Every time I look, many Nigerians are contesting the existence of COVID-19! Some say they have never seen anyone that has it. Some say it is a hoax. Others argue that it is a government hoax to siphon money away through COVID palliatives. A few days ago, Nigeria instituted a partial lockdown and people complained. Then on Christmas day, we read that 19 doctors in Nigeria have died from COVID and some are contesting it as untrue. The result of all these denials is that when you look at pictures of gatherings in Nigeria, taken in the past couple of days, you see hugs without masks, you see no social distancing, you see people freely carrying around as if everything was still the same. Someone, a well-educated person, told me that they don’t see people dropping down everywhere from COVID. My answer to this last assertion is, people are dropping but it’s just that no one has said anything about the true cause of death.
In trying to further my campaign for people to do the needful in Nigeria regarding COVID – masking, social distancing and sanitizing, something that I once heard a young man tell another, about a year and a half ago, during a meeting we were having, comes to mind. A young man was questioning the existence of life after death. Another young man simply said to him, “one of the reasons I try to do what needs to be done to make heaven is that if eventually, it turns out that there is no heaven, I have nothing to lose but would have lived a guilt-free life by doing good. But if it turns out to be that there is heaven, I will be “partying with the angels, in heaven, having done what was right on earth”. I could tell that this line of reasoning completely disarmed the young man questioning the existence of heaven. Now, I am not trying to preach here but trying to apply a logic that makes a lot of sense in the COVID issue.
What am I saying here? Social distancing, wearing masks, hand sanitizing are all that is being asked of Nigerians to prevent or ward off the pandemic. Why are these things so hard to do? Why not err on the side of caution? If you do these things and it turns out that the pandemic, as some foolishly say, is a hoax in Nigeria, all it will cost you is a mere inconvenience. But if it turns out that it is not a hoax in Nigeria and that it is coming in the second wave with a vengeance and people die, you cannot undo death. And for those that are part of spreading the news that it is a hoax, what type of conscience will they live with knowing that they contributed to the deaths?
People complain about lockdown in Nigeria. Let me say right off the bat that it is a legitimate complaint because people have to live and eat. People have to conduct business, earn money to live. But do you know that the somnolent reactions of some of our populace in Nigeria to mask-wearing, social distancing and hygiene, is the partial reason for the lockdown? If people social distance, sanitize and wear masks, maybe we would not have a second wave and subsequent lockdown. Every action has a reaction and the action of some Nigerians, in Nigeria, is helping spread this disease and causing more lockdowns.
The latest is an avowed condemnation of the COVID vaccine! The problem is that the condemnation is coming from people, who, like me, know nothing about vaccines!. They make declarative statements in the church to their congregation, tell them that the vaccine will inject 666 marks of the beast in them. The result is that many have been misled. This is in spite of the fact that Biden has had the vaccine and has not grown horns as far as I can tell. Dr Fauci has done it. VP Mike Pence has had it and has not died. Yet, people who make a living by spreading fear are working hard to discredit the vaccine even though they criticize lockdown. So which is it? You cannot be probating and reprobating, all at the same time.
The truth is that Nigeria and Africa, in general, has been spared, so far, from the fury of the pandemic. A pandemic that killed almost 350,000 people in the United States, has not done that type of havoc in Nigeria. Many reasons, most of which are mere conjectures, have been adduced. Some say it is the heat of the tropics, others say the immune system of Nigerians is too strong. Again, others say God intervened for Africa to which I say, God has children all over the globe and has no reason to only intercede for Africa alone. But regardless of the reason, I know that the little biology I know tells me that organisms adapt to their environment. If the first wave of the contagion that entered Nigeria is weak, who says its not currently adapting to the Nigerian environment, getting stronger and fortifying for a fierce second wave? We read about new strains in the UK, who knows how it will affect Africa?
Abeg wear your mask, social distance and wash your hands joo.
By Alfred Obiora Uzokwe, a professional engineer licensed to practice in the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington DC and has over 33 years of combined architectural and engineering experience in both Nigeria and the United States.
Author of the books- 1. Nigeria: Contemporary Commentaries and Essays. 2. Surviving in Biafra: The Story of the Nigerian Civil War.
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