By Fred Chukwuelobe
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” So says America’s declaration of independence.
This opening statement in that declaration is so comforting, especially to people of the third world and African-Americans. But is it true? Do those leaders who coined this believe in it? I doubt it.
I decided to kick off this write-up on the above premise to draw attention to inequalities between my country and the civilised world and in discussing the wickedness by our leaders on matters of Covid-19 protocols/requirements.
This is the story.
When you’re travelling out of Nigeria, to a place like the United Kingdom, all you’re required to do is fill a Passenger Locator Form stating your vaccination status, your date of departure and return, countries you’d pass through, where you’re staying, your phone numbers and contacts, among other details of your travelling document. This is what the UK government requires, from passengers coming to their country or citizens returning home and no money is charged for this. This is a country that took the fight against the pandemic seriously.
When coming to Nigeria or you are returning home, you’re forced to cough out a minimum of N45, 000 into the pockets of some people carefully selected by our government and who have been provided the opportunity to make money off their citizens. Before that, you pay another minimum of N45, 000 to laboratories in the UK to do a Covid-19 test.
So, while the United Kingdom, a civilised society whose leaders care and work for their citizens, have removed all prescribed COVID-19 protocols/requirements that inconvenience their people and asked their citizens to be discerning, our leaders have insisted on punishing us and fleecing us of our money.
First, you’re required to go for a test regardless of your vaccination status. You pay a laboratory in the UK to do that and then with your result, you log into the Nigerian government portal at https://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng and fill another form where you’d upload your test result, choose another laboratory in Nigeria and pay another N45,000 for a two-day return test.
Many people pay for this money and don’t go for any test. Both the laboratory and the government don’t follow up because it is about the money; their interest is just the money and not to control the spread of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, after fulfilling all these requirements, which many countries have since relaxed, you pass through a dilapidated and dirty airport, filled with all manner of extortionists and malfunctioning equipment. You can bet that this airport has had the worst viruses spread over time and people passing through it, and working there must have become immune to Covid-19.
My experience at the Muritala Muhammad Airport, Ikeja, is horrifying and sad. Many people who returned didn’t do the test and a doctor and his team took them to one side and collected money “to help them”. One approached me while I was searching for my papers and told me not to worry if I didn’t do it. “Come this side and see that man”, he told me. I didn’t and he kept pestering me. Everybody wants money.
Of course, I don’t want to talk about the compete chaos inside the airport and outside of it. It looked like everything has finally broken down at that airport. Complete chaos.
If this does not bother you, it should worry you that, in this country, we can go to any length to make money. You’d think that when people die, they go to their graves with money.
If you remember a joke about a dying Igbo man who was visited at his bedside by his children, you’d understand my drift. He counted all of them and then asked why ‘nobody is at the shop’. Even on his dying bed, all he could care about was money and not making peace with his Creator.
I think our leaders are wicked and care less about those they lead. Proposals are introduced, debated, and approved to generate money for themselves, their friends, and relations. The thought process in our government convinces me that our leaders don’t care about us. All they care about is money for themselves, their friends, relations, and tribesmen. Otherwise, tell me the wisdom in not following the civilised world in lifting these needless Covid-19 protocols/requirements? Why make your people go through so much difficulty when they come home? Even if anybody tests positive, you cannot stop him from returning to their country. Worst is you follow up on them. Even threats of seizure of travelling documents for six months is unreasonable because it cannot stop the spread of Covid-19. The UK never threatened their citizens. They fought the disease, encouraged their people to go for vaccination, and contained the spread of coronavirus. What did we do? Create avenues for some people to make money and unashamedly so.
So, pardon me if I insist that all men are not created equal. If they are, then we all would have been civilised and operate on the same level with the civilised world. We don’t.
While they’re advancing on all fields, we are retrogressing on all sectors.
If you doubt, tell me why we export our crude oil and import bad, contaminated Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as fuel?
I hold my own truths to be self-evident, that, in Nigeria, all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. All men may be created equal, but they don’t behave alike.
Government, it is time to remove all these Covid-19 travel requirements and save your people further pains. It is time to pull down that airport completely and build a new one. It is time to completely sanitise it. It looks like a motor park and this is shameful.