The Nigeria State And Her People Amid A Pandemic: The Dilemma Of A Citizen.
The Nigeria state pride itself as the giant of Africa but after sixty years of nationhood, this acclaimed giant that at independence in 1960, was a beckon of hope to the entire Africa and the black race is still crawling. Not only that the giant is still crawling after her silver jubilee, but the state is yet to make meaningful impact in the life of her citizens nor being able to transforms her society. The country till date is still plaque with maladministration, inept/visionless leadership, injustice, mutual distrust, fear of domination, nepotism, ethnicity, religious bigotry, sectionalism, corruption on the one hand and deteriorating security challenges on the other.
Day after day, the country rather than soaring higher like other nations or attaining an enviable feat, is being run aground. Unfortunately, the government of the day is no different from every other, that have over the years superintended over the affairs of the country. The average citizen is yet to see any departure from the misrule of the pasts since the APC came on board in 2015. In fact, it appears the APC brought with it an excruciating pains that the people are suffocating under and rather than mitigating the suffering, the APC led government is carefree about it all. The most worrisome part is that the Buhari led APC government has consistently measures and benchmark itself with the failures of the PDP especially that of the days of President Jonathan which again put a question mark on the readiness of Major General Mohammadu Buhari for the apex office that he is now occupying.
And COVID-19 arrives on our horizon and still posing a serious health threats of immense proportion to the country. Above it, it has exposes the absent of seriousness on the part of state to her citizens. The only luck of a citizens is that COVID sends fear down the spine of everyone, unlike the case of diseases like Lassa Fever, Malaria etc. In spite of the fact that the COVID in the Nigeria state is not as virulent and lethal as what is obtainable in some other nations, yet no concerted efforts from the respective authorities. The Presidential Task Force is only good at giving press briefing whereas there is obviously no clear buy-in from most of the subnational government and the debate that ensued over school resumption further lend credence to the assertion of no one national response in the fight against COVID-19.
The air an individual breath-in is the cheapest thing on earth, because, it is free., however, oxygen is scarce in Nigeria which has resulted in the death of many that needed it. History is replete with stories of those that were classified as enemy of the state for daring to demand for good governance. The Nigeria State is still hunting the promoters of the #ENDSARS protests rather than making efforts to enthrone good governance which necessitated the protests with the demand to an end to police brutality as the triggered. It is rather not surprising that the Buhari government till day is yet to take a hard stance on the orchestrated mayhem being unleashes on the helpless citizens of Nigeria by the Fulani herdsmen who are mostly of the President ethnic group. All the government succeeded in doing was to misclassify the crisis as Herders/Farmers clashes.
Amid surging coronavirus case in the country as the second wave sweep across the globe, the government is mandating citizens to register for National Identification Number (NIN) which has invariably turn the registration centers into a market place with large number of people thronging in daily. In spite of calls from several quarters for its suspension, the government seem adamant and bent on pursuing it through. Surprisingly, at the same time Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 is threatening a second lockdown over non-compliance to the protocols, as if that is the only known solution to curb the spread of the virus. Asides enforcement difficulties because of government incapacity, the people who are largely in the informal sector cannot afford to be lockdown again.
When the pandemic broke and took the World by surprise, in the usual characteristic of the Nigeria state and her people, we never demonstrated seriousness or make concerted efforts at findings home grown remedies. Rather, the PTF wasted so much in discrediting the Madagascar’s covid organic. So much energies were dissipated on grammar and briefing while nations across the globe were in a race to develop vaccines which many countries have succeeded in doing. Not only have they developed the vaccines but they have commenced the inoculations of their citizens. For us here in Nigeria, we are going cap in hand looking for vaccines to procure even as we are yet to decide on which of the vaccines to procure. Amidst the indecision, the political elites and those with big pockets are already jetting out of the country to overseas to get themselves vaccinated. Recently, the World Health Organization shortlisted some countries with only four from Africa as those qualified to access the Pfizer vaccines with Nigeria excluded. The Nigeria state is yet to firmly decide on where and which vaccines to procure, whether, it is that of Astrazeneca, the one from Russia, China or India. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency keeps giving different date of the arrival of vaccines and how many doses and the time frame within which the country will take delivery of the vaccines.
