By Terna-kester Kyenge
My beloved, the next few days and probably months, God forbid, will be long and indeed some of the most improbable of a lifetime for not a few of us Nigerians. This is because we are part of a global community, tied together by an inescapable web of common humanity. Hence, what affects one affects all and what befalls the world certainly befalls Nigeria. Enter COVID 19!
Never in recent peacetime memory has mankind been so ferociously hounded. Today, our world is faced with a battle we must mutually fight to win. Now, more than ever before is the time to embrace our common humanity, advance our shared perspectives and forge a rare oneness as one global community. Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has emerged as an audacious test for the irrepressible human spirit.
Nigeria nay the world is shut down in response to global protocols, contending with a world in peril. Could the earth be rebelling? Permit me to slate that for a later day discourse. Yet, what is least in doubt is the fact that the world is in panic. Truly, Man is humbled. Leaders and followers alike, the rich or poor, young and old irrespective of gender, class or creed. We have all stood prostrate to the whims and caprices of an exiguous being: Corona virus.
The high profiled manifest of casualties has only exposed the audacity of this organism whom at the height of its boorishness has disrespected wealth, power, royalty, the Developed and the so called Super Powers. But I am less concerned about the rascality of the virus as I am at calling humanity and particularly Nigeria to question. How better can our humanity be so rudely awakened to its chronic arrogance and arrant disregard to nature? Firstly, we must as a people realize our heritage and come to terms with our Creator. We must begin to live as one. For humanity was in its purest essence created in oneness. And only as one can we achieve onene
ss and peace.
Sadly, the pandemic has visited untold hardship on mankind yet it is not without its silver linings. Curiously, the post-corona era will usher in a new world order. A world in which soft power diplomacy will overcome brute armament hard power diplomacy. A new word order in which world leaders and particularly Nigeria, will see the need to give budgetary preference to hitherto neglected development sectors like the health, education, pro-poor and humanities ahead of Security. We will see a new world order in which underdeveloped countries like Cuba will be celebrated not just for her resilience but her courage to help brother nations in need even at the risk of lives, at a time most developed countries of the world are jealously protecting themselves and conserving their finances, health workers and medical infrastructure for their nationals. That in itself is humanity.
But what remains instructive to my discourse is the inherent Cuban lesson. To Nigeria my beloved country, we must learn that the potency of the Cuban adventure lies not just in a show of love but above all in resilience and self sufficiency. If Cuba can, Nigeria will.
Going forward, we must as a people accept the fact that there’s no alternative to self sufficiency. We must launch a psychic revolution and begin to channel our abundant natural resources and human capacities toward building basic infrastructure and consolidating our institutions and above all investing in manpower. In fact, there is no alternative to building our local capacity.
It is rather laughable that at the height of the global pandemic we can not as a nation point to basic primary healthcare facilities to give first line medical response to victims, most of whom are in positions of influence to navigate policies that would impact our health system for the better. Alas, today when the rest of the world has shut its doors at us, we are compelled to think and look inward; and herein lies the key to unbundling our latent potentials.
If we had judiciously applied our resources in building quality hospitals and training our manpower we wouldn’t be patients in our ill-equipped medical facilities at the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic. What is the more worrisome is the fact that the C19 worry has inadvertently blighted the cries of the other hundreds of thousands begging for medical attention in our dilapidated hospitals. Today we think and talk Corona virus, and every other ailment must wait. As leadership and policy makers we must begin to think inward, not only while we fight for our survival but towards building a time tested sustainable health system.
We are as a people challenged but together we can overcome. For once the whole world has come together in unison to confront a common threat. And even though our sources of livelihood as a people seem presaged we are standing to the occasion. This is a lesson we can ill afford to ignore. Together we can.
While applauding the response of government and corresponding agencies at different levels of intervention, I particularly salute the rare courage and sacrifice of those in the frontlines, especially the medics who have put their lives on the line. We must continue to show love and compassion especially to victims and the vulnerable. Even where and when our doors are shut in Isolation the windows of our hearts must remain open.
As patriotic Nigerians, it is important to imbibe outlined global protocols and domestic restrictions for our collective good. Everyone of us has a role to play in the fight to drown the pandemic. Sacrifices will be made, jobs lost, economies crumbled with attendant social dislocations, all for the sake of a common humanity. That is a price we must pay.
Yet, this is a battle we will push to finish. Eliminating COVID 19 will require our collective coordination and together we can.
*Terna-kester Kyenge PhD
Facilitator @ National Open University of Nigeria.