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How The Coronavirus Could Change Nigeria Forever

If you think the present Coronavirus pandemic will end the world like our elderly family members are trying to make us believe on WhatsApp, then you probably lack a sense of history about infectious diseases which have ravaged the globe over time. Worst infections diseases like the Avian flu, Swine Flu, Spanish Flu and the worst of all, Black Disease have killed millions of people.

Coronavirus will come and go but the calamitous experience will be an eye-opener for Nigerian leaders who have contributed immensely and painstakingly to the downward slope the country has been going over decades. Despite grappling with a paltry but potentially dangerous 44 cases as at the 24th of March, 2020, Nigeria has been exposed in all facets of life, be it politics, business, health, quality of leadership and followership amongst others.

The following weaknesses exposed by the novel disease from Wuhan, China will need to be addressed in order to chart a new course for Nigeria after the virus is contained:

(1) Political leadership:

The President Muhammadu Buhari administration has been accused of being too slow in taking decisions. In 2015, Buhari almost took forever to appoint his cabinet members and the national budget also dragged. Its failure to issue prompt travel restrictions against Coronavirus-infested countries and also ensure a mandatory quarantine of returnees exposed the country to the threat of the disease outbreak. History will also have that on record and in future, the electorate will demand a more proactive set of leaders and not reactionary ones.

(2) Followership:

With the low level of adherence to safety measures, Nigeria was expected to go the way of Italy if an outbreak actually happens. The heat of the virus could only be felt on the social media space; outside there, it has been business as usual for most Nigerians who have prioritised money over self-preservation. Several religious organizations, corporate bodies and other small scale enterprises have also failed to comply with safety measures and guidelines made by the government.

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It is hoped that the outbreak will be contained with no devastating effects or else, we might have to re-examine our lives as followers and figure out how we got it all wrong.

(3) Over-reliance on crude oil:

86% of Nigeria’s export revenue is generated from petroleum exports and for decades, successive administrations have paid lip-services to the diversification of the local economy which is mono-cultural. Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, crude oil has become one of the top casualties in the international market with the price crashing from $57 to a figure below $30 within the last two months. Presently, Nigeria is also struggling to find buyers for its oil cargoes and has slashed prices to lure buyers. With the surge of the virus, Nigeria is at risk of not only an economic recession but also a depression. After the outbreak, we might begin to hold serious conversations about looking for more streams of revenue for the country.

(4) Excessive importation:

Nigeria’s population keeps growing exponentially but a large part of it remains unproductive and unemployment has become a huge problem amongst the people. Most of the good in Nigeria are imported, thereby causing a balance of payment deficit.

The country, unlike China, has failed to utilize its massive human resources to pursue industrialization and grow the local economy. We have a population we can’t feed nor cater for. Since China was almost brought to its knees by the Coronavirus, there has been a shortage of goods and services in Nigeria. This has also led to inflation as a result of the forces of demand and supply. After the scourge of the pandemic, encouraging industrialization and the growth of local factories might be a good conversation to hold in order to forestall a repeat of what we are passing through.

(5) Power supply:

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The electricity distribution companies are determined never to improve power supply. They have given up on improving the public perception about them and cumulatively, they have supplied more darkness than light. Since the stay-at-home order was given by the government, the power supply has been abysmal especially in Lagos State. This might get worse in the event of a national or state-declared lockdown if there is a big spike in the number of Coronavirus cases. Electricity supply has a pivotal role to play in ensuring the success of the lockdown as it keeps the life of the people going. There might be a need for the Federal Government to fast-track it’s negotiations with Siemens or explore other sources for the efficient generation and equitable distribution of power across the country.

(6) Health-care:

This sector has always been overwhelmed even by cases as simple as Malaria and Typhoid Fever. It was once revealed that the clinic at the Aso Rock Villa couldn’t boast of common paracetamol despite the budgetary allocations running into billions of naira. Since most of the hospitals in Nigeria are death traps, politicians have taken to medical tourism with President Buhari leading from the front in this aspect. It’s embarrassing that our hospitals are understaffed, officials are poorly trained, poorly remunerated and under-equipped. In the entire country, the number of ventilators needed to treat critical patients of Coronavirus isn’t up to 500. We presently face a shortage of medicine as 70% of our drugs are imported from India which is withholding them in case the battle against Coronavirus goes out of hand.

