Nigeria: Agents of Covid-19 Spread

15 January 2021
column

By now, many Nigerians who have been living in denial about the existence and reality of COVID-19 should have been convinced to the contrary. If their loved ones have not contacted the disease or even died, they must have heard of someone they know who have also contacted the disease or even died.

Incidentally, the second wave of the pandemic is not only spreading faster, it is apparently fiercer and deadlier.

Yes, the blame has largely been on many Nigerians who have refused to adhere to the safety protocols, what has now been described as non-pharmaceutical guidelines. It is true. After the lifting of the lockdown, most Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief and swiftly returned to "normal life", dropping quickly what had been accepted as the "new normal".

We generally relaxed the observance of the safety protocols. Transit buses and taxis went back to carrying normal number of passengers. The use of face masks was ignored, or at best worn as chin pads. Some may prefer to tuck it into their pockets or bags, just in case they are harassed about it, then they pull it out. Hand washing and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers also became unfashionable. Even many corporate organisations stopped insisting that those coming into their facilities should observe these non-pharmaceutical guidelines.

In all of these, the men and officials of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), have been shouting themselves hoarse, warning people of the then impending second wave. But we largely paid deaf ears. Not even when other countries like UK, Spain , Italy etc., had declared a second or even third lockdowns, did we take caution.

Worse still, all the travel restrictions had been lifted, including to and from countries which had had evident second wave spike. The result is the swathe of cases we are contending with today.

But one set of Nigerians who, ironically have not helped the containment of the pandemic are members of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria. It is a body of medical laboratory practitioners, who are highly essential in the value-chain of fighting and defeating the disease.

In the face of the huge cry by the federal government that it is running out of facilities and equipment in carrying out the mandatory test of persons, as well as not having enough facilities to accommodate and treat COVID-19 patients, the members of the Medical Laboratory Council have not helped the matter as private sector persons who are desirous of either importing relevant kits or setting up laboratories have not been exactly encouraged by the Medical Laboratories Council of Nigeria. How?

On their website, they demand that anyone wanting to import relevant test kits must submit, wait for it, "300 worth of test kits for the validation exercise". Such persons are also required "to pay all applicable validation fees". They probably did not have the courage to state that the said validation fee for each kit is N1,000,000. Yes, One Million Naira! And this must be paid into their Remita platform on their website: www.miscn.gov.ng

So, the question is why does the Council require a whopping 300 pieces of one test kit to do their validation test? So assume that an interested individual imported ten different types of kits to assist in the fight against the pandemic, he has to give out 3000 kits altogether as Validation sacrifice, after which he has to pay N1 million per kit, bringing the total to ten million Naira. If the effort is for business purposes, and he has lost 3000 pieces of kits and another ten million naira, then what is left of his business venture?

It is issues like this that fuel the narrative in the public domain that the COVID-19 matter is either politicized or being escalated for pecuniary benefits for certain people.

Government does not have enough testing kits. Not enough people are being tested everyday. People are getting infected and indeed dying in their dozens across board. Some people want to assist in bringing in such test kits and the said Medical Laboratories Council of Nigeria becomes a stumbling block that is bound to frustrate private sector initiative. Yet, the Council's lingo claims that "Labs help save lives".

The Medical Laboratory Council can therefore not afford to be one of the agents, inadvertently, fuelling the deadly grip and spike of the plague called Corona Virus.

It is worrisome that the Federal Ministry of Health including NAFDAC which should control and regulate the operations and policies of the Council are either indifferent or negligent; none of which is good enough!

If the private sector is responding to calls from the federal authorities to collaborate in the fight against the scourge, no organ or agency of government should be seen to be discouraging or outrightly blocking such efforts.

Donald Trump Has Five Lonely Days To Go

He holds the unenviable record of being the first American President

to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. He got

impeached, for the second time, last Wednesday. At that, his hope of

seeking office again in 2024 has been constitutionally zipped.

Although Donald Trump has been impeached, he may remain in office for

another five lonely days before his political Nunc Dimitis is sung.

The Lawmakers--lower and upper chambers, seem determined to throw him

out "immediately" given the unprecedented assault on the temple of

democracy with the recent invasion of the Capitol Hill by Trump's

supporters. They were as riotous as Belzeebub's apostles.

To say the world was dazed and shocked at the despicable drama will be

sheer understatement.

Never before has America, the avante guard of Democracy, ever

experienced the extreme recklessness of an elected president. Trump is

(if not was) just in an ignoble class of his own. Notorious for his

uncouth character, hatred for blacks, rash in his decisions,

unfiltered fury, come-and-fight posture, plus many of his other vices,

it is a wonder that he still had as many as 74 million Americans who

wanted him continue in the White House, a historical edifice he has

literally painted black and red all over.

It is even more perplexing to think that such a democracy infidel is

hoping to return in 2024. Deus avertat!

That he is leaving White House with great ignominy is no longer in

doubt. Those bent on removing him even before his five days window,

fear that he yet could do more damage to the temple of democracy in

America, given his penchant for off-beat conducts, if left alone.

Perhaps what should worry most of his supporters is what will become

of him after January 20, when he would, once again, return to his

ordinary man status. It would be far more a status of wretch, if the

impeachment process pulls through. There will be no tears for Trump.

Those given to much prayer should beseech God to never again, allow

anyone like Trump access to the White House.

