The rampaging Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which started in the Wuhan Province of China in December last year, came without a warning. It came without a siren. Even our so-called prophets and men of God in this part of the world did not see it coming. It eluded their crystal balls, star-gazing instruments and other mediums of divination. It came like the biblical thief in the night when men and women are sleeping and snoring. It came when many people were in deep slumber. It came like death, the grim reaper. COVID-19 or Coro as some Nigerians call it came to kill and maim the weak and the mighty. Those who claim to have direct lines to God in this part of the world did not know that Coro will ravish the entire universe beginning from December 2019.
It is dealing with the people of the world even in 2020 and yet there is no end in sight to its havoc on a hapless world. More than any other disease, COVID-19 has terrified mankind. It has put fears down the spines of world leaders and even military authorities. It has devastated the global economy and made nonsense of the international price of crude oil, the mainstay of Nigerian economy.
Everyone is afraid of Coro including those that unleash violence to their fellow human beings. Even the men of God are equally afraid of Coro. Coro is indeed a disease no person can joke with. Even commercial sex workers are afraid of the lethal disease. Beer parlous and nkwobi joints are recording poor sales. The amala joints are equally affected. Coro has even proved more lethal than atomic bombs and other weapons of mass destruction. COVID-19 is no respecter of persons, status, gender, creed, race or political affiliation. It has affected all nations. It has killed thousands of people, especially in China where it originated to Italy where its devastating impact is mostly felt. The fear of Coro is indeed the beginning of wisdom.
With Coro around, there is no hugging, touching, kissing, hand-shaking and other social rituals Nigerians and indeed Africans are known for. The worry is so much that all of a sudden, Nigerians no longer troop to Europe, America and Asian cities for one trivia or the other. Medical tourism has abated. Our leaders are now glued to their offices as a result of the threatening Coronavirus. The entire universe is quaking not because of explosion of weapons of mass destruction. The world is shaking because of a mere virus that is killing in thousands. It has changed the character and texture of power and religion. It has interfered with human relations. We now keep social distance from our friends and loved ones. Schools are closed. Churches and other religious places of worship are closed. Markets are closed. Airports are virtually empty.
The borders are closed, though very belatedly. Our universities and other institutions of higher learning are under lock and key not necessarily because of the so-called ASUU strike, which is a distraction at this point in time. What is the difference between the closure of varsities by the government and ASUU’s purported strike? ASUU should please give us a break and stop playing games with varsity education and the fate of university students. It is time they stop the strike joke. Too much of everything is too bad. If there is any labour tool that ASUU has overused, it is strike. ASUU should think of other non-disruptive ways of settling any trade dispute with government.
With Coro on the rampage, people now compulsorily maintain public hygiene. They wear face masks and wash their hands with soap and running water. Sanitizers are selling like hot cakes. People are doing panic-buying of every consumable in the market. Our almighty crude oil no longer brings us money as it used to do. Our annual national budget is threatened. The economy is under serious threat. This is time we should seriously diversify the economy for better results. The country is under severe threat. The value of our currency can also be affected. The stock market is suffering it as well. There is indeed no place to hide. COVID-19 is a danger to global peace and development. Financial institutions are suffering it. The world is at war with COVID-19. It is a war that must be won. Nothing should, therefore, be spared to win it. COVID-19 is a danger to global economy.
More than any other plague, it has made much negative impact in the world. It has, like the influenza of 1918, became a global pandemic. COVID-19 has altered global relations and the power equation. The super powers are as terrified as the medium or soft power nations. The World Health Organization (WHO) has equally confirmed it and mapped out pragmatic measures to contain it. Member countries of the global health agency have also come up with directives on how to prevent the escalation of the pandemic. The Federal and State governments have put strong measures in place to ward off the spread of the disease in Nigeria. Therefore, all institutions and corporate organizations must comply with government’s directives on the disease. All religious organizations including those that can pray and wipe out the pandemic should also comply with government’s measures to halt the spread of the pandemic.
Because of the deadly virus, physical meetings, large gatherings, conferences, and most social events have been suspended. COVID-19 has underlined the fragile nature of the universe and its human occupants. It has also shown that there is indeed a higher power beyond human powers. It has demonstrated beyond any doubt that we should think more of how we can collectively take care of mother earth and the environment. COVID-19 has humbled world leaders and the entire humanity. It has also humbled African leaders. Coro has shown that world leaders should pay greater attention to human health as well as the health of the fragile earth. They should pay less emphasis on weapons of mass destruction. They should do things that will ensure good living and good neighbourliness among nations.
While COVID-19 is killing, it can never be regarded as a death sentence. Some people have survived it with minor treatment for flu. Therefore, all hope is not lost. The disease can be prevented. This is why there is lockdown in many countries. This is why there is social distancing and prohibition of mass gathering and social events. All hands must be on deck to stop the spread of the pandemic. The government should step up measures to contain the disease. We need more testing kits and equipment, sanitizers, face masks and hand gloves. While the pandemic lasts, let us keep up with public and individual hygiene.
It is sad that two renowned African musicians, Manu Dibango of Cameroon and Aurlus Mabele of Congo recently died of COVID-19 in Paris, France. Dibango’s biggest hit is ‘Soul Makossa.’ Mabele was the King of Soukous music. With his Loketo band, Mabele worked with ace guitarist, Diblo Dibala, to give the world scintillating tunes and energetic dance steps. Above all, people should avoid crowds and contact with affected people. Avoid those coughing and sneezing and all those exhibiting the signs of the ailment. We should also watch and pray against the perilous time we are in.