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Coronavirus and the Politics of Life

Coronavirus and Politics
Since the Coronavirus pandemic has taken over the world like a raging storm with over five million confirmed cases worldwide. The disease which started in the later part of 2019 in Wuhan, a town in the Hubei province of China is said to be a respiratory disease and has claimed more than two hundred thousand lives in the world. It is a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-Cov-2) and in its contracted form, it is COVID-19. The disease has made the world's economies to be on a standstill as most countries are either partially or totally locked down.

NCDC Mandate

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the virus a pandemic which needed international attention. A new name for the disease, COVID-19 was announced by WHO on February 11, 2020. Nigeria confirmed its first case of the disease on 27 February, 2020 when an Italian citizen in Lagos was tested positive for the virus. Since then, Nigeria has experienced a rise of the disease. As at May 7, Nigeria had a total of 3526 confirmed cases with 601 discharged cases and 103 deaths across 34 states and
the FCT

Right from the confirmation of the first case in Nigeria, government officials and politicians alike showed signs of irresponsibility. Many politicians started off playing politics with the virus without cares that the time was not right for any form of politicking going by the happenings in countries with far more developed health systems. Politicians downplayed the presence of the disease in Nigeria, simply calling it a hoax and that it was a well coordinated effort of the government to embezzle public fund. Days later, another case was confirmed by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). 

As the cases rose, it began to scare well informed Nigerians, but the rise didn't stop these politicians from inciting the public against the government with plenteous rubbish. People, believing in the 'madness' of these politicians started demanding for the pictures of the Italian and others who were confirmed infected with the disease. This continued until Muhammad Abubakar, the son of the former president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar was tested positive for the virus.

As the World's Health Organisation (WHO) had declared the virus a pandemic with information and guidelines as the virus could be transmitted from person to person, one of the standard prevention procedures was that anyone who had visited any countries with confirmed cases of the virus should self isolate for 14 days upon return to their countries. Around early March, the Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari returned from his Germany's official trip. On his return to the country, he was supposed to self isolate, but he didn't do so. He instead attended theKogi state governor's mother's 3-day Fidau prayer the next day. Some days later, it was reported that he had tested positive for the virus. Also, at the time when the virus had gained momentum in Lagos, PDP  held a rally in Ibadan, Oyo State where Seyi Makinde, the Oyo State governor was  quoted to have said that the PDP members were immuned to the virus. Three days later, a case of the virus was confirmed in Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State and many days after, the governor himself confirmed he has tested positive for the virus through his social media handle.  This means that if we assume that he was a ticking time bomb when the rally was held, then, we can not doubt the reality of having a thousand cases in Oyo state at this moment to grace.

While the Sanwo-Olu Lagos State Government and the administration of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) increased their testing strength as a way to curtail the spread of the disease, the northern states except Kaduna and Borno states did practically nothing to prepare for the advent of the virus in the state. The Kano state governor didn't lift a finger except closing the state's border, a move that was quite ineffective until the deaths in the state became alarming. Concerned corners thus raised questions at the time  as regards the lateness before actions were made.

Government and politicians once again showed cold hearts in the distribution of relief materials and palliatives which were intended to help reduce of the effect of the lockdown declared in the country. Lagos was first to roll out its plan to distribute palliatives which was  'hijacked' by politicians. Streets with over a hundred dwellers were given small sacks of rice, few tubers of yam and loaves of bread in the most ridiculous manner. The same happened in Osun state where a household was given a cup of rice and far as a governor who asked his citizens to buy 'gaari' if they didn't have the money to stock their homes. 

With 774 local government heads, 36 state governors (including the ministers of the FCT), 109 senators, 365 house of representative members and 36 state assemblies, shouldn't there be concerns about the welfare of those who elected them?

Nigeria has a track record of having one of the worst health systems in the world despite billions of naira that is being pumped to it every year. Instead of improving the health systems, government and politicians busy themselves with funds to embezzle. The Coronavirus has highlighted how weak our health systems are. Truth is, with the present health systems in Nigeria, we will be overwhelmed by the virus way before we reach ten thousand confirmed cases.

On a final note, the Coronavirus has shown how inhumane and incompetent our politicians are. It shows politicians are only interested in sharing the national cake. The coming of this virus should be an eye opener for leaders in power corridors and politicians alike to plan ahead for future possibilities.

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