Coronavirus came like a bolt from the blues. No one saw it coming, and even where scientists predicted an ominous pandemic, governments that have always been at the forefront of nipping such potential disasters in the bud, were numbed by exertions and postulations of superiority on political and economic terrains.
There is no doubt that economies are hibernating, interest rates have fallen to lowest possible levels, millions of jobs are projected to be lost, people are dying in rates only comparable to wartime situations, families and friends are being separated, the best hospitals and health tech facilities in the world are crumbling under the weight of overflowing casualties. All over the world the figures are increasing and here in Nigeria we listen to updates twice daily with frayed nerves.
A partial lockdown in our dear Lagos came into force a week before a total lockdown was announced by President Buhari to begin Monday March 30, 2020. With 19 states of the Federation affected by the virus, different States have adopted different measures at curtailing economic activities. Some are on partial lockdown, some have imposed curfews, while some are even opening up their economies. The reality of the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja has gradually played out in more ways than imagined or thought of, as more and more Nigerians find it excruciating staying locked in their homes with no food to eat and other essential needs, no water, even with its dire necessity at this time, and the traditional epileptic power supply which otherwise could have kept people more comfortable and also abreast with crucial information in the Covid-19 fight.
In the face of the lockdown, there have been agitations where people have expressed their annoyance with the government for ordering a lockdown without appropriate cushions to mitigate its effects.The worst part of the lockdown perhaps is the reported cases of daylight looting by miscreants and robbery by night marauders, incidents which have rocked parts of Lagos and Ogun States, turning residents into vigilante groups at night to ward off robbers, leaving others with one eye open while asleep.
These acts of thievery are totally unacceptable and must not be condoned, even with the fact that palliatives and other measures announced to cushion the stricture of the lockdown by the Federal Government are hardly felt by the larger society, over 70% of whom work in the informal sector and have to fend daily for their survival. The situation also underscores the urgent need to put quite a few things right in our country, and in alignment with acceptable global standards; for example, our health care facilities; which remain in deplorable condition with a long string of successive governments. It is time to seriously ponder automating processes of governance in the country. If the country had a comprehensive data base, at a time of emergency such as now, it would have made for easier, methodical and successful planning and implementation of whatever palliatives to dish out before locking down the country or more specifically the states locked down. As it were however, with an extension of the lockdown for another two weeks until April 27th, and with the waning hope of most Nigerians on the Federal Government to provide any reasonable relief, it does not cut a comfortable picture.
The Lagos State government’s palliatives was way ahead and a good intention it must be said. The Sanwo-Olu government has been the at the forefront of the fight and the model other governments have emulated in the Covid-19 fight. Indeed the effort of the Lagos State governor and his team in trying to ameliorate the bite of the lockdown must be commended, perhaps with little reservation in quantity and the manner of distribution.
At this point it is imperative to note that this fight goes beyond the government. The food distributors themselves and everyone involved in midwifing palliatives to the people must be honest and selfless in their approach and do the right thing, the right way. The effort of Nigerians at showing care and love is praiseworthy, even though the intention of some is just to get attention. In any case, It is not just a fight that demands support from only the Otedolas’ Dangotes’, Alakijas’ the Adenugas’ or Elumelus’ but also from the Yahayas’, Demolas’, the Uches’, Yetundes’etc. It demands all hands to be on deck. Every community has varying levels of wealthy people; while some have truly been showing care and love, more others need to be compassionate to the poor lot around them, as well as those who may not be considered poor but are in dire straits at this moment due to the pandemic.
Throughout history, every lifetime comes with its peculiar crisis or challenge, often requiring the efforts and contributions of every citizen to overcome. Covid-19 happens to be the crisis we face today, which requires the patriotic zeal of every Nigerian in the effort to put it behind us and move on with our normal lives. It may be likened to watching a horror movie, patiently waiting for ‘the end. Everyone is in a certain degree of fear and no one knows when it will end. That ending requires everyone to step up and contribute their quota and help in taking this war headlong.
While over 70% of Nigerians live from hand-to-mouth on less than $1 daily, many workers in the semi-private and SME’s sectors are yet to be paid their wages for March, as some employers are taking cover under the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, these people cannot stock up on food or other essentials, which all project deep concerns about the financial implications of the lockdown.
