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Nigeria’s salon of skeptics

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Sir: When public confidence is not reposed in public institutions, a national nightmare ensues. As the coronavirus pandemic has sawed deeper into the bark of the world, provoking terror on the shoals of Nigeria, the country has been forced to reckon with its self-inflicted wounds over the course of a half-century of nationhood.

Ignorance and sheer distrust have thickened into a lethal brew, which continues to stain the teeth of those who doubt the existence of the coronavirus in Nigeria and greet the activities of the NCDC with virulent cynicism.

In times of a public crisis, a country is supposed to rally as one to confront its common enemy. At such times, the sophistication of citizens and the level of trust they repose in their government and institutions are subjected to an acid test.

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The coronavirus pandemic has left Nigeria brutally exposed. Although thankfully, the country has somehow managed to keep the number of infections and deaths away from the doomsday predictions of experts, the scramble to survive has exposed the iniquitous neglect visited on the country`s healthcare system over many years. It has also badly exposed Nigeria`s unsightly status as a hand-to-mouth economy.

The state of things and the unique fear it has provoked has seen many Nigerians jump into the skepticism salon over the very presence of the coronavirus in Nigeria. The country`s historic tryst with corruption and the lockdown which saw many families teetering on the edge has helped to rally resentment toward the NCDC which has led the national battle against the disease. However, Nigerians, especially those whose doubt over the presence of the virus in the country has spilt into acts of sheer sabotage of the country`s fight must take a deep breath and re-evaluate their positions as they are constituting a danger far more present and potent than the virus itself. Health is wealth and public health is public wealth, it is why this emergency is no joke. Everyone is endangered and the priority must be to stay safe and ride out the storm stirred by the virus. Thick resentment has greeted the work of the NCDC by those who believe that the Centre`s work is more pecuniary than salutary and that the figures it brandishes are more fictitious than factual. Yet, we all must tread with caution.

Universally, the virus has shown itself a formidable enemy. However, it has gleefully shown its favourite killing fields to be those countries where the national response was slow and ponderous. By his own standards and to his credit, President Muhammadu Buhari responded fast enough to the threat of the virus, though not as fast as some hoped or wished for. We must all take responsibility. Life has been ground to a halt by the virus and the times indeed are very challenging. The recovery process will be slow and excruciating especially for those countries where things were not so rosy before the virus struck. While we are at it, we will all do well to remember that the virus knows no bounds and we lose nothing by staying safe.

Kene Obiezu, wrote from Abuja

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