Indeed, the people are in a dire dilemma because they may be forgotten or left to fate. Should Nigeria even succeed in procuring the vaccines, logistics problem will be a major challenge and we do hope that people may not ends up getting vaccinated with a poorly stored vaccine. When countries were announcing and showcasing successful vaccines development and trial, the Nigeria Vice President was celebrating a group of Nigeria Researchers who came together to recommend the uses of an existing drug often used for treatment of River blindness and thereafter, nothing more. At a point when the country needed her scientists the more, they were just comfortable wearing white lab coat. It is only in Nigeria that people takes delight in the prefix before their names, even when such prefix amount to nothing tangible. Behold, our Health Minister recently announced the discovery of two candidate vaccines but however added that funding was impeding its development and deployment for clinical trial. Perhaps, his appeal should be made at the Federal Executive Council chamber that monies meant for Kano-Maradi rail line to be expended on covid vaccines development and production because getting a Vaccine now is of paramount importance than a rail line to the heart of the Sahelian belt.
Sadly, the Nigeria government is just setting up committee to screen claims of possible herbal cure of covid-19 and this is simply a face saving attempt. The Nigeria state is seriously getting expose by this pandemic over its abysmal handling of the outbreak. All the PTF daily briefing is just to show to WHO that the country is serious but while in actual sense, our approaches are not only poor, but a cacophony of nonsense. Even the people are increasingly becoming more and more wary of government rhetoric’s.
Again, in our usual characteristics, the scarcity of Oxygen needed for covid management has prompted the FG to approve the establishment of over 36 Oxygen Processing centers and plants across the country, indeed, very commendable. At a point, the Air force came to the rescue but that interventions were not enough and recently, CA-COVID deployed oxygen cylinders in Lagos and Abuja. It is not only shameful but unimaginable that most of our fatalities were as a result of scarcity of oxygen. Hope the Nigeria State is taking stock of its failure over the years.
Coronavirus obviously exposes and brought to the fore our untidiness and the low premium we place on lives. The elites are finding it extreme difficult to get oxygen not even with the resources at their disposal and if so, what becomes the fate of the ordinary citizens. The vaccines when its finally arrives shall be disproportionately appropriated against the ordinary citizens.
As the virus surge and continue wreaking havoc across the globe with its attendant deaths, the PTF and the Nigeria State is very busy threatening the citizens and signing Presidential declaration to jail people for non-compliance to the Covid-19 protocols. In the latest corruption perception index released by Transparency International, Nigeria dropped three places and this was mainly as a result of the lack of transparency in the COVID-19 response management. How do you explain that a government, both states and National even when her people were hungry, hoarded the palliatives donated by well-meaning individual, donor agencies and corporate Nigerian and Corporations?
The much talk about vaccines may not even be accessible to us as a country except the country works harder, even with our money. The failure of the Nigeria state started when we failed to planned. We were busied speaking English in press conferences while countries were investing in vaccines research and development and now production and deployment for inoculation. As the scramble for vaccines continue, the citizens of Nigeria may have to continue waiting, perhaps, being a religious country, commit themselves to God because the Government only understand press briefings. So sad that the PTF succeeded in wasting our time and they have now turn to enact law to forcefully ensure compliance. Compulsory masks-wearing no doubt, is one of the preventive way against the virus, however, the Nigeria state is not mindful of the health implications on the same citizens it is trying to protect. Enacting law prescribing six months’ jail term for violators of COVID-19 protocols on masks wearing is rather too extreme. We are well aware that Buhari have the penchant for jailing people and having failed to jailed citizens over corrupt practices, covid had presented him the needed excuse to clamp citizens into prisons. In spite of this threat, the Governor of Kogi State, a member of the President’s party is not in agreement with the National government on the pandemic. He had repeatedly denied the existence of COVID in the state. All the government did was a warning to the Nigerian people to avoid Kogi state because it is a high risk state which prompted the state government to threaten legal action against the PTF and NCDC. Again, the Buhari government may only succeed in jailing ordinary citizens because the Nigeria Political Elites hardly serve jail term even when convicted, they could still secure post-conviction bail.
