Nigeria: Lockdown/Reopening - Repercussions of Blind Following

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After global adoption of lockdown as one of the recommended measures to prevent and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and despite the growing number of new cases and fatalities across the world, there is a steadily growing trend of reopening of business activities. This makes many folks wonder its logical explanation as there is still no substantive medication against the virus.

Countries have adopted the lockdown measure to various extents depending on the magnitude of their respective afflictions or exposure to the virus. Cities across the world have been completely or largely deserted with social media awash with pictures and video clips of hitherto bustling cities literally reduced to ghost cities.

Meanwhile, the pandemic-triggered economic losses continue to pile up at a rate too uncontrollable to allow for counting the losses for now; efforts are currently focused on minimising the mounting losses. Also, the updates on the ongoing efforts to develop appropriate medication and vaccine against the virus remain barely encouraging while forecasts on its persistence and its implications on the recovery potential of the global economy in the aftermath of the pandemic remain gloomy.

This situation represents a huge source of worry and desperation to the shapers, or rather dictators, of the global economic trends who have concluded that the world cannot afford a strict lockdown any longer. They have, therefore, decided to embark on gradual reopening, though in a strictly regulated fashion ostensibly to avoid compromising the recommended preventive and containment measures in place, which can be somehow observed without prejudice to business activities.

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President Donald Trump of the United States has all along particularly advocated this strategy, albeit quite tacitly; and even though he might be seen as too insensitive, he actually represents the attitudes of other world powers. After all, the strategy is absolutely consistent with the general trends in today's hyper-capitalist and hyper-materialistic world where literally nothing, including human life, is considered too valued to be measured on profit/loss scale.

Although the lockdown has been quite effective in infrastructurally functioning and economically stable countries with dutiful citizens, for which the measure was apparently intended in the first place, it represents a huge dilemma in countries deficient in this regard.

Nigeria as a typical instance has blindly adopted the measure without introducing appropriate measures to ensure its success in the face of the country's gross infrastructural deficiencies, self-inflicted socio-economic constraints and the characteristic attitudes of the vast majority of its people.

In the absence of any creative and realistic lockdown enforcement measures that consider those constraints, a lockdown in Nigeria remains tantamount to forcefully confining crowds of largely desperate folks living hand to mouth to their already overcrowded inner-city slums, impoverished urban ghettoes and shantytowns where it's simply impossible to observe appropriate preventive instructions. Instead, it has certainly caused avoidable further transmission of the virus within communities, which also worsens the situation once the lockdown is suspended or lifted, when people throng and overcrowd marketplaces, banks, shopping centres and other public places.

This vicious circle is believed to be responsible for the alarming rise in the number of new cases of the virus and indeed the "mysterious" mass deaths currently witnessed in Kano and other states. Besides, experts and observers are warning of a human catastrophe; God forbid, in the event, of the persistence of the pandemic given the sheer leadership-inflicted vulnerability of the people in that part of the world.

Now, on top of all the counterproductive impacts of blindly following the lockdown trend, Nigerian authorities, which have already been inconsistent in the lockdown, will almost certainly soon join the growing global reopening trend, and indeed handle the situation without considering its peculiar challenges and circumstances to end up rendering it equally counterproductive.

By the way, this represents a typical instance of, particularly, Sub Saharan African educated/political elite characteristic lack of intellectual creativity. Though educated/political elite in developing countries hardly see beyond the "standard" textbook theories and policies in addressing their respective countries' socio-economic and political challenges due to persistent underlying colonial influence, Sub Saharan African educated/political elite, including Nigerians, are particularly uncreative in this regard.

In ambitious developing countries in other parts of the world, educated/political elite always come up with innovative policies and/or introduce appropriate modifications to foreign-originated policies and measures to suit their respective socio-economic, cultural and political circumstances. Whereas, in Sub Saharan Africa, mastering the colonial languages e.g. English and French; and memorising some obsolete and abstract theories and "intimidating" names of ancient European theorists and philosophers remain largely the yardsticks of measuring individuals' intellectual capabilities.

Anyway, as gradual reopening continues across the world, despite a lack of any reliable reassurance on the availability of medication against it or when the pandemic would likely end, it's obvious that the world is adjusting to living with it. Personal and collective protective and preventive measures are being introduced everywhere in a way suggesting that the situation might last for an extended period. Besides, policies, systemic operational procedures and protocols and are being adjusted the world over to suit the circumstances of a possible persistence of the pandemic.

While it's hoped that some stability in the global system would be restored that way, while efforts to develop substantive medication against the virus continue, it's feared that the "copy and paste" approach of some vulnerable countries, e.g. Nigeria, could cost it too much to bear, God forbid.

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