86-year-old Moses Olubayo Adeniji, a botanist and micro-biologist, is a professor of Plant Pathology and former lecturer at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife, University of Ibadan, University of Nairobi, Kenya and the Federal University of Technology, Port Harcourt. The former Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, UI, speaks with Deputy Editor, DAPO FALADE, declaring that a cure to the virus can be found in herbs and leaves.
The problem of coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, is escalating every day. Here in Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde tested positive. As a renowned plant pathologist with over 50 years experience, what do you think could be the cause of the epidemic?
Well, although we are hearing rumour, but we should not listen to too much of it, that the epidemic originated from China. Of course, China has some disagreement with the US. So, it was believed that the Chinese created COVID-19 to harm the other side, but the Chinese have also suffered from the virus. They said the death toll is reducing in China and increasing in the other countries, with Italy and Spain among others, being in serious trouble. Even in Africa, the whites from Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, are all suffering more than those of us in tropical Africa. So, what we are hearing about the cause is still rumour but I know that a virus can cause it; just like Ebola which gave us problem at that time but, somehow, we were able to mellow it down.
Some people believe that coronavirus is not a tropical disease and that it cannot survive in a country like Nigeria. Do you subscribe to this view?
In a country like Nigeria where we are lucky to have a tropical climate which is very good, once a virus is brought here and it gets an agent on which it can grow, it will survive. So, don’t let us be under that illusion that what started in a cold country will not likely survive in a tropical country. It may not be more aggressive here and that is why even in the African Continent, the South Africans that are white, many of them are suffering from this virus. The white people in North Africa are having more occurrences more than those of us in the tropical West African countries. So, it can be true to some extent that the virus may not be as aggressive in tropical climates as it is in the colder parts of the world.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, on Monday, said Ifa had in June 2019 foretold of the outbreak of the virus but people did not hearken. Do you think there is any correlation between the virus and religion?
The Ifa worshippers, the babalawos are also religionists and some of them can predict. Even some very good priests and prophets can prophecy but I will not be able to speak categorically too much on that. But if they say so, we should be prepared; that is what they said and it is happening now. Ebola happened and we all suffered, to some extent. But this coronavirus seems to be more serious; it is a virus that is very aggressive and if they have seen that, I will not argue with the Ifa ordination.
He also prescribed the alternative medicine, the herbs and leaves, advising that natural herbs should be made into clinical medicine from which vaccines can be extracted to cure the pandemic. What is your view on this?
I will first like to correct you for using the word, ‘alternative’ or ‘traditional’. I want to first prove that we who use herbs are not the alternative. In fact, we should be the original. Even God said in Genesis 1: 29 that “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be meat.” We also have references in this wise in Genesis 3:18; Romans 14: 2 and Revelation 22:2. The Holy Quran S. L. 9-11 also says: “…and tall and stately palm trees, with shoots and fruit stalks, piled one over another as sustenance for God’s servants.” I know that Muslims call themselves slaves of God, but if we are slaves, we should have holes in our mouth through which our mouth will be under padlock. Our slave masters can only open the padlock when we want to eat or drink. I don’t think Allah wants us to be slaves. That is why he created us to open our mouth whenever we want to talk or eat.
Even our forefathers used the herbs and leaves and were taking herbal mixtures to live up to more 100 years. Nowadays, we could hardly live up to 100. If we live up to 60 years now, people will be celebrating the life of such a person. I am not saying we should not celebrate the life of people who contributed to national development and died and that age, but we could live longer if we are using what God made for us. But the Oyinbos that you called the original are brilliant; they will analyse what is in our leaves because they cannot grow the leaves in their area because of temperate climate. They can grow some plants there but the medicinal plants that we have here in Nigeria are so many. When we use these, they call us alternative medicine. But I think we are the original; we are what God made and our forefathers used them and they were able to live longer.
Don’t you think that the problem has to do with the fact most of our claims on herbs as curative plants are not subjected to clinical tests?
Very good but a lot of researches have been done. I am a botanist and after graduating with BSc Botany, I went on to do MSc. Microbiology, which is an aspect of Botany and then I did my PhD in Plant Pathology, dwelling mostly on plant diseases. Now, I am treating human beings with plants and what I am now doing, I capsulate them and give people. What we have can treat all diseases. A lot of researches ore going on in many universities now. As far as I am concerned, I have written on major medicinal plants but which my book cannot contain in one volume as it will be so big and people would not be able to afford to buy the book. All plants that have medicinal value have been researched upon. In fact, if you go into literature, you will see that garlic is richer and stronger in anti-biotic, even than the most anti-biotics produced by the Oyinbos. Garlic and tumeric treat virus, fungi and bacteria.
Are you saying you have what it takes to take care of coronavirus?
Ebola is a virus. Coronavirus is even a stronger one. But they are all viruses and if you look into literatures and all researches that have been done, the anti-biotic action of garlic are powerful anti-viral and anti-bacteria and are stronger than the orthodox anti-biotics that the white man has elevated. I am not deriding the medicine of the white man, but we have herbs that can do it more effectively. But to do it more effectively, you don’t grind the garlic or cook away its active ingredients; if you do, they may not be as useful. But if dry the garlic or any leaf indoors and the sunray has not affected its ingredients, it will work. None of my patients-over 22,000 of them-has come to me to say they have virus. If you are taking garlic and turmeric regularly, coronavirus cannot have any dwelling in your body. God has made it so. Garlic, turmeric, lemon and natural honey (bee honey) and others contain anti-biotic properties which will inhibit bacteria, viruses and fungi. Whatever the conventional anti-biotic can do, all these natural plants can do cheaper and safer.
Given your knowledge and experience, what is the level of your collaboration with the Oyo State government and its agencies?
That is a big question. Most of our doctors believe so much in their orthodox ways that you really need to persuade them. The only way that I can collaborate with the government is to publish my researches. But the truth is that about four doctors work with me. They come from Lagos and they use more of my capsules because I too have improved on my products.
What do you think you can do to assist the government and the people to overcome the coronavirus pandemic?
To overcome, government is doing enough by restricting the movement of people, especially people arriving from other countries or even from state to state. They have done well in that aspect, but it is at a cost. By restricting movements, airplane not landing, test for those that came in, the government is spending a lot of money. And that is even to prevent, which is better than cure. But for curing, none of my patients here can ever complain of any virus infection, not even bacterial infection. What I am saying in essence is that we can treat coronavirus; we have what it takes to treat it, but I am not in a position to be going to Abuja. I have over 22,000 patients to attend to here. My products and capsules here can cure all diseases, including coronavirus.