By Muyiwa Olayinka
Since December 2019 when Coronavirus was discovered in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province of China, the world has not recovered from the pandemic virus. Wuhan is the seventh largest city in China, with 11 million population, becoming the epicenter of Coronavirus that has distorted the economy of the world.
Coronavirus has spread to 5 continents, namely: Asia, The Americas, Africa, Europe, Australia/Oceania, except Antarctica. As at today (April 12) according to worldometer, the world has recorded the total number of 1,795,763 infections, 411997 recoveries and 110,006 deaths. The world’s system has become helpless as it is ravaging mankind since a cure is yet to be found.
USA is the worst hit country with a total infection rate of 533,115 with a recorded death of 20,580. Spain is second with 166,019 and 16,972 deaths while Italy records 152,271 with 19,468 deaths. This Coronavirus pandemic is the second worst calamity to have befallen mankind after 1918 Spanish flu that ravaged the world killing more than 50 million people.
Governments all over the world have been taking drastic measures to curb the spread most especially by locking down the entire system. The lockdown has drained more than 7 billion of world’s inhabitants psychologically, emotionally and physically. This lockdown procedure that was first taken by the city of Wuhan recorded modest result, has been adopted and embraced by other nations. Though it is desirable and inevitable with its attendant discomfort to lives, other cities have recorded falling figures of infections.
While other developed and western nations of the world rolled out palliative measures and stimulus packages to ameliorate the discomforts and distortions caused by this lockdown, Nigeria, a nation that has a non existent welfare system in place has been caught in the web of unpreparedness.
Buhari led government announced lockdown for 14 days of Nigeria’s commercial city of Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital City, Abuja. These are the worse hit cities in the country, among the 36 states that constitures Nigeria. Nigerians waited with bated breath if there is going to be an extension to this lockdown as the number of infections keep increasing.
This lockdown seems to have been able to tame its spread, as Nigeria presently has 318 infection, 70 recoveries with10 deaths.
With this statistics, it is too early to conclude that the nation is doing pretty well, because the unofficial figure may far outweigh the official figure.
Some medical experts have warned Nigeria may record more infections, in thousandths in the coming days ahead. The warning came as a result of lack of capacity development, inadequate health facilities such as non supply of self testing kits, ventilators, low morale among the medical staffs may inherently contribute to the spike in numbers of infections.
Melinda Gates, wife of the Microsoft founder warned and I quote: ‘In the developing world, Coronavirus would be terrifying. My heart is in Africa. I’m worried, the only reason why the reported cases of the disease in Africa is low now is most likely because there have not been wide testing of people. The disease is going to bite hard on the continent. I see bodies in the streets of Africa’
Apart from these, attitudinal factors of Nigerians in relation to the state of economy, security and cultural and religious beliefs may spike the numbers of infections.
State of the economy
Nigeria is a monolithic economy with oil playing a dominant role, unfortunately, the oil wealth has turn to curse and not been properly managed. Successive governments have mismanaged the resources on white elephant and abandoned projects and corruption at all levels.
Billions of petrol dollars are in the hands of few privileged while the majority are wallowing in abject poverty. As a result of this, there is no provision for basic amenities like food clothing and shelter.
Lack of coherent welfare system for the teeming populace that continues to grow in geometric progression, while the revenue is growing in arithmetic progression, has jeopardised any realistic projections.
Unfortunately for this current government, oil prices have plummeted to all time low. For example, Nigeria suffered recession in 2016 as a result of collapse in prices of oil, and while the country is gradually recovering from this, Coronavirus may likely put Nigeria in second recession.
Prices remain low at sub $60 with production costs around $25 and $35, off taker prices ranging from $60 to $65 per barrel. Nigeria is also confronting aging oil fields and lack of new investments. In addition, the nation have been recording budget deficits in recent times, and for it to shore up the depleting revenue in 2020, she planned to borrow $22.7b from international sources. Unfortunately with the Coronavirus crisis, the borrowing plans have been shelved
A nation that is facing these type of economic problems will definitely find it hard to come up with palliative measures to cushion the effect of the lockdown. Average poor Nigerians are faced with gloom, many will go hungry especially those that made daily incomes and are living below $1.
A hungry man is an angry man. How Nigeria is going to curtail hungry people that are roaming the streets has become a daunting problem. In these past few days, Nigerians have been battling with robberies, theft, armed robberies in various parts of Ogun state, Agege area in the mainland and Ajah in the island area of Lagos state. Street urchins like 1 million boys, agberos and hoodlums have been terrorizing some areas of these two cities.
Locked up shops are being burgled and properties worth millions of Naira are carted away. Temporary unemployment caused by this lockdown will increase if drastic measures are not taken.
In order to ward off these rampaging marauders, residents have been organizing vigilante groups in localities to protect lives and properties. No one is adhering to social distancing again, this may quadrupled the spread of the disease
Religious and Cultural beliefs
Religious and cultural beliefs play a major a role in the lives of Nigerians and Africans. Both operate dependently and independently. It has its advantages and also its drawbacks. The religious belief typifies Africans way of live: pious lifestyle and at the same time could be used as a tool of indoctrination.
For example some notable top Nigerian Christian leaders joined the fray in the alleged linkage of the spread of Coronavirus with 5G technology, instead of spreading messages of hope.
Some have gone ahead to make spurious predictions and prophecies about the pandemic that seems to have added more to the confusion. Despite the obvious failings and inaccurate predictions of these men of God, the gullible followers still lined behind believing the fallacies.
These different interpretations that has no scientific foundations could make it so difficult for relevant agencies to get maximum cooperation from Nigerians.
Nigerians also hold on to cultural values mostly among the rural dwellers. Some do believe Coronavirus is a scam. They do not believe it exists and for this group of people, it is a Herculean task to curb or curtail its spread? Others believe in efficacy of local herbs and will not submit themselves for screening and tests. Hence if an individual is infected in such a locality, the quantum spread can be imagined.
If a victim dies, the virus is still alive and active, hence the spread continues unabated at the point of burial without wearing protective gears. The thought of being deprived of giving befitting burial to loved ones by government if a victim dies in hospitals could make many not to report and submit for medical treatments. Nigerians believe in giving befitting burial to loved ones, and also hold scared burial sites.