Igbos and the 2023 Challenge

Eddy Odivwri

Hmmm, wonders will never end. I hear the Igbos now have a new King.

Never! Where did you hear that? Igbos don't have kings. They only have Igwes

What is the difference?

Go and read your history books again.

In any case, who is this new king you claim?

Did you not hear that Professor George Obiozor has been elected the President of the Ohaneze Nd'igbo?

You see yourself? Kings are crowned, not elected. So if Obiozor was elected, it clearly shows he is not a King. He is merely heading the socio-political body of the Igbo people, an umbrella body for the advancement and projection of the pains and aims of the Igbo people.

Hmmmmm... .. the pains and aims... .. what do you mean by that?

Need you ask? Is it still news that the Igbos have been crying for over fifty years since the Nigerian Civil war ended? Have you not heard them say the war has long ended but that the Nigerian state is still in the trenches against the Igbos? Have you not been hearing either their groaning or their wailing? Isn't that why they have been clamouring for the handshake across the Niger? Isn't that why they have been clamouring for an inclusive government? Isn't that why they have been clamouring for equitable distribution of national rights and privileges?

But the present government has demonstrated enormous goodwill to the Igbo nation. Or are you not aware that the long talked about 2nd Niger bridge is almost completed? Are you not aware that several kilometers of roads have been tarred, dualised and upgraded in the South east? Are you not aware of the upgrade of the Akanu Ibiam International airport in Enugu? Are you not aware that... ..

(cuts in) Enough of your jaded project sprinkles.

Why has the fundamental demands of the Igbos not been met? Why is it that it is only the South East geo-political zone that has five states, instead of six states or more like other geo-political zones?

Why is it that it is only the South east that has been deliberately denied the presidency of this country despite all the supportive indices like demography and economic prowess? Or don't you know the Igbos are the economic live-wire of the country?

You see why they have been crying about marginalization?

You claim that this administration has done even what Napoleon could not do. Tell me, from Number one citizen to the number six citizen in this country, where do you find an Igbo man? Are they not fellow Nigerians?

Do not ask opaque questions bleeding with ignorance. This is a democracy. If the Igbos take the right political decisions, they will reap the fruits thereof. If they, conversely, take the wrong political decisions, they will contend with the consequences thereof. It is as simple as that.

What do you mean by 'right political decision'?

As said, it is a democracy. It follows the biblical principle of "if you sow sparingly, you reap sparingly". But if you decide to sow bountifully, you will reap bountifully. Check your history, so many Igbo sons have held the number three position of this country in the past, almost like it was a birthright. And that was a function of their political decision at the time. I am sure you can fill in the gap in this matter.

And that exactly is the issue: why is the Igbo man good only for number three position of the land? Are some people more Nigerian than others? Are they allergic to the Number one position? What do they lack as a requirement to so be?

Hmmmmmm, torrents of questions. But let me attempt to answer the one on what they lack. ... (pause).. My brother the Igbos lack unity. That is why they have never been able to form a cohesive front to advance their course. They have Big Man Complex. Everybody is a big man. They have the crabology spirit!

Whaaaat? Cra-what?

Calm down. They have crabology spirit. They behave like crabs. Put a hundred crabs in an uncovered basket. Go to Mbaise and come back , you will meet all hundred crabs waiting for you, Nobody wants to let the other go. You see it in the way they also drive in city traffic. They would rather the junction blocks than allow somebody else to go before them.

Did you know that if not for crabology, late Dr Alex Ekwueme would have emerged the PDP presidential candidate in 2003 and possibly won the 2003 presidential election? Do you know all the governors from the South East at the time, refused to support their kinsman and pitched tent with then President Olusegun Obasanjo? Do you remember those ballot papers at the PDP convention were numbered?

I ask you: what did the then south east governors stand to lose if they supported their kinsman? Nothing!, I dare say. Just the crabology infection that was bent on scattering them. Do you also remember that even on the senate presidency seat, the Igbo men in the senate were plotting against one other resulting in having about three senate presidents in four years? Ever since that office was zoned away from the South East, have we experienced the notorious banana peel syndrome and the turmoil and huge turnover in that office? Or didn't you also see the kicks and complaints against the election that just produced Prof Obiozor? The intra-ethnic contention is huge and inhibitive.

That is why I say that one of the major tasks of the new President General of Ohaneze Nd'igbo, George Obiozor, is to quickly develop and inject the anti-crabology vaccine on all Igbo sons and daughters, home and abroad, so they can defeat their Goliath in 2023. They do and should have all it takes to overcome, after that metaphoric inoculation.

But democracy is all about contests. Why are you condemning the competitive spirit among the Igbos?

Don't miss the point. The competition has to be healthy, otherwise it will be destructive.

When they unite they can do much more. Isn't it why they talk about Iguebuike?

Already, with Obiozor, an erudite professor with enormous local and foreign goodwill, the Igbo nation is already moving forward. Didn't you hear they are already forming their own security outfit like the Amotekun of the South West, Sege Kafasa of the north etc.?

He has to position the Igbo nationality strategically such that 2023 will mark a political watershed for them. They are part of Nigeria. They are not forbidden from the presidency. They have lots of illustrious sons and even daughters, within and outside the south-east geo=political zone, that can become the President of Nigeria. All they need do is shine their eyes and calculate accurately in the larger political space.

I can admit that your submission is prescriptive. I pray they embrace it.

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