Opinion: COVID 19: Failure Of Nigerian Leadership  

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Tony Ademiluyi

The corona virus or covid 19 first broke out in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It took the nation which is touted to be the most populous by surprise as the death toll was over a thousand in barely a month.

Then came the strong arm of leadership as the authorities shut down all the factories and public facilities and encouraged its citizens to get regularly quarantined so as to avoid the spread.

Tragically, the virus has spread to all parts of the world with the death toll in far away Italy being higher than that of China where it originated from.

It spread to Egypt and the government took strong actions by shutting down her borders and discouraging public gatherings so as to stem the tide. In South Africa where no case has been recorded, they have taken preventive measures to shut down their borders and restricted public gatherings so as to avoid the spread of the virus.

In Nigeria it is a different story as we believed in our fatality that it was a crisis of the west which could never berth here. We opined that our humid temperature will kill any ounce of the virus which will never be allowed to fester here.

Up till date President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to address the nation on this latest pandemic and the steps his administration is taking to curtail it as about eight people have already tested positive to it in the country. We failed to act proactively and we are now paying the bills for our lack of foresight.

 

Why weren’t our borders shut down from day one to citizens of countries where it had badly spread? Why wait till the eleventh hour to shut it to the thirteen countries including the United States and United Kingdom where it has become worse than an epidemic?

It was hilarious to purport to quarantine the legislators that recently came back from their ‘legislative duties’ abroad. Why wait till now? Why wasn’t there a ban on their travelling in the first place so that the virus wouldn’t spread? Why the greed on the part of our highly paid but underworked lawmakers to go abroad when the nation is ill equipped to battle the scourge? Other countries are cutting down on travels especially when they are non essential and we are still giving our over pampered lawmakers estacode for doing next to nothing while still posing themselves as grave health risks.

What would it have cost the Buhari led government to roll out palliatives to deal with the pandemic as other countries notably the US, UK, Norway etc have already done? Germany went as far as promising to give each citizen 100 Euros daily for the inconveniences of their restricted social life in the course of battling the virus while the US promised $1000 per citizen. Where is the governmental presence in the lives of Nigerians in this particularly trying time? Where is the balm that the uncaring government is releasing to sooth the frayed nerves of Nigerians? It is not enough to ban public gatherings; the government should cushion the deleterious effect with some monetary compensation as many livelihoods would be lost as a result of such bans. It is grossly irresponsible for Nigerians to be left to their fates in the middle of a pandemic.

 

The effect of the Abacha loot should be felt here as there is no harm in using part of it to battle this recent health crisis if we say we have no money as a result of the fast falling oil prices. My point for the umpteenth time in this rather emotional and tears laden piece is that there should be a gargantuan government presence in the lives of all Nigerians during this trying period.

Small neighbouring Ghana ensured that their borders were closed with their President Nana Akuffo Addo making strong speeches and lifting the spirits of his countrymen. The same applied to tiny Benin Republic, Senegal, Cote d’ivoire and Guinea where their Presidents showed extremely sturdy leadership in the face of the challenge. Nigerians the so called inhabitants of the ‘Giant of Africa’ are still waiting on the infamous body language of their notoriously taciturn President – a wait that may end up being worse than that of ‘Waiting for Godot.’

Our lack of responsiveness to the needs of the citizenry by our inept leadership is legendary. We recall that Babajide Sanwo-Olu had to go to Aso Rock with pictures of the Abule Ado explosion to show to our dear President who was captured on camera grinning from ear to ear. What stopped Bubu as the President is fondly called by supporters and sycophants alike from flying to Lagos to commiserate with the victims who would not have made so but for utter governmental neglect which led to their domiciliary edifices being built on pipelines.

It is high time the government of Buhari showed genuine leadership in our battle to rid the nation of the latest scourge of corona virus. Anything short of this is not only unacceptable but also an impeachable offence.

Tony Ademiluyi wrote from Lagos and edits www.africanbard.com

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