By Ikechukwu Agada
If painful, purposeful activity is the steering that pilots the vehicle of existence, then passion is the fuel that keeps it moving.
As usual, the political establishment is out in full force to contain the dreaded hydra-headed novel monster called Covid-19 (Coronavirus) threatening the world, signposting that sports and common challenge (Crisis) unite Nigerians faster than religion, ethnicity and the likes.
The giant of Africa is blessed with resilient and intelligent professionals with a history of patience in managing common challenges. It is, therefore, food for thought for her leaders why she is not one of the best nations of the world despite these virtues. The Coronavirus Pandemic is becoming a wind (Global Emergency) that is blowing across the world showing the strengths and weaknesses of nations based on leadership. It has become a yardstick for measuring great nations in terms of capacity, technology and leadership. The world as a global village is on its knees (Despite technological expertise) forcing nations to depend on itself to survive. This means that any nation that cannot help itself out of the menace is on a short distance to extinction and economic stagnation.
The virus is the same globally, it does not move, people do and when they self-isolate; it is easily contained. Online business and shopping (E-Commerce) where engagements and contactless delivery are involved ought to be promoted to encourage social distancing for the basic things of life. The approach to its containment is based on leadership and makes nations distinct. This is definitely not the time to depend on foreign imports as nations, borders and economies are under lock and key precipitating self-production and self-dependency. This is also not the best time to play politics but to show leadership to save lives. The pedestrian politics that wired out over the Coronavirus status of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari; where an attempt was made to conceal the information and later attempted arrest of the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is most unfortunate. The sudden silence in the camps of the Minister of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on update of information (For high profile cases) immediately following Mr Abba Kyari’s Coronavirus status speaks volume of the Nigerian tragedy.
World over, governments are not adopting politics as a way of fighting the life-threatening disease. The unceremonious barring of some media houses critical of the Federal Government’s inadequacies is analogue and alien in such a time when information is key to surviving. The powerplay that engulfed Mr Abba Kyari’s Coronavirus status where some media houses were axed for breaking the news leaves a sour taste in the mouth. More heads may still go over the development.
Life is precious and should be treated as such, therefore any Nigerian irrespective of the social, political and financial status who demonstrates symptoms of this virus should be made public and isolated to save lives. If Boris Johnson and Prince Charles’ Coronavirus status could be made public then nobody in Nigeria should be treated like a sacred cow. It is criminal and medically unetiquette to hide such dangerous information from the public because of societal status.
Leadership is basically needed at this time in Nigeria to toe the path of some proactive nations that contained this Coronavirus to avoid it escalating beyond control. At a time where social distancing is Paramount, Nigerian Correctional Centres (Formerly known as Nigerian Prisons Service) should decongest inmates as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus. Under this deadly pandemic, the Correctional Service Act ought to be revisited to free some inmates in line with global standards. It is time to activate the prerogative of the mercy law across the states to effectively manage the crisis because the Nigerian Correctional Infrastructure is in a sorry state. The Correctional Service Reform on the exclusive list of the National Assembly should be treated with urgency to save many innocent inmates.
Federal and State Governments need to provide palliatives just like the Lagos State Government, to encourage Nigerians in this period of mass self-isolation to reduce the suffering of people. The National Assembly needs to review the constitution to accommodate fire disaster and disease outbreak to position Nigeria as a proactive nation before the world. The healthcare, education, emergency economic stimulus and other important welfare bills should be National Assembly Topmost considerations in its oversight functions to encourage domestic productions and discourage importation and tourism for such purposes. Time to fix the Nigerian healthcare system is now since some leaders have been cultured to travel abroad for medical tourism.
Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic, standard social facilities, proactive leadership (Especially in containing the Coronavirus Pandemic), local production and a healthy economy will be large considerations for rating great nations. Nations will rise and some others will fall after the menace. Nigeria should view the Coronavirus Pandemic as a springboard for rebirth. The Coronavirus Pandemic too shall pass. If Nigeria succeeded Ebola, she would be victorious against the Coronavirus causing havoc around the world. Spread hope, not fear!