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Yahaya Bello, COVID-19 And Conspiracy Theories

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The recent revelations by Dr Stella has lent credence to conspiracy theories about the COVID -19 pandemic which Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello disagreed was in his state. ERNEST NZOR writes.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in Wuhan, China last year, the world has not remained the same. Different conspiracy theories abound in the media space on the origin of the virus and lately on its possible cure.

The quote by Maggie Kuhn which says “Say the truth, even if your voice shakes – Maggie Kuhn (1905 –1995) , aptly captures the conspiracy theories concerning the pandemic.

Instructively, the debate around COVID-19 and the uproar about America-based Dr Stella Immanuel’s declaration is ample proof of an agenda to muzzle any voice that dares to raise the possibility of an extra layer of knowledge or an alternative (not necessarily false) view about the pandemic.

With the hysterics over the opinions expressed by Dr Immanuel, a qualified medical personnel it must be noted, others who previously raised an objection to the popular even if untrue position about the causes and cure protocols for the coronavirus have been justified.

And, to be sure, there are many who have been tarred with this brush of ignorance and naivety by those who assume to know everything and view any call for objectivity as a cardinal sin.

President Donald Trump continues to be derided as one lacking competence in medical issues, even if his assertions are backed by facts from top medical experts.

Back home in Nigeria, Kogi State governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello has been called unprintable names and is a victim of sustained media blackmail including deliberate lies and mendacious half-truths because he’s refused to bow to the popular will on COVID-19.

Bello has been the victim of a vicious media agenda deliberately twisting his words and inputting wrong motives to him for daring to stand up to buccaneers and fear-mongers.

However, in an era of mistruth, only those with stoic resistance to falsehood will survive and Bello’s traducers are already reaping the fruits of their perfidy.

Those who wait with bated breath to see the bodies of COVID-19 casualties pile up in the streets of Kogi have so far been disappointed, and those who put words in the governor’s mouth, including the allegation that he denied the existence of the virus, are now harvesting shame.

Let us even interrogate the facts of what governor Bello said, which is in the public domain, and examine how they stack up against present realities.

Speaking at a prayer session for late Nasir Ajana, Kogi chief judge, Bello had said COVID-19 is out to create fear, panic and to reduce and shorten the lifespan of the people. He also asked the people not to accept what he described as “cut and paste COVID-19, saying nothing kills faster than fear.

Which of these assertions are not true about COVID-19? A virus that has reached pandemic status, killing millions and rendering the global economy comatose will create panic and shorten lifespan, no? And even medical doctors advised that we should limit our exposure to news about the pandemic so as not to trigger psychological trauma and induce fear, didn’t they? So what has Yahaya Bello said that’s radically different from all of these people? Or is this a case of having bones to pick with the messenger and not the message?

His speech at the burial was reported by TheCable but purveyors of falsehood, in their characteristic manner, went to town with the story that Bello has denied that there’s anything called COVID-19. On June 30th, Observer Times, an online newspaper boldly screamed that: “COVID-19 Is Not Real, Some Are Using It To Create Fear, Panic, says Ajanah Died a Natural Death – Yahaya Bello”.

Thankfully, it took the Centre for Democracy and Development to fact-check what the governor said and what the media reported. In a report still on its website, the CDD confirmed that while COVID-19 is real, the claim by Observer Time that the Governor of Kogi State said the virus is not real is false and misleading.

The CDD then urged members of the public to always read beyond headlines before sharing any news report, especially, from blogs who are in the habit of using clickbait headlines to draw traffic to their blogs.

It is worthy of note that, until now, Observer Times has not deemed it ethical to either disprove the claim of the CDD about their misleading report or to pull down the story from their website till now. It is easy to reach a conclusion that before many people make an opinion on any issue of public importance, their minds are often already made up and neither reason nor logic can sway them to have a rethink.

We have become a nation with a herd mentality where the seed of dissent is not allowed to sprout. In times past, they say, one man’s meat was another’s poison but now everyone is force-fed in the trough of irrationality.

What the cacophony of voices trying to shout down Dr Immanuel could not drown was a piece of truth which may go unnoticed but, nevertheless is incontrovertible.

She said: “I’m a medical doctor. I see patients in my hospitals so I deal with real-life situations. Those who oppose me, including scientists, do not. They can only talk in the abstract.” Ponder on that for a moment.

If Harvey A. Risch, professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health could endorse the use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19, why then do we question the right of Dr Immanuel to hold the same view? Why then do we question the right of Yahaya Bello to disagree with those who are willing to succumb to the numbing paralysis of a virus for which much is still unknown?

Only the truth can set us free.

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