It is important to note that every country has different structures and capacities, and are also being hit by the virus in different ways, with some highly hit and some not as bad. Many nations of the world have risen from the desolation of adversity to attain remarkable heights of greatness. This pandemic being a time of solitude and introspection for many, without doubt offers a world of lessons to individual citizens as well as leaders and governments, but it might well be said that, only the wise ones however, will be able to pull out some lessons from this unprecedented disaster.
It is a time different people are taking solace from different things to stay happy. While some find happiness with their phones, some cannot even turn on their phones. While some cannot afford data, some others are dealing with network and other related issues. While some don’t mind staying indoors, others love it out in the daylight. Much as some would prefer physical engagement with people, others find the isolation a time for reflections and re-arranging their priorities. It’s just a case of different folks, different strokes.
There are businesses that are making great profit at this time as well as those which are grounded. I have been in touch with a number of people in the last three weeks and I know friends who can afford to eat more than three square meals daily and others who are having difficulty having one per day. I have spoken with some friends to whom N500 means a lot to at this time and to others to whom N50,000 is nothing to. I have seen families left in anguish with nothing to fall back on, worsened by the fact that they cannot step out. I see 24 hours running like 72 hours daily.
Apparently a lot of people are increasingly getting despondent. It is therefore a time that well meaning individuals, corporate and responsible citizens should show some level of responsibility, in complementing government’s efforts at defeating this enemy, not just for the government, but for us all.
Our campaign at staying home and staying safe implies a directive for people with homes. However, how about those without homes? These people are also our brothers and sisters who need our support and help, and there couldn’t be a more opportune time for that than now.
As an nation, we must rise up and help ourselves. It is not the fight of the government alone. The government has set the ball rolling so, we must stand firm, continuing to follow all given directives to ensure a successful curbing of the virus; we should reach out in genuine love to one another. This goes beyond just donating money to the government, but also looking and touching areas that the lives of ordinary Nigerians could be impacted the most. You might just be doing it for your own good.
As Mrs Ibukun Awosika, who has also stepped out on this issue rightly coins it, “every one of us holds a piece of what is required to build the right world where we can all survive.”
That piece in your hand might just be the needed bit to make the difference in lives of the needy at this challenging time.
I dearly hope that we’ll learn some lessons in the aftermath of this pandemic and become even more united than ever. I also use this opportunity to implore security operatives drafted to enforce the lockdown not to get trigger-happy or assault innocent Nigerians who are going through a lot right now, but to remain friendly while carrying out their lawful assignment.
We’re all in this together, Together we’ll end this pandemic, Together we’ll be stronger, Together we can reset our our minds on the paths of genuine patriotism, and Together in love against Covid-19, victory is sure.
Once again, I am Aregbe Idris, willing and PLAYING MY PART; PLAY YOURS!
Nigerian politician as a symbol of vanity….Dr. Muiz Banire
Life after Covid-19; Lessons and Prospects-Aregbe Idris
According to an old adage, ‘in every challenge there is an opportunity’. In crises situations the human mind is usually open to new thinking and new ways of doing things once thought impossible or too bold to imagine. The world has witnessed a spate of innovations on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also brings another well-worn saying to mind, that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.
The COVID-19 crisis has not only been disruptive, but has created a “big reset” as the rapid changes taking place will last for years to come.
In just a few months, the world has changed, with the advent of the pandemic, rendering humans, economies, social life weak and fragile in a ravaging wave of viral global attack.
However, the crises has also offered some vital lessons in human existence going forward; lessons which are a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the ugly.
For the good, the pandemic brought out the humanity in a whole lot of people, who hitherto may not have known they possess the milk of kindness, helping one another in a time of dire need. It also extended to nations, laying differences aside to come to the aid of others needing help. The pandemic showed that humanity can indeed stay in peace, with even warring nations, or warring factions within nations all sheathing their swords to face a common enemy with one resolve. Humanity seemed far more connected than ever before the crisis. Every single story has been that of courage, collaboration, and action.
The importance of savings was brought to the fore, especially for the rainy day, which COVID-19 happened to be. Nigerians lack a savings culture and more people were financially caught off-guard by the pandemic. Given the fact that in this part of the world, savings is observed more in the breach, it only made a bad situation worse.
