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Contagiously yours: A letter to Nigerian lawmakers

Note to readers: Nigeria is in a state of emergency, threatened by a contagion that is rapidly spreading across the country. Those who had the voice and power to compel the executive to act failed to do their duty. Some of them also failed to observe a simple guideline to self-isolate after returning from high-risk countries. They even refused to be tested. Covid-19, the novel coronavirus, writes them.

Dear Legislators

Early this year, you took steps to pass a law granting your leaders immunity from prosecution if indicted while in office. You reasoned it was the first line of defence against executive interference. As I hitch a ride around your country, spreading through people you came into contact with, the immunity you seek from impunity won’t save you from me. Rapid tests and isolation, your best line of defence against me as you don’t have a functioning health system has been broken.

During a time like this sacrifice, not self-centred interest, should be the example those in power ought to show. As always, you the political elite of Nigeria chose to be the exception, the outlier, the abnormal

It is said I have arrived at an unprecedented time in human history. “We’re all in this together”, “all hands on deck”, “united we stand”, to mention a few, are the calls being made to rally support against me, an unknown deadly virus. In uncertain times of strife, personal responsibility and solidarity are important. Indifference is not an option. Neither is any display of looking out for self. Baba n’la nonsense.

During a time like this sacrifice, not self-centred interest, should be the example those in power ought to show. As always, you the political elite of Nigeria chose to be the exception, the outlier, the abnormal. You’re behaving as expected, destroying trust and confidence – panic during a pandemic makes people disobey expert advice which is just fine with me. They will move when you ask them not to; if they move I move too.

It was reported lately that you distributed among themselves exotic cars. It reinforces the distrust Nigerians already have for you. More of that, please. I hear the cars were bought with money from the dwindling oil revenues of the country; money that should urgently be spent on an understaffed, underpaid and ill-equipped healthcare system. I can’t thank you enough for making the work of your healthcare workers more difficult. Their dedication, commitment, expertise, never-say-die heroism, round the clock dedication to saving lives, stops me from spreading. I can’t deal.

Anyway, I have already overwhelmed more ably funded and sophisticated health systems in the US and Italy. The US now holds the highest record of infected cases, more than in China were I first emerged. In Italy, a hospital with 100 anaesthetists struggled in vain to keep their patients alive – Google Papa Giovanni XXII Hospital, Bergamo. (Is it true that the entire number of anaesthetists in Nigeria is far less than 100? And please confirm the number of ventilators: is it 50 or 500?)

More civic-minded Nigerians have done the maths, They estimate the price of each car is equivalent to a ventilator, a critical medical equipment that could save lives during this pandemic. Thanks to your reckless behaviour you the political elite have put those you induced with cash and rice to vote you into power at risk (who’s the virus now?). Your foolhardy action has made me, covid-19, the novel coronavirus, a national security threat.

I really like it here, the lack of exemplary leadership is new to me. I’d like to see how much havoc I can wreak

I can’t thank you enough dear (dis)honourable members of the National Assembly; and yes, of course, you (dis)loyal aides of the president for compromising the safety of your country, for flouting a simple instruction of another arch-enemy of mine, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from countries already in my clutches.

I really like it here, the lack of exemplary leadership is new to me. I’d like to see how much havoc I can wreak.

Never mind detractors who whine about your irrelevant trips around the world. They don’t realise it’s too much to ask you, at least for once, to throw aside your ingrained self-seeking habits in the interest for a country facing an existential crisis. How do they expect you to make a difference in five years to a health sector that has been neglected for decades? That’s why, in order to serve, you pay yourselves humongous benefits – the cars are just an example. It’s not your fault the country is unprepared to combat me.

Don’t pay any attention to those who say the high and mighty in Nigeria have worsened a crisis that could have remained at the level of the 2014 Ebola outbreak which Nigeria quashed. They ain’t seen nothing yet.

Use your powers to prosecute those who dare mention that your actions are a colossal national security risk that has made the race against, my spread more precarious. Remember, you didn’t expose the entire echelon of the federal government of Nigeria to my virulent and deadly infection. It wasn’t you who caused the shutdown of Aso Rock, where the fight ought to be led. Sharing exotic cars among yourselves has not dealt a blow to an already unprepared Nigeria. It won’t stall the rapid response that must be mustered to contain what some have described as a once-in-a-century pandemic.

And please, don’t declare a state of emergency. Don’t redirect your constituency funds and proceeds from the sale of those exotic cars to the Coalition against Covid-19; it’s your well-earned reward for passing the stimulus bill in record time.

Contagiously yours,

Coronavirus, aka covid-19

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