What is an act of God? The Students Companion defines an act of God as a happening, usually sudden and unexpected, for whom no human can be held responsible. So, as earthquakes, deluge, and volcanic eruption are acts of God, so are pestilences, epidemics, and pandemics. Pandemics, as natural phenomena, have been occurring on earth from times indefinite. However, a pandemic has no forerunner.
In the distant past, Bubonic fever and Spanish flu caused the deaths of millions of people of the world at different times. Between the time the last pandemic occurred and now, diseases like HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis had claimed millions of human lives, globally. These diseases still have high mortality rate despite the fact that humans have pushed back the frontiers of epidemiology and medical science.
But, sadly, late last year, China was caught unawares by the outbreak of the corona virus disease in the Wuhan province of China. It killed thousands of peoples there. But the Chinese political leadership rose up to the occasion and executed measures aimed at stemming the tide of the spread of the deadly disease.
While China witnessed the abatement of the disease, it spread to countries like Iran, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Great Britain where it caused deaths of thousands of people. Even America, the superpower country of the world, has not been spared the morbid and deathly bite of COVID-19. It struck in the densely populated area of New York and mowed down thousands of people. America with its technological know-how was caught napping.
President Trump of American has alleged that China’s covert handling of the COVID-19 matter and its dilly-dallying in making disclosures about it caused the spread of the disease, globally. And there is the conspiracy theory making the rounds that China manufactured the virus in its laboratory. But, is China truly complicit in the creation or outbreak of the viral disease?
But, had it acted promptly and alerted the rest of the world in no time about the existence of the disease in Wuhan, China, the colossal damage it caused to the world in terms of loss of human lives would have been averted.
In the wake of the global spread of the disease, not a few countries executed measures such as lockdown of their countries, physical distancing, and maintenance of personal hygiene to thwart and impede the onslaught of the disease. Here, in Nigeria, our political leaders delayed in shutting our airspace and locking down the country. Consequently, we are suffering the effects of our leaders’ missteps now.
We waited until the dreaded disease entered the shores of Nigeria before our leaders banned incoming flight into Nigeria and locked down parts of the country. Our leaders’ mishandling of the COVID-19 matter is symptomatic of bad political leadership, which has been the bane of Nigeria since we became a sovereign country.
But, then, the lock-down of Nigeria hasn’t stopped the spread of the disease. Our people’s non-adherence to WHO’S guidelines on how to avoid contracting the disease is one of the reasons behind the rapid spread of the disease in Nigeria. And the myths woven around it have strengthened some people’s belief that the COVID-19 is non-existent. But the stark fact is that the lockdown of the country, then, inflicted immense economic hardship on many people as millions of Nigerians whose businesses were stopped depend on their daily earnings to survive.
Again, the desultory sharing of palliatives to people caught in the maelstrom of the lockdown failed to address holistically and comprehensively the fallout of the lock-down, which is starvation. So, angry and hungry people would defy the lockdown order to engage in their private endeavours. This had resulted in people’s clashes with security operatives, which caused the deaths of people.
So, some states eased the lockdown order while the ban on interstate travels still persists and exists. However, the suspension of the lockdown order, as argued by people, is very premature and portends ill omen to the country. To make matters worse, social distancing and maintenance of personal hygiene, which are ways by which people can avoid contracting the disease, are observed more in the breach in the country.
Consequently, there is spike in the number of people who have contracted the disease in Nigeria, instead of us witnessing an abatement of it, as we expected. Unlike in other countries whose scientists are working assiduously and conscientiously to produce vaccines and drugs for the treatment of the disease, here we are pussyfooting and waiting for white people to produce COVID-19 drugs for us.
It’s surprising that Madagascar has produced vaccines and drugs which are said to be efficacious for the treatment of the corona virus disease. Here, we are dismissive of people who come up with claims that their drugs can cure people with Corona virus disease. But it is disheartening that our leaders do not deem it necessary and appropriate to subject their drugs to clinical and laboratory tests to ascertain the truth of the matter.
The COVID-19 health issue has brought to the fore the issue of our neglected health-care delivery system, which needs urgent revamping and rehabilitation. So, if we continue to neglect our health-care delivery system, it will be at our own peril.
Our leaders should up their ante in this fight to exterminate COVID-19 in the country as it has the potential and capability to decimate our huge population. We are not unconscious of the fact that Nigeria’s huge population is an incentive and fillip to her developmental initiatives. Human labour, especially skilled labour, is critical to the development of a country.
Nigeria should key into global efforts to stamp out the COVID-19 monster in our country.