Life Is All That Matters Now

Are you aware that the Governor of the State of Osun, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, on Friday 13th March, 2020 signed into law the State’s Security Network Agency and Amotekun Corps Establishment Bill, a bill which was on 3rd March, 2020 passed into law by the House of Assembly, after a public hearing to seek stakeholders’…”
March 16, 2020 5:41 pm

Are you aware that the Governor of the State of Osun, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, on Friday 13th March, 2020 signed into law the State’s Security Network Agency and Amotekun Corps Establishment Bill, a bill which was on 3rd March, 2020 passed into law by the House of Assembly, after a public hearing to seek stakeholders’ contributions and suggestions on the bill?  Do you know that the new law is to give mileage to security architecture in the State? Can you recall that recently, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola swore in Chairmen and members of Rent Tribunal as part of the ways to guarantee peace among landlords and tenants?  Are you aware that this is part of the ways through which Consumers’ Rights are protected? Do you know that the World Consumer Rights Day is right here with us on 15th March 2020? You care to know more about it?  We shall come to that later.

Do you know that the best of the clairvoyants in Nigeria did not predict what we are now going through? Do you know that everyone’s health is all that matters now?  Are you aware that most of our predictions for the year were off-limit?  Do you know that we have to re-work every detail of the budget all over again?  No thanks to COVID 19 and the trade war between Russia and Saudi Arabia! Do you know that the fear of COVID 19 continues to gnaw us at heart and our collective response is now to define our capacity to cope with emergency as a nation?  Are you aware that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday last week?  His voice under quarantine interludes:  “Thanks for your words and support. Everyone’s health is all that matters right now.”

         Are you aware that from major club and international football to the golf and tennis tours, Covid-19 has decimated the sporting calendar of the entire world?  Are you aware that Premier League and British football have been shut down until 4 April, 2020 due to coronavirus as Chelsea was put in lock-down after Hudson-Odoi tested positive? Do you know that the London Marathon has been postponed to 4 October, 2020 and all matches in Bundesliga have been suspended? Do you know that Scottish Football Association suspended matches and England’s Internationals cancelled?  Do you know that these  shutdowns  until April means that this season may never be completed? Do you know that Euro 2020 is under threat, with UEFA  to meet next week to discuss the tournament’s destiny? Are you aware that the Manchester Marathon is the latest big run to be called off, an event that had been scheduled to take place on 5 April,2020? Can you hear the organisers say:  “ As the organiser of a mass participation sporting event such as this we have a responsibility to ensure the safety and health of our runners, spectators and crew, and to do everything within our power to prevent the virus from spreading further.”

Are you aware that England’s International friendly against Italy and Denmark has been cancelled and Wales against  Austria is also put off?  Do you know that F1 grand prix in Bahrain and Vietnam have been cancelled?  Do you know that the Masters Golf Major has been postponed, the London Marathon put back from April to October, 2020  and England’s cricket tour of Sri Lanka is no more holding?  Can you believe that last weekend’s remaining Six Nations match of  Wales against Scotland, was totally off?  Are you aware that last Sunday’s Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale and Harlequins was off?  Do you know that in cycling, the Giro d’Italia has been postponed, along with June’s Women’s Tour? Are you aware that FIFA has advised that all remaining international matches due to be played in March and April should be postponed indefinitely and  has also announced it will temporarily relax its normal rules which oblige clubs to release players for international fixtures, stating that would not apply should games go ahead?  FIFA  statement cuts in:  “To avoid any unnecessary health risks and also situations of potential sporting unfairness, we therefore recommend that all international matches previously scheduled to take place in March and April should now be postponed until such time that they can take place in a safe and secure environment, both for players and for the general public.

              Do you care to wonder how disappointing this news will be for so many runners who had trained hard for many months, the thousands of charities for which they are raising funds to survive and the millions who watch the race every year for entertainment, publicity or for pools staking?  Do you know that there will be many from sponsors and manufacturers of sports equipment and kits?

