The coronavirus pandemic has created a crisis of unprecedented proportions. From the scheduled climate change summit to first-rate sporting ceremonies, events have been cancelled or postponed.
International relations have seen a sharp decline, as accusations and targeted spite remarks are hurled from one end of the world to another.
The world seems to be holding its breath, not knowing which to fear the most, the endless and horrific pile of dead bodies or the fact that we are standing at the very precipice of what might the biggest global financial crisis since the great depression almost a hundred years ago.
Our president, last week, announced an intending relaxation of a lockdown order in three of the most affected states while at the same time imposing a total lockdown on Kano in the face of multiple deaths from unknown causes suspected to be related to Covid-19.
This approach by the president might seem like the natural recourse in the face of worsening hardship amongst the citizens. But how effective will it be in containing the spread of the virus?
Any basic analysis of developed countries affected by this virus would easily unravel one common trend. A lockdown restriction was lifted only in the face of a steady decline in the number of new infections.
In Nigeria, this is not nearly the case. Some experts would even argue that we are not anywhere close to reaching the peak as per the projected number of new cases per day. The fact that we have not been able to curtail the spread of the virus in Lagos state is a clear indicator of the kind of lockdown we observed in the country.
And, I don’t think the citizens are to be blamed. A lockdown is meant to be enforced, the citizens shouldn’t be expected to just idly comply. That’s a disregard of plain human nature. Our security chiefs should be made to answer some questions, but that is a matter for another day.
If the president goes ahead with this inter-state lockdown, then for those of us who had to put our means of livelihood on hold, this past one month has been a waste of our precious time.
Am I oblivious of the plight of the majority of the citizens? Not really. I’m only saying if we lift the lockdown, now then it would have been better if there were no lockdown in the first place. Failing to come up with a good palliative strategy to cushion the effect of the lockdown on the vulnerable population was a huge failure for this administration. Reopening the country would be an even greater misdemeanour.
The government should answer certain questions. What would be the next course of actions if the cases of new infections continue to rise unabatedly? What comes first, the economic progress of the country, or the lives of the citizens? While there might not be easy answers to these questions, there are clear answers, quite easily discernible to any clear-thinking mind.
The honest and sad truth is that if the government goes ahead with this plan, another lockdown might wait for us in the nearest future. And that one might not be all about economic implications. We might have to grapple with an overwhelmed health system, alongside piling body bags.
There might even be another side to the story, citizens are attesting that the government has lost every moral right to compel them to stay at home and not about their businesses. They say that since the government has failed to provide or come up with a comprehensive palliative strategy, they have no recourse but to strive to fend for themselves how they know best.
In the face of these accusations, the lifting of the lockdown restriction now seems like the government’s attempt to acquiesce to that accusation.
However, I do not think that should be the case, I do not think the government has to follow a blunder with an even bigger blunder. If citizens are complaining, it should be a wakeup call to the government to sit up to their responsibilities, not a cue for them to wash their hands off and abandon the citizens to their fate.
We already have too much on the line, doctors and health workers have already been exposed or put at risk. The economy is expected to contract. The best we can hope for is a recession, while depression is not entirely far-fetched. What the government is hoping to salvage by putting us all at risk beats my imagination.
The government should come up with a comprehensive and effective palliative strategy, while at the same time enforcing even stricter lowdown measures and movement restrictions. Both of them should go hand in hand, we do not necessarily have to sacrifice the health of our populace for their stomachs, and the government should be able to address both needs. Anything less might spell doom for this country.
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