OPINION: How COVID-19 Might Activate Government Responsibility to Nigerian Citizens

By Emeka Nwokocha

The world over, palpable fear and anxiety are high over Coronavirus pandemic. The fears are no more a joke as countries heavily infected with the dreaded virus are licking their wounds. This is true, as the deaths resulting from Coronavirus attack have reached over 60,000 and over 1,000,000 people have been infected worldwide at the time of writing this treatise.


No doubts, the entire world is very troubled by this murderous plague that made its first appearance in Wuhan, a city in China, and virulently ravaging the children of God. Worst still, there is no known antiviral medication recommended to treat and put the virus at bay, even as it furiously sprouts its fangs in a desperate and devious mission to devour mankind.


It is not cherry news rather, that a third of the global population is on Coronavirus lockdown, a development that heightens the fear that Nigeria might be at a great risk if the governments at federal and state levels failed to put their acts together and decisively curtail the spread of the virus and cast it into oblivion.


Little wonder, total shutdown of human activities across the globe is happening now in a bid to halting the virus from its malignant spread. On that note, India, China, France, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, USA, and the UK are seriously hit as most of their cities are totally locked down and media platforms are making “attractive” headlines of it at both local and international reportage.


Similarly, other countries around the world, including our beloved country, Nigeria, are heading towards total lockdown of human activities with quivering fears indicating the worst is looming.


In Africa, the virus is strongly making its entrance into 46 countries as Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria and Morocco have more infected persons in the continent currently. Even Malawi, a hitherto safe abode, has tasted the bitter pill as a few cases have been recorded recently, but the death figure is comparatively low in Africa currently.


However, there is pulsating fear that Africa, home of the black race, might have an explosion in the number of infected persons if drastic measures would not be put in place to prevent the spread of the virus rightly and urgently. These worries may not be unconnected with the decrepit state of health facilities in most African countries, coupled with excruciating poverty, battered economy and unkempt environment that has become the lot of the people over the years.


In recent times, however, such fears have been stringently expressed about Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world, whose population stands at 200 million people (and the largest in Africa), but lacking a buoyant and vibrant health sector. “It would be catastrophic should Nigeria’s large population be ravaged by the virulent coronavirus,” the international community has expressed great concern.


Without beating a detour from her brave policies to combat the virus headlong, Nigeria is now in the news for having more infected persons daily while four deaths from the virus have been recorded, with 25 patients presently discharge from the treatment centres. It is no less obvious that the record so far does not make loud evidence that Nigeria has the requisite capacity to tame the killing virus, though; such feat gives some rays of hope, suggesting that our health officers can match their counterparts anywhere across the globe, but for poor facilities and work tools.


Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 induced threat, the discerning Nigerian populace has become disquiet with anxiety since the COVID-19 index case was establishment in Nigeria. Even the superannuated state of our health facilities poses more worries to them.


With much trepidation trailing the entry of the virus into Nigeria, deafening calls are being made to the federal and state governments to take adequate measures to put in place state of the art medical facilities so as to stop further spread of the virus.


Such calls have become a national mantra in recent time, as the well-to-do Nigerians, and the masses have been frontal in pushing for a cohesive policy thrust to mitigate the virus.


Without feigning ignorance about the poor state of the Nigerian economy currently, occasioned by weak economic policies and nauseating corruption, the credulous Nigerian populace is not unaware of the huge challenge the Nigerian government would have to surmount should the country experience a surge in the number of persons that have contracted the virus.


However, as the tension mounts, with the federal government and states governors implementing a lockdown to ward off the satanic virus, there is a renewed and strengthened trust in the Supreme Being, as the Nigerian populace have now pitched their faith with God in search for a divine solution.


But this is happening without the conventional gathering of parishioners in and within the precincts of the church, or mosque as religion grudgingly kowtows before punitive government policies ordering the closure of religious houses to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Interestingly, following the harming effect of COVID-19, the entire world now speaks with one united voice as they search for medical solution rages. It is a kind of bond never experienced over the decades, since the end of 2nd world war.


Small wonder, the directives were given by the World Health Organisation (WHO), on how to tame the COVID-19 menace have remained inviolable, and global compliance has been commendable. Even our own Nigeria, not diligent at complying with human development policies, is smartly meeting up the pace in the fight against COVID-19, and would always showcase in the media, its articulated policies and competence in managing the scourge, just to score a mega point.


Not minding the lethal blow from the COVID-19, many Nigerians have become sanguine in looking forward to “humbler” Nigerian leaders that will promote people-oriented policies and good governance after the scourge is finally phased out.


Such expectation is not unconnected with the underlying reasons: the Nigerian health sector is seriously getting the government’s attention as facilities are being provided to curb the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 with uncommon speed. Truth is, the attention being given to the health sector couldn’t have happened if there was no COVID-19 pandemic at all.


In the light of the above, it is pertinent to infer that the donations of billions of naira by patriotic Nigerians, corporate organisations, multinational organisations, banks and others, to fight the hurtful virus, would rightly transform the Nigerian health sector as the funds are judiciously deployed to “beef up” the facilities.


In the same token, provision of stimulus packages to indigent Nigerians to cushion the harsh effect of hunger occasioned by the lockdown, as being pioneered by the Lagos State government (though not holistic), has inspired hope and new thinking in Nigerians that the COVID-19 inspired demands would influence a positive change in the mindset of Nigerian leaders (President and Governors, etc), such that they would incorporate social security services into their policy thrust so as to improve the well-being of Nigerians.


In a nutshell, the lockdown policies happening across Nigeria currently, despite the primary objective it is meant to achieve, is an eye-opener to discerning Nigerians, as agitation for good leadership is set to increase in momentum in every sense of the word.


Little wonder, the question on the lips of Nigerians is, “would the challenges trailing the “fight” against the virulent COVID-19 bring about a new social order in Nigeria? And would it influence the policy direction of Nigerian leaders so as to make them beat a detour from inglorious pillaging of public funds, in order to catalyze economic, structural, infrastructural, and political transformation in a new Nigeria? Only time can tell!


Comr. Emeka Nwokocha,

Journalist and Human Rights Activist,

Wrote from Warri, Delta State.



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