Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing the wrong thing, and the Nigerian government’s effort to combat the coronavirus covid-19 is all wrong and does not jive with reality in the country.
This was the opinion shared by the president and CEO of Global Investment and Asset Management council, USA, I. Ishola Balogun at the council headquarters in Houston, Texas this past weekend.
He said that while he commends the government of President Mohammad Buhari for his efforts, he believes the president is not being well served by his advisers based on what he sees as the government’s approach to fighting this pandemic.
According to Mr. Balogun, himself a presidential candidate under United Democratic Party (UDP) in the last 2019 general elections, his first observation was: Since Covid – 19 is a disease of the “international traveler” or wealthy elite and business men and women, then why quarantine or restrict the movement of the poor masses most of whom have never travelled outside the country and have never been on an airplane not even on domestic flights.
He lamented that subjecting them to a life without electricity, food, water or entertainment howbeit for 14 days is totally unfair and elitist, especially when it would have been much easier to ask everybody that have just arrived in the country from abroad in the last 30 days and their family members and associates to shelter in place and contact the NCDC so they can do contact tracing for such people and offer intervention should they develop any symptoms, thereby eliminating completely the need for any testing since we do not have test kits anyway.
Even at this stage where the government has ordered the social distancing rules of separation for 14 days, they are doing it without consideration for how the poor people, especially, will fend for themselves; this is at the very least shortsighted and at worst poor planning and foresight.
This is our Nigeria where under prevailing circumstances, people are struggling to feed on a daily basis, now you restrict their movement and ability to keep body and soul together not to talk of paying bills even keeping the economy going, to me this is bad public policy.
The best thing would have been for President Buhari while giving his stay at home initiative today to order the CBN governor to instruct every banking institution in the country to advance all their customers with a monthly average ledger balance of less than 50,000 Naira, a 10,000 Naira line of credit or overdraft privilege each week, and have it guaranteed by the federal government, and an additional 1,000 Naira grant per child or unemployed member of the same household.
This will help alleviate any financial hardships that the people might encounter at these trying times.
The current situation of fundraising and incredible philanthropy is admirable and welcome, but it will not cure one single patient; otherwise America as the richest country in the world will have no cases of the virus.
Complaining about and blaming the sorry state of our healthcare infrastructure while valid is not an issue in this case either, otherwise, the UK, Canada, Korea, Spain, Italy, China and Germany, all countries with superb health care delivery systems will not have people dying of the virus either.
Covid-19 is not a healthcare infrastructural problem in Nigeria, it is a public health issue and it is compounded by years of bad leadership and neglect, time to fix it.
I hope this serves as a wakeup call for all of us and we can take stock of our failures both as private citizens and as a government, because even though we are not out of the woods yet.
I think we can mitigate the situation exponentially if we find a way to implement this ideas in the next 48 hours. God bless us all and God bless our country Nigeria.
I.Ishola Balogun is the founder and chairman of the African movies entertainment and news (AMEN) television USA as well as the President/CEO of Global investment and asset management council USA, and a presidential candidate of the United Democratic Party in 2019. Contact him at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @ishola_balogun