Perhaps the greatest surprise relating to the current COVID-19 pandemic is that Nigerian political leaders are 'surprised' by the lack of public sympathy towards them. Rather than showing empathy towards all victims of coronavirus, Nigerians mock their leaders who test positive. This shouldn't really come as a surprise because their poor governance, enjoyment of the 'good life' at public expense, neglect of the healthcare system while guaranteeing themselves overseas medical treatment, and their habitual prioritising of 'security votes', humongous salaries, and luxury perks for themselves, has eroded public sympathy.
The Director General (DG) of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed that they can't ramp up their testing capacity because regrettably 'the infrastructure does not exist'. There simply aren't enough test kits available. Meanwhile, the DG of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors Forum lamented that expressions of joy over government officials affected by coronavirus confirms a loss of humanity in the country. This is true, but the question is: who lost their humanity first, the leaders or the led? Nigerian political leaders expect a level of empathy and concern for their welfare, which they have never shown towards impoverished citizens. The public scorn is heightened because the spread of coronavirus amongst them is a direct result of their careless disregard for rules and procedures.
Their true intellectual and moral weakness is being exposed as they are now becoming victims of their own maladministration and hubris. They failed to quarantine themselves as recommended after unnecessary overseas travels, and instead attended social functions and political meetings. Ironically, as the pandemic widens, these same failed political leaders will either fly out of the country for treatment or use the nation's limited supply of test kits and ventilators upon themselves! Neither the true numbers infected, nor the eventual number of deaths will ever be known because mass killings or deaths followed by mass burial have become almost routine in Nigeria these days. The handicaps on the present government, are a manifestation of years of misplaced priorities, ongoing corruption, and indifference to public suffering.
It's simply scandalous and condemnable that even though the nation doesn't have up to 100 ventilators, Nigeria's super rich legislators can justify using public funds to buy luxury cars for themselves rather than medical equipment for the public. Despite predictions that coronavirus will kill thousands of Nigerians, 400 units of the latest 2020 model Toyota Camry are being shared to the House of Representatives' members. The listed price of these cars is $25,000, but as it's usual in NASS contracts , the purchase price is expected to be higher because the vehicles were 'supplied' instead of being bought direct from accredited Toyota dealers! Paradoxically, $25,000 is the price of a ventilator machine needed to treat critical cases of coronavirus. And some members of the House of Representatives are complaining that the cars are not luxurious enough for their bloated egos!
HOW OVER 5000 NIGERIA MEN HAVE PERMANENTLY OVERCOME TERRIBLE BEDROOM PERFORMANCE DUE TO THIS RECENT DISCOVERY BY MEDICAL CONSULTANTS
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven Legislators and the Executive to be so short sighted. Rather than build hospitals for themselves they approved N37 billion to renovate NASS Complex. Ironically, this is the same building they have all run away from for fear of their lives! They wanted $500 million to 'digitise' NTA. No hospital in the nation is valued at N37 Billion, let alone N180 billion ($500 million). Nigerians wish all Governors, Senators, Reps and Ministers well. Those succumbing to coronavirus should be driven in their official luxury vehicles for treatment in the best government hospital in their constituency so they too can enjoy the 'benefits' of their good governance! It's self-evident that apart from just getting in to power and enjoying the spoils of victory, they have no idea nor real plan as to how to move the nation forward.
Even where there has been some investment in healthcare, it has erroneously concentrated on constructing over-priced hospitals. Increasing the numbers of medical equipment, bed-spaces, operating theatres, and fully equipped ambulances in existing hospitals, while developing frontline healthcare personnel such as paramedics and making genuine drugs more affordable has never been a priority. Worse still, although medical personnel are in short supply, millions of qualified school-leavers are routinely denied the opportunity to pursue careers in medicine due to lack of capacity.
Meanwhile, Nigerian universities annually graduate thousands with degrees in social sciences who end up jobless because their qualifications aren't relevant to the nation's current developmental needs. Tragically , there is no system in place for training and employing much needed frontline medical personnel like para-medics. The COVID-19 pandemic is a game-changer for all governments around the word. It's a leveller which threatens both rich and poor countries. Although in developed nations affected by the virus, health services are struggling to cope, their leaders remain within their country's borders knowing they have done their best. Nigerian leaders on the other hand, routinely travel overseas for treatment knowing full well that they have done nothing of substance to develop their healthcare system. In 2017, Aisha Buhari, wife of the President complained bitterly that despite billons being budgeted annually, the State House Clinic lacked equipment and drugs. Back then, she said 'if somebody like Mr. President can spend several months outside Nigeria, then you wonder what will happen to the man on the street'!
Even the President's daughter Zara complained, but in the succeeding years their husband and father along with most political leaders continued travelling overseas for treatment at public expense while leaving citizens to their fate. In an address to the nation, President Buhari tried to instil hope by concentrating on preventive measures like social distancing and saying nothing about the shortage of hospital bed spaces, face masks, testing kits and ventilators or the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that when the virus hits in full it will be devastating for Nigeria.
He issued selective stay at home orders; but in nations like Nigeria where there is no social safety net, anyone ordering citizens to go into self-isolation without any prospect of income or food supply risks virtual non-compliance and in a worst-case scenario possible breakdown of law and order.
© Pakistan Press International, source Asianet-Pakistan