines for future and more dangerous visitations.

The surrender by most Nigerians to fatalism in response to the present pandemic is reinforced by the character of the Nigerian ruling class. Only recently the nation gained notoriety in the United States when the wife of a state governor flew to the United States to illegally purchase her own COVID-19 vaccine jab when the government of that nation had sanctioned all its citizens from vaccination except health workers who needed the vaccine to protect themselves from their infected patients. Her response? “All fingers are not equal”, displaying her gold and diamond-ringed stubby fingers. Nigerians have also witnessed how their state governors and members of the legislative branch looted their palliatives meant to cushion their suffering from the lockdowns from the present pandemic. What guarantee can ensure that the COVID-19 vaccines will not in subterfuge go the same way?

Their fatalism is also encouraged by the hubris and false utterances of Hallelujah men with the aim of growing their churches and religious businesses.

For the love of money and profit obtained from their teeming church members, they launched their attack on science which for over 100 years have demonstrated the existence of antibodies that are induced in organisms exposed to foreign agents such as viruses or bacteria. Thus, the principle of vaccinations is the use of dead pathogens or their particles to induce the formation of antibodies by the organism, which destroy the invasive live pathogens stopping their spread and multiplication thus preventing them from causing disease. Vaccines have been shown throughout history to be effective weapons against pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. The 1918 Influenza Pandemic, Small Pox, Yellow Fever and many more infections were all defeated through vaccinations. Most recently, vaccines are also proving to be the decisive weapon of mankind against malaria, which kills thousands of children in Africa annually.

Yet, most of the Hallelujah men in Nigeria have continued to spread the hubris that the COVID-19 vaccines were to be used to track individuals in complement with the new G-5 contained technology; that bad government will use the vaccine to control and regulate the movements and trace the locations of their citizens. The aim of such false and ridiculous hubris is to grow more vulnerable and fatalistic members into their expanding churches tithes, donation and profit. A reasonable number of these pastors clandestinely have bought and received their own vaccine jabs wisely preferring not to part company from their dollars and lucrative church businesses.

From the most recent account by Forbes Magazine – which keeps updated tabs and rankings of the world’s richest men – Nigeria’s Hallelujah men are among the top 20 with a total worth of $500 million. A frontline Nigerian pastor was recently sued in Britain and made to pay a fine for spreading false information to the public on the COVID-19 pandemic to grow his churches worldwide. Here in Nigeria, the government and political parties consider the fear of the Hallelujah men as the beginning of wisdom. They have continued to exercise caution that the Hallelujah men will use their huge votes and influence of their large membership against them in their quest for power. It should not be forgotten that religious bodies have always had alliances with every government and more so now as part of the ruling class.

The Federal Government, human and people’s rights activists, should learn from the British people by suing or setting up taxes on the Hallelujah men over their hubris against science that prevent Nigerians from appreciating the importance of vaccines as the most effective means of protection against the present ravaging pestilence. Also, money raised from such fines and taxes can be channeled into equipping our health workers in acquiring the scarce oxygen tanks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) needed to defeat the contagion also through augmenting the money budgeted to acquire more vaccines, or putting their millions of dollars in building infrastructures for the technology transfer in vaccine production from fraternal and friendly nations now and against future pandemics.
Onwubiko, PhD is Professor and Head, Department of Biochemistry.

University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

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