COVID-19: Before we all perish!

Coronavirus or COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. In December 2019 while the world was looking forward to 2020, news broke about an outbreak of a virus thought to be less deadly than SARS and Ebola from China. What started as an isolated case in Wuhan, a province in China, gradually became a global pandemic, spreading across continents and invading countries with devastating effect.

The virus has shown, as noted by a friend, Julius Ogar, on his Facebook wall, “Globalisation also means there are no boundaries for disease!”

While China, a country that authored the virus was deploying measures to contain the spread within and outside its borders, it suddenly spiraled out of control and marched menacingly to other parts of the world, first to Iran where it humbled the Iranian authorities when high profile government officials tested positive to the virus. In less than one week of a first case of the plague, Iran recorded highest fatality rate outside China.

While the global attention was on Iran, Italy became the next fertile ground for the virus.  In less than one week, the cases and deaths from the virus in Italy out-numbered Iran, making the European nation, the most battered in the world.  To date, Italy has sadly maintained its lead in global statistics of countries with most cases and deaths from COVID-19.  Spain has also suffered heavy fatality rate from the pandemic.

In the United States and the United Kingdom Covid-19 has continued to pose a great public health challenge. Affected countries across the globe especially in Europe are desperately struggling to contain the virus.

COVID-19 is on every continent and almost every country of the world. It has humbled super and not so super powers under the suns.

In less than two months, the Wuhan wahala has changed the way we interact, the way we worship, and indeed, the way we do everything. It has been stay at home, stay in your country! Much more, COVID-19 has dealt a deadly blow on the socio-economic, political and security of structure of global communities.

Nigeria, the most populous country on the African continent, confirmed its first case of 27 February 2020, when an Italian citizen arriving in Lagos tested positive for the virus. Since this first salvo was fired, there have been other people who have tested positive to the virus.

To date, Nigeria has 46 confirmed cases and one death from the pandemic.

Lagos State Government, with the most cases, has taken proactive steps

to curtail the spread of the virus. Following suit, the Federal Government has instituted a multi-sectorial task force led by the Federal Ministry of Health.

On 28 January 2020, the Federal Government of Nigeria began to strengthen surveillance at Enugu, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and the FCT international airports to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also announced same day that they had already set up corona virus group and was ready to activate its incident system if any cases emerged in Nigeria.

On January 31, 2020, the Federal Government of Nigeria set up a Coronavirus Preparedness Group to mitigate the impact of the virus if it eventually spreads to other parts of the country. On the same day, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed Nigeria among 13 other African countries identified as high-risk for the spread of the virus.

Since then, many states have taken precautionary measures to curtail the spread of the virus.

Despite the efforts by federal, states, local governments, religious and traditional leaders, media, civil society organisations and the general public, the berthing of the lethal virus in Nigeria has exposed the country’s underbelly in handling national emergencies.

As noted by a national security expert, Group Captain, SG Shehu, COVID-19 is not just a disease but a global health disaster that has created national emergencies for many countries including Nigeria.

It has exposed Nigeria as a country that lacks the (health) capacity to contain any health emergency. It is also clear that in terms of instrument of power and modern definition of security which emphasise human security as holistic approach towards ensuring that citizens are safe from any form of insecurity such as health, food, health, transport, housing, etc, Nigeria can be considered unsafe.

The lessons from this pandemic, is for stakeholders to think beyond here and now in planning for a future that focuses on building an enduring system that is all inclusive in providing basic social amenities for all Nigerians. As it is now, Nigeria lack facilities at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of health to cater for citizens needs even in peacetime. Further to this, is the lack of manpower to

drive the sector.

As the world shuts down gradually and Nigeria joins in this onslaught against the ‘invisible enemy’, we must heed the call of United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, that ‘COVID-19 is our common enemy’ which we must all take appropriate steps to contain. However, it is time for Nigeria to rethink its development strategy that is aimed at self-sufficiency in all ramifications. We must all demand of government at all levels to provide health facilities, water, roads and other development issues beyond lip service.

This approach should be in line with United Nations definition of human security tailored towards addressing challenges to survival of livelihood and dignity of


people… through people–centred, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented responses that strengthen the protection and empowerment of all people.”

The chips are down and it is practically impossible for even VIPs to hop on aircraft and fly to safe havens in Dubai, Europe, Canada or the US. The stitch is out of time! Let’s build up our country or… we perish here!

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