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Covid-19 in 21st Century Nigeria

It is true that the world today faces an increasingly ravaging and an all-encroaching threat to almost every routine it has ever known, bringing a halt to businesses, sports activities, and other social and cultural activities, including even the sacrosanct religious activities. To be candid, the world had never been hit with such a stagnating big-slap, so astounding that even the most powerful nations of the world are being shaken to their roots.

I am one of the many who do not in totality subscribe to the idea of discourse about issues of the international dimension due to their vastness and complexity, and how so little of its politics someone like me, ever on the insatiable quest for streaks of inspiration to expand the horizons of our scrutinizing pens,  is apt to garner. For now, I love being local, and scrutinizing issues based on my little ability and scope, and even in my ability, I like to believe in my weakness, as the saying goes that all humans are bound to mishaps.

History has shown that Nigeria has been faced with so many sorry state affairs even before the outbreak and proliferation of the world pandemic. It’s not fair to blame anyone or any institution regarding the deep negativity that our country unfortunately wallows in. Without the existence of the citizens in the first place, there wouldn’t be any country, because a country is made of, and recognized through, its citizens. However, without irresponsible citizens there wouldn’t be an irresponsible country, which equally crystalizes the fact that with a very responsible citizenry a very responsible country is possible. No one should be left out of this blemish game of where we are today, because, though it didn’t start today, it is still being sustained today. We’ve been here for a long time and we are in the log jam together. No saint, no villain.

Here you are in a country, because the world has been struck with this sly pandemic, some business men and women have turned into daylight, face-to-face legitimate robbers. Whereas in many other countries of the world, due to the unrelenting sway of this global pandemic, business men and women are not only being fair and sympathetic in their trades and services, but are also being generous to the underprivileged. But, unfortunately, here, due to sheer selfishness and unparalleled wickedness, some business men and women are daily increasing the prices of their commodities without any reason. In fact, they bought the goods at very low prices in the pre-COVID-19 days. Nothing has changed. But because their selfishness and personal interest have beclouded their miserable hearts, they are now out to grill the masses, so that the undiscerning masses could shift the blame on the government, since they know that we blame government for everything, even the outfall of our silly inactiveness and our unbridled addictions as well. Is it fair?

Here you are in a country, where some religious leaders bluntly refuse to help the government to peacefully and easily fight a devastating pandemic like this, but would rather, because of their selfish interest turn themselves into enemies of the government, blatantly defying rules and regulations, and triggering an ignominious war that would later come to haunt them. These are people that would come to blame the government when things later deteriorate, which we don’t pray for. In the case of such global enemy like COVID-19 there is the need for religious leaders to sheath their swords and cooperate with the government and other institutions poised to eradicate of this menace for the betterment of the populace. Kudos to the religious leaders that are helping to create the needed awareness, and to those that follow the laid down rules and regulations, which are not in any way contrary to the teachings of all religions. We need you now, today and tomorrow, until the battle is won in our favour, more than ever.

Here you are in a country, where hospitals whose primary functions  are basically meant to cater to the health needs of the masses have been abandoned in the pit of destitution and professional ineptness without remorse. But, a dastardly determination not to checkmate the myriad of inaptitude and turning them into world class hospitals with modern equipment and resources that every Nigerian would be proud of with the assurance of attaining all their health needs at all times including times like this when a pandemic holds the world by its jugular veins.

If there is anything we should be grateful to, it is the fact that this pandemic has exposed to us that before anything we need health. It has shown us that there is no need for building more mosques or churches in an area where there is already a good mosque or a church to pray in, whereas there is no hospital to admit patients in the area if faced with a health problem. It is good to pray, in fact, it is an obligation. But we should not as a people, or as a government submit to making mosques and churches available, thereby segregating people and mitigating praying in a congregation that comes with so much pleasure, love for one another.

Obviously, this pandemic has exposed our backwardness and the high level of ignorance in our societies. Despite seeing how perilous the pandemic is ravaging the world and causing myriad of death, the truth is that many people are yet to believe this pandemic can strike them. Some even do not believe in its existence. Reasons: some of them once believed it is a chastisement for only the people of China because of their indecency and assumed brutality to Muslims. The same people prayed the pandemic should continue chastising the Chinese alone. So, when it crossed borders to other places that are seen as more religious and humane than China, they changed their stance and began sloganeering that the pandemic is man-made, meant to disrupt religious activities. Apart from this, some believed or still believe that the virus only affects celebrities or politicians. Some of Nigerians’ gullible explication that the virus is for the rich people is quite worrisome and appalling. So much blindfolded misinterpretations. Not knowing that a pandemic, just like terrorism, has no religion or social status.

The world is in danger, it is already in a battle trench with an invisible enemy; an enemy, though very destructive, coming with numerous lessons for us to learn. It is not the end of the world, though it’s an end for many people. I am optimistic that the world will survive this pandemic, but after surviving it, it’s left to the world to humble itself; it is left for our religious leaders to be constructive in deeds and reasoning; it is left for our politicians to prepare for a much more disorienting pandemic which we don’t pray for, and heavily invest in the health sector to checkmate it whenever it shows its ugly head. It would also be left for the citizens, for us, and for everyone to be responsible, to know right and wrong, to know that those little actions of ours can ginger a vicious war with our peace and harmony.

May we survive COVID-19 and live to tell our children and grandchildren that we are survivors, that we witnessed a pandemic that the world had never seen its kind, which almost plunged human beings and everything into extinction. Amen.

Adamu Usman Garko

Adamu Usman Garko is a short story writer, an essayist and poet. He is the author of When Day Breaks, a collection of poetry, which was listed among the 15 Best Published Books in 2018 by DailyTrust newspaper; also, the book is a recommended text for 400l English students of Gombe State University in 2019. He is the 2020 winner of the Nigeria Prize for Teen Authors He is the convener of Gombe Book and Arts Festival, an in-coming literary festival in Nigeria to kickstart in 2020. You can connect with Adamu Usman Garko on Twitter.