Nations are busy inoculating their citizens so as to enable them develop herd immunity soonest that will in turn protect their larger population. On the other hand, the Nigeria state is holding briefing, arresting and jailing people for non-compliance while the issue of cow has dominated national discourse, people are giving quit notices to vacate an area. Amidst all of this, a jittery Presidency that ought to provide leadership is raising an alarm over what its alleges as smear campaign against the President. A clear conscience they say fear no accusation.
Amidst all of these, the helpless citizen is getting confuse the more. Insecurity is on the rise. Kidnappers are making travelling by road across the country nightmarish while the destruction and killings trailing the dastardly activities of the Fulani marauders has left every part of the country with blood stained landscape. Yet, the Buhari government seem unperturbed but was quick to secured court injunction that enable it to proscribed IPOB.
Furthermore, as the surging second wave continue, the ordinary citizens must either protect his or herself from contracting the virus because the compelling demands for oxygen in the treatment centers will have one kill quickly, not to talk of when the vaccines start coming in which may be in piecemeal. Is it not irony that even with our money, we are finding it difficult to procure vaccines. Even the COVAC basket that the country was relying upon appears to have failed us.
The Boss Mustapha led PTF ignore all wise counsels given by experts on the need to develop our home grown remedies. Now, our over-dependence on others are beginning to fail us. Recall that COVID-19 badly affected the West and within nine months, they came out with a vaccines which they gave ‘’Emergency Authorization for Use’’ Just recently, the European Union imposed Vaccine Control Export Scheme to outside the union. The World Health Organization only issued a filtered statement to that effect while Nigeria and Nigerians continue to wait and hope. The companies producing are not able to meet up with pre-ordered commitment to countries that invested heavily in research and development of the vaccines while we were busied talking about trivialities. Perhaps, we may have to learn from this and seek to proffer our solutions to our issues as no friend is reliable.
What a nation so plaque. With an escalating and worsening security situation across the country, boko haram still very potent, porous borders, oil theft, sea piracy, kidnappers on the prowl, killers marauding herdsmen causing havoc across the country, Banditry on the increase, farmers abandoning farming owing to fear of attack from herdsmen, cattle rustling etc Amid this chaos, the political leadership/elites are all shielded and fortified from the chaos. No doubt, the situation today obviously depicts happenings in the Michael Orwell satirical novel ‘’Animal Farm’’. The Nigeria State appears to be rudderless and under siege. An Islamic scholar was able to visits the bandit’s camps meaning that the locations are known, but surprisingly, the Nigeria Security Forces could not flush them out. The Nigeria citizen should only hope that the helpless Nigeria state is not complicit in these pervading chaos, because protecting lives and properties is the primary function of the state but its failure in this regard is legendary. With all of these, the dilemma of a citizen become so enormous because the state itself has failed the citizens, and all the citizens could do is keep on hoping. Hoping for the best in the face of rising inflation, worsening insecurity, economic deprivation, decreasing purchasing power, declining standard of living and above all, the fear of contracting the corona virus further compounded the dilemma of a citizen of the Nigeria State.
While the ordinary citizen groan excruciatingly as a result of the weight of the circumstances of the time he or she lives in, the political elites are busy debating and strategizing towards the next general election, not minding the blood stained that dotted the landscape and the countless numbers of grave we have dug to buried those violently killed, simply because the Nigeria State failed them. And if the State could not guarantee my safety and security as a citizen, why should that state take away my sovereignty and thereby makes the burden of the dilemma of the ordinary citizen an unending.
COM. MSIGEKII NWI-AERA NACY
Write from Abuja