Do you know that the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) says up to 50 million jobs could be lost because of the pandemic as its leader, Gloria Guevara, hinted that the outbreak “presents a significant threat to the industry”?  Do you know that losing 50 million jobs this time around is like a mass murder for some homes and workers?  Can you believe that this news came after thousands of international flights were cancelled and some insurance firms suspended travel cover for new customers? Do you know that new figures from the WTTC suggest that the travel sector could shrink by up to 25% in 2020? Do you know that this agency is calling on governments to take several steps to protect the industry, including: removing or simplifying visas where possible  as well as reducing costs, relaxing unnecessary barriers  at ports and airports, reduce travellers’ taxes such as Air Passenger Duty and increase budgets for promoting travel destinations? Do you know that the tourism industry has been massively affected by the spread of coronavirus, as many countries have introduced travel restrictions in an attempt to contain its spread?  Are you aware that cruise ship firm, Princess Cruises, is suspending all operations for 60 days as one of its cruises was kept off the coast of San Francisco for five days after 21 passengers tested positive for the virus?

            Do you know that British Airways, EasyJet and Norwegian Air have all cut flights in response to the outbreak?  Do you know that Korean Air even warned that the coronavirus could threaten its survival now and in the future? Do you know that Australia’s Qantas is reducing international flights by nearly 25% in response to the outbreak as Chinese airline passenger numbers dropped by 84.5% in the month of February, 2020?  Are you aware that China’s  aviation regulator said on Thursday 12th March, 2020 that the drop had caused a 21bn-yuan (£2.35bn) fall in revenue?   Are you aware that Ryanair will stop services to and from Italy from Friday 13thMarch, 2020 until 8 April, with BA scrapping its routes until 4 April as the country goes into lockdown?  Do you know that EasyJet has cancelled all of its flights to and from Italy between 10 March and 3 April, 2020 as Norwegian Air has also said it will cut about 3,000 flights in the next three months, about 15% of its capacity? Do you know that while the restrictions on travel generally are becoming stiffer some services have stopped completely in some tourist destinations as there has also been a general fall in demand as holiday-makers put their plans on hold and firms instruct staff to limit travel? Do you know that travel and tour companies are laying off their workforce even in the United States of America?

               Can you believe that Disney’s tourism business has come to a halt as Disney (DIS) is closing Walt Disney World, its flagship theme park resort in Orlando, Florida, because of the global pandemic? Are you aware that the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World (which late Ayinde Barister…our Fuji music legend advertised in one of his tracks) is the world’s most-visited theme park, with more than 20 million visitors in 2018 and more in 2019 as  reported  by AECOM, the world’s premier infrastructure firm?  Do you know that the company has invested billions in its theme park division, opening two new Star Wars lands in Florida and California last year with a brand new ride in railway  debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios just last week? Do you know that the parks are a major driver of the company’s sprawling entertainment business as the company generated more than $26 billion in sales at its Parks last year? Do you know that the company also announced the closure of Disneyland Paris and the suspension of all new departures with the Disney Cruise Line?  Do you know that just last Thursday, 12thMarch, 2020, the company said it was closing its iconic Disneyland resort in Anaheim, California as the virus, which has spread worldwide, has now shuttered the gates of all eleven Disney theme parks across North America, Europe and Asia? Can you fathom the millions of job-losses as the U.S. travel and tourism industry lost  at least $24 billion in foreign spending in the first Quarter of this year according to data produced by Tourism Economics?    The company states:

“In an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of our theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Paris Resort, beginning at the close of business on Sunday, March 15, through the end of the month,”

          Do you know that the drop in energy prices and production due to reduced consumption  may lead to global recession?  Have you heard the news?  Are you aware that the Trump administration  had announced suspending travel from 26 European countries for 30 days, beginning from Friday 13th March, 2020  in response to the coronavirus pandemic as he claimed that a large number of new clusters of the virus in the United States were seeded by travellers from Europe? Do you know that the ban encompasses the nations that make up the Schengen area which include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland?. Do you know that U.S. President Donald Trump said in a speech Wednesday 11th March, 2020  that he excluded Britain from his travel restrictions because it was doing a “good job” in fighting the coronavirus?

