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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Trumpet With Certain Sound

Coronavirus and Leadership Parasite in Nigeria

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By Kenneth Udeoka Esq. (London, U.K.)     

I would be angry now if I weren’t already so numb. These are not normal moments! Things are not the way they used to be. What kind of life and world are we living in? Is the whole world dreaming? We are ‘like a fish, doped out of the deep and bobbed up bell wise’.

You may be tempted to ask: ‘What is the matter now?’

The answer is COVID-19 or coronavirus. It kills with reckless abandon and no one is spared. Where are all the great miracle prophets? Where are the great dibias (medicine men)? The efficacy of your powers is now in doubt. We need your prophesies and solutions to make your power relevant and effective. Even our great leaders are afraid. They have no solution to the problem. The fear of coronavirus is the beginning of wisdom.

In my continent, Africa, and my country, Nigeria, we came to see and learn that all the billions budgeted every year for health were just a publicity stunt. Our government has no clue. Some are sharing eba and egwusi/ogbono soup instead of testing the people to detect the virus. We have no hospital in place and the health sector is in disarray. The Nigerian government, faced with the exceptional situation that we are all currently going through, decided to invite Chinese doctors to help out at the expense and protest of the indigenous doctors. Afterall, the priority is first and foremost the health and safety of our leaders who can no longer travel out due to restriction of non-critical international flights.

Our doctors and experts cum consultants cannot even devise a means to command the citizens’ respect. Where are all the billions budgeted for the Nigerians health ministry? Nigerians need answers now. Even the Aso Rock clinic, at the centre of federal power in Abuja, Nigeria, is underfunded. We even heard the virus struck Aso Rock, with some of the inhabitants/residents reportedly missing. Wonders shall never end. Every month and year, our leaders travel to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, United States, etc. for health check-ups. The money for such travels and the payment from those check-ups could be used to build modern and efficient hospitals, equip and maintain them.

As it stands, our leaders’ travels to the western world and even to South Africa – often merely to treat common cold, cough, and headache – have been rendered impossible: not by dint of legislation but by Mother Nature. No more travels to these countries even if you got rich stealing from our coffers. You will not be attended to. The mystery is telling them to fix our hospitals and health sector. Coronavirus is the big boss. It is the Killjoy that reached Aso Rock when it arrived on the shores of Nigeria.

People were told to stay home without any government plan(s) for their welfare. Even our president, Maj. Gen. (rtd.) Muhammadu Buhari, reduced the price of petrol or fuel in the midst of the crisis. Is this not laughable? Most Nigerians do not have cars. Even for those who have, how does the reduction of fuel cost benefit drivers who are locked down anyway? Is our government insane? Why are our leaders so insensitive to the cries of the poor masses? During the electioneering campaign, our politicians will be busy distributing and sharing bags of rice, salts, garri, and Naira. Where are those politicians today? All the food prices are beyond the reach of the common man. Where are our governments and their price control boards? Unscrupulous members of the Nigerian Police Force and Army are having a field day with extortion and intimidation of the poor masses all in the name of the COVID-19 pandemic. No Movement!, the government says. But you move if you pay such unsavoury servants.

The COVID-19 virus does not discriminate. It cares nothing about your gender, race, social status or orientation. It is real and can infect and affect you. So, whether you are black, white, boy, girl, adult, king, queen and president or prime minister, you are not immune to it. You must follow the directives to physically isolate. Coronavirus is real and cannot be bribed. It is the beginning of wisdom for us all. Thus, awareness and enlightenment are highly crucial.

With the coronavirus, wealth no longer counts, private jets are grounded and useless, you are confined to only one room regardless of the size of your mansion. Prayer houses are all deserted; our politicians – presidents, governors, lawmakers – can’t parade their motorcades; the roads are free and everyone is more or less ensconced in their own tent.

What matters now is the life of safety and survival. COVID-19 exposed the weakness of our health care systems and has shown how ineffectual our leaders are. Years of corruption, mismanagement and resources, plus an unimaginative and insouciant leadership left us thoroughly exposed to a malignant and unfamiliar virus. Our leaders are bereft, uncertain what to do. Globally, there is as yet no vaccine for the virus, no cure is in sight. But unlike the advanced countries which, with developed welfare systems have been able to care for their locked down populations, years of waste has left us in a squalid state. Our leaders have tried lockdown, but we have found that even with charitable interventions our governments cannot afford to keep our populations locked down. Yet, they dread lifting the lockdown, afraid that our healthcare infrastructures cannot cope with any surge in infections.

Our leaders are caught between a virus and a hard place.

One thing about this virus is that it did not emanate from Africa but Africans will catch its most grievous consequences. In part this is because of the state of our economies and our lack of preparedness. And of course the ineptitude of many African leaders.

We have seen the glaring leadership vacuum in Nigeria as our sick and enfeebled president presides oner a debilitated government. While much of the world’s leaders regularly update their citizens on pressing efforts to manage the pandemic and its fallouts, our president recedes further into the catacombs of Aso Rock, blinkingly emerging at sparse moments to read prepared update scripts he lacks the cognitive power to understand. At a time that energetic leadership is needed, Nigeria, under the care of a frail septuagenarian, seems to be leaderless.

COVID-19 has further exposed the crazy contradictions of leadership in our society. Nigeria is creaking under the weight of overrated and overpaid leaders without any idea how to run the nation. Leaders who impoverish our society whilst living in affluence and splendor. Those who plunder our treasuries and preside over a rudderless society with rickety infrastructure have been exposed. We have seen that they cannot provide basic healthcare, or even minimal welfare whilst imposing ill-considered social restriction policies. Our leaders have been exposed for incompetence, their ineptitude and their lack of vision. If we didn’t know it before, the ferocity of coronavirus has brought it home to us.

Yes, I am angry. But I am also delighted. Because coronavirus has shown us that the real deadly organisms are the parasites we call our leaders. Our present suffering might just shake us out of our stupor and pus us to do something to eradicate the parasitic infection parading as leadership in Nigeria.

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