This is perhaps one Easter in recent memory that Christians the world over will celebrate indoors. It is also one Easter that will be celebrated without much merrymaking and other mundane things some Christians do in the name of celebrating the season of love and repentance. This is so simply because of the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic that has killed thousands of people globally and infected over one million people. While Easter is a season of love, covid is a season of death.
Because of the deadly virus, the world is in a lockdown, flights are restricted and movement of people and goods are also restricted. In Nigeria, the pandemic has affected all aspects of social life and economic activities. It has affected the way we worship and the manner we greet. Football fans no longer watch their favourite games or engage in needless arguments over which club will win or lose a match.
The neighbourhood has suddenly become so quiet because the beer parlours and nkwobi joints are no longer booming. Those whose profession is to merchant the words of God no longer do so because of the ban on social gathering. There are no more crusades for miracles and healing. The outbreak of covid has made everyone to become emergency expert on the disease. There is a lot of misinformation about the pandemic on the social media.
Some people do not believe that the pandemic is real. They still see it as propaganda stuff. Even some men of God are equally guilty of spreading the myths about the pandemic. The reality of covid-19 is that it affects all people, whether you are white or black. It is never the disease of the rich as some gullible Nigerians tend to believe. It affects the rich and the poor. It affects people of all races, religions and class. It does not discriminate on account of gender.
The disease is controversial and has also generated different stories. Covid-19 has dominated the media space for weeks on end without boring. It has eclipsed politics, especially the type played in my country, Nigeria. Trust our politicians; they are playing games with the pandemic. They are massaging their supporters with covid-19 palliatives with an eye for the next election, while the target groups are dying of covid-induced hunger. It is sad that they can play politics even with death.
The distribution of covid palliatives has become another politics for them. Our governors have soon become experts on covid. They now issue statements on the disease as if they are working with Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). One thing about the disease is that it will one day end just like other plagues in history. Nothing lasts forever and covid should never be an exception.
Many creative writers will write about the pandemic in future or soon after. So many poems will be written about the pandemic. Some writers will dramatize its effects and complexities. Some novels will emerge out of covid-19. The tales about covid-19 and its politicization will soon emerge. They will write how Chinese experts were drafted in despite opposition from our medics to help us fight the pandemic.
The Chinese came when our experts have been hailed for gallantly fighting the pandemic in the same manner they fought Ebola virus. Even the World health Organization (WHO) has commended our medics for their medical feat before the government adamantly brought in 18 Chinese doctors and nurses. Some of them are experts in molecular biology which they claimed we lacked at the moment. We may have experts in molecular biology but some of them are outside the country just as some of our brilliant medical experts are practicing abroad where the paycheck is fat.
So many short stories will dwell on the themes informed by covid-19 pandemic. Many Nollywood actors will soon feast on the pandemic with part 1, 2 and 3 of the same theme. They may also have part 4 and 5 depending on their mood. Once one covid-19 film becomes successful, other producers will copy the same pattern as long as they wish and as long as the buyers are there. Remember that the classic model from “Living in Bondage” is still being recycled till today.
Our musicians and comedians will soon make money out of covid-19. They will make music on the disease. Comedians will crack jokes on the disease and the importation of Chinese doctors when Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment said we have surplus doctors that we can export. The lockdown is the best way to contain the rampaging disease. But we cannot contain the disease by inflicting hunger on the people.
Some hungry Nigerians are daily violating the lockdown restriction because hunger does not respect any law. There should be a balance between lockdown and hunger induced by lockdown. People who are locked down must be given food to survive. They must be given money to buy their daily needs. Giving them two loaves of Agege bread as shown on a national television is disgraceful.
It is also embarrassing to see people on television being given some wads of naira notes in one area of Abuja in a period of lockdown or people queuing for one piece of yam and two loaves of bread in Lagos despite billions of naira voted for covid palliatives. It is a big shame that our politicians have politicized covid palliatives. Some parts of Lagos do not have an idea of any palliative. If the government wants the lockdown order to succeed, it must make sure that hunger is equally locked down by giving food to the people.
The best approach to do this is to transfer money to people through their BVN, even if it is N20,000 or more. This pandemic has exposed the hypocrisy of our leaders and their pretension to leadership matters. It has also exposed our lip service to diversification. It has underlined our penchant for anything foreign. After this pandemic, we shall begin to do things the right way. We must begin to trust our doctors and things made in Nigeria.
We must begin to manufacture our essential drugs, sanitizers, face masks and hand gloves. The overdependence on India and China for our drug needs is killing the local initiative to do so. We should build our roads and bridges. We must build our railways. We must refine our crude oil and stop importing fuel. We must finally do away with fuel subsidy which many Nigerians believe is a scam. We must curb our taste for foreign things. We must stop medical tourism.
As we celebrate Easter, the feast of love and repentance, let us remember the sick, the aged, the needy and the less privileged people in our midst. Let us remember those in confinement and the poor. Let our leaders use this period to show love and kindness to all Nigerians.
Let the covid palliatives go round all the people. Let us stop the politicization of covid palliatives. Let us keep social distance and wash our hands and eat whatever we can afford. Together we shall fight and defeat the pandemic. Have a wonderful Easter celebration.