            Have you heard the news of husband-and-wife pastors from Burkina Faso who traveled to France in February, 2020  were found to have the coronavirus after they developed symptoms after their arrival from the trip? Can you believe that  following Sunday services at their 12,000-capacity mega-church in Ouagadougou, they tested positive to the virus? Do you know that Nigeria’s mega-churches  and their vast congregations should be a source of worry for the spread of coronavirus?  Are you aware that a large majority of the more than 7,800 cases in South Korea were traced back to the secretive Shincheonji Church of Jesus?  Do you know that the  pastors, Mamoudou Karambiri and Hortense Karambiri, had spent the week of Feb. 17-24  praying and fasting with more than 2,000 fellow Christians at an annual Lenten gathering  in France, which has one of Europe’s highest caseloads?   Do you know that they then returned to their home church, Bethel Israel Tabernacle, and held a Sunday service on March 1?  Do you know that according to Le Monde, a French newspaper, almost 40 others who attended the Lenten prayer week, held in Mulhouse, France, carried the virus to other parts of France and to Guyana?  

Do you know that President Trump has declared a national emergency in the United States to help handle the growing outbreak of coronavirus and says he will “most likely” be tested for coronavirus? Are you aware that the 1988 Stafford Act gives the President alone the ability to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to co-ordinate a national response to “natural catastrophes” within the United States? Do you know that there are currently more than 30 national emergencies in effect that Mr Trump has declared, including one last year to redirect military funds to build a southern border wall to prevent illegal immigration to the United States?  Do you know that he also issued the order to deal with wildfires in California and flooding in the Midwest? Do you know that the United States has voted $50bn  in emergency relief funds for the pandemic? Do you know that as we speak, there are 1,701 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US, and 40 deaths and the virus had spread to 46 States? Do you know that Brazil’s President Jair Bolsanaro, whose top aides tested positive to the virus, had recently met US officials including President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence? Do you know that it means much to the politics and economy of the  world if President Trump tests positive to the virus?  Do you know that President Trump’s travel ban on 26 European countries will affect world economy?  

Do you know that WHO officials declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on Wednesday 11th March, 2020  as the virus spreads rapidly across the world from Asia to Europe, the Middle East and now parts of the United States and just last Friday, WHO officials said that Europe has become the new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic?  Do you know that Italy currently has the most cases outside of China with at least 15,113 infections, followed by Spain at 4,334, Germany at 3,156 and France at 2,882, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University?  Do you know that Switzerland currently has 1,125 cases, followed by Sweden at 809, the Netherlands at 804 and Denmark at 788? Do you know that Europe is not far away?  The statement of WHO DG,  Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus cuts in:

“More cases are now being reported in Europe every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic. When the virus is out there, the population has no immunity and no therapy exists, then 60% to 70% of the population will be infected.”

  Do you know that our collective responses as we speak to the virus is not far-reaching enough? Do you know that we are still contending with fake vaccines, fake drugs and fake sanitizers?  Do you know that it is an automatic mass murder to confront coronavirus with fake sanitizers?  Do we have enough food security to withstand any lock-down? Have our security forces been put on notice to respond to any health emergency? Do you know that we should step up serious campaigns against fake drugs and sanitizers as we celebrate this year’s Consumer Protection Rights  Day?  What is the import of this day?  Come along with us.  WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus warns:

“Not testing alone, not contact tracing alone, not quarantine alone, not social distancing alone, do it all. Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks that won’t happen to us is making a deadly mistake, it can happen to any country.”

Are you aware that Anwar Fazal of Consumers International  proposed the observance of a ‘World Consumer Rights Day’ on 15 March 1983 and the day was approved  to promote basic rights of consumers as an annual occasion for celebration and solidarity within the international consumer movement? Do you know that participants observe the day by promoting the basic rights of all consumers, demanding that those rights are respected and protected, and protesting about the market abuses and social injustices which undermine them?  Do you know that the theme for 2020 is:  “the Sustainable Consumer” to spread awareness about environmental breakdown and global climate changes? Do you know that a world of sustainable consumers must be freed from the evil shackles of fake drugs, fake sanitizers and incessant power outages as we witness in electricity companies and their consumers in Nigeria?  Do you know that a world of sustainable consumer must be protected from the vestiges of Lassa Fever and COVID 19?  