With the lockdown of economic activities occasioned by the crises, though now gradually being relaxed globally, working online has become quite comely and profitable for a number of firms. Going digital has become imperative with several companies urgently doing a digital transformation; involving tools, norms, culture, and behaviors.
Remote work has become a ‘new normal’ with a number of companies adopting the novel way to work. It has also opened up the prospect of having physically challenged people, many of whom are wizards in their vocation, but who up until now were mostly found unfit for regular work employment by a host of firms, now a very viable option for employment, with the prospect of increased quality and work output.
Online learning is also becoming a convenient alternative for a number of schools, that are providing tutorials for pupils and students all over the world; a defining experience in education going forward. People have learnt how to use their phones for multiple functions, they most likely would not have cared to before the pandemic; with many already profiting therefrom.
COVID-19 exposed some chinks in our armor as a nation, with particular reference to the great despondency birthed by a lack of health infrastructure and capacity to deal with seen and unforeseen health crises. There is a global consensus that human, health, and safety issues are paramount. This has manifested in subtle ways during this pandemic, with the shaking of hands going extinct, social distancing in every circle of human endeavor, wearing of face masks, etc.,
Preventing diseases is better than having to try and cure them. The pandemic has forced us to think about our mortality more than at any other time. It reminds us how important certain health safety nets are, especially in dire circumstances.
People are forcibly faced with the fear of death, making the place of health one important lesson to be taken from all of these.
To have a well-designed and functioning health system demands a deliberate policy and effort. It requires a large amount of investment and long-term planning. In 2001, African leaders pledged to invest around 15% of their budgets in health. Sadly by 2020, only five countries have fulfilled this promise, excluding Nigeria.
Seeing how we reacted to the COVID-19 outbreak shows just how little prepared we were for this pandemic. This is why it is crucial to take seriously the need to begin working at a comprehensive health system in the country. This is not for the benefit of the poor masses but for the benefit of all, as lessons from COVID-19 have offered. The situation could have been different with some high-profile deaths in the country of the disease.
Africa’s poor pharmaceutical capacity has been a source of ridicule, especially by foreigners, and no better time to address this anomaly than now. Bangladesh, a poorer country than many African countries, produces 97% of the national demand for medicines, in contrast to Africa which is almost 100% dependent on imports.
Things just have to change. The health sector in Africa and Nigeria particularly, should be strengthened by COVID-19. This is a decision that can no longer be postponed.
Crisis response is another big lesson from the pandemic. Crises response is something that our country will have to urgently embrace going forward. The COVID-19 pandemic is a Black Swan for African nations, as it speaks to health and the economy.
Even when there was a willingness by some states and the Federal Government to provide palliatives to cushion the effects of the disease, the lack of a comprehensive data base, was inimical to the exercise.
A continent feared for the worst in the pandemic, Africa was still deprived access to COVID-19 essentials, given the excessive global demand, which relegated it to the back of the queue. This is an early warning and lesson for Africa. Nigeria as with a host of African nations, needs to have in place social protection systems to mitigate the suffering of the continent’s most disadvantaged, especially in times of crises .
Coming on the back of the pandemic was a crash in global oil prices, which made nonsense of the country’s budget, passed less than two months earlier, once again pointing to the important lesson of agriculture as the mainstay of the country’s economy.
According to The African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa will lose between $35 and $100 billion due to the fall in raw material prices caused by the pandemic, while the World Economic Forum (WEF) puts the continent’s global losses at $275 billion, which all show that Africa’s inequality gap will worsen in the coming years.
There will be layoffs, restructuring, and many difficult financial and human decisions ahead. Indeed, there will be many difficult decisions to make. But there must be plans in place for “things going wrong” as part of our everyday life going forward.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, the world’s social, economic and political resilience is surely going to be tested. Leaders will have to rethink many prior assumptions and find new balances for individual and collective behaviour.
As terrible as COVID-19 has been, we have to recognize that this may be the new normal. It may not be out of place to say that “Black Swan” events are here to stay, considering also the continuous looming impact of global warming and sea water rise, for example.
As a nation, we must be deliberately be geared in readiness for responses to other future threats that have equal or greater potential for disruption. The present pandemic provides us the opportunity to once again take a peek into the causes of our underdevelopment and come up with strategic and in-depth approaches to human development, digitalization, industrialization and economic diversification.
