The current outbreak of the coronavirus and its devastating consequences that have led to the death of thousands of people around the world is not without its lessons for our government and political elites.
It has exposed the magnitude of the poverty in Nigeria which hitherto was a statistical construct. It brought to the frontburner the issue of our pervasive poverty despite our huge endowments . Again, it has highlighted the evils of widespread corruption which has deprived majority of our people their welfare and entitlements.
What I saw was scary and frightening more so the widespread criminal activities in some parts of Ogun State and Lagos State. These crimes were largely committed by the youths.
On the part of the government, the matter certainly has gotten out of hand – they are faced with the unpalatable choice of keeping the economy open and risking the health of the populace.
In all honesty, the government did the right thing by shutting down the economy, however, it is arguable if the government was swift enough in its actions.
The major inhibition in Nigeria is the pervasive poverty of the people which makes it a combustible situation because a lot of the informal sector lives on daily pay.
Palliatives from the federal , state , local government, private sector and other well-wishers has not been able to effectively go round to those in need. What has become glaring is that the amount of deprived people is alarmingly high.
Since the second world , mankind has not been so stretched. The issues we are confronting are largely existential. Food security and at the same time human security given the amount of deaths arising from the pandemic .
The major lesson from this situation is that the political class in Nigeria must embrace the fact that government actions must largely be for the welfare of the majority of the people and not a microscopic few.
By Akinyinka Kalejaiye