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Opinions of Friday, 27 March 2020

Columnist: MyNigeria

Why the COVIC- ONE NINE BIRUS joke isn't funny

Last Saturday, I had a battle with a loved one. The battle was over live-streaming my Sunday service or going to church. Of course, I chose to live stream, while she chose church. Her argument was that my faith was weak, the world was ending, and my eternity was more important than hell.

Naturally, I conceded. Guess who is recanting her words this Friday? Not me.

Then, the COVIC- ONE NINE BIRUS was around 30 cases. People were unperturbed. They ignored travel advisories and left Lagos and Ogun to cater to the building cases. Now, it is 65 and counting. A few people in Aso Rock have it and panic has tripled. My loved one now wears gloves at the office, we don't need to debate matters of faith anymore.

Ignorance is expensive. Nonchalance is costly. The inability of President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to pronounce COVID-19 properly or substitute it with a synonym like pandemic is not funny; it is a blatant show of nonchalance and ignorance which is the mindset of the average Nigerian till date- especially that of the bus conductor that would not let me get out of the bus, choosing to keep his body near the door while I struggled to alight at my bus-stop.

When the virus hit the Bauchi Governor, Atiku's son and Abba Kyari, sentiments began to sway as the biblical Adamic eyes of Nigerians opened to the threat that has now befallen us. Government is still struggling to shut the porous air, land and sea borders as the elites continue to import more cases to Nigeria.

I understand the elites don't want to die alone or in another man's country but if Nigeria indeed worked, we would never need to travel. An average European never leaves his country to school elsewhere except for adventures or hiking. I know relatives who have permanently stuck abroad, married whites and birthed offsprings who never cared to know their roots. Nobody ever leaves a country that works.

What's worse is that we are not prepared as a country for the veracity of the virus we just let into the country. Italy's overwhelming case will not be a match for a population estimated to double to 400 million soon.

Another thing this COVID-19 joke has shown is that our leaders do not actually care. It is alarming that we elected these same people ourselves, fighting for them at polls, insulting one another for people who would rather save themselves. Canada and the UK are offering free work for doctors to come join their folds to battle the virus, a virus that rendered flights cheap.

Any smart Nigerian should job at this opportunity. Sadly, this offer would worsen our health capacity in Nigeria. Instead of us, employing younger doctors seeking employment, we chose to recall older doctors from retirement.

Nigerians at 2019 polls

It has been proven that Nigerians are the best in the world and as a Government that fails to groom its talents well, we continue to fail at the simplest of things which are shutting our borders and ensuring social distancing.

Do we deserve what is coming to us? My response is mixed. While the virus will surely spread from the privileged to the less privileged, the masses would be doomed to suffer. But we don't even have labs, or light to set up a research centre to fundamentally find a cure. We are completely reliant on Alibaba's testing kits to test for the virus and the ventilators- have been traded for exquisite cars for the senators that may or may not survive the scourge.

Doctors battling to save lives

In all of these, 2023 is building up and it is obvious that none of the leaders is intelligent or worthy enough of leading us. If social media bill generator bill, VAT bill cannot help fight a medical emergency then we need better leaders. If staying at home means that our education system would be stalled then we need e-learning centres and if our elected cannot give us this, then this Coronavirus reality is not a joke.

If all the Government can gift its citizenry is #125 per litre without diversifying its fortunes, we may well again prepare for another recession and possible inflation because the greed in our market places may just drive us to beg for food with the money we have. If sanitizers are N3000 and you have N150, won't you beg the seller to just take what you have?

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