By: Ismaila Yahaya Kana
By now, the NCDC Livescore is no longer one distant media event that Nigerians can listen to without a care in the world. As every day passes and new numbers are reeled out, they bring with them the feeling that the virus is closing in on all of us, well; those of us who still have our presence of mind about us.
FG's response so far has been described as copy and paste by those who should know or so we think. These folks are still playing dress up at will and even have the luxury of officially sanctioned exemption from movement restrictions; a get out of jail free card that brings them to Media stations to itemize bashings of convenience on the FG.
And I ask, are these folks just happy to escape their Coro imposed imprisonment, that they forget our unique complexes on sighting the Camera? I pray they tell, how do you cite Canada, a country with vibrant institutions, public servants in the true sense of the term and a largely law abiding populace as example why Nigeria should adopt a different approach to the war on COVID-19 that lifts movement restrictions?
Please, don't start me on the ready excuse that our realities were created by leaders past and present. Much as that is true, the fact that this time calls for action not lamentations should tower over and above all of our trademark bickerings.
As I write this, there are folks who still believe that NCDC is cooking numbers for states. The motive, they are telling us, is a share of the COVID-19 response funds that FG dishes out to states with confirmed cases. These dangerous people cascade this toxic position to unlettered folks who swallow them whole. Why blame a man who has been confined to his home with hunger as an uncompromising landlord for accepting the bile being spread by naysayers?
Make no mistake about, I am a witness to the biting hunger that is riffling through Nigeria. My small savings have gone the way of giving and I do it gladly, knowing that this is the time to band together to survive. Do I have the moral standi to blame hungry Nigerians for breaking protocol? Probably not. The fact that I have the time and resources to write this, means I have been handed the better end of this stick.
However, I must direct my ire, proportionately, to those who failed to discharge their responsibility of delivering FG's palliatives to our people with the diligence and probity it deserves. FG failed? Definitely! But FG is not just a string of of words! It is in fact, a collective, peopled by Nigerians of diverse ethnicity and faith. These people live among us, they are our brothers, sisters and friends, and these people failed due to dereliction of duty, inefficiency or fraud!
I am yet to see anyone come out to say their brothers, sisters or friends have abused their positions and have diverted bags of rice and other food items meant for the poorest of the poor to their homes. Why? Because such industry will benefit the closest relatives and friends of the deviant. In this, virtually all Nigerians are guilty! So long as a theft benefits them, they don't mind forming a fan club of drummers to encourage the desolation of our shared entitlements thereby crippling our collective bargaining power. In essence, we are blaming FG for what we are doing to ourselves, at the detriment of the village folks who neither understand these dynamics no care for them at all.
We can stay awake all night debating whose fault it is that the abuse of public trust continues to persist even at this very instance, but the problem won't go away. Nor will we give the FG and president Buhari a pass! But, if we desire an end to the shenanigans of people in positions, we must question our own mindsets. Questions like - will we do differently if we are placed in such positions? Must be answered. Trust me, I won't want to be anywhere near the falsehood that will crowd such responses. This is our reality!
Yes, I also believe, that an indigenous approach, if any, that will help us manage this pandemic better, will be a game changer. However, aside from the bashing directed at FG's response by our so called commentators, I am yet to hear of any independent Think Tank, deliberately put together by volunteers - professionals, to contribute their thoughts and deliberations possible causes of action, and proffer alternative approaches to halting the spread of Coronavirus. All I read everyday are nebulous lamentations, sometimes coloured dark with politics and all sorts of vested interests. Meanwhile, as we are bashing the FG, yet refusing to take responsibility to proffer alternative approaches, the professional, protocol-peppered pallbearers have been busy with daily trips to the mogue and cemeteries. I hear mortuaries have been overrun by corpse in Lagos!
Yesterday, I watched a protest and although I couldn't verify where it was held, the message of the people is clear. They desire a quick end to this face-off between the world and the silent reaper. People want to get back to their lives and that's understandable, but a point must be made, that everybody must contribute their widows mite to this war or we will all perish. If Nigerians had exercised a little bit of restraints at the beginning of this pandemic, I am sure we will not be in this mess.
Daily trips through and from risk areas like Lagos, Abuja and Ogun persisted with the help of another set of Nigerians - security agents who turned the situation into a money making venture. A friend told me that, depending on your bargaining power, a driver can spend close to 40 thousand Naira in bribe money from Lagos to Abuja! And, much of these rogue journeys abandon safety precautions to crowd vehicles so as to triple income at the expense of our collective wellbeing. Where, then, are we getting the face to blame everybody except ourselves from?
If you read about the circumstances surrounding the importation of index cases into Kano and Borno state respectively, you will marvel at the Nigerian way. While the Kano index case deceived authorities and lied to health workers about his travel history, that of Borno, a retired nurse, was toured through various health institutions with nobody caring to call for caution even though the patient had shown clear symptoms of the Coronavirus! Today, Kano is threatening to become the new epicentre of the disease of serious measures are not put in place and Borno is climbing up the NCDC ladder of confirmed cases with no end in sight.
This is why we shouldn't be wearing smug faces, after failing together as a people to check our impunity even now, to be placing every blame on the FG or president Buhari.
If we failed to curtail this pandemic even with restrictions in place, I cringe at what will become of us when travel bans are lifted! All this talk of enforcing other precautions like handwashing and the compulsory use of face mask will be up in the air no sooner than it begins because we are by design, a lawless nation.
Want to help? Start taking responsibility. Don't let few people corner palliatives meant for the poor for instance, only to come and lament. Like we tell you during elections to not only cast your vote, but also defend the ballots; ensure also to refuse any arrangement that allows officials to take bags of rice meant for the poorest of the poor to their homes or give out 20k in front of the paparazzi clicks only to collect large chunks of it later, to thrive. If we can all own this war, we will be alright.