OPEN LETTER TO COVID-19

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Nigeria shouldn’t have been a port of call for you: COVID-19. We have more than enough problems hanging on our necks. There is massive poverty in the land, the global headquarters to extremely poor people in a single country having voraciously harnessed about 87 million out of the global population of about 700 million extremely poor people in the world. There is local parlance (‘Warri no dey carry last’), at least we came first in this respect, ahead of India, a nation of over a billion people, more than five times the population of Nigeria.

COVID-19, you should have pity on us, we have 300,000 Nigerians who die of malaria annually. The ruling elite are not dying in the “Malaria War” and so they do not care, it is not an issue, it is not a pandemic/disease worth paying attention to and yet for five months you have not killed up to 400,000 people globally.

COVID-19, you should have known that about 39,000 Nigerians die by road traffic accidents annually and this is largely due to bad roads and lack of integrated transport system. COVID-19, you should have considered our poor healthcare system, our ratio for doctor-patient is one to 3,500. In the whole of the country of about 200 million people, there are less than 500 ventilators while some states like Nasarawa State do not have a single ventilator whereas N500 million was expended on exotic cars for 24 privileged ‘Law Givers’.

This is a state wherein the Governor, Deputy Governor, House of Assembly members and other top political office holders are costing the state over N20 billion annually in salaries, allowances, security, perks, etc. The State of Excellence lack testing kits and reagents, they blame the merchants but the bigger merchants are the ‘Alausa boys’ who underfund healthcare and have guaranteed their health tourism in our ‘Collective Budget’. We have just been informed that we shall run out of beds in the isolation centres across the country, we may have cases of sick COVID-19 patients bringing along their beds or mats to the isolation centres or simply isolate in their face-me-I-face-you, 10-person per room apartment.

Come to think of it, how would people social distance in crowded shanties across the country wherein one’s window is another person’s door, where 250 people use one shalanga pit toilet, where people struggle for sleeping space under the bridges?

COVID-19, you should know that Nigeria is not prepared for any kind of war, whether insurgency, outright war or war against virus. Wars are mostly fought by the poor, the rich sit in their comfort zone to play the chess game. The poorly motivated and ill-equipped rank and file soldiers are the ones fighting and dying in the war against Boko Haram; it is the healthcare workers that are in the frontline against the war against you (COVID-19). I hope passionately like a typical Nigerian who prays for his or her next meal to come that you leave us so soon. I am sure that our Presido will lead the retinue of Very Important People (VIPs) to travel abroad for medication since you denied them travel privileges for a number of months, having missed their medical appointments after you leave us- no lesson will be learnt in the area of rebuilding our healthcare. The best we have gotten from these VIPs are addresses of press conferences to tell us how many Nigerians have contracted you in marriage, how many have divorced you and how many died in the marriage.

COVID-19, you should know that everything bad that happens henceforth will be blamed on you. Most governors will not pay salaries of workers let alone N30,000 minimum wage, they may sack some workers, healthcare and education will be underfunded on a bigger scale; the captains of industries in whose hands the economy is entrusted are sacking in droves, the holy ones are paying fractional salaries- all blame goes to you.

COVID-19, you are blamed for the exchanges of poor homeless Almajiris amongst the northern states like captured war prisoners. What is worrisome is the fact that the rich are not being exchanged after all, they are local inter-states investors who are sought after to build the wobbling economy in the respective states.

Almajiri system previously was perceived as a culture just to cover up backwardness and irresponsibility of the ruling elite but now, we have a number of the Almajiris who are COVID-19 carriers, whereas the rich who tested positive are given preferential treatment in their states of residence. In one northern state, it was reported that poor COVID-19 patients protested due to neglect. Why the exchanges of poor homeless Almajiris when the governors could simply keep the ones in their respective states, educate them and make them productive rather than the attempt to eradicate Almajiri system by fiat.

Comrade Chinedu Bosah,
leninbosah@yahoo.com