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COVID-19, Nigerians and reckless confidence

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In the near future when the history of how the world survived the coronavirus pandemic will be written, Nigeria’s account will not only stand out but will amaze the entire world. This may not be unconnected with the nation’s aggressive drive through medical research to find a cure and the selfless service of health workers to flatten the curve. No thanks to ignorance and baseless belief in nature and herbal mixtures most Nigerians refuse to obey the simple guidelines like wearing of face mask, hand washing, keeping physical distancing among others. Long before coronavirus found its way into the shores of the country there was already a jaw dropping definition and baseless mathematical calculations and assumption of how to defeat COVID-19.

Notwithstanding the true projections and analysis of health workers about the infectious nature of the disease, these doubting Thomases in the society still believe that COVID-19 is a figment an imagination. Therefore, many have concluded that God will not allow it to get here. Of course, with such audacity and inclination that God will forbid it to happen here, the mindset among majority of Nigerians is that the infectious disease would never habour in Africa talkless of Nigeria.

However, that confidence is now history as the virus has not only taken its toll on Africa but on hapless Nigerians. Currently, COVID-19 seems to increase its casualty numbers daily in Nigeria and Africa in general. It is especially harrowing to see Nigerians suffer from coronavirus deaths because lots of people have chosen to lower their guard and ignore simple guidelines. Therefore the federal government and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have to intensify their campaign and remain consistent in issuing statements and warnings concerning how to stay safe from contracting the dreaded virus. In fact, guidelines on how to prevent contacting the virus are constantly aired on radio, television and even as bulk text messages sent through mobile network providers to millions of Nigerians on their mobile phones. The intensity of the message and guideline point to the fact that the spate and degree that the disease continues to take its toll on human lives across the world is worrisome and needed to be curbed.

It is indeed disheartening that with the obvious reality some Nigerians still exhibit reckless confidence of having immunity to the coronavirus disease. The other day, the chairman of the presidential taskforce on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha who is also the secretary to the government of the federation admonished Nigerians at the Interdenominational Church prayer service organised by the Nigerian Interreligious Council (INIREC) that: “You can see that this virus has confounded and confused the entire world, it has brought democracies and economies that existed for the last 300 years on their knees…the Churches should stop the exhibition of reckless confidence and tell their congregation to do the proper thing, which is, stay safe for themselves, families and for the body of Christ…”

Indeed, there is a great lesson to learn from Mustapha’s statement. This is because a lot of people are seen to be wholehearted in sincerity when, in fellowship, they pledge to sink with you. But it would be extremely naïve of you to expect them behind you when you are actually sinking. Undoubtedly, we have reached the point in the fight to contain COVID-19 where Nigerians must be prepared to fight off reckless confidence and the belief that the disease is not meant for people in this part of the world. It would be extremely disastrous for anybody or group of people to peddle any idea that would give the impression that it is fanciful to be unprotected and go against NCDC guidelines.

To say the least, it is disheartening and shameful to note that many Nigerians still affirm with the baseless theory that the tropical African weather or some mixture of concoction with ‘Sapele water’ a popular local gin will do the magic by preventing COVID-19 infection. Strangely enough, to this group of unbelievers, there is not much of an argument to make as they see COVID-19 guidelines and regulations to sound as if government wants to turn back the hand of the clock on humanity. Therefore, asking the people to stop their usual lifestyle and live a new normal which they regard as a hopeless situation.

It is especially harrowing to see that the coronavirus pandemic is taken for granted, then only becomes true after it has established its destructive importance by claiming millions of lives. Indeed, the colourful rhetoric of the NCDC guidelines breakers has helped to lead many astray and fall prey of the disease. Some of those guilty of not obeying the COVID-19 health guidelines are the ordinary Nigerians and some influential personalities in the society. It is therefore, quite appropriate that the federal government should intensify the COVID-19 health guidelines campaign with some elements of enforcement that goes with a fine.

Certainly, there are grave concerns over effective regulations and there is an urgent need to improve our healthcare system too. It makes sense to abide by the NCDC and health workers guidelines because one does not lose anything in doing so. However, the federal government should be more conscientious in demonstrating that health is wealth and make it a necessity that citizens would not suffer to access. This will help to save health workers from the guilt of irresponsibility in their fatal failings towards adequate treatment of sick patients. If one may ask: What does it say about a country like Nigeria that in the twenty-first Century these grim practices of inadequate medical facilities still occur in 2020? Why is there such shameful political inaction about the healthcare sector? The answer is simple, yet scary for Nigerians who do not have any alternative. Indeed, it is far more frightening an issue about a nation and government that seems not to care about its people’s welfare especially on the basic human needs.


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