Whereas mankind has committed enormous human and material resources in developing military in order to defend it against fellow human adversaries, far less was expended on health care in order to safe guard humanity against the more mortally fatal enemy that is disease. This reality has been made manifest with the outbreak of the deadly corona virus. Also known as Covid-19, this disease which first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan sometime in December 2019 has rapidly spread round the world, from Asia to Europe, America and Africa in what is now a full blown pandemic with millions of people infected resulting into thousands of death. In a world unprepared for a disease that is highly contagious through human to human contact and without a known cure, the Covid-19 Pandemic has become the greatest existential threat to the human race in contemporary times.
To effectively contain the Covid-19 war on humanity will require a concerted unity as well as sincerity of purpose by the diverse segments of mankind. Faced with a pandemic that is blind to geographical, racial, religious and partisan delineation as seen in its frontal attack on all of humanity, the world must come together to fight the common enemy of Covid-19. The unity of purpose and common solidarity to save humanity from being wiped out of existence will have to coalesce from the various nation states of the international community and crystalize into a united global response effort against the deadly corona virus. This is the time blunt the edges of partisanship from Westminster to Capitol Hill and to heal the wounds of sectarian divide from Riyadh to Tehran in order to save humanity from the scourge of a disease never before known to mankind.
If the viral spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in China, Europe and America has stretched their medical facilities to cracking limits, coronavirus arrived in Nigeria into the weak arms of a comatose medical facility, which lacks the capacity to contain it. Fortunately, the seeming unity of purpose across ethno-geographic, religious and political divides by the Nigerian people in a time of emergency situation such as this has substantially made up for this acute inadequacy.
The prevailing atmosphere of national unity in the present Nigeria may have been inspired by the patriotic stand of former vice president and the leader of the main opposition PDP, Atiku Abubakar. Just as Nigeria recorded its first index case of covid-19 in February, Atiku called for the absolute unity of the Nigerian people while urging them to give their unflinching support to the President Muhammadu Buhari led APC federal government as they lead Nigeria through this challenging time. Atiku also cautioned against negative opposition antics of excessive trading of blames in the current circumstances confronting the nation. In keeping faith with this call, Atiku has taken the path of constructive, regular, seminal and solution-based propositions in the form of advisory interventions to both the government and the general public. By resisting the temptation of scoring low political points by heaping the blame of Nigeria’s generational institutional failure on the Buhari administration alone, Atiku has commendably placed broad national interest above narrow partisan interest.
As though in resonance with the prevailing spirit of national unity, the Buhari administration appeared to heed the timely advice of Atiku to shut down air and land borders to prevent further entry into Nigeria of new index cases of Covid-19. Similarly, not long after Atiku called for the reduction of the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS in the light of the crash of crude oil price in the international market, the federal government slashed the price from N145 to N125 accordingly. By placing more premiums on the message rather than the messenger, the Buhari administration has risen above partisanship in acting in the overriding public interest. And when Atiku suggested a need for a relief fund for Nigerians in these difficult times, all of Nigeria responded. Following Atiku’s announcement of N50 million naira donation to this proposed relief fund, prominently wealthy Nigerians and corporate entities from across the four cardinal points of Nigeria have donated billions of naira to assist the government in its efforts at combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
And when President Buhari finally addressed the nation after a barrage criticism for being ‘’missing in action’’ in the over a month since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria, it turned out to be the best speech of his five year presidency. Notwithstanding his inability to deliver a live address to Nigerians, President Buhari’s message was nevertheless reassuring, conciliatory and devoid the usual blames, complaints and irritable whining like a lazy workman that blaming his tools. President Buhari’s demeanour throughout the 20 minutes long address was not the usual angry, forlorn, disdainful and detached look of an incompetent leader trying desperately hard to shift his responsibility to everyone else but himself. Nigerians saw a different President Buhari who stood on his feet and respectfully addressed them in a manner that revealed his eagerness to impress it upon their minds that he is taking charge with full responsibility of the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, President Buhari has declared a lockdown of Lagos, Nigeria’s gateway to the world and the state with highest number of corona virus cases at 81 along with the neighbouring Ogun state with 3 cases confirmed so far and Abuja with the second highest number of cases at 25, for a period of 14 days. For a highly contagious disease without a known cure, social distancing and isolation is the tried, tested and trusted method of curtailing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic
Therefore, President Buhari’s well advised declaration of a lockdown in Nigeria’s epic centres of the Covid-19 pandemic that has grown geometrically from a single case to over hundred 100 cases in a period of a little longer than a month is a pragmatic action that is also in furtherance of the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of Nigerians to life.
At a time that the deadly corona virus is waging a war against humanity, the actions taken so far by the Buhari administration to curtail its spread by enforcing internationally accepted healthy practices of social distancing and isolation in order to save lives, is actually an enforcement of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians to life as contained in section 33 of the 1999 constitution as amended, which states that ‘’every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in the execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been guilty in Nigeria’’.
Nigerians will do well to make this difficult sacrifice in this time of emergency health situation, while the federal government should immediately begin the full implementation of palliative measures that will help ameliorate the hardship of Nigeria’s long suffering masses. To decisively win the battle over theCovid-19 pandemic is to deepen and sustain the prevailing atmosphere of national unity among Nigerians and fraternal solidarity among the human race in order to save mankind from extinction.