The main reason we cry and lament in this country is fear. Fela “talked it that time”, that Nigerians fear too much. We fear that if we don’t eat we would die. Even when we manage to find the food, we fear it might not be enough. We fear if we trek, we would die. Well, if fatigue doesn’t kill us, reckless danfo drivers might. We fear if we don’t go to school, we won’t have good work. Yet, when we manage to enter school, we fear again that we might never graduate. If strike doesn’t “kill” us all while in school, sex-for-mark lecturers might “kill” our girls.
After years of frustration, we manage to come out of schools to face another fear – unemployment. If we don’t have work, how would we feed? And, if we don’t have good work, we won’t have good pay, and; if we don’t have good pay, we would not eat well. Curiously, all our other fears culminate in fear of dying! We fear the current state of economic hardship will kill us. We fear the herdsmen wielding Buhari’s “walking sticks” would invade our homes and kill us. Our greatest fear in this country is fear of dying! Or isn’t it?
Fear of dying is why we do “technical stopovers” at hospitals; chemist stores and pharmacies. It is why I embark on medical trips to drink “agbo jedi” at Itam market. It’s why Senator Melaye allegedly jumped out of a moving vehicle – to die on the road rather than in Kogi(?) It’s why our president listens to a doctor in London or wherever more than he listens to the cries of victims of massacres across the nation. It’s why our leaders steal the nation blind, hoping plenty money would help them hang onto life forever. They cling onto power so they can fund lifestyles and medicals from public purse.
Fear of dying makes us want to live forever. Me? I fear no more. All I need to do now is hang on to life, whichever way I can, for the next 27 years. And I shall die no more. Oh, you haven’t heard? By then, dying will be ‘optional’ and the ageing process will be ‘reversible’. If you doubt, ask José Luis Cordeiro and David Wood. The two genetic engineers said recently, during the presentation of their book, The Death of Death, in Barcelona that immortality is coming earlier than expected. In other words, by 2045, humans will only die via accidents, Boko Haram or herdsmen; never by natural causes or illness! The process will involve turning ‘bad’ genes into healthy ones, eliminating dead cells from the body, repairing damaged cells, treatments with stem cells and ‘printing’ vital organs in 3D. They only forgot to add that it won’t be available to Nigerians outside power – since they won’t be able to bear the cost for the treatment. Or fly out for “technical stopovers”!
Well, forget the boring details, the oyinbos have been working on immortality – since Cain killed Abel. They now see ageing as a disease but one you can choose to do away with. Not long ago, British-born Dr Aubrey de Grey said man could live for 1,000 years. That was after applying compounds known as resveratrol analogues – chemicals which are naturally found in red wine, dark chocolate, red grapes and blueberries – to cells. A statement from the University of Exeter said: “Within hours, the cells looked younger and started to rejuvenate, behaving like young cells and dividing.”
These guys just won’t stop. In 2003, The Sun of London said an American, Panayiotis Zavos, was cloning humans. A fertility doctor, Zavos created an advanced human embryo cloned from the cells of a 46-year-old woman. The problem was not the motive – “to help” people. “If people want to have children and cannot in the normal way, and I can do something about it, I will do so”, Zavos reportedly said. The real problem of living forever and cloning is the risk to the common Nigerians. What would the numerous herbalists parading themselves in different guises do if their clients suddenly live forever or have Zavos-cloned babies?
Obviously, years of deceit, kwaraption, cajoling, drinking of all sorts of concoctions would be over for the clients. But what about the “docs”? And the acting assistant, deputy senior special advisers to the politicians on sickness and medical tourism matters? Where would they eat from? How would they have “free women” to sleep with? We have heard horrible tales emanating from the “cure” homes. We are also aware of the “419” cure-all and “docs”, who do wonders with just one leaf or root-type. And what about the millions syphoned abroad to treat headache in the ears or legs?
At the other end are different kinds of “doctors”. The ones in mushroom miracle kiosks with sentences for names. E.g: “Come To Me All Ye In Need Of Children Miracle Centre International Gospel Church Incorporated”; “Rivers of Living Water Never Runs Dry and Give Everlasting Life Bible Ministries”. Daddy GOs and “spiritualists” with breakthrough prophesies. Somehow, they use “something” to lure the people in dire need of good health and babies; pretending to represent God. No, they are God and “give” long life and babies, once you “see” them. So, the people move from one religious centre to another “receiving “only renewed promises of the much vaunted miracle.
These new technologies, if they work, will “spoil” business for them and their family of stakeholders. Too bad! The television stations would run low on revenue. For, who would buy 90 per cent of their air time if the drama, sorry, “spiritual centres” close shop? On the whole, it would end up a bad “dividend” for Nigerians. Truly, crime would surge like Baba’s disdain for youths who “sit and do nothing”!
But wait! What would be the fate of Nigeria if the present crop of politicians live forever or get cloned? Would this country ever survive? That would mean heightened kwaraption; more mediocre ministers, etc. Imagine our polity with the same faces and characters for eternity! Genetic engineering – leading to cloning and cells manipulation – is a serious issue. Forget the religious sentiment that it amounts to competing with God. Was it not God who gave scientists the sense to experiment? If nobody challenged God, by exercising his brain, would we be enjoying the amenities of civilisation today? The point is, for us in Nigeria, an Abacha, in a military garb, was enough for a lifetime. And, oh God, everlasting and multiplied version of Obasanjo, IBB, Atiku, Buhari, etc in bogus adire, would be too much.
First, their replicated faces on our TV screens would blow the tubes. Imagine the multiplied characters controlling the nation’s coffers for ever. Implicitly, it means everlasting failed economy; insecurity; unemployment; crude words and more fear. And our infrastructure would remain forever bad. It would be a multiplication of our woes. It would be cloning and elongating our sufferings. For Nigeria, I swear, cloning and immortality could turn into another weapon of mass destruction. Well, they may have positive motives and advancement in knowledge. But I still have my fears.