Omicron and the rising nationalist attitude

Today, the omicron variant of Covid–19 has deepened world leaders’ problems because the economies of nations are negatively affected. Although Gross Domestic Product (GDP) may drop in most countries, it is not likely to be as low as it was in 2020, according to an economist. Inflation may rise globally, but would it endure? No one is sure. Statisticians will enlighten us as we move forward. But going by predictions, the picture is not all woeful this holiday season.

At times, whenever there is global disorder, this writer recalls a few of Sun Tzu’s theories on military strategy in his book titled The Art of War. What separates Sun Tzu from other strategic thinkers like Michael Porter, Julian Corbett, Thucydides, Clausewitz, Winston Churchill and others is that Sun Tzu believes fighting should be treated as a last resort in War. Believe it or not, the world is at war with an invisible enemy – COVID 19. World leaders ought not to be afraid of the invisible enemy. What world leaders should fear is the division among nations, which will likely weaken global efforts in dealing with the pandemic.

Since the outbreak of the Covid–19 virus, scientists and medical experts have had a series of debates about what needs to be done to mitigate the coronavirus. Certainly, science will mitigate the risks and uncertainties associated with the outbreak of the Covid–19 virus. In addition, we need global cooperation and strategic alliances among nations to mitigate the risk and uncertainty associated with Covid–19.

Before the outbreak of the Covid–19 virus, serious academic conversations by eminent scholars have identified that the absence of strategic thoughts has been the bane of developing countries particularly in Africa where the general attitude of leadership is how to enjoy now and leave the future generation to fend for themselves. Contrary to what most people think, the term “strategy” is not the preserve of generals, but it must be the concern of the entire society. Simply, strategy is the mode of survival of a nation.

Omicron virus has impacted the international environment negatively to the extent that some leaders have forgotten that the game of diplomacy is reciprocity

Strategy is an art, not science. And by implication, most leaders must be creative in their strategic thoughts and actions. Although, the word strategy is currently used across a wide spread of institutions, businesses, public services and charitable foundations. In the political realm, it is the way the government achieves its objective of maintaining national sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and pursuit of the wider interest of the nation. The way the world is today, we cannot make excuses for politicians because they claimed during political rallies that they can solve all or some problems facing society. It is the responsibility of politicians in positions of authority to figure out the solution to the health challenges facing their countries.

Read also: COVID-19 cases surge with 1584 new infections, highest since Omicron

As the Omicron variant travels around the globe, what will it mean for the vaccinated? We ask because Omicron’s rapid spread poses a big threat to humanity. Vaccine hoarding is not the only problem. Developing countries, particularly those in Africa face a significant measure of vaccine hesitancy. Though, some experts believed that the reluctance was a result of vaccines being unavailable in the first instance.

Some scientists want to know whether the vaccines already produced can adapt to keep pace with an invisible virus mutating at a fast rate. Despite these uncertainties, the “nationalist attitude” being exhibited by some rich nations is very disturbing. We are looking at people who are not only proud of their nation but firmly believe that their nation is better than any other. Their “nationalist attitude” to vaccines in my view symbolizes another form of protectionist agenda which appears to affect most poor economies negatively.

In the midst of the confusion caused by Omicron, the UK generated a travel red list, which included Nigeria and some other countries. So, people around the world were angered by the travel red list with the United Nations describing the ban on non–UK residents entering England as “travel apartheid.” Since Omicron has spread widely, the red list is less effective. This has made the British Government review the travel ban by removing Nigeria and ten other African countries from the red list.

The “nationalist attitude” exhibited by rich nations will not mitigate the risk and uncertainty in the COVID-19 virus. When the nationalist attitude is displayed, it has its implications. One of its implications is reflected, for example, in the inability of the United Arab Emirate (UAE) not to respect the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) with Nigeria. Is the UAE protecting its aviation industry by ensuring that Emirate Airline has 21 flights into Nigeria, while Air Peace from Nigeria has only one fight to the former in a week? Why should Nigeria’s aircraft fly into the UAE seven times a week, and an aircraft from the UAE fly into Nigeria twenty–one times? Where is the reciprocity in this bilateral agreement? The Omicron virus has impacted the international environment negatively to the extent that some leaders have forgotten that the game of diplomacy is reciprocity. The diplomatic row between the UAE and Nigeria has gotten worse as swimmers from the latter have been disallowed from participating in an international swimming competition taking place in Abu Dhabi.

Regrettably, the impact of “nationalist attitude” is being felt by the poorest in the world. Whichever way one sees the world today, we have advocated that the solution to the challenges of the coronavirus lies in having global cooperation – in public health, trade, security and many more. But will leaders around the world see the challenges facing humanity this way?

This is a tough question, which may elicit answers from world leaders. It seems the coronavirus is waxing strong as Covid–19 cases rise by about 630 percent in 10 days in Nigeria, according to newspaper reports. We have been advised by the WHO to get vaccinated in order to prevent “severe illness.” As we approach Xmas, I seize this opportunity to thank very kindly all my respected readers. Wishing everyone a wonderful festive season. Please, take care and enjoy your holiday. Thank you.

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