Nigeria broke my heart with its response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
First, Nigeria’s level of preparedness for disaster/pandemic risk management is too low as compared to countries like China, where the virus originated around November 2019. To control spread of the virus and protect millions of lives, the Chinese government responsibly announced stay-at-home orders and strictly implemented lockdown guidelines together with disinfection of affected areas — mostly public places. These steps hastened the Asian country’s path to recovery from the deadly virus.
In the United States, budgetary allocations to the healthcare sector were increased; in addition, the government provided financial assistance for students, workers, elderly people, and the homeless; even prisoners were released from selected jails — depending on the charges against them — to reduce risks of exposure to the virus and save lives.
Image shows the Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari
The story was totally different in Nigeria. Billions of Naira received from charitable individuals and organizations were literally embezzled by public office holders. Office of the Accountant General caught fire and everyone knew it was the same old song in a country where mysterious snakes can swallow millions public funds valued at millions of Naira. What next? Our leaders claimed the relief funds were spent on “unidentified” poor masses, including prisoners and street beggars. But, in fact, how the “corofunds” were shared, with what formula or criteria, and who the beneficiaries are, remain a mystery to Nigerians. Wonders shall never cease!
The coronavirus pandemic increased poverty level in Nigeria. Many low-income earners whose sources of livelihood were shut down to control spread of the virus have suffered unbearable hardship. Moreover, palliative measures which were widely announced in the media have been a source of controversy and anger among Nigerians (just like the Revenue Sharing Formula), increasing the level of mistrust towards political leaders. Nothing works in Nigeria; those in government circles apparently have their own agenda, which is totally unrelated to expectations from the masses. Our political elites believe poverty for the masses is well-deserved and there’s nothing even God can do about it. Little wonder most Nigerians rejoice at the demise of any “Aso Rock” politician — an attitude which many moralists, however, believe should be replaced with political consciousness and activism.
On this backdrop, the unprofessional handling of Late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari’s burial by officials of the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) speaks volume of Nigeria’s aberrant attitude toward public safety. Disregard for public safety guidelines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows the level of lawlessness in the country, especially among the ruling elite. But I am most concerned that our democratically elected leaders have, by this act, shown that they are unfit for public service.
I weep for thousands of lives to be affected by the novel coronavirus due to our leaders’ incompetence and ignorance. Bit I won’t join the clamor for violent revolution. Nonetheless, to those who died natural death and were treated as COVID-19 victims, I wish your soul find eternal rest.
May good heavens vindicate us (every Nigerian committed to building a lasting legacy for posterity through selfless public service) from our gluttonous leaders whose protruding bellies will, someday, show us the real samples of COVID-19.
Join the campaign against #corruption, #poverty, #violence and #lawlessness which will soon become a norm — even for babies in the womb — if we choose to be observers rather than changers. #Nigeriawillrise #Changebeginswithme