THE world has never seen an epidemio- logical situation of this magnitude before. Managing it is a new learning curve. There are bound to be mistakes in the timing, response and even knowing exactly what to do.
In December 2019 when China first reported the first case of the virus, nobody, except a few experts, knew what it was all about. About 12 months after, COVID-19 has shown its full potential as the greatest serial killer of all time.
Whether you believe it or not, COVID-19 is here with us in full force and its ravages have continued, instead of slowing down, as first thought during the first global lock- down; it is even more deadly, with new, more lethal variants found here in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and South Africa.
The United States, the world epicentre
of COVID-19, has recorded over 400,000 deaths and millions of infections largely because of the careless response of whimsi- cal ex-President Donald Trump.
Back home, how have we managed this pandemic? During the first lockdown, the President Muhammadu Buhari adminis- tration did relatively well, with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State being the vintage crisis manager in the health challenge.
Now, we are in a partial lockdown and our beloved Lagos is leading the infection rate in this long-expected resurgence. I put down all the lapses in the initial manage- ment of this pandemic to inexperience, poor health infrastructure and lack of capacity to respond to emergencies, rather than to the incompetence of government officials. However, having gone through the first phase, we ought to have prepared for a possible resurgence when the highly infected nations of Europe and the US began to hint of the possibility of another crisis. But we didn’t really prepare well enough.
What compounds our situation is that most Nigerians do not believe there is a viral infection called COVID-19. Many respected, elite preachers have openly ex- pressed reservations about the disease and its alleged sponsors, who are believed to be using it to decimate the world’s population to achieve some Satanic goals.
Just this past week, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State announced, in a mes- sage that went viral on the social media, that people should not take the COVID-19 vaccine being imported to be given to Ni- gerians. He alleged that the jab would kill Nigerians who take it. These opinions are a negative counter-weight to the efforts of government to promote public adherence to the COVID-19 protocols in public places
and in homes.
The fact remains that Nigeria is re-
cording more fatalities by the day. What matters now is to deal with the spread of this pandemic, whatever opinions we hold about it. And the best way to do this is for government to enforce COVID-19 proto- cols firmly and decisively. That is the only sensible way to stem its spread.
A second lockdown is not advisable because Nigeria does not have the social infrastructure in place, like developed nations, to cater for the people during a national lockdown. We saw that clearly last year. The palliatives were not properly han- dled; even the material donations made by the private sector were kept in warehouses by the governors until hoodlums looted them during the #EndSARS riots.
The best way to manage the COVID-19 resurgence remains the commonsensi-
cal way: prevention is better than cure. Whether you believe in the vaccine or not, whether you agree COVID-19 is real or not, the pandemic is killing people daily.
That cannot be denied or wished away. We know many famous people who have died. There are celebrities who have had a close shave with COVID-19 and came out publicly to give their testimonies. Two of these famous guys are humour merchant, Ali Baba, and celebrated master of ceremo- nies, the one we call professor of language because of his multi-lingual talent, Chief Bisi Olatilo.
Nigeria should enforce the COVID-19 protocols with all the seriousness it deserves; that is the only way to contain its spread. Let us, for once, set aside all arguments and work together to stop the spread by observing the protocols as a matter of lifestyle. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs but it is the responsibility of government to ensure that we all obey the
protocols to checkmate the spread of this virulent pandemic, which has destabilized global economy and killed millions across the world. COVID-19 does not respect belief systems or attitudes. If you are unlucky to be infected, only God can help you survive.
The federal and sub-national govern- ments should step up awareness cam- paigns, using every medium of mass communication to promote the laid down COVID-19 protocols nationwide. This time, all the leading religious leaders, traditional rules and people of influence should be mobilized to join the campaign to create the awareness needed, so that our people would voluntarily obey the safety measures put in place to contain this virus.
Other nations should emulate US President Joe Biden, who signed an execu- tive order a few hours after he took office, making the wearing of masks compulsory in public places in America. Trust America to enforce it.
Finally, President Buhari should not consider a second lockdown. As already argued, such a measure would kill more vulnerable Nigerians than COVID-19 itself. Our nation is besieged on all fronts already, we cannot survive another lockdown. Not at this time.
Weekend Spice: A man who marries more than one wife, has given hostage to tempests.
Ok folks, let’s do it again next Friday. COVID-19 is still here. Stay safe and stay motivated.
•Ayodeji, author, pastor and speaker, can be reached on 09059243004 (sms, email & whatsapp only).