Nigeria: Looming Harvest in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic

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Nigeria is a blessed country, in both human and material resources. The human resource is abounding with persons who believe in God. Their beliefs in God sometimes veer on the fanatical. They go to all length to defend their God. It may be because Nigeria is a country blessed by nature. All year-round, the country has the ability to engage in agricultural production. If the land is adequately utilised the country has the potential to feed itself and parts of the West African sub-region. The weather is clement. Nigeria is a resource-rich country. The land is peopled by persons who have the indomitable spirit that never says die. They never give up in the face of adversity; they have always overcome hurdles and moved on with the job of living life. The country has a high concentration of young people whose productive prowess is yet to be harnessed fully to the benefit of the country. A major part of the population sees the funny and positive side in all situations. They make fun and create jokes out of events that occur. The collective memory of the people usually lasts for a week. The people have a very short memory. Most news items are usually forgotten the following week when more interesting news event occurs. No wonder, Nigerians are used to be rated as the happiest people on mother earth. Nigerians are indeed blessed.

This might change owing to the recent world event occasioned by the coronavirus. Obviously, the world will not remain the same after the pandemic. Nigeria will not be an exception at the rate the disease is unfurling. The pandemic has been the leading news item the world over in the last five weeks or more owing to the devastation it has wreaked on the world economy. The world is at war with the disease. The closure of borders and lockdown are reminiscent of a war period. For the pope of the Catholic Church to have celebrated Easter mass in an empty St Peters Basilica speaks volumes. Religious services have been put on hold in most parts of the world. Nigeria has had to order a lockdown in its political capital, Abuja and its economic capital, Lagos, and Ogun state which borders Lagos. Some other states have followed suit by ordering a total lockdown and restricting the movement of its citizens to rein in the spread of the virus. There have been pockets of disobedience to the restriction of movement owing to the fact that some doubt the existence of the virus. Some have given the excuse that they have to earn a living in order to live in the lockdown while some who are fitness freaks have defied the lockdown to engage in physical fitness on the deserted roads.

The main source for concern is the number of persons that defy the lockdown because of their disbelief on the existence of the virus. This group of persons can be found mostly among the poor and the ignorant that have to scour for a living daily. Most persons among this group have a strong belief in the divine and a feeling that nothing will touch them as they are covered either in the blood of Jesus or have been made to believe that the virus is a creation of the west to prevent them from worshipping their God. While some have preached that it is not for believers but for those who have not been saved by the Word. Herein lies the problem, as the country is highly populated by people of belief. People tend to hold on tightly to what their pastors and imam say to them.

To worsen matters, as regards this virus, is the manner it spreads from asymptomatic persons who look healthy but transmit the virus unknowingly showing that there is a lot that has to be learnt as regards the disease. From writings on the virus in the media, it seems the medical world has yet to show a clear understanding of the virus. However, the undisputable fact is that social distancing greatly reduces the rate of infection. The number of deaths recorded in the developed world would have been greatly reduced if they had enforced a lockdown at its earliest stage. Developed democracies cherish the rule of law and the freedom of their citizens hence the delays that occasioned the number of recorded deaths in the face of the medical facilities at their disposal. Therefore it should be a source for concern for this part of the world when citizens refuse to heed the directive to stay at home in order to reduce the spread of the infectious disease. It is thus a disservice to the country and its people when persons who have had contact go to private hospitals which are ill-equipped to handle disease of this nature. They are exposing other citizens to the disease which should not be ordinarily so. True to our nature, of believing in the healing powers of prayers, and self-delusion, most people have refused to reach out to NCDC for help thereby helping in the spread.

We have heard in the past week of ill persons who had gone to private hospitals for treatment without declaring their travel history. The consequences have been dire as we have seen the loss of lives arising from the insincerity of this group of persons and their relatives. This insecurity on the part of the citizenry would help in the spread. I would not be surprised that somewhere in Nigeria, right now a prophet or shaman is praying for the healing of a person infected with the virus. This belief in the powers of healing and the belief that “it is not my portion” will be our undoing. This self-delusion that it cannot happen to me is what would be our undoing. We have had cases of persons infected with the HIV/AIDS virus going to church and their pastors declaring them healed. I strongly believe that some persons of strong belief in the saving powers of prayer would still go to his pastor of shaman for a cure and or protection from the COVID-19.

The looming harvest would occur because many persons look on the positive side, which is not wrong per se, without taking due precautions as seen in recent weeks. In the coming weeks, we might be forced to pay for our disobedience as regards the directive. The rise in the number of cases is a source for concern unless the curve flattens. The curve can only flatten when people heed to the directive of personal hygiene, social distancing and staying at home. Countries that have seen a decline in the number of cases achieved the feat through the enforcement of lockdown. The setting up of mobile courts is a step in the right direction to forestall the number of deaths arising from the disease. There needs to be more enlightenment as most people do not believe in the fact that the disease exists. This has not been helped mostly to conspiracy theorists.

We have always been lucky as a nation. At the point where you think that things have gone for the worse in the country God usually intervenes. We only hope that a cure or a vaccine would be gotten sooner than later to avert what might happen sooner than we expect. This time, we pray the unwanted harvest would not be bountiful.

 

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