Needless to say that opportunities will also emerge, with innovative minds enervated to the challenges that we collectively face, if the will to move forward is mustered and sustained, with lessons learnt from COVID-19.
China to Lagos, the frightening timeline of a deadly virus
By Olusegun Fafore
Fatality rate across the globe since the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Chinese town of Wuhan on December 31, 2019 has signalled that this is not the best of times for humanity. With about 8, 988 deaths and 220,877 people infected in 176 countries since the first death was recorded in China on January 11, 2020, the pandemic has boisterously announced its immensity.
Frighteningly, the virus claims human lives daily while science is still struggles with an absolute response to the scourge. More than before, humanity has become vulnerable, and at the mercy of government policies. From one end of the world to the other, governments and political leaders are facing a whirlwind that is testing their leadership. Leaders are subjected to unusual trials and are desperate for solution(s).
In search of safety from the grip of the easily transmittable coronamicrobe, man is turning to the State for actions that will stem the tide, and provide succour at this difficult period. Sadly, no nation is capable of shielding the other. The ravaging disease does not regard the medically and scientifically advanced nations in its manifestation, so it is every nation to herself first, hence the increasing instances of border closure and entry restrictions.
To humble humanity and heighten our fears, the epidemic started its cudgelling from the most advanced to the not-so-advanced countries of the world. Nations like China, Italy, USA, Spain, Iran, Germany and France are the worst hit, while African countries like Nigeria, Togo, Somalia and Congo have had minimal impact. Only 12 deaths out of the 590 reported cases have been reported so far in Africa.
It may be safe to argue that the worst-hit countries, with records of deaths in thousands since the outbreak of the deadly disease, are ‘host country’ and ‘high-traffic areas’, but a different perspective will be that China is where the virus originated from, other countries classified as high-traffic areas, are inheritors like Nigeria and other sub-Saharan Africa countries, and should have had lesser impacts as well.
The truth is that danger is looming and humanity is under attack. While the response strategies by Nigeria and some other countries may have contained the spread of the deadly disease, especially in Africa; this terrifying development has justified the need for increased collaboration and support amongst the nations of the world. Humans have to come together to protect their turf.
The hurried spread of Coronavirus across the globe has shown that we are closer than the flight time from one region to the other suggests. People from one continent are just one person away from contingents from other continents. Asians are not far from Africans, so are Australians close to Americans, because there is no distance in human linkage(s).
We now know that the world is one small circle that can be covered in just few days. There is no better authentication of this statement than the number of human victims succumbing to the lethal calls of microbes globally. The fact that a disease starts in a remote part of the world and travels across the hemisphere to other parts in hours proves that we are not as isolated as we had always thought.
Outbreaks of pandemics like HIV/AIDS, Ebola and Coronavirus are compelling enough for us to rethink our humanity. More than wars, epidemics are greater threats to humankind. It is therefore important that global leaders, multilateral agencies and international organisations align on investment in critical health infrastructure and scientific breakthroughs to sustain our reign on planet earth.
Microbes and diseases are interested in our world. These horrible impostors are keen on displacing us in our hundreds, thousands and millions, if we continue to live the way we have always lived and refused to exploit our mutual strengths. For pandemics, the fate of Africa is always a concern to the global health community. This is because of the continent’s history of poor investment in health care and hindered scientific advancement.
The African continent was not known to stand-up to its health challenges, or any global health problems. Until the containment of Ebola outbreak in 2014 when Nigeria offered the best of Africa to the world, no one ever thought that there could be a coordinated response to a pandemic by Africans.
As one of the immediate destinations of the hemorrhagic fever (Ebola) which originated from Liberia when thousands were sick and dying in the West African regions of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (28, 616 cases and 11, 310 deaths), Lagos was gripped by fear and thrown into panic because of the devastating statistics.
The epidemic claimed the life of Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, the Lead Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at a private hospital in Lagos, who remains the heroine of the battle against the Ebola pandemic in Nigeria, but the capacity of the State to speedily deploy resources to contain the spread of the deadly disease and limit casualties to 8 deaths out of the 20 cases was globally commended by the time we defeated the outbreak in September 2014.
Lagos State Government showed the world what Africans could do in times of crisis to forestall a continent-wide spread of dreaded diseases. The promptness and efficiency of the State response system protected Nigeria’s over 22 million population, occupying a landmass of approximately 3345km2 , from the highly infectious disease.
