Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, on Saturday opened up on his successful battle with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ojudu, in a piece tiled ‘My Journey To COVIDOM’ posted on his Facebook wall, said his travail with the virus happened after a decision to travel to Ado Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State to attend the funeral of the father of a close friend in December last year.
The presidential aide, who said he took the COVID-19 test on monthly basis with negative results, revealed that he received the news of a positive result as if a sledgehammer was struck on his head.
He advised those still doubting the existence of the disease and cautioned against parties and large gatherings in view of the vicious nature of the second wave of the novel Coronavirus.
Ojudu said: “It took a lot of self persuasion to decide on a trip to Ado Ekiti on December 18 to attend the funeral of my friend’s dad. Kay as we call Kayode Afolabi has been my pal since primary school. I therefore considered it an obligation to join in the traditional obsequies for his dad. His parents are like mine.
“It took a friend like Kay to take me out of my home to office routine since the outbreak of the pandemic almost a year ago.
“I am finicky about my health. Sometimes my insistent on being healthy borders on hypochondria. I took COVID-19 seriously from the outbreak. I read up every literature I could lay my hand about the virus and other pandemics in history. In fact one of the books I read before I took ill was The Great Influenza by George M. Barry.
“I took the test monthly. Each time I waited anxiously to be told via a text message from Dr Audiferen that simply read, “Distinguished, you are negative”. On Wednesday, December 23, the text message was different. ‘Distinguished where are you?’, the message read. ‘Home’ , I replied. ‘Stay there and await further instructions. You have tested positive to COVID’.
“It was like a sledgehammer struck my head. I felt numb. Further instructions later tumbled out of his mouth like a military instructor on a drill. ‘Don’t come to work from now. Make sure you have no contact with anyone. Will send you your medications and keep me briefed of developments,’ he added.
“My journey to COVID-hell started on December 18th. The day before, my driver and aide left for Ekiti so they can pick me up at the airport following day because I had a lot of work that needed urgent attention. The next morning, I took a cab to the airport to catch an 11.00 am Overland Airline flight to Akure where my driver will pick me up and drive up to Ado Ekiti.
“But the flight didn’t leave until 5.45pm, keeping me in the airport for over seven hours. It was the holiday period and a weekend with Nigerians flying in from all over the world into Abuja airport from where they boarded local flights to their respective destinations. The airport was jammed. A super- duper spreader it promised to be.
“The day after, I left home with my nose mask securely strapped across my face and a bottle of sanitizer in my pocket. I went to the funeral to honor my friend. As a public official, I mingled – greeting people and sanitizing my hand right away. I was so busy socializing I didn’t even eat or drink.
“Then, people started coming to take photographs and selfies with me. A public servant has no hiding place in Nigeria. You must oblige your constituents. I obliged the people by taking off my mask for some of the pictures.
“I was at the party for less than sixty minutes. But I was never at ease. This was a party that didn’t feel right. I had come to honor my friend but I didn’t walk into a friendly air.
“A few days before, I was warned ,by a source, that some political opponents and foes were planning to harm me at the party. A relation called my wife from London to inform her of the intelligence she picked up from a close friend in Ekiti. As a compulsive political hornet nest stirrer I get these kinds of warning often. I don’t want rumors to imprison me. So, I often dismiss them but take security precautions. True to the information provided , by my informant , I witnessed a few strange things there. A story for another day.
“I returned to Abuja on Monday after another long delay at the airport by the Overland Airlines flight. Two days later, I started feeling uncomfortable. My body didn’t feel right. Dr Audiferren quickly arranged a test. Gbam! The jarring news came. Between the airports, the flights and the party, the virus found its way into my body.
“And so began my days and nights of nightmare. My wife and children had left for Lagos for the Christmas holiday. I was to join them on 23rd. Now, I was home alone with COVID! Ade Ipaye offered a special facility at National Hospital, I declined. Wracking headache, insomnia , loneliness, restlessness, hallucinations, lack of appetite , sore mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, aches and pains in my joints became my lot as I ingested the prescribed drugs….
“The moment I received my positive diagnosis I handed over my debit card to my aide and hoped I would see him at the end of this nightmare….
“My wife and children panic gripped returned from Lagos and took abode in an Abuja hotel, monitoring me via phone .
“The few colleagues who got the hint were fantastic. Hajiya Maryam Uwais, herself a survivor, sent crystals for steaming and exotic teas ‘to awaken your senses’.
“Lara Owoeye Wise, my colleague in The News one night sent a message to inform me of her COVID condition and frustrations with the symptoms. She didn’t know we were both in the same storm. She got well before me and has been very supportive. Many others got in touch. My anguish unknown to them. They could not buy COVID medications or pay for test . I kept sending messages to Ahmed Lawal to transfer from the little I had in my account.”
He added: “COVID got me but God and science brought me back. My friends and family made sure I may be isolated but I wasn’t alone. The doctors performed miracles.
“Twice within three years I knocked at the gate of death. In 2009 it was helicopter crash I survived from. These are pointers that I still have more years in Mother Earth and appreciation to my creator. I am therefore rededicating myself to serving humanity.
“I was lucky, many others were not, as I was daily confronted with stories of the dead both known and unknown to me. My prayer for our people who still believe Covid does not exist is, may you never be admitted into COVIDOM.
If you don’t even care about your life, care about your neighbor’s and family.
Stay away from large gatherings. Postpone that wedding or funeral. What, for God’s sake , is the value of all these parties we waste time and money on? What point are we trying to prove?
“The great John Jerry Rawlings of Ghana died two weeks after the funeral party of his mum. A Nigerian army general died too shortly after his mother’s funeral. Several colleagues got infected who attended a conference with him shortly before his death. Such ceremonies are super spreaders. These were men whose talents and genius are still needed here.
“I have just read about an accomplished Texas based surgeon who visited home for Christmas , hosted a party and returned to base to die. Brides, grooms and relatives have died shortly after parties. I learnt of four professors who attended a wedding in Lagos. Two are dead and the others are still in intensive care.
“Be reasonable, don’t endanger your life and that of others. Wear your mask, wash and watch your hands, keep a reasonable distance, stay alive and healthy, submit yourself for vaccine when available.
“The road ahead is rough, let’s have truly happy new year by taking the utmost care. COVID IS REAL.”