Do you know you have consumer rights as a Nigerian consumer? Have you bought fake drugs from chemists?  Have you been tricked to buy fake sanitizers?  Have you been humiliated by your landlords or tenants?  Do you know that you are have the right of claim to some Consumer Rights which are enforceable?  Do you know that these consumer rights are fully backed by law as provided for in the Consumer Protection Council Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004?  Do you know that this Act provides for the establishment of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and empowers it to uphold these rights for every Nigerian? Do you know that the Consumer Rights of every Nigerian are eight and they include: the right to satisfaction of basic needs, right to safety, right to information, right to choose,  right to redress, right to consumer education, right to consumer representation and the right to a healthy environment?  Do you know that when you are sure that your consumer right is infringed upon, you can approach any of the CPC office in your State and present a formal complaint in writing?  Do you know that institutions will sit up if we activate Consumer  Protection Rights?

Are you aware that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is empowered by the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act, 2005 to ensure an efficient electricity supply industry? Do you know that the Act mandates the Commission to ensure that electricity operators recover costs on investment and provide quality service to customers?  Do you know that electricity customers are protected by the Act to have some rights which include: all new electricity connections must be done strictly based on metering before connection, all customers have a right to electricity supply in a safe and reliable manner, all customers have a right to a properly installed and functional meter, all customers have a right to be properly informed and educated on the electricity service, all customers have a right to transparent electricity billing, all un-metered customers must be issued with electricity bills strictly based on NERC’s estimated billing methodology, all customers have the right to be notified in writing ahead of disconnection of electricity service by the DisCo serving the customer in line with NERC’s guidelines, all customers have a right to refund when over billed, all customers have a right to file complaints and to the prompt investigation of complaints, all complaints on electricity supply and other billing issues are to be sent to the nearest business unit of the DisCo serving the customer, if a complaint is not satisfactorily addressed, customers have a right to escalate the issue to the NERC Forum Office within the coverage area of the DisCo, customers have the right to appeal the decision of the NERC Forum Office by writing a petition to the Commission, all  customers have the right to contest any electricity bill, any un-metered customer who is disputing his or her estimated bill has the right not to pay the disputed bill, but pay only the last undisputed bill as the contested bill go through the dispute resolution process of NERC and that it is not the responsibility of electricity customer or community to buy, replace or repair electricity transformers, poles and related equipment used in the supply of electricity?

Do you know that the  electricity consumers too, have their obligations which include: pay bills for electricity consumed, provide requirements for connection as stipulated by NERC and DisCo, vigilant protection of electrical installations, maintaining cordiality towards electricity workers, promoting customer compliance to the requirements of the distribution code, pay for electricity used within the stipulated time frame, ensure receipt of monthly electricity bills if not on prepaid meters and lodge a complaint to the DisCo serving  the consumer, should the consumer not get the bills, ensure that metering and other electrical equipment within the consumer’s    premises belonging to the DisCo are not tampered with, or by-passed, notify the DisCo serving the consumer of any tampering or bypass of electricity installations and notify the DisCo serving the consumer of any outstanding electricity bill before moving into new premises?

Are you aware that when a customer is not satisfied, he may approach the Consumer Protection Council, a body established  in line with the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection of 1985?  Do you know that CPC is an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria and supervised by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment? Do you know that the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) implements guidelines to inform exporters and assure Nigerian consumers that imported products comply with applicable regulations? Do you know that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), was established in 1993 with functions to regulate and control the importation, exportation, manufacturing, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled water and chemicals as ways to protect consumers in Nigeria? Do you know that despite these agencies, Consumer Protection in this clime has long road to trek as we observe Consumer Protection Rights in breaches?  The time to rid our markets of fake drugs, fake water, fake wine and adulterated food items and expired meat is now.  This is the short way to avoid Lassa Fever and COVID 19.

Do you know that our country needs serious prayers as it is battling emergency economic problems occasioned by international conspiracy?  Are you aware that last week, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a cartel of 15 countries of oil-producing nations, met at OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria  to discuss what to do as the impacts of COVID19  has lowered global demand for oil?  Do you know that Russia is not part of the cartel but it was invited to that crucial meeting to honour a deal cemented three years ago with Russia to coordinate its production levels with the group, in a pact known as OPEC+?  Do you know that at last week’s meeting, Saudi Arabia, the cartel’s leader, suggested the participants collectively cut their oil production by about 1 million barrels per day, with Russia making the most dramatic cut of around 500,000 barrels a day in order to keep oil prices higher, which would bring in more revenue for nations in the bloc whose economies are heavily dependent on crude exports, member countries like Nigeria? Do you know that Saudi Arabia suggested this strategy as Asian  longer consumes as much energy as it did only a few months ago before the outbreak of COVID 19? Do you know that lower demand  automatically leads to a drop in the commodity’s price, which thus hurts countries’ bottom lines? Do you know that Russia disagreed with such a move and acted against the plan by insisting on its own market share without regard to the pact agreed in OPEC+ three years earlier?

