If meningitis were God’s punishment

By Muhammad Ajah

As an advocate of humanity, I have pleaded with God to ignore the proclamations of the inpatient, inhuman and un-Godly of His created mankind. Mankind see themselves so free that they can say anything and ascribe it to God Who, though knowing and seeing all, is patient and loving. God created everything in existence. And anything that happens, including calamities and sicknesses, is definitely within His knowledge.

So, it is partly true that what is specifically befalling Zamfara state and other states of the federation are from God. But the irony is that Zamfara is the first state to declare sharia which is believed to be the antidote to all socio-economic ills. How the governor of the state came to the conclusion that the pandemic called meningitis is a punishment from God for the sin(s) of Zamfara people is intrinsically implicating. Howbeit, this position of the governor generated wide reactions from the citizenry including the socio-economist-politician-Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II. May God save Nigerians from the punishments of the sins committed by the influential amongst us.

Governor Abdul-Aziz Yari, methinks, is versed in the Holy Book of Islam. It is quite possible that he formally acquired Islamic education, hence being in position to comprehend Qur’an verses. Many nations in history were destroyed with different things including water that has no enemy according to Fela Kuti. Some were wiped away by fire; some by wind; some by quakes; some through deafening sounds; some in mysterious inexplicable manners. And the God of those times is still in control.

Many were ravaged by plagues. And the cause for their destruction was primarily because of their sin(s). Though I do not know the kind of sin referred to by the Zamfara governor, I know the greatest sin that led to destructions of past nations were defiance to preordained order simplified in association of partnership with the Supreme Being. The destroyed past nations reveled in all the seven deadly sins. Injustice, wickedness, oppression and the hard chase for the worldly were quotidian.

If this cause be the same with that of Governor Yari, then Nigeria at large is in trouble. Rebellion to divinity is an open secret contraction in Nigerian society, though more pronounced in some states. Anything whose power and intervention are sought other than God’s is rebellion. And not many, even 10 percent, can be sworn for not having been implicated in that rebellion in one way or the other. The murky politics in Nigeria and domestication of cabalism have often intricately lured many to presumed backups from non-human.

On the other hand, elaborate analysis of the deadly sins reveals that Nigeria houses them in quantum. Pride is defined as the excessive belief in one's own abilities which interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise. Pride is also known as vanity from which the first mankind, Adam, was challenged by the devil. Envy is the desire to acquire other peoples’ ordained status and abilities. Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires. Lust is an undue craving for the pleasures of the body. Anger is the manifestation of fury over love. Greed is the uncontrollable desire for mere worldly things with utmost scorn on spiritual elevation. It is also called avarice or covetousness. And sloth is the avoidance of the physical or spiritual work. These are commonplace in Nigeria, maybe more haunting in Zamfara state.

Indeed, because of all these, God afflicted many past nations with diverse vitriolic calamities. A recurring instance in the Holy Books is Pharaoh and his people who underwent series of punishments with years of drought and scarcity of fruit. They took no heed but persisted in their obduracy against divine order. The two plagues sent upon them by God lasted for years. Drought afflicted the farmers for years, creating famine in the land. Then rains came, producing the crops, but when harvest arrived, scarcely any fruit or grain was left to gather. And when Pharaoh and his advisors persisted on their path of error, God sent on them the flood, locusts, weevils, frogs and blood in a succession. It must be noted that every time they were afflicted, the people begged for reprieve.

So Gov. Yari’s hypothesis that meningitis is a retributive justice from God on the people of Nigeria can be looked at from several angles. “It is God’s way of punishing Nigerians for their immoral conduct”. Zamfara from 15 affected states has recorded over 215 deaths nationwide from the God-sent ailment. He was elaborate. He accused Nigerians of turning away from God Who promised that “if you do anyhow, you see anyhow”. He was able to identify only one sin. “There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured,” he stated.

The death toll from the disease is over 400 with suspected infections figured at 4,637, according to reports released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). It is on the increase. Though experts from the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC, NPHCDA, WHO, UNICEF, Africa CDC, US CDC, Medecins Sans Frontieres, AFENET, University of Maryland and E-Health Africa are working hard to contain the scourge, over half a million doses of Meningitis C vaccines have been distributed to affected states for immediate vaccination with additional 823,970 doses expected from the United Kingdom to support vaccination in other affected states.

In a speech at an event in Kaduna, Emir Sanusi chided Governor Yari over such statement he described as non-Islamic, accusing the state of having the highest poverty rate in Nigeria despite being the first state to declare sharia in the country. At a different forum, the emir observed that many of those who seized religion as tool of getting power were not necessarily better than the rest of the citizens.

“We have had it in Nigeria; people came and said they were implementing sharia. Zamfara state started it; it has the highest rate of poverty in the country today.” The super Emir believes that it was a matter of time for people to realize that this was all deception, all politics and not religion; it is about politicians appropriating religion as a discourse for getting into power. Zamfara state implemented sharia in 1999 and till today, it is unarguably one of the underdeveloped states in all its ramifications.

It is noteworthy that the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, met with the northern state governors, the emirs and their commissioners of health in Kaduna to proffer solution to the outbreak. The Nigerian army has also mounted campaign awareness on the menace.

Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail [email protected]