Abeni Aso-Oke

The parable of the body mechanic. By Hassan Gimba

Who has not had an old car before? The type of car that makes you become a friend to the mechanic? This is because when one issue is resolved, another rears its head, necessitating you to visit again. Sometimes the problem may be those of “rings”. Repair them and the gearbox seeks your notice. Pacify it, the brake pad packs up. Change it, the shock absorber begins to get shocked.

All these and more make you a regular, visiting the mechanics again. And again. And again. Sometimes you have to leave the car with the mechanics for a day or more.

Being a regular sight in a mechanic’s workshop has its own peculiar experience. You find an engine oil-soaked bench conveniently placed under a tree and you make it your resting place. Hawkers of chewable items like groundnuts, boiled or roasted corn, cooked beans and sachet water have no better place than a mechanic’s workshop to catch the trapped who want to break the boredom of waiting.

As a regular, you can develop relationships with the mechanics and other regulars. And sometimes their problems become yours. This situation normally affects those with old vehicles that must have surpassed their shelf life. Cars reach their shelf lives faster here than in Europe, though.

It is not out of place for neighbours, friends and family to gather and celebrate with a person who just got a 2007 Honda car. They gather to “wash it”. People who want to escape this informal welcoming of a “trophy” jokingly say they had taken it to the car wash already.

Well, the point is that a 2007 car acquired today from Europe is deemed new after 16 years of being in use across the continent notwithstanding. However, the most it can last here without turning the owner into an auto mechanic workshop tourist is three years. I can attest to this.

Armed with this knowledge, and experience, of course, I likened my body to the jaded car last week.

My major complication was breathlessness. When I tried to manage it, something came up and as I tried to manage that one, another came up, and yet another.

The good thing about such experiences is that you come to appreciate, and indeed respect, older folks. Is it not a great marvel to see 70-year-olds and above walking, jogging, dancing and living a life full of energy and fun?

The human body, when tender, is marvellous: supple flesh, smooth skin, flexible joints, strong bones and oozing out the scent of youth.

As the years go by, ageing sets in and the strength associated with youthfulness wanes. One becomes a regular visitor to hospitals, clinics and pharmaceutical outlets. Sometimes, one gets dignified by being visited at home by medical health practitioners.

But whichever it is, the fact remains that health issues keep shifting from one ailment or condition to another as the body gives in to the wear and tear that comes with time and usage.

Some people are diabetic, which entails that it has to be managed before other conditions can be treated. Some are hypertensive, which also calls for the same consideration given to the diabetic.

When 70, 80 or 90-year-olds can walk around without being exhausted or wheeled around, it can be impressive and one cannot argue against calling it an achievement.

It is with the benefit of ripened age that one will appreciate the advice of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for one to utilise five things before five other things set in.

He advised us to utilise our youth before old age sets in, our health before sickness overwhelms, our wealth before lack knocks on our doors, our free time before it (time) makes us its slave and our life before our death. The summary is: Make the most of your youth, health, wealth, and free time before they’re gone.

Yesterday’s new car quickly becomes a jalopy today, and its owner a frequent visitor to mechanics. Similarly, the strong, youthful body of today degrades, forcing its owner to regularly visit ‘mechanics’ who, this time, wield the stethoscope.

Mother Teresa said, “I am a little pencil in God’s hands…” Truth is, we all are creatures of a supreme being who has us at the mercy of time, another of His creatures. And time leaves no one in one place and condition all the time.

And what’s this about ₦8,000 “palliative”?

Nigeria’s president wants to spend $800m (about ₦600b) to assuage hunger in the land. To do this, he intends to give ₦8,000 each to 12 million households for six months. According to statistics, a Nigerian household, as of 2019, comprises an average of 5.06 members. This will amount to an individual in a household getting ₦1,600 per month or N53 per day. What are they supposed to do with it, buy a biscuit? You do not even get biscuits of ₦50 these days, sadly.

And after six months, that household is supposed to be self-reliant because the six months of “palliatives” must have stabilised them. Is that what they are telling us?

In any case, who even said only 12 million are in desperate need? At the last count, even before the fuel subsidy removal plunged many more millions into penury, 133 million Nigerians were adjudged by the federal government’s statistics agency (NBS) to be multidimensional poor.

And now this: part of the president’s grand plan is to give ₦70bn to National Assembly lawmakers as palliatives. Somebody help do the math: ₦70bn divided by 469. Shared equally, each of them will smile home with ₦149.2 million!

Different strokes…

It is all about police work!

Nuhu Ribadu, with a rich police background, was appointed as the National Security Adviser by the president. He becomes the first police officer there since Gambo Jimeta and Sama’ila Gwarzo.

I think it is a superb move because if the police approach had been implemented earlier, we would not have been in this sorry pass. Most of the crimes now bedevilling us actually would have been nipped in the bud had the police been empowered, encouraged and left to do their job.

But because we have been so cowed by the military and all our thinking subsumed under that mentality, we thought only they can solve crimes that need simple policing. We ended up demystifying our military and compounding matters so much so that we are now at a loss as to how and where to begin.

But hopefully, with a crack police investigator in place, we may redirect the ship and sail out of the storm into calm waters, eventually reaching the harbour.

Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.

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