COVID-19 Pandemic: A Moment For Thought – By Comrade Ismail Abdulazeez Mantu
The global outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic hit the airwaves like a Chinese whisper. The pandemic was before now a mere illusionary fantasy in the eyes of many Nigerians, especially when it all begins with China the epicenter of the pandemic virus. Those Nigerians who casted doubt about the possibility of the existence of the pandemic virus are now chewing back their words as Covid-19 pandemic has come out of the woodwork and hit Nigeria like a storm. As it stand today, the confirm cases stands at 46 going by National Center for Diseases Control (NCDC) report.
The Nigeria Government reluctance to immediately place ban on international flights until the pandemic situation rare it ugly head in Nigeria, has done the country more harm than good. the President should not have recklessly let the grass grow under his feet. The blame game is however not of relevance at this hour in time when the deadly pandemic is fast widespreading like a bush fire. Rather than ranting the on social media on presence of Covid 19 in our country, Nigerians should instead begin to cut the crackle by devoicing means to combat or ameliorate the widespread of the pandemic before the situation worsen beyond repair. Taking any port to halt the storm of covid 19 should by this time be Nigeria top most priority as time and tide wait for no man.
Needless to say, poor or lack of adequate orientation from the government on precautionary measures the citizens should take to stay safe or combat the pandemic outbreak has added fuel to the flame and led most Nigerians to err on the side of caution. We grasp at straws and consume chloroquine like it was the latest chocolate in town. Lo and Behold! Chloroquine now sell like a hot cake with many pharmacies and stores running out of stocks. Everyone struggling to stay safe to the best of their ability.
Maybe in the nearest future but as far as the present is concern I am yet to witness since my birth, a period Nigerians have set aside their differences in ethnic and religion lines to form an indissolubly and indivisible common voice on one particular incidence. Not even the game of soccer has succeeded in keeping Nigerians on one single queue like Covid 19 is currently doing.
Religion has made us a sworn enemies of one another. Ethnicity has turn us into an ardent critiques of one another cultural practices, values and belief system. Party politics has sow the seed of hatred into our blood vessels. Gender discrimination has turn the masculine folks into enslaving the feminine folks. Social and economic strata has created inequality among us. Race differences has created inferiority complex among us. Covid 19 restoring the long lost unity in diversity.
The ban on influx of foreigners from most affected countries into Nigeria is a sign that we needed one another more than we looked outside for help. Ban on religion gathering irrespective of our line of faith is making both the Muslims and the Christians, even the traditional believers voice out in one harmonious direction. Ban on political gathering and rallies is not favorable to both the ruling party and the staunch opposition parties. Immediate order for the closure of schools and shutdown of NYSC orientation camps affect both the economically rich and the economically poor classes. As our polical and economically wealthy class cannot longer fly out, the few employed members of the lower income class must definitely be affected. Covid 19 pandemic choose no preferable victim. The Covif 19 pandemic is not interested in who is Muslim and who is Christian. The pandemic is not interested in which region has oil and which region has arable farmlands. It is not interested in who is Aliko Dangote and who is Mike Adenuga.
Covid 19 pandemic is an invisible monster. If only Nigerians have stood in unison and harmoniously for a strong solidarity forces to counter terrorism and insurgency in the country just like we stood today against Covid 19, Book Haram and Banditry would have been a history to narrate to coming generation. But we care not because unlike Covid 19 that is fast spreading Nationwide, insurgency is more pronounced in the Northern part of the country. It is the business of the North. So they should handle it themselves. Is northern not part of Nigeria? An injury to one is injury to all. Boko Haram absolutely has claimed more lives than Covid 19. It is a matter of time before insurgency extend it tentacles to the rest of Southern part of the country if not given the required attention like Covid 19.
At the very time when religion and ethnicity are dividing us more than they have bond us in unity, Covid-19 is magically enforcing the unity we lack and lost long ago. The Northern Muslims we fondly called unbeliever and terrorist are the sole producer of cotton from which face or nose masks are made. The Christians we coldly called pagans are the sole producers of alcoholic hand sanitizers we are making use of today. If not for this pandemic virus we will not realize how much we needed each other beyond religion and and ethnic lines.
In regards to temporary ban on large religion gathering to curtail the spread of Covid 19 among Nigerians, I have seen series of counter reactions among the citizens. Truth be told. Nigerians are the most complex animal specie to deal with in the entire world. Our nerves rises the moment decision touch down on our faith. We become very critical and sensitive about it. We forget quickly that no religion exist without humanity. I don’t know if I should call this blindness in following religion doctrines or a total hypocrisy of protecting our line of faith. Be you Christian or Muslim, God Almighty that created all of us do not need any of us to protect his faith. Before any of us were born both Islam and Christianity were flourishing amidst difficult time. The First and Second World War came and pass, none of the War consume both Islam and Christianity. Series of man made and natural disasters came and go, yet none crush off Islam and Christianity from the surface of the earth. A lot of water has pass under the bridge and none flooded away Islam and Christianity.
Our generation today was only born into religion and not by decision made by anyone of us. We are all born into our various line of faith. In Saudi Arabia which is the epicenter of world Islamic faith, Covid 19 has forcefully made them to ban Hajj. Even with the huge of love they have for worships and the huge amount the government generate annually from Hajj, yet they choose not to endanger the lives of millions humanity for the sake of humanity. Do not forget that Hajj is also one of the five pillars of Islam. The same thing is applicable to Christianity. Israel has placed ban on pilgrims. The Catholics cannot longer visit the Pope in Rome, Italy again. Islam and Christianity were in this countries before something called Nigeria existed. You are her ranting unfairness because of ban on religion gathering. Don’t mistake mistake religion gathering for your constitutional right to freedom of worship. You are not asked not to worship. You are only asked not to worship in a large gathering. But if you still choose to go against constituted authority orders, then at your own peril. There is no way you can make an omelette without breaking eggs. Drastic situation like this call for drastic actions.
