How to be our brothers’ keepers: Arthur Eze’s examples

One major thing coronavirus brouhaha has done for many is to make them more circumspect about life and its essence. It has afforded many in their anguish the opportunity to take a second look at life. It never featured in the wildest imagination of many, of a time like this, when men big and small would be locked up in the cocoon of their homes for fear of an unseen enemy. It is something phantasmagorical. Before now many may have some sort of illusion about life’s essence. I have heard and read about the infections of high-profile individuals. I have heard about how those whom we call celebrities die from mere viral infection and their wealth, status and fame could not save them while the poor rural folks prance around “unprotected” and it dawned on me that life is an unfathomable mystery.

The main take-away from this is that wealth or status is not a hedge against death; life is a gift from the creator. Therefore it is not just about you but about humanity. Living life is to love and trust the creator of life and to show love and be a blessing to others. Life is not just about you and your egotist desires but about humanity. When you depart this world, you will go without your wealth or ephemeral status. You will leave behind people. Your main achievements are those you have touched who would miss you. Few people seem to have realized this eternal truth.

World famous personalities like Anthonio Piera, the Portuguese billionaire and the President of Santander Bank, Terrence McNally, the award-winning American playwright, Avtac Yalman, a general and former commander of Turkish Army, Lorenzo Sanz, businessman and former president of Real Madrid, Spain, Pape Diouf, journalist and former president of Olympique de Marseille France and many others, the list is endless died of COVID-19 complications. So is our own Abba Kyari, the powerful and the indomitable political gladiator of this era.

It is worrisome that the corona virus is still spreading like wild fire; the carnage is high worldwide together with its concomitant effect on the global economy. There is panic not just for the present but also for the future. New cases are being reported every day. The total number of infections now is over 800 nation-wide with over twenty fatalities. From the look of things, there is the likelihood that the lockdown may be extended until the spreading curve of the disease is flattened.

How are the people—the masses, the poor and the rural folks—going to survive this onslaught? Already, many have hocked and pawned their personal belongings just for money to feed. Some people are placing their assets for sale but nobody is buying because nobody seems to have enough. Those who do not anything to fall back on are praying fervently for help from above.

No doubt the survival of these groups must come from the well-meaning individuals. The government has been reported to have released some palliatives. The CBN has also released its stimulus package. But clearly, all these may not be enough; they must be complemented.

It is on this note that I wish to comment on the lofty examples of many Nigerians with milk of human kindness that have identified with the economically vulnerable group during this period of hunger and lack. Many public spirited individuals have made donations worth millions of naira in cash, foodstuffs and medical kits to individuals, families and communities to cushion the effect of the corona virus lockdown. We cannot stop writing about their good gestures. No doubt, real heroes, patriots, humanists and leaders emerge during periods of national emergency like this.

In particular, I wish to commend the laudable example of Prince Arthur Eze who has done something commendable in ensuring that the poor in his home town Ukpo and the neighbouring communities are not starving this period. So far, cash and various items including food stuffs—yam, rice, beans, cow—worth over N100 million has been distributed to individuals and communities. He has also donated kits, sanitizers, face masks and drugs to individuals, communities and hospitals in Ukpo and neighbouring communities on weekly basis since the commencement of the lockdown exercise. He has also been sponsoring awareness campaigns on the COVID-19 issues and the need to obey government lockdown directives to ensure victory over the killer virus.

What is unique about his gesture is that it is done without publicity. It is those who benefitted from his largesse that are the harbingers of the good news.  This is real humanitarian services. I have never seen a man like Prince Arthur Eze, a man known for philanthropy who despite his wealth and royalty is still very close to the poor. Many of his philanthropic gestures in the past are in the public domain and do not need to be reeled out here. Prince Arthur is always philosophical about wealth and its purpose. He knows that wealth and riches are from God and those who have them are holding in trust for the people and at the slightest prompting he does not hesitate to share what he has with the people.

Indeed, this is a soul stirring period; a time for individuals and body corporate to do their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The government, the CBN has set the tone and I commend them. Prince Arthur Eze has reciprocated. I eulogize his kind, patriotic and philanthropic gesture. I expect others: the money bags, corporate giants, captains of industries, high net-worth individuals, business moguls to follow suit.

Now that the worship centres are closed. You have to worship God in truth and in spirit in your heart, not in structures made by hand. You have to worship God in your neighbor. You have to pay your tithe and offerings to the people and at the right place. You have to remember the Levites, the poor, the needy, the sick, the weak and the elderly, the orphans, the strangers and all the vulnerable groups. You have to do your corporal work of mercy. This is the time to practice true religion. The Holy Book says that whatsoever you do to the least of brothers you do unto me.

The most crucial part of this is not just surviving the lockdown for it will soon be over but beginning life after the lockdown. Petty traders who have stayed at home for weeks and have spent their meagre working capital would want to start again. Activities would start at a lull pace after the lock down that means artisans may not find things easy. We cannot leave it in the hand of government alone. Already oil price has crashed and government revenue zeroed and foreign reserve depleted. Survival would depend primarily on individual and community effort. Nigerians should be their brothers’ keeper. This is not the time to be myopic or selfish. Do not say it is not my problem; it is not my fault. Remember that if you are wealthy in the midst of hungry and angry people your wealth and life may be at great risk. Again, in the lighter and ethical mood too, I expect those who have stolen from our national treasury and stashed them abroad to bring the monies back to invest here to avert impending social upheaval. Those who stole our monies may receive divine absolution if they return them and invest at home.

However, this is no time to despair. It is a time for introspection and soul-searching. It is a time to demonstrate faith in God. It is a time to be positive, optimistic and hopeful; a time to love our families and show love and care to our neighbors. It is a time to persevere and plan. I will also advise Nigerians to look inwards for solution. There are always opportunities in that situation that appears hopeless.

Irogbolie, economist and public policy analyst, writes via [email protected]

Leave a Reply