Covid-19: It’s not too late for Nigeria, despite its mistakes

Covid-19: It’s not too late for Nigeria, despite its mistakes

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 10:50 am

Funmi Peter-Omale

By Funmi Peter- Omale/London

These days, I sit in my yard, shaking my head, when I see my colleagues and friends on Facebook bawling that the Nigerian government (federal, state and local levels) are being lackadaisical about the #Covid-19 pandemic in the country. I feel so sad, that they’re just waking up to start doing what should have been done weeks ago. 

The other day, I read a report where state House correspondents were decrying being exposed to confirmed cases, but not being tested themselves. 

About a month ago, when I raised an alarm on my wall that the government was not being sincere, and there were up to 48 cases in Nigeria already (WHO infographics) my so called learned friends referred to the news as fake! (Attached are screenshots of the comments). 

They premised their arguments on the fact that government had only confirmed one case, the Italian!

In fact, I was a bit miffed that “my colleagues” were busy doing articles and trying so hard to investigate and get the name of the Italian! I was so disappointed. And sad because apparently many of them were out of touch with reality on ground and/or are in denial. Or maybe they didn’t care, because it was erroneously believed then it wasn’t at their doorsteps yet.

Coronavirus in the world. Photo credit: Daily Mail online

Was that what we needed at that time? No. We’re like a month behind because of this lolly gagging. 

What was needed as far back as February when WHO raised the levels of Covid-19 infection to PANDEMIC, was for the government and their cohorts to embark on radical advocacy.

This would have meant having to use NGOs and charities, to use their platforms to enlighten the people, of the dangers and measures to take to keep safe. It’s really that simple, teaching people to wash and wash their hands and socially distant from non families. It’d have meant testing incoming flights, land and water borders too. 

It would have also meant, a rigorous media campaigns by local, state and federal governments, using all available information resources. These would have kept the citizens well informed and prepared rather than the “hide and seek” games played by government officials, those vested with the authority and power to protect us.

They spend billions of our money to get elected, and to cruise around while in office; why can’t they spend money to protect us? 

Now, we all know better. That what a child on the tree cannot see, the elder sitting under the tree can see so far off (Yoruba Proverb)!

Don’t we now know, that the state governors, ministers, chief of staff, NASS members, and so on, who came to frolic at a certain person’s birthday in London, have tested positive to Covid-19 and/or are self isolating. Some are hiding and hiding their statuses.

Who cares? Other than they have inadvertently put lots of people at risk. These include their associates, their families, friends and constituents that they came in contact with after they all returned.

It’s early stages yet, but thank goodness government has now put a lockdown in place. We’d not know how effective this will be immediately. The next few weeks will determine.

My worry is that, some people with immuno compromised conditions  may inadvertently get infected and never get tested and sadly succumb to the virus, in places where healthcare is inadequate or almost nonexistent. Unlike in other countries, where they are now conducting tests on people who die at home, at hospices or care home, Nigeria may not have the resources to do same.

Consequently, I see a situation where the true figures of the infected, the victims and those that got well, will never be fully and truly known. This is going by the precedence in other countries.

Still, I believe it is not too late. We can still learn from what has happened and still happening in other places, other countries. Our governments should be transparent, and ask for help from other countries as well as from producers of PPEs and ventilators and of course credible and effective testing kits.

Covid-19 is not like elections and political appointments that our politicians can twirl, twist and manipulate. The virus is deadlier than anything our generation has seen, and if care is not taken, thousands of lives are risks of being lost. And recovery may take longer than necessary.

Now, we don’t want a lockdown lasting till summer do we? Besides the fact that the people will revolt against a prolonged lockdown; it doesn’t ported good for the economy. The economy that’s almost comatose anyway!

-Mrs Funmi Peter-Omale, journalist, writes from London


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