Home Lifestyle A Booming Economy or Our Lives? Hard Truths! – By Chioma Onyekaba

A Booming Economy or Our Lives? Hard Truths! – By Chioma Onyekaba

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– Nigerians think again!- Food without electricity equals “No food”!-  Collective efforts can cure hunger but not Covid-19, Be wise!

I have watched with keen interest the unfolding events in Nigeria and Major Countries of the World since the emergence of Covid-19 and I am compelled to speak today because the danger that looms ahead of us is not something one would rather watch while keeping quiet. We have lost lives already and cannot afford to risk more lives for lack of adequate thinking and planning before acting. Apart from hunger and Covid-19 Nigeria faces a more challenging pandemic “Greed and Corruption” which has led to a high level of antagonism between the six geo-political zones. Even in a time like this which requires transparency and togetherness, it is still obvious that antagonism is still ruling the day.“Since togetherness is far from Nigeria how can we achieve success in this period of uncertainty?” Well, the answer to this solely lies with us all and our ability to look beyond tribe and religion. Just as no one can destroy iron except its rust that’s how only we too can destroy or make this country work.

First and foremost, we need to start telling ourselves the truth in this country if we want to survive this pandemic. It is true that because our businesses are Locked down, we feel our lives are locked down. But if we stop for a moment and think while watching all those foreign countries that have lost thousands to Covid-19 then maybe we might begin to see the truth beyond the surface of this lockdown. We often forget to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to even see the fact that we are not actually locked down but opened up. We are opened up in the sense that we have now been given the opportunity to create more opportunities for ourselves as well as develop our country in ways only we can. We are now able to live above those things we thought we could never live without. We are opened up to the reality that Africans don’t matter to the outside world as much as the outside world matters to us; thereby giving us an opportunity to turn around and invest in our country more than we have ever done before.  We are Opened up to facts at a time like this to actually appreciate the need to be creative beyond the regular daily schedules we’ve lived with and known all our lives and it is up to us to decide to make the same old mistakes over and over again or to choose to fix our country. What we see now to us may seem difficult but then there is no gain without pain. That is why we have to go through this pain that life has thrown to us not just holding on to the hope of a brighter tomorrow but rather being a part of the hands that will make that tomorrow greater. 

Below I will be touching on the areas that raised my concern regarding the issue of relaxing this current lockdown in a few days but before doing that, I’d like to, first of all, consider the three categories of people we are dealing with in this country whose wellbeing also determines and greatly affects decision-making in this country. In my own terms, I classify them into three categories:

1) The Knowledgeable Category: These are people who are serious-minded, experienced, and exposed. For instance, They can be said to be the set of people who believe this pandemic is real and are actually taking precautionary measures to insure themselves and their loved ones are safe. If this category contracts the virus, they are certain to stay away from their Loved ones and society but the problem is that these people are very few.

2) The Carefree Category: These are people who never take anything seriously until it comes to face to face with them. For instance, They can be said to be the set of people who don’t believe this pandemic is real and are not actually taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones. If this category contracts the virus, they are certain to Start home treatments and all manner of self-medications. They are never going to seek help from any doctor who prescribes hospital and by so doing they will unconsciously infect their Loved ones. Now the problem is that these people are many.

3) The Anything goes category: These are those people who just float. Anywhere the crowd goes they are there. They don’t actually believe they have anything to lose in this pandemic. They are just like sheep without shepherds and are unable to take decisive steps without conviction from a third party or the crowd they trust. For instance, They are those people you meet trying to take precautions because Mr. A said so and the next minute you find them living carelessly because Mr. B convinced them that Covid-19 is a scam and can be cured with hot water or ogogoro. If this category contracts the virus, they are certain to Keep quiet and rather mix with the crowd and infect many because in their head rings the bell “I can’t die alone. If we die, we die together”. The problem is, they are too many.

Note that the above-listed categories exist in both rich and poor classes of people. They exist up there in our leaders and So it is obvious that the categories have nothing to do with having money or being poor. It has a lot to do with the human mind. It doesn’t matter where you fall in but then it’s only best we take cover, think, apply caution and think again before we act.

This brings me to the issues of the day:

Covid-19 and Covid-20 which is deadlier?

It is no longer news today that many have tagged covid-20 (hunger) the deadliest virus in the world today but then let me ask this question to help us think again; “A virus without a cure and a virus with a cure which one is actually deadlier?” 

