Column Opinion

COVID19: What You Don’t Know Can Kill You, By Dr. Prince Charles Dickson


I planted a tree

I scorned the fruit

I used its trunk as firewood

I made a lute

And played a tune

I smashed the lute

Lost the fruit

Lost the tune

I wept over the tree


What you don’t know can kill you…

It is hard to remember that just a few weeks ago, the planet was in motion. There were protests in Delhi (India) and Quito (Ecuador), eruptions against the old order that ranged from anger at the economic policies of austerity to frustration with the cultural policies of misogyny and racism. In Nigeria here we have suddenly forgotten Emir Sanusi, Chairman Oshiomole.

Whatever it is, as the death toll increases, and the numbers of infected persons hit the roof, ‘we won’t go back to normal, because normal was the problem’. Now, in the midst of the novel coronavirus, it seems impossible to imagine a return to the old world, the world that left us so helpless before the arrival of these deadly microscopic particles. Waves of anxiety prevail; death continues to stalk us. If there is a future, we say to each other, it cannot mimic the past.

Certainly, the coronavirus is a serious matter and certainly its spread is a consequence of its own danger to the human body; but there are social issues here that bear serious thought. Key to any discussion has to be the sheer collapse of State institutions in most of the world.

This is most clear in the health sector, where public health institutions have been underfunded, where medical care has been transferred to private corporations, and where private hospitals and clinics operate without any surge capacity. This means that there are simply not enough hospital beds or medical equipment (masks, ventilators, etc.) and that the nurses, doctors, paramedics, janitors, and others on the front line are forced to operate in conditions of acute scarcity, in many cases without basic protection. It is often the people who make the least who are putting the most at stake to save lives in the face of the rapidly spreading pandemic.

So all die na die but the truth be say we all die here is a better die, as person sit down for house by force na reflection mood person dey. We don pass stage wey we go dey lie give we self. While some people go isolate, others go copulate, and we pray say e no go too late if not if hunger enter the gate gofement go regret.

If no be as coronavirus market bin take come. One government official (I no call name) for talk say na the 16 years of PDP na the cause of COVID19. Na time like dis wetin you no sabi fit kill you. And the one wey you sabi no kill you. So abeg wash hand make I sammer us story wey we fit forget.

Una remember that hospital, big one wey one national party chairmo bin build for Edo state, how far now? E get another international hospital wey one uncommon guyman bin take chop us eye close, gum we money follow body go so tey wen him break leg na Jandon him go treat the leg.

We leaders wicked no be today yansh dey back, I don dey talk tey tey. Only say bros corona don open fowl yansh. Forget all the yarns, (although Lagos bin try small) the matter wey we hold be say as e be onto this Coro matter Naija no get enough kitto to even test, so we no sabi how many people really don’t catch the virus.

See, as e be so if real yawa gas that facing cap for mouth we oyinbo dey call N-95, simple glove for hand and that ogbonge machine wey oyinbo dey call ventilators, etc no even fit reach our hospital people like doki, nurse and those kind people wey suppose treat sick people. And how many we be for Naija… 200+ million Nigerian Citizens, ol boy all die no be die; e no funny.

Forget about all those old men and jobmen funny sef I no see woman inside their committee to chop money. The real picture wey film trick no fit cover be say the action wey Chinese people use for Wuhan wey oyinbo dey call comprehensive centralized Command and Control Center – wey get direct access to Presido – no dey Nigeria at all. The authority wey suppose call inter Ministerial meeting, summon all of the 36 Governors + FCT to get one mouth onto this matter and get wetin oyinbo dey call “a uniform national frontal approach to fight this mess”…is nowhere to be found.

So the truth be say make we forget that entire billion, billion donation, Nigeria no get the money muscle for this disease. And after corona don dance this wicket dance finish, will our leaders make health an important matter wey dem sit down to check where the soup burn pass, because for example the center in Gwagwalada no get equipment to deal with very serious cases. The FCT suppose commando one hospital, like the Karu Hospital turn the matter like Lagos, because all this one wey FMH dey do na policy and mouth, ministry of health no be hospital. The disease is faster than our responses…’

While these are the issues to confront, we are being exposed by not having fought to maintain and even extend the public health system. We have been exposed now to the fact that our lack of unity, religious facade and lack of organization have hampered our ability to develop a culture of organisation, solidarity, and public action.

Our slowness in enacting measures to trace those infected by the virus through ‘contact tracing’ and testing at transportation hubs has exposed how porous our boundaries are, the inability for example for the Health and information Ministers, to hold daily press conferences that calmly provided the public with credible information and an analysis of the crisis and unfolding events left and continues to leave leadership gaps.

No national slogan for example like ‘Break the Chain’ or ‘Wash our Hands’ captures an attempt by the government and by society to enforce forms of physical isolation, quarantine, and treatment to prevent the spread of the virus. Nothing underlines the importance of raising resources to assist those in economic and psychological distress, other than random donations that are more Public Relations stunt more than anything else.

Finally, I am not in the school of thought that says Mr. Buhari should address the nation, live, or should proof he’s alive or dead. None of these requests counts as much as the need for Mr. Buhari to take charge, in times like these a nation needs a leader, and please my dear Adeshina, stop all that crappy story about leadership styles, our nation needs leaders, and Mr. Buhari has another opportunity thrust upon by faith to provide direction for this country and he should take it or else what we don’t know will kill of us, all na no be die, but—time will tell.

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