The imperatives of a post-coronavirus Nigeria
The so-called ordinary Nigerians are intelligent and entertaining. Their ability to make light of a serious situation is amazing. What about that trending video showing a woman, praying fervently and thanking God for what coronavirus has done in her life.
Prior to the intervention of coronavirus, she says her husband was never to be seen at home. It was either he had extra work to do in his office or was held up in traffic while, in fact, he was with another woman. He has now been forced to stay at home and a series of names are in contention for the children that could be born about December such as Korolabi, Korolola, Korolaja, etc
In sharp contrast to the contentment of ordinary Nigerians is the crass thoughtlessness and irresponsibility of our elite. In some societies, what coronavirus has done is to force unity of purpose among the people. Humanity has won where divisions once prevailed. However, in Nigeria, the global crisis has merely provided our politicians with an opportunity to want to score cheap political points at the expense of the other, and time for those who had grouses with their government to want to embark on crippling strike action. The stark reality we are faced with today is that no one can be too sure what ambush coronavirus has laid out there.
One good thing coronavirus may have done for our nation is to assert the limitations of our elites. Those who assume money can buy anything have been told to stay away from those exotic nations where they would ordinarily have wanted to have their hairs done and even die in their hospitals for the prestige of it. The hospitals in America and Europe are struggling to cope with the pandemic and currently have no interest in whatever stolen money our elites would want to smuggle in. Hopefully, this reality may have sunk in on the now thoughtful ones and developing our health care system could be a priority for a post-coronavirus purposeful leadership.
But improving our health care system cannot be achieved without money. The frequent changes in the price of oil, and the fact that oil may soon lose its attraction in the world market, should awaken us to the urgency of diversifying our economy. We must be prepared to return to the farms and resuscitate those agricultural products that had served our purposes in the past-cocoa, oil palm, groundnut etc. Additionally, Nigerians must be made to understand that they have a reciprocal responsibility to contribute to the development of state and society by paying their taxes.
Maybe, one reason our political elites lack the moral authority to ask Nigerians to pay tax is that the people do not see what the politicians do with the money entrusted to them. All they see are corruption and flamboyant living on the part of politicians. Our legislators vote outrageous salaries and allowances to themselves, as well as import exotic cars, to assert the statuses of being celebrities. In most societies, people take loans from the banks to buy whatever they want to buy and repay the banks upon the terms agreed. Those who have genuinely chosen to serve do not buy into extravagant and ostentatious lifestyles, they would rather want to be remembered for what they have done for their communities. The time could come-one is not advocating it-when Nigerians would be forced to make a violent statement on this matter.
Quite a number of purposeful nations are making provisions for their own peoples to cushion the inevitable effects of a pandemic. Those who have been forced out of work, including the self-employed, are being given hope of survival by their governments. We have little or no say in this because we have not saved for the raining day. We can use brutal force to make people stay at home without caring if there is food there or not for them to eat. We want them to work from home when there is hardly electricity or computer to work with.
Of course, Nigerians must wash their hands frequently under running tap waters which governments have not provided them with.
The bills our legislators waste time upon are quite frivolous. If one must be honest, educational qualification for president and governors should not even have space in the constitution. This is one thing we should now be taking for granted just like the Americans and the British do, without introducing an undemocratic provision in a democratic constitution. With about 200 universities, it should be taken for granted that Nigerians would not elect an illiterate as their leader. Even our traditional rulers now flaunt impressive educational qualifications.
However, one who would be a leader must have verifiable experience of leadership and be able to lead from the front at all times. Ours is still a relatively young and learning nation, coronavirus is one authentic teacher we must now be learning from.
Dr Akinola wrote from the United Kingdom.