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Reality of COVID-19 and Nigerians who think without reasoning

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The story of COVID-19 is routinely publicized daily all over the world as the scourge itself permeates the nooks and crannies of the human space. The consequences of its ravage, is clearly visible due to its lethal grip on the human soul consequent upon the huge mortality statistics that leaves the mouth agape. Yet some innocent people regard its existence as a fable and see it as a mere tale told by an idiot.

In most corridors of the world, leaders are the natural bakers of good thoughts and reasoning and that informs the large dependence of the masses on “words on the marble” which are usually manufactured in the leader’s mind and placed on the open table for the less endowed masses to consume. Good communities in the world sieve the cream of leadership right from the room of the obstetricians, hence, the lingo that “Leaders are born not made” a statement that was contradicted by Vince Lombardi who opined that “ leaders are made, they are not born”.

Wherever the pendulum of this argument swings, the fact remains that society possesses its leadership either from its own efforts or by celestial endowment. What is apt in this case, is that many human settlements have a stratification technique that enables them to sieve their best for societal developments and progress from the general mass consisting of chaffs and grains. For instance, in most developed societies, it is quite difficult for any greyhound to become the cream of a political party not to talk of becoming President or Prime Minister. A potential leader must necessarily have gone through enough tutelage to be able to fit into the saddle whenever responsibility beckons. That is not the case in Nigeria where anybody could emerge from the abyss to lead the peak of the pyramid.

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The Nigerian situation is weird and pathetic to the extent that the vehicle of follower-ship is often driven by horribly naïve leadership that rarely understand its right from its left . Consequently and unaware of the societal set goal, such leaders are unable to pilot the vehicle of the community to its set goals and objectives. Most people who parade themselves with the garb of leadership in Nigeria are by the chemistry of their composition, themselves mere followers to the extent that they rarely live up to expectation during national crisis.

The present COVID- 19 saga graphically describe the nature and intellectual weaknesses and disability of the Nigerian leadership in the face of daunting challenges. Let us concede ignorance to most followers on the extent of the appreciation of the damage that the pandemic can unleash on the nation but how do you exonerate the gross ignominy of the leadership, particularly religious leaders. At the inception of the lockdown, some pitiably ignorant Pastors, Alfa’s and Imams were virtually threatening the government and blatantly refusing to obey the lockdown orders and the social distancing rules, despite the clear advantages to their follower-ship. Some behave as if idiocy runs in their families by urging their congregation to ignore very educative government programs that are designed to create societal awareness that will mitigate the rapid spread of the pandemic across the world. A look at the social media shows some mentally dented individuals accusing the government of religious discrimination and insensitivity.

Due to the closure of the religious centers, some individuals even accused governors and the president of doing a battle with God as if they are more Muslim than Buhari and more Christian than Sanwo-Olu. It is so sad that one does not know how to start or end the conversation. Unfortunately, in today’s Nigeria, ignorance rules the day with idiocy and dogmatism adjacent. In fact, courtesy the social media, every fool now has a microphone to make a broadcast to the world while knowledge is jettisoned and pushed to the rear while mediocrity and naivety to reign supreme.

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Between May 1, 2020 and June 6, 2020, the total confirmed cases of Corona Virus jumped from 2170 to 12233 while reported deaths rose from 68 to 342. When those who have been discharged are subtracted, the number of active cases as at May 1, rose from 1819 to 8407 during the same period. This translates to about 362% increase within a month. This statistics should give concern to the planners because it shows that the virus is far, very far from its climax. In fact, the figure is pointing dangerously to a bleak future for the management of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

The fact that people belief in God should not take away their reasoning. If partial lifting of lockdown could add over 6517 to the reported cases within one month which is almost quadruple the number of cases reported since the first index case around February 27, 2020,then one wonders what the situation would be if the doors of schools and churches are thrown wide open. Yet, religious leaders kept on putting pressure on government to flung the doors wide open for virus to have a field day.

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Appeal for obedience of the rule of the game fell on deaf ears. In fact, one famous Pastor continued to call his colleagues unprintable names for accepting governmental policy on the issue. Some argue that since markets are open then religious centres should be open. This stands reason on its head because the crowd in the market does not have the same transition period as the crowd in schools, churches and mosques. Whereas, except vendors and sellers, people move briskly in and out of markets, the crowd in schools and those religious centres have longer and enduring contacts that could nurture and keep the virus potent and alive on several hosts who will subsequently transfer them to many homes and families. While government is doing all it could to ensure that we don’t commit suicide, we are insisting on swallowing poison by our refusal to isolate, wear face mask and obey physical distancing.

Another interesting aspect is the case of those who are lucky to escape death by the whiskers coming out of the isolation centers to deride government efforts with cynical remark that COVID19 does not exist and that government is only treating patients for Malaria. This is most unfortunate as it further drives an already ill informed people into the inner recess of ignorance. Outside the home one can see Nigerians conducting daily business with indignation and utter indifference to the dangers lurking around. People rarely wear face mask and those who do either lower it below their jaws and sometimes below the nose. What is the essence of a face mask if it doesn’t cover the essential parts for which it was initially designed?. No wonder foreign embassies proactively evacuated their staff from our land at the appropriate time knowing who we are and what we are capable of doing to ourselves. In the past one week, there had been several reports of sudden deaths which may or may not be connected with the virus but we cannot continue to stand and stare. This is the situation in every country of the world where people embark on health risk behavior towards the disease with dastardly consequence.

Prof. Ojikutu wrote from Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Lagos.

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