This one that COVID death is killing kings and their horsemen, big men dropping in droves, what do you think will happen if coronavirus stays put till 2023? Will there be elections?”

“Why won’t there be elections? Life is for the living. We will hold rallies. We will campaign, we will sing, dance and thoroughly abuse our opponents. We will troop out to vote. Are we not holding rallies in Edo already?”

“You are right. It is ‘my crowd is thicker than yours’ in Edo. I watch the crowds on television every day.”

“You do? Fine. Same will happen in Ondo, in Ekiti and in Osun in 2022. What you see now is ‘testing! testing!’; a template for the year of our lord, 2023. Those who must die will die; we will mourn them with a-minute silence and move on. You know how many trees have fallen in the last one week? Has that fact affected the course of our politics? Many more will, or may, die. We don’t care. Life is a running stream, it maintains its course, surrendering to fate as it draws from its waters. People died yesterday; people will die today and tomorrow. The river of life moves on as if nothing happens. Nothing will stop the elections, we will rally and party. You know why we must hold rallies?”

“Why?”

“It is in your interest. We must prevent the locusts from coming back to this country…”

“You sound like the big pig, Squealer, in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: ‘It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.’ Otherwise, Mr Jones, the old oppressor will come back.”

“Hmmmm.”

“Politicians hold rallies in this pandemic and their government is arresting market women and street traders for breaking COVID-19 rules. How fair is that? And we are supposed to be equal before the law.”

“It is your luck if you get arrested. You must obey rules until you become a politician, a big man. Until you cross the threshold of powerlessness, you must give yourself the wisdom of obeying rules and clapping when big men hold big rallies in this season of social distancing.”

“So what about schools? We lock up everywhere called school, wring our hands and tell the kids to wait for the right time?”

“That one does not concern us. The Nigerian government has no child in Nigerian schools.”

“When a man died recently in the Villa, a woman there said nature was cleansing itself. Now, with multipurpose COVID closing schools forever, politicians appear to have finally found a solution to the irritant called education. We may soon see the result on the street as predicted by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels. We will see ‘vast numbers of our people compelled to seek their livelihood by begging, robbing, stealing, cheating, pimping, forswearing, flattering, suborning, forging, gaming, lying, fawning, hectoring, voting, scribbling’ and so on. It will be a huge victory for politicians.”

“And is that not happening already, even with schools running? Don’t worry. We will defeat COVID tomorrow and, after that, we will reopen schools fully.”

“Good. We are saying the same thing. At least, we know that there is always a tomorrow after tomorrow.”

“And government is sending Boko Haram killers abroad on scholarship. Are these people in government well at all? What are terrorists going abroad to learn? How to make barrel bombs and how to slit throats?”

“Government has said it owes every Nigerian a duty. And these Boko Haram people are Nigerians. Listen. The ones we are sending abroad are just repentant killers, not active ones. And, meanwhile, your own schools are back here. We’ve agreed that they can open.”

“Confusion break bone. One part of your government spoke yesterday about reopening schools and the other part today threw the keys away before the reopening day. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, weeks ago announced that schools would start gradual reopening with final year primary and secondary school students. The minister of state for education, Emeka Nwajiuba on Monday, 6 July said Nigerian students would write WASSCE as announced by WAEC. Two days later, the minister of education, Mallam Adamu Adamu countered him: “We will not open soon for examination or for any reason, unless it is safe for our children…”

“But this is August. They’ve shifted grounds since then. Exit year students are going to school now.”

“And the universities? No one is talking about them.”

“Even if the government reopens those ones, where will the teachers come from? ASUU has said schools should not open until next year.”

“I read that. And you know my reaction to it?”

“Tell me.”

“Salaries should also wait till 2021.”

“I agree. Fair is fair. My friend who teaches in the United Kingdom gets paid for nine months in a year. He receives no salary for months of holidays. I have another friend in Kansas, United States, who confirmed same policy there. If you don’t work, you don’t receive salary.”

“Here, our prayer is for us to be blessed with isé bíntín, èrè púpò (a little work, heavy returns).”

“That is why university lecturers who are supposed to lead the way out of this darkness are cool about universities remaining closed till eternity.”

“It is a shame. They are making it look like the whole world is scratching its head on what to do to bypass this COVID and safely return our children to school. Why is it difficult for them to emulate that part of the world that is thinking hard on finding ways out of the COVID conundrum.”

“Yes. Governments and teachers abroad are sending students to flipped classrooms, turning their schools to seamless virtual learning centres, deploying technology to reclaim teacher-student tutorials.”

“Our friends there have shifted to Microsoft Teams and Zoom in classrooms. Some teach live online, some in recorded video and audio clips. They hold virtual tutorials. They use Moodle to conduct exams and make students submit their exam scripts via Turnitin, a plagiarism-detection application. ASUU’s solution is eternal holidays.”

“The world is thinking hard, developing solutions to existential problems. My country has surrendered to ineptitude.”

“Professors are, at least, teaching the world how to face panels, faint and be conscious.”

“And write election results for politicians. What our leaders are paid to do are forever left undone. They have no idea how to get our lives back. The only idea they have is how to spend money – earned, unearned, borrowed or wrung out of the poor…”

“Yes. Money squeezed out of the poor is sweet in big bellies.”

“They won’t talk about schools. Even Orwell’s Napoleon said education of the young was very important. Not here. Government is busy settling family feuds and scores while the youths are wasting away.”

“Yes. How far with Magu and Malami and their rumble in the jungle?”

“That one is forgotten. Same with NDDC/Akpabio versus lawmakers. Even the Keyamo/NDE/ legislators palavar has got more vibrant distractions.”

“One day, one sad tale.”

“We were talking about the closure of schools, the death of education.”

“And death of politicians; the need to ignore fear and campaign and win in 2023.”

“But this 2023 rat race amidst disease and death, how many do you think will really be alive then?”

“Leave that for fate to decide. What I know is that we will insist that there be elections even if the world comes to an end. It is in your interest that politicians are up, campaigning, daring COVID and its death. It is a great sacrifice we are making for you and your future. We are holding rallies, even staging huge burial parties for your sake. The other option is to have the old master, Mr Jones, back to Animal Farm. And I am sure no one wants to see Jones back with his corruption and oppression.”

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