By Henry Uche
BEFORE the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in 2019, in China, world economies were striving to set their countries in the right paths to achieve their nationals plans, projects and goals. Though reports have it that Dr. Charles Lieber (a US chemist & researcher & Head of Chemistry/Biology at Harvard University) who was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, for a false statement about his engagement with the Chinese government to obtain technology and technical know-how from the US, had a glimpse of the COVID -19 before its conspicuous outbreak .(harvardmagazine.com)
Equally, experts in the investigation believe that Bill Gates saw this virus coming following an interview he had with Noah Trevor on “The Daily Show and CBS” media platforms. Aside From Lieber, his associates and Bill Gates, to the rest of the world, COVID-19 came as a shock, but to the wise, nothing comes as a surprise.
Be that as it may, the spread of COVID 19 to Nigeria came as a thunderstorm that strikes on noonday owing to the way and manner Nigeria’s politicos were scampering around to nib the pathogen in the bud. A critical case is that of the president’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, who was reported to be referred to a health care facility in Lagos after testing positive but such claim by the presidency was refuted by the Lagos state commissioner for health professor Akin Abayomi, who said “I don’t know Abba Kyari’s way about…” More reports has it that the Chief of staff has been in Cuba, grappling with the Covid -19.
In other to stem the spread of this virus, the Lagos state government issued a Two -week “steer clear” order to residents to work from their homes. One week down the line, the federal government issued another two weeks lockdown to Lagos, federal Capital Territory and Ogun state to elapse by 13th of April, 2020, with caution of social distancing, improved personal hygiene and proper feeding.
Be that as it is, Life during Covid- 19 in Lagos where I reside and write from is not only been terrible but horrible. Vox pop conducted shows that many families have been in excruciating pains. In my area for instance, (Ijedodo in Ojo LGA), the bomb blast that happened on Sunday, 15th of March destroyed so many lives and properties including High Tension wire and cables that supplies power to the people at ijedodo and its environs. Thus; the blackout has aggravated the ugly experience in my area.
Personally, I have been hapless during this period like some other persons who do not have refrigerator to store food stuffs. The absence of light makes everywhere dire boring, hence the dearth of light to power electrical appliances to get latest news update, unless you have a functional power generator and financial capable to burn Premium Motor spirit (Fuel) for hours on daily basis. The worse experience is for those who are living in estates and could not quickly buy some routine and regular stuffs, worst still are those who don’t have fridges in the same area. Even those who have light reported that the light has been epileptic as usual. While majority that have the small power generating set cannot power anything more than 100WT white bulb.
During this period, only one out of 10 families really enjoyed the FG – forced quarantine and isolation order. Many families have cogent reasons to revolt against the order, but fear of being assaulted and brutalized by the security forces compelled them to stand aloof grumbling.
Howbeit, while moving around as a member; Fourth Estate of the Realm, I saw many people moving around hastily in the wee and dusk hours when the police and other security personnel would not see them.
Taking a careful look around Jakonde gate and all the banks along Cele express road, the queue at some Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) like UBA, Diamond/Access banks was not only frightening but repealing. The ordeal of banks customers are better imagined than experience.
Generally, cost of living (measured by the prices of essential commodities) skyrocketed by 15-25 percent depending on what you are buying and the area you live. It has been agonizing honestly owing to the nefarious attitude of some business men and women who are leeches and exploiters in times like this. So many sad experiences are left unsaid.
However, some kudos should be given to Covid -19 outbreak considering the lessons it has taught us. For instance; Many families have utilize the opportunity to have an in depth bonding, settle some outstanding issues, had a deep introspection and retrospection about themselves. Children saw it as the most exciting moment for them, hence playing with daddy was like a dream come true for most women and children.
Conversely, some families saw this period as a regretful one. For instance, a couple (names withheld) had a stern quarrel because the wife picked a call from the husband phone which she alleged to be the husband mistress; what they call (“side chick” or a husband snatcher). Digging deeper, some secrets, agenda and escapades were exposed between couples as we keep hearing shouting and fighting in our neighborhood arising from husband -house girl- relationship and the likes. A case was shown how a young man (name withheld) was caught stealing phone who confessed he had no food to eat. Some people were seen imploring for food from their neighbors. These and more were the ugly experiences.
Nevertheless, the emotional and psychological dissatisfaction people are experiencing at this material time of Covid -19 lockdown is becoming unbecoming, especially for those whose daily welfare is dependent on daily hustling and strives, many who had never heard of “raining days and contingency period” never budgeted for such inevitable seasons and as a result, were taken aback because they have nothing to fall back at. Many who never expected the “unexpected” are barley surviving because there are no plans to contend with any eventuality, especially for the unlettered, but for every learned class, preparing for any circumstance/s is a mark of wisdom.
In the face of this global health threat,
the federal government of Nigeria has been reported to be sharing some welfare packages to the poorest of the poor in the country. But most Nigerians do not trust the veracity in their efforts. Because there seems to be no transparency, accountability, distributive justice, equity and fairness unlike Rwanda and other countries who are reportedly being truthful to their citizens. Remember; what is said to be done must be seen to have been done.
Be that as it is, I believe the government must have learnt some indispensable lessons from this pandemic and as a matter of fact, retrace its steps and begin to show responsibility and accountability because this global health threat has revealed that Nigeria health sector has been receiving little or nothing in terms of funding, thus; it time the political leaders to take the health of nation a top priority because our health is sine quo non for our wealth. Everyone must adjust to the situation and know that the chips would always go down and things would always fall apart. In times like this, it is only those who are prepared (physically, spiritually, financially and otherwise) can stand the test of time. Covid-19 is indeed an eye opener and great lesson for those who are apt to learn, it has taught us to be humane than callous, it has taught us to be proactive than reactive and altruistic than selfish, although its knocks are devastating, yet some economic experts have posited that the year 2020 is already shattered as the pandemic affects virtually all facets of human endeavor. Many are of the view that the effects of this virus would go beyond 2020 because most countries have no contingency plans ab initio.
In all, everyone must loosen up and show some empathy and affinity towards one another at least to ensure that biogenic needs are met, because the hunger in the society is unbearable, only time will tell when this too shall pass.