Who would have thought powerful men like the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed could be stranded in Nigeria after contracting the Coronavirus? Other infected leaders will also face the uncertainties at the local hospitals they refused to fund and develop. Isn’t it shocking that Nigeria doesn’t have the capacity to produce face masks to be used as safety kits during this crisis period? I pray we don’t experience an outbreak of the magnitude of what Spain, Italy, Germany, South Korea, U.S, China have felt. It would teach us that our healthcare system was never designed to save lives but to take them in a slow fashion. Any ruling elite who survives this pandemic will know the importance of building and developing local hospitals in the nearest future. This is the opportunity to have a firsthand experience of the daily struggles of the poor masses.

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With Coronavirus raging and straining the fragile structures and resources in Nigeria, Providence might have just given our leaders and the people a chance to re-evaluate our lives for the purpose of improving them through conscious efforts at the end of the battle with the common enemy.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Yolanda Pfost

    March 28, 2020 at 12:55 pm

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  2. Amy Waterman

    March 29, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    Your article has offered lots of helpful facts concerning this issue. I have learnt quite a lot from digesting this post and for this reason want to tell you a huge “thank you!”

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COVID-19: Nigerian govt gives update on resumption of international flights

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Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said the federal government is not in a hurry to announce the resumption of international flights.

Sirika stated this while speaking during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 yesterday.

The Minister made it clear that any decision taken would be in the interest of Nigerians.

He pointed out that several countries have not opened up for international flight operations and that Nigeria has not received clearance to fly to countries who are already receiving foreign visitors.

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“Everyone is trying to keep safe. These and many other reasons will make us be cautious and study some more and liaise with stakeholders to decide when we will open international flights.

“Within the sector, we want to reopen because we are bleeding and losing money but we have to remain alive first before we make money. Whatever decision we take has to be in the interest of humanity in general,” Sirika said.

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He also added that the World Health Organisation, the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and other aviation stakeholders would be consulted, before any announcement is made.

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COVID-19: Osun eases total lockdown in four LGs

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Osun State Government, on Monday, eased the total lockdown imposed on four Local Government Areas last week to curb community transmission of the coronavirus.

The affected Local Government areas: Ilesha East, Ilesha West, Atakumosa East and Atakumosa West were placed on a 7-day lockdown that was scheduled to elapse on Monday, DAILY POST reports.

In a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Prince Wole Oyebamiji, on Monday evening, the State Government appreciated the people of Ijeshaland for the level of compliance to the lockdown directive.

According to the SSG, the state government approved the conditional ease of lockdown based on undertakings and assurance received from traditional and religious leaders as well as civil society groups within the axis, that compliance with safety guidelines shall strictly be adhered to.

Enforcement of safety protocols, especially the use of nose masks in public places must be continued in the axis, and non-adherents will be sanctioned, the government warned.

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Oyebamiji added that, “Although there were reports of breaches and violations, a commendable percentage showed responsibility through their compliance.

“The State Government also appreciates the efforts of the Joint Task Force that oversaw the enforcement of the week-long lockdown, as well as the services of healthcare workers and media professionals.

“It is imperative to note that the condition that necessitated the precision lockdown – community transmission – is still active in the areas.

“However, based on undertakings and assurance received from traditional and religious leaders as well as civil society groups within the axis, that compliance with safety guidelines shall be strictly adhered to going forward; the State Government has approved a CONDITIONAL EASE of lockdown in the four local government areas with effect from the midnight of Monday 13th July 2020.

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“The State Government wishes to reiterate that any form of breakdown in adherence to the safety protocols against COVID-19 in the four local government areas, shall force the government to reimpose the lockdown.

“The State Government under the leadership of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola will do everything necessary to protect the lives and properties of citizens from actual and potential dangers.

“Citizens are therefore warned against actions that sabotage the efforts of the government, by adhering to the safety protocols and directives of the State Government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“The State Government seizes this opportunity to remind Osun citizens to wash their hands regularly, use alcohol-based sanitizer, wear face mask and maintain social distance.”

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