Analysing the Nigerian response to the Covid-19 crisis.
Many things are wrong with Nigeria. Don’t be shocked. It is the truth. All the symptoms of a sick country are here with us. We may choose to live in denial but that does not obviate the truth about the existential realities of the country at the moment.
As the Covid-19 or kovik one nine, depending on which you prefer, spreads across the globe, wiping out thousands in its wake, we have seen the preparedness of countries, leaders and followers to handle emergencies.
I do not intend to bore you with tales of how countries rose to the occasion
across the world and even Africa.
In this series of articles, I will be dwelling on what seems to me to be a mockery and a dry joke that Nigeria presented as it’s own version of tackling the spread of the virus.
Let us start from the beginning. Before the virus supposedly landed in Nigeria in February 2020, courtesy of an Italian expatriate whose name was never mentioned, understandably to shield his identity, every reasonable voice shouted ‘Close the borders now!!!’.
But our omniscient and condescending government kept mute. That was the first step to disaster. This is a country which had, four months before the crisis, had closed all its land borders to importation. Even importation of essential food items was proscribed.
As it progressed, Nigerians begged the president to address the people as had become the rule of thumb across the globe. The president snubbed his people, ensconced himself in the midst of praise singers, callous self serving advisers and hangers on. He was nowhere to be found. Then when, after a month of uncertainty, he designed to show his face, it was to slam a two week lockdown on three states in a most disturbing manner.
Prior to and after the declaration of the lockdown, donations were coming into the government coffers from organisations and individuals in billions of Naira.
As usual, the Nigerian factor reared its head. The sordid, inexplicably ridiculous attempt to dehumanise, abuse and ridicule Nigerians at the slightest opportunity showed up again. Soldiers were immediately drafted into the streets to keep people at home.
Two issues arise from here.
One is the right of the government to lock people in their houses without any palliative. Granted, there is economic crunch. But in the same country, law makers are buying cars worth hundreds of millions of naira in the days of humanitarian crises.
The billions of Naira collected were shared to people in their dreams. I have not met anyone who says he or she got a kobo of that money. This is inhuman, to say the least. As a corollary, I think something sinister is wrong with the psychological make up of an African. The village chief mentality. We just like to be oppressive, abusive, callous and inhuman to anyone we feel higher than.
Secondly, gatherings were banned or limited. This includes markets, malls, shops, churches and mosques. I say something with a sense of responsibility here. Who compels people who do subsistence businesses to stay at home and does not know he is looking for trouble?
The people who are asked to stock their houses with food were not provided any money. A lot of Nigerians depend on the money they make daily. If they do not go out for one day, they are in soup. It is again inhuman for a government to do that to its people. But like I pointed out before, Africans derive a weird joy from seeing others suffer.
People who have stayed at home have no electricity to even see their ways around their houses. The general complaint around the country is that power became worse since the lockdown.
Need we talk about the needless killings and man handling of the already battered people by the soldiers?
The question is: to what ends is this lockdown when no data of any kind to trace contacts of carriers? No home is being visited by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
No comprehensive test is being carried out on anyone, people have no food to eat, prices of basic foods have shot through the roofs, there is no fumigation of the streets. So what is the lockdown meant to achieve apart from being a means of violating, raping, enslaving and burdening the people?
I read the statement by the minister for information and culture warning Nigerians to behave themselves or the lockdown would be extended. This statement reveals the true essence of the exercise. It just shows that nothing positive was meant to be achieved. It was just to show power as is usual of African power hungry leaders.
In my opinion, this Corona virus crisis has opened the eyes of many to the fact that politicians of the Nigerian stock mean harm to the people. When next we vote, we should take note of people who are humane and empathetic, not people who are distant, detached, power hungry and desperate.