The chickens have finally come home to roost our Nigeria political class. By now they must have learnt a good lesson from the outbreak of Covid 19 pandemic. When you are digging a pit of wickedness to plot your enemy downfall, be mindful not to dig it too deep for you don’t who fall into the trap. Perhaps yourself or love ones might find themselves in such pit. Likewise when you see a hen scattering excrement on a dumping ground, chase it off because you don’t know who will eat the legs. Our political class have the privilege to better and improve the devastating state of Nigeria medical facilities but they choose not to. They have the opportunity to upgrade and equip at least not less than three hospitals in every state of the Federation to the taste and standard of the same hospitals they patronize overseas. The huge amount they lavishly spend on medical visitations abroad are good enough to establish, equip and run standard hospital in Nigeria. Yet they choose not to give that a trial. They thought doing such will only benefit the masses. Here we are today. A pandemic virus is serving them a good dosage of their own medication. Now that it is necessary that they are treated here in Nigeria, they will have a first hand knowledge of the devastating state of Nigeria medical facilities. That will also enable them to score themselves high or low regarding their overall performance in governance. That is for few among them with conscience. But those among them that have sold their souls to the devil and lack an iota of conscience can still not learn from this experience.
The level of preparedness towards Covid 19 pandemic is without doubt at zero percent level. With total lockdown of the country at the horizon, I keep wondering what miracle government of the day will likely perform to maintain a total lockdown. Before the outbreak of Covid 19 pandemic, most Nigerians hardly afford two meal a day. Those whose jobs depend largely on monthly salary are living from hand to mouth. No savings no investment. The figure of able bodies out of job outweigh the that of employed citizens. With the economy largely driven by crude, the recent crash in crude oil price in the global oil market is an alarm ringing the bell of economic doom on our dear nation. Government meeting the needs of over 200million Nigerians at the point of possible lockdown is nearly impossible. Maybe the poverty Nigerians cried of in the past was just a mere false alarm. Now the contextual dictionary meaning of poverty and penury might anytime soon surface on a practical note.
China with her sophisticated medical facilities and well trained high performing dedicated medical experts, could not curtail the Covid 19 pandemic. It is insane to reason that Nigeria with her obsolete medical facilities and quark medical personnel has what it takes to boast of been fully prepared to combat Covid 19 pandemic. Negligence and under value from part of our government has cost the country most talented medical Doctors to leave the shore of the country in search of a more greener pasture elsewhere. We called it brain drain but it is Nigeria lost western countries gain. A serving minister of Labour Mr Christ Ngige, during an intense negotiation between Federal Government and NLC over increment in minimum wage, publicly declared that medical Doctors of Nigeria origin can go ahead to leave the country as much as they want. He claimed the country has enough medical Doctor to attend to any emerging health challenging ailment. Here we are today. Do we have enough medical Doctors to attend to suspected cases of Covid 19 should the situation worsen?
Nigeria medical practitioners are so quark and unprofessional that President Buhari cannot entrust his life or that of his family member in their hands. As little as a slight headache to the President mandate a foreign medical trip. Even his beloved son Yusuf was treated abroad after crashing off a power bike. The entire circle of our political elites were not exception. Covid 19 is today placing each and everyone of the in the hands of the quark Nigeria Medical Doctors with substandard facilities. Let see if they will appreciate them or not.
Prevention of course is by far a more better alternative than cure. Nigerians I know very well are aliens to the rest of the world. We do things differently from the rest of the world. We have some ghost civil servants who hardly step their toes in their various offices. But the moment there was announce nationwide that everyone can work from home, they hurriedly carry their old office files and rush to office the next day. It is better some times not to ban some things in Nigeria. We are naturally fond of doing things that are placed on bans.
As much as we must wash our hands and cover our noses with masks, we should remind ourselves that our environment is in poor state of lack of sanitation. We dispose refuses and dirty anywhere at will. Open defecations and overflowing drainages are across Nigeria streets. China and the rest of the world hit hugely by this pandemic virus Arr more hygienic than us. They are very mindful of their environment. They value personal hygiene. Perherps most of the clothes and wears myself and you are putting on right now as we speak were disposed or evacuated from a Chinese or European man’s wardrobes. They see them as dirty you see them as wears. The Okrika and Gwanjo we value were no longer hygienic to them. Their used and dumped cars are evacuated to Africa. This is the same car a Nigeria man buy and throw up a party for it. Imagine how hygienic they are yet the virus made some drastic damages. A more reason to stay at home and hope for God intervention.
Covid 19 pandemic is real and disaster is written all over the virus. While Nigerians hope for the best at this time of great trial, we can equally anticipate the worst. Optimistically, there should be cloud on the horizon for Nigeria as we batten down the hatches to ride out the storm of Covid 19 pangoing. For when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Hopefully Nigeria can break the back of the Covid-19 beast with light at the end of the tunnel.
Let Keep to all precautionary measures and stay safe. We need to remind ourselves that there is no any spare life reserve for anyone of us. We can only live once. Stay at Home. May God Almighty sail us all through this difficult time.
Comrade Ismail Abdulazeez Mantu
Political and Human Rights Activist
Writer and Commentator.