• Monday, July 15, 2024
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A new gift in a New Year: What’s the strategic choice?

A new gift in a New Year: What’s the strategic choice?

I guess what we all wished for in the New Year is prosperity, good health and showers of blessing. But what did we get? A dose of unmerited gift- new waves of COVID – 19. We entered the New Year with new strains of COVID – 19. Honestly, we did not deserve this gift in the New Year.

This is not the gift we bargained for when we were thanking our creator for surviving the year 2020. Now the second wave of the novel virus just entered the world secretly at a high speed. With the discovery of two new strains of COVID – 19 – one in the United Kingdom and the other in South Africa – evidence that they spread rapidly is not cheering at all.

Health experts have expressed concern that the British strain “will now become the dominant global variant with its higher transmission”. Medical experts also suggested that the British strain may drive a very bad wave. The number of those infected with the virus in the second wave is increasing at an alarming rate. It is the same here in Nigeria. But are we prepared in all respects to fight this novel virus in Nigeria? From my observations and opinions expressed by many analysts, one can only say that we are not prepared to win the war against the coronavirus.

At the individual level, most Nigerians are romancing the pandemic. This looks strange to me as most of us cannot use facemasks in public, and we find it extremely challenging to observe social distancing. I am utterly disappointed in some people who claim to be elites. By their carelessness, one will see that they are shaking hands with the virus- an invisible enemy – that destroys any mortal on its way.

It baffles me that the Federal Government will gladly order that there should be a National Identification Number (NIN) registration when there is a spike in the number of those infected by the coronavirus

At the community level, the novel virus is spreading like wildfire. At the state level, some governors are trying their best while others are generators of controversy theories. How can any governor say that COVID – 19 is not real. Where is the data to support such a claim?

Read Also: COVID-19: 4.2m Nigerian children in need of life-saving support

You need to see some of our politicians as they gallivant all over the country without observing established COVID -19 protocols. If you want to know my opinion on COVID-19, we need to fight it hard. But we cannot fight it by words of mouth. Those in authority need to enforce the safety protocols at all levels of government – local, state and federal levels.

We must double our efforts by ensuring that we all maintain the established protocols laid down by medical experts. What are the tools required to fight the battle? “Masks, avoiding large crowds and indoor spaces, hand washing, and disinfecting – because when a virus spreads exponentially, early suppression means many lives saved later.”

All hands must be on deck to save lives. However, most Nigerians are not maintaining the safety protocols, as there is a spike in the number of those infected. The spike in the number of those infected has affected our economy terribly. Should we lockdown the country again. No! I support those who say that Nigeria cannot afford to shut her economy for the second time. The reason is due to the recession and the rise in inflation. The second recession in five years is very bad, to say the least. An increase in inflation to 15. 75 percent (year- on- year) in the last quarter of 2020 is undesirable.

Still on the new strain of COVID- 19. It baffles me that the Federal Government will gladly order that there should be a National Identification Number (NIN) registration when there is a spike in the number of those infected by the coronavirus. Daily we see a mammoth crowd assemble at the gates of NIMC offices and other designated places nationwide without observing the COVID – 19 protocols. What a disappointment!

Why is this exercise taking place now? Do we really know the consequence(s) of this exercise on the health of our people and national economy? Can we predict the number of Nigerians that will lose their mobile phone numbers at the end of the NIN registration exercise? And can the country and telecommunications companies afford this huge loss at a time when many Nigerians are jobless?

When health is lost something is lost. How can sick people go to work? It is impossible! With low level of production in firms, the inflation rate will keep rising. The condition we find ourselves is very tough. The economy is so fragile that a second lockdown may likely inhibit the nation’s economic recovery. This is the position of the Organized Private Sector (OPS) and many economists.

A second lockdown has huge economic and social costs, which the country will not be able to manage. What is needed according to experts, is a firmly articulated risk management framework on the spread of COVID – 19. Nigeria, which is Africa’s largest economy, is currently battling with the second recession within 5 years, rising poverty levels and high unemployment rate. By implication, the cost of treating a COVID – 19 patient would be out of the reach of an average Nigerian.

As we present this article, there are media reports that oxygen is the new gold and only the wealthy and prominent people within the country can afford it. A cylinder of oxygen is beyond the reach of the poor as it costs about N150,000, according to reports. It is very doubtful if a Nigerian on N30,000 minimum wage who was infected by the pandemic can afford a cylinder of oxygen.

Anyway, the federal government has released the sum of N6.45 billion for the establishment of 38 oxygen production plants across the country. This may be coming rather late because it takes time before these plants would start producing oxygen cylinders to meet the demand of Nigerians badly affected by the coronavirus.

But we need to be alive and healthy to tackle economic challenges posed by COVID – 19. So, what is the strategy put in place to combat the pandemic? As some Nigerians look forward to be vaccinated, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria has raised an alarm over inadequate medical personnel for the vaccination of COVID – 19 vaccines. While South Africa is making arrangements to pay US$ 5.25 a dose for 1.5 million shots of Astrazeneca Vaccine from India’s Serum Institute. What Nigeria is doing about vaccines and vaccination of its people is very hazy at the moment.

We cannot be spectators in this new fight against the dreaded virus. Those in authority need to come up with the standard operating procedure for COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria. I hope the NCDC would provide the lead in this endeavor. The strategic choice in the interim is to do all that is within our powers to avoid the looming outbreak.

The government at state and local levels should enforce the observance of the health and social protocols to mitigate the spread. We should mobilize and attend to the welfare needs of our medical workers. If we cannot get this done, then we are done for when vaccinations become absolutely necessary. Those in authority should aim high on vaccinations for millions of Nigerians. If a Nigerian is infected with COVID-19, others are not safe. Nigeria needs a well-articulated strategy to fight COVID-19. Thank you.