As the Coronavirus pandemic spreads like wildfire across the world, the Director General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, has described the dreaded virus as a leveller that challenges the survival instinct of both leaders and followers. Bode Olagoke captures his words.
COVID 19 and motivation
Rather than being seen in the negative in view of the high of toll of deaths being recorded across the world the pandemic and even understandable panic it has created, the chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) thinks COVID 19 may after all be entirely an aimless catastrophe. He thinks there are some positives to be taken from the scourge.
Lukman believes the COVID 19 challenge has presented an opportunity for both the leaders and followers across the world and particularly in Nigeria to choose the values that should drive national life. Lukman says such values should not only their political cum economic lives but motivate the people to be conscious of sustaining healthy national and international values and standards that bind humanity together.
COVID 19 a leveller
In a lengthy article the director general signed Wednesday in Abuja, he said the earlier all Nigerians come to terms with the fact that the Covid-19 is a leveller, the better for all.
Lukman said: “The issue is whether as Nigerians we want to unlock all the possible opportunities that the Covid-19 pandemic present or we want to remain stuck to the negative mindsets, which reduces us to behave with little considerations to what qualify us as human beings.
It is all about choosing the values that should drive our national life. It is a challenge for both leaders as well as citizens. It is the survival challenge, which Covid-19 present.
“Today, it is Covid-19, who knows what will be next! The task of responding to such challenge requires collective responses from both leaders and citizens. Covid-19 being the leveller it is to test our humanity across both leaders and citizens. The earlier we come to terms with this fact, the better for all of us.”
Need to discover humanity
The PGF boss said at the early stage of the manifestations of the threat of Covid-19 in Nigeria, the country needs to take urgent steps to recover her humanity if at all
“We want to focus ourselves to ensure that our responses help in producing the needed changes that could protect lives of citizens, guarantee quality and accessible healthcare services, etc. All these can only be achieved through high public investment in our health sector, which will also be partly dependent on similar high public investment in the education sector that will be required to produce the medical personnel.
“With the enormity of the threat Covid-19 has posed to humanity across the world, instinctively, all attention is about what to do to save humanity, at least in virtually every country. Non-governmental initiatives are springing up across the world to support governmental initiatives.
“Organised private sector, civil society, faith-based organisations, trade unions and all other voluntary associations are mobilising resources to support governments to tackle the threat of Covid-19 in virtually every country. Sadly, this cannot be said to be the case in Nigeria.
“Somewhat because effectiveness of responses will be determined by the quality of services provided by the health sector, initiatives around healthcare service delivery should be the focus of attention. Given the terrible state of our hospitals in Nigeria such that almost every citizen believes that to find cure for any sickness, major or minor, Nigerians have to go outside the country. Irrespective of our earnings or social status, it is a common belief across all divides in the country.
“As a result, everybody’s instinct, once faced with medical challenge is to mobilise financial resources, which many have to achieve through donations by family members and well-wishers. With Covid-19 dangers facing all countries equally, most of the countries that used to be destinations for Nigerians in search of medical services have shut down.
Reason for better health facilities
“Therefore, part of what could be the challenge facing us as Nigerians may be the issue of initiating processes of developing our health sector such that it is able to mobilise our leaders and citizens to work in harmony. Unfortunately, because the reality of our national life has made citizens to distrust all our leaders at all levels, public conversations around these issues are cynical and full of anger. In the circumstance, all that appear to dominate all our news platforms are negative commentaries and in some respect doomsday analysis and projections.
COVID 19 exposes us
“With such reality, we may just be setting ourselves, as a nation, for a disaster. So long as our terms of engagement with our leaders are informed by a negative mindset, the outcome would most likely only be negative. It was Ant Middleton, in his 2018 Bestseller, First Man In: Leading from the Front, who argued that the principle that should underpins leaders is positivity, which according to him “is the secret principle of success”.
“Given how disappointed we are with our leaders, and against the background of Covid-19 world pandemic, how can we be positive? What does positivity even mean? Could it suggest being uncritical and supportive of everything our leaders do?
“Individuals would have different views about what being positive should mean, which could be blinded by our deep-seated anger against our leaders. Unfortunately, our leaders have also developed corresponding mindsets that almost equate every critical opinion as hostile.
“As a result, we are witnessing expressions of joy when our leaders are infected by Covid-19 virus. And our leaders are also not open to public suggestions and recommendations. It is virtually a case of establishing a negative equilibrium, which negate all possible engagements between our leaders and citizens on how best to respond to the policy challenge that Covid-19 posed to the nation.”