The averted calamity, considering that Lagos population density was 20, 000 per persons per square kilometre in built up areas, would have been colossal. Poor management of the situation would have spelt a total disaster for the country, and perhaps Africa’s over 1.2bn people.
That was a global tragedy contained. Really, such an incident should attract and induce multilateral support, in form of capacity building and investment in health infrastructure in certain areas of the world. Weaknesses or lack of capacity in certain locations in the face of pandemic outbreaks endanger the whole world, no matter how distant anyone may be from the originating country. Before Coronavirus, China was very far, right?
Locations like Lagos are central to global wellbeing and progression of human health agenda for a number reasons. Notable amongst these is that the world cannot afford a weak link in the aggressive campaign for health security and wellbeing.
For a destination with two domestic airports, an international airport and two seaports, which are adjudged to be the largest and busiest on the African continent, a national or subnational government can only do little in combating security, socio-economic and health challenges or threats, when they emerge from the interconnectedness of our world.
Lagos is only exemplary in fighting the scourge of COVID-19 because of deliberate government policy and leadership commitment to quality public health. The Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, before the outbreak had taken a strong position that made the State response to the menace adequate.
As Incident Commander, his outlook inspired great confidence in the Lagos State Incident Command Team battling the menace of the deadly disease in Lagos, but would this have been the story if Africa was the origin of this deadly virus?
What would the pressure on Lagos facility and the outcomes of the unanticipated stretch of the State health facility and preparedness for incidents, which have drawn commendations from far and near, especially by the World Health Organisation (WHO) been?
Yes, since the detection of the first case of Coronavirus on February 27, 2020, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Sanwo-Olu has remained resolute in curbing the spread of the virus and preventing human casualty. But in reality, megacities like Lagos and other densely populated regions in the world require increased global support and collaboration towards improving healthcare and proving world-class facility. This will not only strengthen the State’s capacity to combat situations such as this, but also bolster its ability to provide support for other destination in the region during emergencies.
So far, Governor Sanwo-Olu’s decisions and actions have significantly moderated the possible spread of the microbe and doused fears that Coronavirus could sweep the entire country in matter of days. To manage the situation, Lagos State activated its emergency health management and response framework, embarked on a mass enlightenment campaign about the importance of personal hygiene, closed schools and prohibited public engagements with more than 50 participants at a single location in the State.
Some of these decisions are tough because of the socio-economic texture of Lagos. But indeed, times are hard, and only tough decision could help humans chase microbes off our streets. As social animals, the chances that these aliens will creep into our system are very high, and definite, if we fail to demonstrate a certain level of watchfulness over ourselves. We need to help the response system work by following simple guidelines. When government demonstrates political will, citizens should reciprocate with commitment.
But more importantly, it has become better known that our spaces in the world are shared facilities. Therefore, we need to increase our humanity. Leading nations, global leaders, civil society activists, well-meaning individuals, international organisations and multilateral agencies, need to rethink what our investment priorities should be. The focus of innovation and scientific advancement need to shift to healthcare infrastructure and systems in high population density regions of the world.
Fafore is the Executive Assistant on Public Relations and New Media to the Governor of Lagos State.
BUSINESS4 weeks ago
FIRSTBANK PRESENTS DEVICES TO LAGOS STATE TOWARDS DRIVING 1MILLION STUDENTS TO E-LEARNING
NEWS3 weeks ago
$2.8 BILLION AKK PIPELINE PROJECT: BUHARI STRIKES AGAIN!
POLITICS4 weeks ago
ASIWAJU BAT MOURNS THE EXIT OF DISTINGUISHED SENATOR BAYO OSHINOWO
POLITICS4 weeks ago
SANWO-OLU EXPRESSES SHOCK, SADNESS OVER SEN. OSINOWO’S DEATH
NEWS2 weeks ago
APC: Oshiomhole bows, says he accepts dissolution of NWC in good faith
NEWS3 weeks ago
BreakingNews: Ex-Oyo Gov, Ajimobi Dies At 70
BUSINESS2 weeks ago
FIRSTBANK EMPOWERS WOMEN THROUGH FIRSTGEM ONLINE COMMUNITY
NEWS3 weeks ago
Ajimobi was a statesman, Makinde mourns