As the Corona Virus continued it ravaging and devastating impact globally affecting every sector of human endeavours, Nigeria has continued her curtailment strategy on a very high note. As at the time of writing this piece, the Italian index case that came into the country has been said to have recovered fully and discharged from the health facility where he was hitherto held. One Nigerian case that was suspected to have had contact with the Italian has tested negative.
To have kept a clean state from COVID 19 at a time drastic measures were being taken across the world to curtail its spread is an indication that Nigeria has learnt lessons from the Ebola outbreak and leveraged on the resilient system built at the time. The US has imposed travel restrictions on travellers coming in to the country from European Schengen countries. The restriction take effect from today.The country has also banned sports activities and public gathering. Scotland has recorded her first novel virus death. The UK has shifted her local and mayoral elections for one year. Canadian Prime Minister’s wife has tested positive to the globally declared pandemic. The whole world is making frantic efforts to delay the spread of the deadly virus which has been responsible for 5,374 deaths across the world with China still leading the charge as the country of origin of the deadly virus. In all of these frightening statistics, Nigeria has kept her calm and has not recorded any case of death from the virus.
Image : Eight badly hit country by COVID 19 (Source: Worldometer,2020)
In an earlier analysis of Nigeria’s effort at combating the virus, stakeholders and institutions were urged to assist government institutions not only in the fight against the virus but also the attendant fake news and misinformation using. One Nigerian that has stood up to this challenge is the former Vice President of Nigeria and the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the 2019 Presidential Election, Alh. Atiku Abubakar. A dissection of two of his press release made since the first case of the novel virus was discovered in Nigeria has shown that he was more patriotic and solution oriented than the average Nigerian opposition figure that he represented.
In the first release made available on February 28, 2020, a day after the index case was discovered, Atiku charged the APC-led government to call upon the experience of the nation’s battle with the wild Ebola Virus. He said “we must call upon our experience with the Wild Ebola Virus of which we were the first nation in the world to defeat the scourge in 2014.” He went further to advise against any attempt to blame and point fingers. He urged Nigeria to look for solutions rather than engage in a blame game. He preached firm and decisive decisions as the country moved to curtail the scourge then. He waxed patriotic as he charged both individuals and government to work towards securing the nation from the rampaging virus. He concluded that “ the crisis is an opportunity to show that we are first and foremost Nigerians and that we have no other country but our dear fatherland, which we must work together to keep healthy and secure.”
The strategic importance of his statement was underscored by his party’s release few days after his own. On March 1, 2020, the main opposition party had called out the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration asking him to address the nation on efforts made to contain the virus. Nigerians berated the party for its unpatriotic stance on the issue despite noticeable successful attempts displayed by the government and its health institutions. The effort has yielded the present result where no single case of the virus is recorded in the country despite the high numbers of infections and deaths recorded globally.
So, in another release made available to press men and personally signed by him, he has again urged the Federal Government to take every reasonable step to protect Nigerians from the scourge of Coronavirus by topping flights from countries where the virus has become more aggressive. He noted that “Despite the commendable efforts of our patriotic health officials, it will be recalled that to date, we are yet to identify and or locate multiple passengers who flew in with the index case from Italy. They could be anywhere.” He then suggested that Nigeria “must, therefore, err on the side of caution”. He argued that “we cannot afford to broaden the possibility of future infections.”
Atiku then played a patriotic card when he said “I urge that every political and any other difference be put aside. On my part, I am first a Nigerian, and I am willing and ready to work with anybody, at anytime, at whatever cost, to ensure the safety of this country, which is the only country we have to call our home, and her peoples.” The strategic importance of this statement is glaring. The handlers of the former vice president portrayed him as a selfless national leader who is ready to make personal sacrifice for the nation to confront and conquer the new world health challenge. This shows a point of departure from his party’s stance on the way the COVID 19 issues were handled by the APC government. In times like this, the nation desires a strong support and commitment from all stakeholders.