BEING A PRESS RELEASE BY
ENGR. BOLA BABARINDE
NATIONAL CHAIRMAN, APC SOUTH AFRICA
With a total of about 723,869 detected cases and 34,000 deaths as at March 30, 2020, COVID-19 is showing itself to be a pandemic which if not well handled can have devastating effects.
This is even moreso, when one considers how easily the virus spreads, the sometimes deceptive nature of its gestation period – an infected individual can stay for up to 14 days before the symptoms of the virus starts to make itself manifest and also there is currently no known cure for the virus.
However, this is further compounded by the way the virus has been handled by governments all over the world, China, the original source of the virus did not take quick proactive measures until the cases of the infection became high. By this time some of the infected individuals had left China to other countries thus starting a pandemic which is now leading to a gradual shutdown of the world economy.
In Nigeria, the COVID-19 cases has grown from an initial figure of a single infected individual to about 111 reported cases as of today. The fear is that this number may be more as the testing kits are grossly insufficient and hence testing cannot be done on a much wider scale.
This unwholesome situation has largely been due to an initial lackadaisical attitude to the pandemic by governments at several levels, the decadence in our health system and the irresponsible nature of key medical administrators who ought to have advised the government as to the deadly nature of this virus.
In addition, it is quite clear that many clearly did not take COVID-19 seriously enough or how else can one explain the reckless actions of some political and religious leaders? The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari visited a country with a prevalence of COVID-19 cases, yet on his arrival back to Nigeria, he did not deem it necessary to submit himself to immediate isolation or medical checks, but instead he went with ahead having other meetings and potentially infecting other key government officials.
This is not the time for the Nigerian “Bigman” “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” braggadocio. It is important that at this crucial time, individuals should be humble enough to submit themselves to the medical processes and quarantine measures needed to help stop the spread of the virus rather than obtusely refusing to be tested when coming back into the country because of their status as was reported of some Federal Legislators.
It is imperative to commend the efforts of individuals who have made donations to support the fight against the virus. A proper accounting process should be set up in order to ensure that the donations are judiciously used for the purpose for which they were contributed.
Heavy penalties should be meted out to anyone who may be found culpable of any illegal practices or embezzling any part of these donations.
Similarly, a proper distribution channel should be defined for welfare and other relief materials donated by well-meaning individuals. Bureaucratic processes should not be applied to matters that may mean life and death. It is quite amusing that the recent health and welfare resources sent by the Jack Ma Foundation to Nigeria, which landed in Lagos had to be further shipped onwards to Abuja for supposed National distribution. Lagos state is already battling with more COVID-19 cases than other states in Nigeria. It would have been more logical for the distribution to have started immediately from Lagos rather than been forwarded again to Abuja, where the allotment for Lagos would then be sent back to Lagos. This represents a cycle of confusion and delay.
This period we find ourselves in, should be used as a time to reflect on how several sectors of the nation can be improved. COVID-19 has shown the political leaders that when it matters the most, it is the structures and legacies existing in one’s own countries that matter.
Unlike times past when the high and mighty could fly out of the country just to treat a mere headache, they are unable to do so now for COVID-19 as every country of the world is more concerned about their own citizens.
The pledges and donations made by well-meaning Nigerians should be pooled together and used to build modern healthcare facilities in Nigeria. In addition, the Federal Government should make it a matter of priority to improve the welfare of medical personnel, increase and improve emergency medical facilities, ensure that more emphasis is given to training of first class health personnel and also focus on Research and Development.
We should also encourage our retired professional and those outside the country to come back to assist in improvement of our health sectors.
There should legislation to ban people in government and their families from seeking medical treatment abroad, if we can all stay at home during COVID-19 pandemic then they can also seek medical care in Nigeria for other medical cases.
We use this opportunity to commend the efforts of the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu and the entire government of the state, especially the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Abayomi and his team for their proactive measures and seriousness in handling the pandemic. Obviously more should still be done especially as more cases are being reported daily but we commend them for not resting on their oars.
This is also a time for the local government administrations all over the country to play a very visible part in this fight against COVID-19. They should ensure proper cleaning and disinfection of gutters and other dirty public places within their domain.
COVID-19 has come and it will definitely go. Our expectation is that our leaders in Nigeria will learn from this experience and work towards building better and world-class healthcare facilities for the nation.