Nigeria: COVID-19 and Assault Against Freedom

27 March 2020
opinion

That all living things by nature love to enjoy their freedom to the fullest is an established fact. Though freedom is not absolute, even in the best democracies, those who are privileged to exercise such guard their liberty jealously.

Therefore, when there is a threat to such rights, even animals frown most times because they often feel like fish out of water, if such liberties are denied.

In most democracies, the people often resort to the judicial system if and when their rights are infringed on to get the much needed reprieve.

However, Coronavirus disease has since changed the story, with its attendant consequences across the globe.

From Asia, to South America, Oceania, Africa, America and the world over the fear of Covid 19 is now the order of the day and the fear it's bring to the minds of human beings is better imagine than seeing.

This is not unconnected with the fact that it has affected everywhere and everything, even as casualties keep growing across the world.

Worse still, there is no known cure for the pandemic which was said to have originated from China and has no known cure till date, even as scientists and the World Health Organisation, WHO, are battling to find a cure.

It is assault on human race is unimaginable; dealing a heavy blow on all critical sectors, businesses, tourist sites, aviation, agriculture, infrastructure, sports, religion, and the list is endless.

That Covid 19 has dealt the greatest blow on all frontiers of freedom in the 21st century cannot be overemphasized as governments, institutions and people have had to infringe on human rights to outwit, to confront the disease.

All those who would have loved to exercise their freedom to move around are today in the lurch, for something beyond their control in the name and style of coronavirus.

Even if they decide to go to the playing grounds of their beloved reams, they will meet nobody as those grounds are today deserted because nobody wants to be a victim.

Back home, even foreign travels are being curtailed, to ensure Nigeria remains safe from the pandemic, even as the Federal Government has stopped its officials from travelling abroad, at least for now.

Even those who have the resources to travel are having a second thought as they cannot afford to take an avoidable risk.

Nigerians and foreigners alike who would have travelled for Easter break are also been careful by postponing such trips.

Pupils and students who would have loved to conclude their studies before going on holidays have been told to go home, same for their counterparts across the globe.

The story is the same for those who has been practicing to showcase their talents at the National Sports Festival (NSF) tagged "Edo 2020" which has been cancelled by the Federal Government.

For such people, the hope of winning laurels has been shattered albeit temporarily, as an opportunity to display their talents has been cut short by the deadly virus.

Even freedom of worship has been largely affected as Nigerians have been told to avoid places with more than 50 people.

This has negatively impacted many worship centers, especially churches and mosques especially the big ones who have asked their members to keep away, at least for now.

Perhaps, for the first time in a very long time, Nigerians are witnessing a very strange scenario where churches and mosques are greeted with empty seats during services.

But this is a major sacrifice we must all endure, at least for now, because this is not a time to take needless, risks, to avoid stories that touch the heart. Statistics of those who have been killed by the pandemic is no joke and should serve as a lesson to all patriotic Nigerians in these very trying times.

This obviously is not the time to be talking about exercising certain rights, as if we cannot do without such, as doing so may come with unpalatable consequences, not just for us, but for the majority of our citizens whose lives we may also be putting at risk, without knowing it.

It is there for better to cooperate with the federal government which has done well so far by being proactive on the pandemic, going by the effective and efficient manner the issue has been handled by both the Federal and State governments.

Kudos must be given to President Muhammadu Buhari for displaying uncommon and dynamic leadership in confronting the disease by ensuring that a high-powered committee was set up with a view to tackling the menace frontally and giving Nigerians necessary information on the pandemic.

Nigerians must therefore follow suit by cooperating with the authorities to ensure that we jointly win this battle, a war we cannot afford to lose by giving the much-needed support to the government and ensuring they remain safe at all times.

*Umohinyang, President, Centre for Leadership and Justice, CLJ, wrote in from Abuja.

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