Our Fate After COVID-19

When the Coronavirus orgy of sadness is over, where shall Nigeria be as a nation considering the predictions of depression that have dominated discourse in many circles?

Nigeria's COVID-19 positive cases up to 10,819 / Photo credit: Vanguardngr.com
Nigeria's COVID-19 positive cases up to 10,819 / Photo credit: Vanguardngr.com

So much has been said about the coronavirus, either in terms of origin, impact, symptoms and prognosis.

Hence, public awareness of its existence is indubitable, though in diverse descriptive forms.

I have heard it being referred to as ‘Gorilla pilus’, ‘Kuruna’ and some other interesting nomenclatures by both the illiterate and the top echelon of our society.

Sorry, I am unable to disclose those of the latter for fear of ‘banishment’; allow me to enjoy my ‘quarantine’ or ‘isolation’ in peace and for the fact that such nicknames have entered our lexicon of popular slogans.

Anyway, enu mi ko loti maa gbo pe iya teacher ku, a de kii gbo buburu ni enu abore (I’ll not be the one to announce the teacher’s mother’s death as no priest prophesies doom. In the same vein, multiple preventive and treatment options have dominated the social media and other arenas of discourse, particularly in our domestic landscape.

I have listened to, and read all manners of concoctions or barbecues or, if you like, call it a buffet of local herbs.

Regrettably I am unable to interrogate the efficacy or otherwise of all of them.

All I can plead with you is to eat or drink what you know and in moderation.

Self-medication is not and cannot be the best in this precarious situation as you must reach out to your doctor when you feel sick and when symptoms of covid-19 presents themselves, reach out through the numbers provided by the government for appropriate actions to be taken by those licensed to so do.

Now coming to the issues contemplated for delivery in this piece, let me allude to the common aphorism attributed to James H. Hope that, “Those who fail to plan are planning to fail”.

The malady of Coronavirus will be resolved as no plague or pandemic in history has ever wiped out the whole humanity and with the way survivors are emerging in Lagos State and other places where their leaders have been more proactive, my confidence level has redoubled in the past few days.

All I can plead with you is to eat or drink what you know and in moderation

But, when the Coronavirus orgy of sadness is over, where shall Nigeria be as a nation considering the predictions of depression that have dominated discourse in many circles?

It is in this context that I intend to discuss some crucial issues for our nation to consider in the exit of the coronavirus so that we do not fail again.

On the economic front, it is clear that every economy in the world anticipates a depression after this COVID-19 pandemic and they are all trying to brace up.

Nigeria is not an exception and I honestly want to believe that the recent Economic Sustainability Committee set up by the President with the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, as the head, is a step genuinely taken to address the flood that survives a deluge.

It is a laudable initiative for which the President Muhammadu Buhari deserves some commendation having the foresight to put a round peg in a round hole.

It is certain that this is not a job for the boys as a visionary and missionary leader is meant to champion the cause of our economic regeneration the likes of which the Vice President has proved his mettle in the past.

Be that as it may, the crux of my concern here is what happens to the various equipment donated post-covid-19 if we manage and are lucky to survive it?

Who is taking stock of the equipment now and for the future?

What is the maintenance plan for the equipment, both currently and in the future?

Those developing faults now or are suffering from one defect or the other among the equipment, or those already mishandled, who is repairing them?

Or as characteristic of us, are we just packing them aside for ultimate disposal or for some smart elements to steal and sell as scrap?

If only for accountability, what happens to the equipment donations jointly made to the Federal and the State Governments in their respective domains?

For that equipment that we are procuring directly, is there any negotiated future trade in in place for their latest brands?

Beyond the emergency training we are doing now, is there any capacity development plan after the crisis?

How are we proposing to bridge the gap of personnel after the crash programme we are running now?

What are the forecasts for energy requirement for the equipment donated or purchased at their final destinations?

What protective measures are being planned to forestall cannibalisation and vandalisation of the equipment?

As at date, it is the fact that most of the equipment, ranging from beds, ventilators and others are residing in temporary structures all over the nation.

What is the compass for the permanent residence of the equipment?

Self-medication is not and cannot be the best in this precarious situation as you must reach out to your doctor when you feel sick and when symptoms of COVID-19 presents themselves, reach out through the numbers provided by the government for appropriate actions to be taken by those licensed to so do

Are we planning to remodel the existing structures in the different parts of the Nation so as to comfortably accommodate the equipment; or we are planning to erect new structures that are customised for the purpose of these modern equipment?

What happens to all the abandoned public buildings belonging to the federal government all over the Federation running into thousands, which can be upgraded to a state-of-the-art medical facility to care for specific or general ailments?

The same thing goes for the states. These and many more enquiries must be made for proper planning.

The truth is that we cannot afford not to take maximum advantage of the opportunity COVID-19 has provided us.

Government at various levels need to put up their thinking caps in this direction. We need to earnestly start planning against all these, otherwise, the equipment, apart from ending up in the museum of various states and agencies where eventually they will rot, might equally find themselves into private hands, nay hospitals.

We must not be found in this kind of quandary or quagmire again in future.

Yoruba say: Ina esisi kii jo ni leemeji (you don’t suffer an accidental burn twice from the same source).

A most important thing to do is building our capacity to re-invent this array of equipment by way of reverse engineering.

Our universities can be funded to work on this as we cannot all the time be at the mercy of the Elon Musks, Jack Mas and Bill Gates of this world and their local counterparts whenever there is a crisis.

It is my hope, therefore, that with proper planning, we will succeed in building on these emergency achievements.

We cannot afford to return to the state of decay our health facilities were prior to and up till these COVID-19-propelled interventions.

Of importance equally is the package we plan for the first-line responders, the medical personnel and other ancillary workers attending to the various cases presently.

Let me seize this opportunity to give kudos to them all and to register the point that in spite of the governance challenges plaguing our nation from time to time, our professionals have always risen to the challenges in their fields whenever such rears its head.

To these crop of people, I doff my heart and salute them greatly.

However, I would not want a situation where their cases would end up like that of the Stella Adadevohs of this world.

Apart from comprehensive insurance package, the government must provide them with hazard and other deserving allowances.

I want to imagine that at the end of the journey, each one of them is able to look back and express delight at what has happened to him.

We must not allow them to have any form of regret.

Our universities can be funded to work on this as we cannot all the time be at the mercy of the Elon Musks, Jack Mas and Bill Gates of this world and their local counterparts whenever there is a crisis

This takes me to the news item on the importation of Chinese medical personnel to help the country.

In as much as I would not want to discount the expertise of the immigrants (sojourners), I reckon that it might be a bit premature.

I am not too sure that the ingenuity and commitment so far demonstrated by our medical personnel to the amazement and commendation of the world has waned.

I am equally not aware that they have complained that they are overwhelmed nor has the Nigerian Medical Association come out to say that they are not able to cope with our situation now and as may be contemplated.

If anything, we need to encourage more of them in the private practice to join the team, and possibly recall the ‘the brain drained ‘ones abroad.

I therefore will advise that we thread carefully in this regard.

A word is enough for the wise!

Written by Muiz Banire

Muiz Banire SAN Ph.D. is a lawyer and activist who served as three-term commissioner of Lagos State, former National Legal Adviser of the All Progressive Congress and former Chairman of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

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