Nigeria, Coronavirus And The World

By Basil Okoh July 13, 2020

Nigeria, Coronavirus And The World

If there has been a way to  characterize Nigeria’s response to the COVID 19 pandemic, it is the absence of creative thinking and  contributory actions to help find a cure or prophylaxes for the disease from among our scientific and medical community.

We have been blindly following the responses and lead of the Western world without adaptation to our local conditions and without input or contribution to the growing body of knowledge on the coronavirus pandemic.

The absence of research institutions and expertise to inform Governments and advance public knowledge of the coronavirus has left Nigeria flying blind, looking up to other areas of the world for guidance and leadership. The result is that we have all been condemned to stay glued to CNN and imitate the responses of others without any understanding of our own local situation and conditions.

We locked down just because the Western World was locking down and re-opened when they did, even when we had no medical emergency requiring lockdown at the time and now re-opening in the middle of a growing medical emergency.

We have not as a nation sponsored researches or constituted scientific bodies to lead us and expand our understanding of the novel coronavirus so as to have informed responses to the pandemic.

It is as if there are no epidemiologists, virologists, microbiologists, public health specialists and other practitioners of the related areas of medicine in Nigeria. There’s a frightening silence from the local body of medical scientists and practitioners on the pandemic that is ravaging the entire world.

This pandemic has thus exposed Nigeria as lacking intellectual and scientific depth. We just follow the lead of the Western world and consume without question whatever their research and prognosis reveal for their society. We lack curiosity and intellectual adventure, even for those in academia. We are eaters of Western intellectual leftovers.

Senegal produces it’s own COVID 19 testing kits, a gain arising from it’s previous encounter with the Ebola epidemic. Madagascar has produced a herbal Brew which though stirred international  controversy, but has signaled Africa’s contribution to finding a cure or control for the pandemic.

In Nigeria however, we are still flying blind after five months and so many deaths in our own society, even as the rest of the world call up their scientific communities to leadership in the fight against a raging but invisible enemy.

I do hope to be proven wrong but I do not hear of any specialist medical committee set up by any Government in Nigeria, be it Federal, State or Local, to lead and guide our responses to the disease or investing in research to find cures or prophylaxes for the COVID 19.

What we have are teams of roughnecks, beating up on the entire community, forcing everyone to obey hostile laws. We live in fear, not so much for the coronavirus disease itself but for  Coronavirus  Enforcement Teams roaming the suburbia and cities, extorting money from hapless citizens for venturing out to forage for food during a non-productive lockdown.

In the early days of the pandemic when caring nations were offering meaningful palliatives in the form of food to their citizens, Nigerian Governments were giving out single packets of 100 grams foreign noodles to citizens in the cities and claiming millions of naira as cost even as Nigerian youth were taking fights to the market women to reduce the cost of familiar Gari and yams.

Their Governments insisted on distribution of foreign food as palliatives. It reflected the abysmal disconnect between the rulers and the ruled. Food is culture and it has been one of the major cultural tools for Chinese economic ascendancy. Chinese Restaurants emblazoned in red has been a major cultural attraction to China. We could all have been eating bats.

Our response to every challenge is mindless brigandage that reflects our lack of thought and restraint. We lack the capacity for introspection and orderly discourse which is the reason we usually choose the worst among us to lead.

Our jaded understanding is that the man with the cudgel or the gun is usually the one qualified to lead as he is the one with the capacity to inflict pain on the rest.

This has clearly shown in our response to the disease that presently plagues the entire world. We have no study teams or research centres to study the disease, no think tanks to design or create national understanding and no studies in universities to help us understand what we are up against and help fashion out medical, economic and social responses.

We rage blindly into disease and  death while other nations, big and small, have in the five months of the pandemic accumulated tons of published works in studies, research and inundated their public with instructional videos. Our hospitals lack the basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) necessary to do the work of care for the sick among us.

Africa was initially, at the onset of the pandemic, projected to be the killing field of the novel coronavirus but five months into the pandemic, Africa’s infection and death rates  appear to be mild compared to other continents and nations, but we have no knowledge and no scientific evidence to tell us why this has been so.

Everywhere else in the world, universities are buzzing with activities in research on coronavirus, to understand and find cures and vaccines to confront the disease. But our universities are under lock and the entire academia have gone to sleep. Researchers have all self-isolated, gobbling up news from CNN on the research efforts of others from across the world.

It is the tragedy of the nation and the times we live in that we cannot contribute to the evolving science of this pandemic or even to the thoughts of rebuilding the world afterwards or whatever will be left of it. We are a nation of brigands, led by savages who are driven only by the impulses of Brutish consumerism. We contribute nothing to knowledge or progress. We contribute nothing to the world but want everything from the world.

In the first week of the lockdown, we managed to have armed security men kill off a few citizens for non compliance to new rules of self isolation. That’s what we are good at, killing without thinking.

@basilokoh.

END NOTE:

The Catholic Monastery of St. Benedict at Ewu, Edo State, Nigeria, through its Pax Herbal Clinic has brought to market Pax Herbal CUGZIN, a herbal medicine for COVID 19, that carries the approval and drug registration number A-4358L of NAFDAC, but NAFDAC itself has come out to the media to sell its own certificate short, for want of a clinical trial. The truth however is that NAFDAC has no resources, scientific knowhow or even the personnel to undertake clinical trials for any medicine. And worse, the Agency has no gumption to stand by the certificate it issued.

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