I was busy, rummaging through my mind. The mind was so jumbled, all sorts of clutter fighting for space, I found it difficult making a pick. Nigeria’s poverty index here, Nigeria’s this and that index there. And then, there came the latest, coronavirus index, and it no longer was the Italian but a much more frightful viral monster, eating up our big and bigger men.
So, I was confused. What do I write about? The ‘only’ 47 soldiers killed by Nigeria’s nemesis, Boko Haram or what or…?
I eventually decided I would write about the Covid-19 pandemic. First I wanted to tell Nigerians that coronavirus is a Daniel come to judgment to the world. For quite a long while, the world had gone bonkers and we applauded it or got so shell-shocked by the intimidating malfeasance to do anything. We just gaped at the unimaginable depravity, which could make even the inducer, Satan, shudder. I’m not sure he anticipated that man could exceed his briefs.
We watched as man kicked out God from His creation. They pushed Him outside and though He still lurks around, daily knocking on the door of our hearts to be let in, we unfeelingly leave Him in the cold. Man began marrying fellow man and woman, woman. Some married animals and mated freely with them. Incest and public sex became commonplace, as nations approved abortion. Ritualism, cultism and bloodbath held sway. What didn’t man do to court the wrath of God? So, now, coronavirus arrived with the paraphernalia of Egyptian afflictions, ravaging the world. Suddenly, the same man is beginning to remember God, some desperately trying to find their way back to Him.
I was also thinking about our thieving ogas in high places; and the cold rich men, who became the first meal of the wise virus. Strangely, because the virus even started its onslaught from their favourite lair abroad, they are stuck here in the same hospital they refused to build or equip. They are now ferried in rickety ambulances through our neglected crater-filled roads to take up beds in the bug infested mattresses of near-mortuary clinics, cohabiting with the mosquitoes and cockroaches they made bedmates of ordinary Nigerians. Their idle loot in foreign banks cannot save them now.
I just wondered how poor, deprived Nigerians could be this magnanimous. They could have chased these big men out of the place and put them on flights to their favourite haunts in the United Kingdom or Germany to manage the evil they have imported into the country. That was when my colleague, Rasak Bamidele, came up with a beautiful coinage; coronaleveller. It sounded so beautiful and apt.
We had been born equal before looters in government reinvented God’s creation and assumed omnipotence and rode roughshod through our common till, impoverishing everyone else but their families and cronies.
Honestly, I was hoping that coronavirus would bring new awakening to our leaders to but no, Pascal Oparada, another colleague, said no man becomes left-handed in old age. In other words, the leopard does not change its spot.
In a racy spellbinder, entitled, “Why Nigeria’s Healthcare System Would Remain the Same After Coronavirus,” Pascal wrote: I wish the headline would have read the opposite, but, no, like the Nigerian rap artist, Folarin Falana, popularly called Falz, said, ‘This is Nigeria.’
It is a phrase that has come to define our collective patrimony as a nation. Nigeria is impenetrable to change. We don’t like it at all.
During the Ebola epidemic of 2014, we hoped that it was the time the Nigerian healthcare system would take a curve for the better, but, no, after combating the epidemic, we went back to our old ways, or things got worse.
Apologists have said that it is because the Ebola happened very close to the election period, politicians were busy and deep in politicking and electioneering campaigns that they paid no mind to revamp our health care system.
But we know that Nigerian politicians never initiated any impactful and meaningful change on their citizens. Every serious policy change has always been driven by the private sector, which had to scrape through to initiate fundamental changes.
You would think that Coronavirus would give Nigerian politicians the opportunity to take that much-needed curve to correct the anomaly in the health sector but that is a tall dream.
So many people have called the COVID-19 pandemic a ‘big man’s virus’ because, so far, it is those who ordinary should be immune to the disease that are the ones infected and infecting others.
Some frightening statics say about 29 House of Representatives members have the virus. The Chief of Staff to the President is infected. At least, a governor is confirmed positive. A Speaker of a state house of assembly is positive. The list is getting longer.
You would think that it would give the Nigerian government the impetus to drive the much-needed change. But, no, this is Nigeria.
After the pandemic, don’t be surprised to hear our politicians mouth change and all sorts of slogans in the healthcare system, but that is where it would end.
A case in point is the response of both the federal and state government to the pandemic.
After the index case of the Italian on February 28, well-meaning Nigerians called on the federal government to lock down and close our airspace, but we chose to grandstand over reason. We had to literally beg our president to address us, to provide us with some sort of direction in a time like this. And when he finally did, we didn’t feel any better…
No clear policy direction from him or others at the helm of affairs.
Now, 95 per cent of coronavirus cases in Nigeria are imported. We have over 50 cases. Every day, we wait with bated breath for any new case from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The much-touted big economies are recalibrating their health care system. America voted $2 trillion as a stimulus package for COVID-19, much of which would go into their health care reform.
Analysts have predicted that what would drive America’s politics, as they go into the election next year, would be health care. It has always been, but the tempo would increase when the pandemic is over.
A New York Times’ article details how doctors in America are buckling under the weight of a system they thought was perfect, but failing them in the time of need. One doctor said it is like turning on a faucet and expecting water but only to be disappointed. He said doctors are writing their wills as they confront the pandemic on a daily basis.
The reality in Nigeria is that we would still play politics, apportion blames and do buck-passing when all these are over.
There won’t be any difference. Doctors would still go on strike. There won’t be new hospitals built, no new infectious disease treatment centres equipped. We would still be here, if not worse, when all of these are over.
This is Nigeria.
Of course, dear Pascal, this is Nigeria but if coronavirus does not correct the ills of our land and set ennobling ethics, then we are doomed. I have a feeling though that coronavirus is bioweaponry storage gone awry like India’s December 1984 gas leakage at the Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, which exposed over 600,000 people to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, resulting in death of tens of thousands and traumatic disorders.
I also believe that God allowed this to happen so that coronavirus could level us up as we naturally are irrespective of our stolen or genuinely acquired status, clout or faith.
It tells us that these big men that treat the poor with scorn could also have something that repulses even the poorest of the poor. It tells us we all have a common destiny in the red earth. Coronavirus is not just a killer, it is also a realist. So, let us also look at its other side and the earlier our leaders digest this fact and reset their recalcitrant heads, the better for us.