Our National Anthem resonates with patriotic zeal whenever there is a national calamity, war or insecurity that warrants all hands to be on desk, when our leader makes the call by quoting the Anthem, which says in its opening lines, “Arise O compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey.”
Truely, a time comes in the history of every country when the will of the people is tested. When their hopes seem shattered. When all hope is lost in the face of seemingly hopelessness. When it looks like help is nowhere to be found.
Such a time is presently facing our beloved country Nigeria. The coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging the length and breadth of the world and has crept into Nigeria is gradually overwhelming our medical professionals, social life, religious and security activities.
As is usual with Nigeria, we wait until the river has almost overwhelmed us before we start swimming to safety. When the coronavirus was first announced in China, it was world news. Knowing the devastating effects of the virus, many would have thought that Nigerian government ought to be among the leading countries that should have been better prepared.
After all, Nigeria despite her nonchalance when the Ebola virus was imported into the country, was able rise up to the challenge. Indications are that we have not learnt from our past.
Not so, our fire brigade attitude and mentality, which had over the years cost the country several deaths and unquatifiable destruction, still revolves around national problems.
Medical security of Nigerians is haunted, countries around the world have involved their medical reserves (medical retirees). Usually, it is military retirees that are called up in an emergency situation during wartime.
In America, President Donald Trump has declared that America is in a war situation. War against coronavirus. War that is daily opening fronts in every country.
So far, the coronavirus war has affected over 353,810 persons and killed more than 15,419 persons around the world, as at March 23, 2020. Meanwhile, the number of affected states in Nigeria has increased from one to six, while the number of those who tested positive is steadily rising.
Also, 34 African countries have confirmed coronavirus, with 600 cases, while West Africa has recorded over 204 cases. In all, four have been confirmed dead, with Nigeria having one.
The war trumpet has been blown in Nigeria and there is an urgent emergency for Nigerians to heed the clarion call.
In 2002, there was such national call when Boko Haram terrorists invaded the northeastern part of Nigeria, the federal government showed the same nonchalant attitude being exhibited in the fight against the coronavirus. It is such that we now have a situation where, instead of the federal government dictating the pace, it is members of the public and concerned professionals that are assisting in directing the situation around the country.
The call to national emergency is only being heard from Lagos State, instead of the federal government leading the way. Why must the call of duty be sounded by a state governor when the President and Commander-in-Chief is still on the seat?
In other countries, their Presidents immediately stepped into their Commander’s office to direct the war against the coronavirus. Funds appropriated for the war are accountable and made to be transparent. We only hear of the Aliko Dangote’s donation, not those from the World Health Organization and other foreign agencies. As insinuated by a medical observer, “Nigerians work harder when there is free money flowing and when such money would not be accountable.”
Unfortunately, President Muhammadu Buhari does not think he should lead the fight in the war against the invisible enemy coronavirus because, as a general, he was only trained during his time to fight only conventional warfare, not the unconventional warfare that covers “invisible war tactics,” not even the so-called asymmetric warfare as displayed by the Boko Haram terrorists.
As it is, only the President can make the call “Arise, O compatriots.” He alone can ignite the national consciousness and zeal that surrounds patriotism. He alone can make the difference by daily informative media chat, not disseminating information via his media aides.
The Constitution empowers him to make the call in an emergency like this. These are perilous times and all hands must ensure that the dark clouds pass over us.
It is a time when there is noticeable panic everywhere. Nigerians are gripped with fear and they want to hear from their President about what is happening in the country, and what they should do.
No wonder, when the announcement came that all worship centres should close down, many did not comply, simply because the President’s voice did not back it up. The coronavirus situation in the country has escalated to an emergency and should be treated as such. There is palpable fear among the people, even though some seem indifferent to the coronavirus pandemic. Many are ignorant of what the virus is all about, while many even joke about the coronavirus.
The message from the President should be reassuring and spirit-elevating so that every Nigerian can be hopeful of a better tomorrow, bearing in mind that the war against coronavirus would soon be over, just like Ebola and Boko Haram.