By Abiodun Komolafe
Experts have predicted that COVID-19 may remain a crisis much longer than 2022, with “up to 70% of world’s population” becoming infected.
Amid this mess, elections are billed to hold in Nigeria in 2023, in line with constitutional provisions. If, in the worst-case scenario, COVID-19 subsists beyond 2022, what then does the future hold for our dear country?
The more reason Nigeria’s politicians, as at today, should worry about how to ensure that we have a country still populated with human beings. Impliedly, it is better to find a solution to COVID-19, which has no specifics and has not been seen to be selective in killing people, in the interest of everybody. The politician can only be relevant in the scheme of things when there are people who will vote. If coronavirus has decimated the population, where are the people that are going to vote? If those who are contesting feel that they are secure, what about those who will vote for them?
About 4 or 5 months ago, nobody ever thought in Nigeria at least, that we would enter into a health-crisis situation of this magnitude; a pandemic that has so far defied all known medical appeasements and specific regime of medication. Thus, a situation could arise that the Constitution may have to be suspended. And heavens will not fall! After all, all the campaigns, programmes and related stuffs in the United States of America, where elections are scheduled to hold in November, have had to be put on hold, courtesy of the dreaded COVID-19. Even, FIFA U-17 World Cup that was originally slated for 2020 has now been postponed to 2021. And heavens have not fallen! ‘Ta lo nje ode aperinn’iwaju ode apaniyan? (Who is a mere elephant hunter compared to human assassins?)
People have stored money, even, ammunition to wage the impending electoral war of 2023. But people must first survive. The way we are going, if the pandemic should really balloon in a way that it will be difficult to contain it, then, nobody will be talking about elections at all, be they general or, presidential. It is as simple as that! Hence, all governors and the president must take up their responsibilities and work out a solution, for this is why they are elected. It is not enough to see them as trying. Nigerians are no longer interested in that old, worn-out refrain! No, not anymore! If we truly want Nigeria to develop, there is an urgent need for a new vision, and a new orientation. Otherwise, Nigeria will herald herself into perdition, and without remedy.
It is good to project into the future but it is difficult to project in the face of the humiliating torment that COVID-19 has presented. Of course, it is palpably humiliating if a country as hugely populated and as resource-rich as Nigeria is faced with a pandemic but her trained medical personnel appears prostrate before it. Aren’t we in trouble as a country if we must run to Madagascar to purchase herbs when, after reviewing the ‘COVID-organics’, the ingredients are right here with us? If we don’t invest in medical science education, why won’t China send doctors to Nigeria to help us take care of our self-induced problems? For God’s sake, where are our doctors – competent and qualified ones?
Well, maybe this is the time to have a political holiday because of the survival of the country. After all, it is in the stability of the country that political activities can thrive. This, again, means that our politicians should go back to their constituencies, identify with their people and work out a solution. If, in the course of doing that, they become infected, well, they chose to be leaders! And that’s what leadership is all about! A situation whereby our political leaders flock to Abuja as if that’s the only place where their constituencies’ destinies could be recovered should no longer be tenable.
From what we have also seen, Nigeria’s economy may not pick until 2023, if we continue with the way we are going. And, if it doesn’t, it may become problematic, especially, for the ruling party, to secure the confidence of the electorate, irrespective of who, or which political party is responsible for the woes of the country. Yes, Nigeria has been named among 10 countries that will experience global famines of “biblical proportions”, courtesy of the economic pains arising from COVID-19! But this should compel our institutions to show singular tenacity and singular judgment in recalibrating extant policies and programmes in national interest. We should not get out of the health pandemic and dive straight into economic crises. Getting to that strait path without preparation and the wherewithal is a sure recipe for social chaos because, even things that were hitherto, seemingly, innocuous and not dangerous will become manifestly dangerous, more so, as people will now begin to read meanings to them.
Again, this is where the roles of religious bodies come into play! This is not the time to take things for granted but a time to seek God’s face for mercy. When Ebola came ravaging, not until it was pronounced gone, dead and buried that Nigerians could only heave a sigh of relief.
As for COVID-19, it will not be out of place to say that certain forces which do not want it defeated are already at work, playing the game for which they are renowned. It is, therefore, time President Muhammadu Buhari and his lieutenants remembered the roles of posterity in the affairs of men. It’s time the president thought beyond his remaining years in office. Indeed, this is the time to think about the kind of legacy he will want to leave behind.
Nobody prayed that coronavirus would come to our shores. But, now, that it has come, Buhari should rise up to the occasion and see to it that coronavirus is defeated. There have been talks among Nigerians, suggesting that some people under him are the ones directing the affairs of the country. This is an opportune time for him to prove to the world that he is firmly in control and that Nigerians did not make any mistake in making him their president. The fact that a cure or vaccine to the pandemic has not been found elsewhere does not mean that Nigeria cannot blaze the trail. It is all about leadership and determination!
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, heal our land!
*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State (email@example.com)