If Covid-20 was deadlier then nations of the earth would never have known lockdown. The death toll caused by covid-19 by far surpasses that caused by Covid-20. Plus with adequate planning and collective effort, Covid-20 can be a forgotten story but can anyone tell is exactly when covid-19 will be forgotten? None except our Maker who we pray shows us mercy sooner than later. So before we risk our lives let us think again. For instance, imagine the government fills up our houses with food to eat for a month or two and never gives us light to preserve the meals, will we actually say that we have sorted hunger virus? No way my dear Nigerians! Because in my opinion food without electricity equals to no food at all.  Do you now see why it is difficult to actually balance the equation and curb the spread of covid-19 in Nigeria? It is actually not the lack of food that has led to the vast number of people living from hand to mouth, it is actually a lack of employment and adequate electricity. More questions unanswered still bother me. For example: Why can’t we keep greed aside and cure hunger by putting adequate measures in place for people to get access to health care and other necessities? Are we not capable of actually solving plenty of hunger issues in Nigeria than we are able to ever solve this coronavirus pandemic? So why choose what we can’t solve over what we can solve?

Well, Only those who have lost their loved one to Covid-19, watched a loved one struggle through covid-19, or are currently suffering from it can best understand the severity and deadly nature of this virus. Only they can advise us better on whether to choose covid-20 over covid-19. May God help us. 

Dangers of reopening the economy 
As some Nigerians rejoice and await the next move of Mr. President over the proposed lifting of the lockdown in the two most affected states in Nigeria – Lagos, and Abuja, here is what I think we all should worry about in the days ahead.

Reopening the economy means releasing the masses to the waiting mouth of covid-19 and death. We need to ask ourselves a lot of questions, find answers to them, then apply those solutions before we take any step further because of the truth we are not battle-ready and we have very few willing to risk their lives for each other. Let us first find answers to these questions before we take more dangerous steps:
Are we testing and actually treating or just testing and reporting in order to save ourselves some Shame? If we are testing what are our findings after testing or do we just test and make no further research? If we are researching how far are we into finding our own vaccine? If those treated are negative after a while can’t we take their serum and do more research and use these antibodies to form a vaccine or a cure? If we are truly treating can’t we tell people what is working for us and the first aid measures to apply and stay alive before NCDC gets to the location of an infected person? What happens to those who can’t access health care and are infected? Of what use are the imported Chinese doctors that cost us 2billion hard currency only for them to end up in isolation after being worshipped as kings for doing nothing but treating our people like animals in China? Please can Our doctors tell the world what methods they have been applying successfully that have treated so many discharged coronavirus-positive patients? There are lots of questions than answers in Nigeria. Are we not supposed to be proud to showcase our strength in medicine by telling the world how we’ve been healing and discharging patients so far like the US today who have discovered Remdesvir as being highly effective in the treatment of coronavirus? If NIGERIA is listed as the world’s best nation in something good rather than corruption will it be a crime?

Reopening businesses across the nation means allowing residents from highly infected areas to move around freely and reside in low infected areas thereby leading to a rise in infections and death. Are we sure we are prepared for the days ahead?

Health Facilities and NCDC
Everything is not politics. Some states think this is a joke and only announce what they want the world to believe in newspapers. Who is fooling who? Covid-19 respects no class so if you don’t fix your state health care centers because you believe it’s a virus meant for the poor masses then what will happen if you get hit by it first? Let’s face the bitter truth! Are our health facilities really accessible? What happens to those with symptoms who are been abandoned by health workers upon arrival at the hospitals? Do we truly have health workers willing to risk their lives? Are there actually enough protective gears to go around? What happens to those states without facilities? What happens to Kano after two weeks? Why has NCDC failed so many Who has called them for assistance and how has this been resolved? Are we actually reporting the true number of cases in Nigeria? Have those been discharged returned for another batch of testing or are we just assuming that they are healed completely? How do we know these infected people to help us keep a distance since they mostly are without symptoms? Won’t reopening businesses mean more spread due to more interactions? Are we thinking before acting or simply emulating foreign countries? What are our scientists, virologists, and medical experts doing in the aspect of finding a cure or lasting solution to the pandemic? Are we actually contributing to the research or waiting on foreign scientists to develop a cure for us?  Whatever it is that we are doing, I want us to know that God can use any doctor and any country to provide this vaccine or cure so let’s not fold our arms and wait for a miracle. We can do it!

