COVID-19: The Nigerian ‘Big Man’ and Stigmatisation


By Mariam Mohammed Maktoub

We not only live in interesting times, but very delicate one at that. Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus and its pandemic status by the World Health Organisation (WHO) it bears without saying that the world is going through an evolutionary process.
Country after country are evolving strategies other than the one laid out by the WHO in curbing the pandemic and its ravaging consequences.

Like in all things, there is the Nigerian situation and this borders on transparency, accountability and clarity. For now, these quotients are seriously in deficit because the Nigerian ‘Big Man’ does not wish to be found as bearer of “disease.” This was the same attitude during HIV/AIDS. People who should demonstrate it was not a death sentence hid their status and it became a national tragedy.

It seems, plausibly so, that our country is on a downhill again with the Covid-19. The Nigerian ‘Big Man’ that has traveled to endemic countries is either not subjecting to something as mundane as a temperature test or not disclosing what his current situation is like.

The opaqueness about the whole Covid-19 may just be our undoing. God forbid we become another Italy or Spain. In other climes, presidents, prime ministers, celebrities including Prince Charles, heir to the British throne are coming out with their Covid-19 positive status, but not in Nigeria. The inherent danger of their not showing clarity is the possibility of building a ring of stigma round the disease, and the outcome will be catastrophic.

The Nigerian ‘Big Man’ must at this time stand up to be counted. He must show that there is something greater than self, and that is national interest and the good of his fellow countryman. The shroud of secrecy must be torn, the cult of non-disclosure should be shamed. Let’s not allow stigmatization take hold, and that means acting openly and transparently. God bless Nigeria!
––Ms Maktoub is publisher of Maktoub Magazine