Those who analyze the Corona virus pandemic only in terms of contracting or not contracting the virus are missing a huge part of the analysis.
Truth is, the ripple effects of this pandemic are such that even those who are not infected by the virus will be affected by it in the long run. The level of sheer hardship and unutterable poverty Nigerians will be thrown into in days, weeks or months to come scares me.
Number 1: Nigeria is a near mono-economy which means, she depends mainly on just one source – oil – for her revenue. Now the price of oil in the international market has crashed by more than 50%. Saudi Arabia – the OPEC big Boss – saw to that when they flooded the market with oil at a very reduced price in furtherance of some ego war with Russia. Nigeria oil cargoes are left floating the sea with no buyers.
Remember, we practice a “feeding bottle” type of federalism where rather than looking inwards for a way to sustain themselves, states are encouraged to send their finance commissioners to Abuja at the end of every month to get their share of the oil money. It is with this share that most state pay salaries and do other things. In fact, without this, most states in the country cannot pay bills.
Now, suddenly, the oil money they all rely on has reduced by more than 50%. I will leave you to figure out the implication but while at it, remember, the govt and her officials both at federal and state levels must carry on with their luxurious lifestyle. So in the end, it is the poor masses who will bear the burden. How Prepared Are We?
Number 2: Diaspora Remittance that has been sustaining Nigeria will also be affected drastically. Since the Muhammadu Buhari govt came on board, the number of Nigerians who depend solely on financial assistance from their relatives abroad increased by over 50%.
Following this pandemic, a whole lot of countries are currently on lock down; jobs will be lost, businesses will be affected etc. Needless to say, the money those ‘abroadian’ Nigerians send home will also be affected.
In a country adjudged the poverty capital of the world where about 80% of the people live below one dollar a day; a crash in oil price and a huge drop in Diasporan Remittance all at the same time is bad news. How Prepared Are We?
Number 3: The lack of critical infrastructure that can help cushion the effect of the hardship and encourage people to self isolate. I will just explain this in a way everyone can relate to. Let us assume that I, Charles Ogbu, just got back from one of the high risk countries and need to self isolate.
Now I would want to except I cannot if I do not have electricity in my home to at least charge my phone and other gadgets seeing as I have to put food on my table and take care of my mother, siblings and other people and those gadgets of mine are my source of livelihood.
And unlike other govts all over the world, my own govt isn’t exactly ready to help me in any way. How can I quarantine myself if I must go out every day to fetch water seeing as there is no pipe born water here, go out every day to buy fuel to power my generating set seeing as there is no electricity here, go out every day even before I could eat??? So you see, that’s going to be quite difficult. How Prepared Are We?
Now let’s leave Charles for a moment and look at the workability of closing down markets and other public places as a way of forcing people not to gather in groups so as not to encourage community spread of the virus.
How do you get a woman who depends on going to the markets daily to stop going to the market when she knows that heeding your advice or instructions might keep her safe from Corona but will certainly not save her and her family from starvation?? How Prepared Is Our Govt to roll out financial grants, food and other welfare packages just like every responsible govt world over is currently doing?
For those advising people to stock food at home, how does a poor man who can hardly afford two square meal a day get to stock his kitchen with anything?? Na with which money im wan do the stocking?
Now let’s get to the most important question. How many Corona virus testing centres do we currently have in the country? The answer will shock you.
According to a report published by DailyTrust today, March 20, there are no testing centres in four out of the six geopolitical zones in the country. The zones with no testing centers include the South East, North West, North East and North Central zones of the country.
What this means is that despite all the noise of how we are prepared to fight Corona and all the media theatrics of state govt announcing the closure of schools and other public gatherings, if Charles Ogbu were to have the need to test himself for Corona, Charles will not find any place to run the test in the whole of Southeast.
And if a certain Musa from Sokoto state were to want to run the test voluntarily, he will have to travel almost 650 kilometers from Sokoto to the federal capital before he could run the test.
Now imagine if we have a suspected case of community spread necessitating so many people from Sokoto or Anambra for instance, wanting to run the test, you will expect them to agree to travel such a long distance on death traps masquerading as roads and the bandits-infested high ways??
Remember, I said nothing about the state of our hospitals. I want to even pretend not to know that Doctors just declared strike. I also want to pretend like I didn’t know that most of our health care providers have ported to Canada, UK and other countries due to govt idiocy. I am only focusing on the primary stage which is getting people tested before other measures like quarantine and possible treatment.
And finally, do you have a leader you can trust to provide the needed leadership for your country in the event of a surge in coronavirus cases??
So the overall question remains, beyond mere rhetorics and cheap propaganda aimed at securing foreign and local accolades, How Prepared Are We To Fight The Corona virus Pandemic??