Do you know that Saudi Arabia decided to test its own strength too, as it   responded by slashing its export prices over the week by announcing a lower price regime to launch a price war with Russia that brought the price per barrel down by about $11 to $35 a barrel, the biggest one-day drop since 1991? Do you know that the production cost in Saudi Arabia as announced by Aramco on 115th November, 2019 was $2.8 per barrel, the least in the world? Do you know that at the moment, the cost of crude oil production in Nigeria is about $30 per barrel as at 12th March, 2020?  Can you spot the law of comparative advantage between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia in terms of competition in the oil market? Do you know that Saudi Arabia has a population of 32.9 million people as against 201 million Nigerian population?    Do you know that Saudi Arabia has cheaper product to sell, aided by very low production costs per barrel to the smaller oil market to Asia than the other members of OPEC? Do you know that the rupture in the Saudi-Russia alliance for now is like a hole in the head of the economy of Nigeria and may lead to recession?  

Do you know that Russia too,  decided to act in self interest because of its experience in 2014, when the US boomed into the   market with its revolution in shale energy, capturing a greater and greater slice of the global oil market with shale oil production growing to over 4 million barrels a day from around 0.4 million barrels a day within 7 years, a move not expected by Russia? Do you know that Saudi Arabia and Russia survived their change in fortunes by selling cheaper oil to China, which desperately needed low price crude during its economic slowdown of 2015 and 2016? Do you know that oil prices crashed last week as much as 34% to a four-year low of $27.34 a barrel as traders brace for Saudi Arabia to flood the market with crude in a bid to recapture market share? Do you still remember that Budget 2020 in Nigeria is based on price regime of $57 per barrel?  Are we not in fantasy world already? Do you know that the implications are myriads?  Do you know that the pleasant ways to rejig the economy is to promote solid minerals, agriculture, ICT, encouraging special investment from Nigerians in the diaspora and encouraging high demand for home-made goods and curbing corruption and increasing social investments? Do you that these are sure ways to minimise the effects of COVID 19 and the crash of oil prices on all Nigerians? Do you know that we have to discourage retrenchment at all cost as it may aggravate insecurity?  

Do you know the special ways to congratulate a person deposed from a local position and appointed to serve the world? Are you aware that apart from his being appointed by Governor El-Rufai into the board of Kaduna State Investment Promotion Agency  and the Chancellor of Kaduna State University, do you know that the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, on Wednesday named the dethroned Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi Lamido II, and 16 others as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocates?  Do you know that his case throws another trajectory to our socio-political relationships in Nigeria?  Our dear Emir Sanusi, do you know that life is all that matters now? We wish you well in your new callings at the national and international levels with the poem of Richard Ntiru titled “If It is True”

If it is true

that the world talks too much

then lets all keep quiet

and hear the eloquence

of silence

If it is true

that the world sees too much

then let’s all close our eyes

and see the inner vision

beneath the closed eyes

If it is true

that the world hears too much

then let’s wax our ears

and listen to the chastity of inner music

that defies betrayal

by the wayward wind

If it is true

that the world moves too much

then let’s stand statuestill

and imitate the stubborn will

of trees

that move without being peripatetic

for the dumb don’t tell lies

for the blind can’t be peeping toms

for the deaf cannot eavesdrop

for the crippled can’t trespass.

We rejoice with the Governor of the State of Osun for keeping his eyes on the ball in delivering good dividends of democracy to the people without the least appeal to demagoguery and for putting the issue of the welfare and security of the people the primary purpose of his administration.  The morale of the workforce is high and the state of the State is strong.. The government, the traditional institutions and the people are separate as fingers but one as a hand in all things essential for mutual progress.  Life is all that matters now!

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