Reopening Education system 

When I think about what will happen if they reopen schools at this point I just shiver. My fear and worry is higher for the Creche, Nursery, and Primary because I hate to imagine what might happen to these lovely unassuming children of ours. Let’s stop for a second and think: “what will happen to the little kids in Creche and nursery who don’t  even understand what coronavirus is all about and the importance of wearing a mask?”  We all know that there is no way these sets of children can actually maintain social distancing even under the supervision of their teachers. They love to play and mix up and even pick things from the floor. Asides from that, how possible is it for a Creche or nursery school teacher to maintain social distancing with kids under her watch? How many kids can a maximum of five teachers per class control? How many in Creche and nursery can actually stand to wear a mask all day? How sure are we that the teachers handling them are safe for the kids when most of them have to go home and come to work daily through public transportation? What measures are the government and schools going to adopt to ensure the health of the teachers is not jeopardized? Even if teachers begin to get tested, do we have enough testing Tools to go around? And for how long can we control the spread from teacher to student? How many parents will even be willing to send their kids to school right now when the world is full of uncertainty over the pandemic? What happens to the Category of parents who will not let their kids return to school at this point Even if the government lifts lockdown? How well are we prepared to resume studies and pay school fees when lives are at stake? Even before the pandemic kids especially in Creche and nursery fall sick more often because they come in contact with schools and germs, so how well are we ready to sanitize and fumigate schools? How many can we do ourselves and how many is the government willing to do for the education sector? By and large, these same questions apply to secondary schools and universities too. Why then can’t we improve our educational system at this point? Since we are emulating foreign countries why can’t we just make School online for now? This I know will affect those who can’t afford a gadget but then this is a good time for the government to reach out to these less privileged homes and offer them these study materials to join the free/paid online classes like their mates or better still grant them radio classes and device new methods for them to submit class assignments virtually overtime since it is definitely not possible to soothe everyone at this point.  In fact, we can even decide to make the online classes a thing of pace meaning that a child graduates only after he or she completes the necessary classes and passes well. We can think of more measures. We need education but we need to stay alive to get educated. Let us learn from countries like Germany that re-opened up some businesses and got a return of high turnover of infected persons than a boost in their economy.
Reopening the economy in highly equipped Countries like the USA has been withheld and is still following a gradual process for very good reasons but in Nigeria, despite a rise in the toll of infections in Nigeria and African countries at large we have chosen to resort to emulating without adequate thinking and planning. May the good Lord really help us. 

In conclusion, let us share more ideas to help the government serve us better while playing our part to see that our country is better.  I strongly believe that if the President reopens the economy in a few days’ time then it would be a disaster to our nation and he would have rather succeeded in doubling the infection curve and doubling the number of deaths especially since most people are asymptomatic and we don’t even have active and efficient checkmating systems to follow up on the guidelines that will be stipulated. If only we can think and be very gradual in reopening the economy then just maybe we’d be able to see the good in the lockdown and avoid a late realization of the fact that we are back to where we began with another lockdown and with “had I known” seemingly sounding too long a sentence to make. May the good Lord help us all and instill divine wisdom in our leaders to lead us aright. Amen

It’s no more about government now. It’s about us! What do we do to save ourselves because the government cannot and will not care for everyone? The government will not be able to save us from hugging our returnee loved ones on sight after the lockdown. Government cannot save us from touching our itchy nose or eyes or mouth. Government can only do its part, how about us? 

At a time like this where the virus is on the loose, it is really only best that we are careful in all we do as we regain the freedom to move around because it’s hard to really say how careful enough we can be. How easy is it to avoid public transport? How easy is it to avoid buying food to eat when we don’t even know if the person selling it is infected? How easy is it to not touch money when many don’t even have a bank account and when many sales Payments are still done in cash? How easy is it to even own a sanitizer now when the market is flooded with fake sanitizers? Only God can save us! Him alone has the answers we seek!

Note: This is simply my opinion born out of concern for Nigerians. In all these, we need to stay alive together so let’s be wise! Before we make costly mistakes that we cannot live to regret let us always imagine what we would choose if we were to be standing in front of an infected person who consciously coughs just to make sure we are infected. Would we choose hunger, covid, or our lives? The Lord be with us all!

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VIAChioma Rosemary Onyekaba
SOURCEAll Times Global Magazine
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