From WUHAN in China to other parts of the globe, the novel Corona virus (COVID-19) ravaging the world has shown that human behaviour in a corner of the world can affect and be dangerous to the survival of others elsewhere. The transnational dimension of the problem has revealed that improperly managed personal problem can become large scale global social problem. The trans-territorial backlashes of the WUHAN disaster on the rest of the world, affirmed that human beings are active agents for virus dispersal. With no clear-cut scientific breakthrough yet on the vaccine to silence COVID-19, the world is in ‘Coro-fear-virus’ (the fear of contracting coronavirus) panic mode. If the COVID-19 health crisis could hit America, Britain and Germany among others, with high fatality figures, what will be the fate of sub-Saharan Africa will frail health system? This is the story of Nigeria — big and blessed with natural resources but unlucky with leadership that has unleashed death centers as health institutions on their people.
As I write, 111 persons have been confirmed infected and the number is expected to increase. The fear is much and compounded by images shared via social media platforms. Except for Lagos that has been proactive, the complacent national leadership has allowed their poor threat analysis intervention skill to afflict the nation before they stopped international flights into the country. Returnees from endemic countries were allowed to mingle with the rest of us because Government cannot provide facility to observe them for two weeks! Even the powerful who returned from endemic countries failed to observe the self isolation advisory. Now, the hapless and poverty stricken populace who have no international passports and who have been living under excruciating conditions; eating from hand to mouth would have to suffer for the sins of complacency. People of God are not spared. The ‘corofearvirus’ has switched prayers from killing household wickedness or looking for prosperity to appealing to the God of Coronavirus to stop his perceived anger over man’s serial overstepping of his bounds.
It is a total shame that a country whose Lawmakers ordered for latest Jeep to ‘oversight’ cannot boast for more than six laboratories where they can test for COVID-19! In all this, Lagos has become the Federal Capital while Abuja is now a ‘State’ running to Lagos for help. The good news is that UK and US where politicians run to for health care are more endemic, their wickedness has come to haunt them — we are all trapped in. It is now time for those in power to utilise the ultra-modern health facilities that they have constructed and equipped. At least, they tell us that they have built world class health infrastructures.
We have been begging those in government to have mercy on the rest of us who lack the wherewithal to do health tourism. Many Nigerians have lost wives, children and relatives to sickness that would have been handled if our health institutions had not been converted to death centers. Medical Doctors have gone on strikes over paltry sum and poor working conditions; researchers who the nation should look up to at this moment are not able to help because the State has relegated knowledge through conscious underfunding and intentioned institutional decay and disruptions. We heard promise to stop health tourism — the one who made the promise broke it serially. According to an African adage, if you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents.
The good news is that Coronavirus is no respecter of the Presidency! It has proved to be a class leveller. The influential middle and upper classes imported it and through economic, social and other forms of relations, the lower class is reached with the infection. But Coronavirus is daring and did not spare Aso villa despite heavy security — the influential Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and some of his aides are infected. Consequently, corofearvirus has caught Governors and Ministers and their aides who had contacts with the confirmed cases. The corofearvirus is more terrifying with the news that some Governors and some Board members of the prestigious University College Hospital (UCH) tested positive for Coronavirus.
Coronavirus may have originated from China, but China has looked inward through her investment in Education, Science and Technology for solution. Unlike the United States and United Kingdom whose investments in Science and Technology is making their scientists work tirelessly in laboratories, Nigeria’s underfunding of Education, Science and Technology is making it a beggarly nation. Thanks to Jack Ma (China’s richest man) foundation who has donated 100,000 face masks, 1,000 protective gowns and 20,000 test kits and other system-made billionaires and millionaires who have donated one thing or the other including Pastor Enoch Adeboye and other corporate organisations who have played active social responsibility roles.
It is hoped that the donated safeguard kits will not be allocated to those who failed to put in place sound health system while the monies would not be diverted to personal purse. Essential workers in the health sector must get these kits to enable them give their best to the infected and protect themselves and their significant others from being infected. In the same manner, enforcers of the stay-at-home order must be properly kitted in order not to become agents for virus dissemination. I have seen a few of them in states going on enforcement duties unprotected. This is suicidal. Public spaces must now be disinfected while trained security personnel must be deployed to strategic locations in communities in anticipation of surge in community/residential crimes due to limited economic opportunities. While many livelihoods will be affected, it is expected that both the Federal and State Governments will put in place palliatives to lessen the impact on the vulnerable that have been advised to stay at home. Politicians who reached the vulnerable during elections to get votes cannot now claim they lack data to reach the vulnerable. With the partial or total lock down, more people will plunge further into hopelessness. When this happens, the strained will innovate and crime may surge.
For the rest of us, avoidance behaviour is critical at this time. Social distancing, regular washing of hands and avoiding crowded places. Worship your God inside your room. Only the living will worship the Allah and people perish for lacking wisdom. Stay in your house and buy things in your area. Adjust your feeding habit and live ascetic lifestyle to suit this exigency. We can prevent it by reducing our movements and contact with the infected. Inform authorities of returnees and keep the rest of us safe. All of us (rich, poor, young, old) are vulnerable and susceptible to coronavirus and that is why we must take precautionary measures. When this global health insecurity is over, President Muhammadu Buhari and his government should know that you are as healthy as your country. Health is critical and should be attended to because unlike Bokoharam fighters who kill soft targets, COVID-19 knows no VIP.
Dr Tade, a sociologist sent this piece via email@example.com