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Do they know there is COVID-19

Published by The Nation on Fri, 10 Apr 2020


Olukorede YishauSome decades back Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats fame and some other bands organised the Live Aid Concert at Wembley Stadium in London using the song Do They Know Its Christmas' to raise money for the poor in Africa. The choice of the song was borne out of the fact that with their level of poverty, Christmas would easily pass without them feeling its essence.I remember that concert which forms a scene in a short story I once wrote when I see the nonchalant way politicians and ordinary citizens are disrespecting the social distancing rule.Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun was the first I saw making a show of inaugurating an Isolation Centre. It was transmitted live on television, with little or no respect for social distancing. His speech was interrupted with claps at intervals by men too close for comfort.Days later, his Imo State counterpart, Hope Uzodinma, joined the league of men who have turned a solemn moment to a political rally. The Imo State government held an elaborate ceremony to inaugurate its COVID-19 isolation centre and, in the process, endangered cabinet members and the public who ordinarily should be staying safe at home.Why does a government consider an isolation centre worthy of inauguration' My initial reaction was: Se won fi inauguration se epe fun awon ara ibi yi ni' (Are these folks cursed to always inaugurate projects'). I see no need for the inauguration of the centres.All I expect is for them to be completed and put to use without any fanfare. But in a country where politicians inaugurate the upgrading of a latrine toilet to a water closet system, you can understand this craze for the inauguration of projects.Those paying lip service to social distancing may be deceived by the fact that Africa appears to be lucky as the pandemic has not pounded it like the rest of the world. The Western world, which we in Africa had looked up to for a quick solution, is on its knees.Its medics are overwhelmed and not a few of them have fallen victims and died of the virus. Millions are down globally and some 68,000 people are dead. As a result, fear now occupies the hearts of all. The social-economic system of the world is at its lowest ebb.We need to accept the fact that the world has shut down. Times Square in New York, the Kaaba in Mecca and other places that used to be full are empty. We must behave as if we realise that across the world people are dying daily.We now live in a strange world; we are all wandering in it and hoping it will lead us to the shores of possibilities and not to the seas of hopelessness. We should thus not carry on as though it is business as usual. It is not! We have all become foreigners in our homes.Nollywood star Funke Akindele and her husband, whose birthday bash got them into trouble, must have learnt their lesson after their conviction for violating the social distancing order.This is a time to treat one another as a pariah. Her husband deserves to be celebrated, but there is a time for everything: A time to embrace and a time not to embrace.This certainly is not a time to embrace! We must play our part to ensure we defeat this virus and prevent it from destroying our future. Holding any sort of gathering with the crowd will not help us achieve this.Many have now taken to walking long distances in the absence of buses to carry them. For the bulk of this week, the streets of Osodi, Ikorodu, Mushin and some other places brim with human activities; it is almost as though there is no lockdown. When I see many peoples nonchalance to the stay-at-home order, I always ask: Do they know there is Coronavirus'Read Also:COVID-19: FG to insure health workersThe other day some faithful gathered at a mosque in Agege, Lagos, and packed themselves like sardine fish in a tin. When government officials queried them for flouting the order on social distancing, they went irate.But, unlike their colleagues in the North, they were magnanimous with the officials: They did not burn their vehicles or burn any property; they only beat them as though they were common thieves! Even reporters who went with the enforcement team were not spared.Another nonsense that has been going on since Coronavirus set us back concerns the distribution of palliatives. State and the federal governments have been distributing foodstuff and cash to the people.Some private foundations are also doing the same. But, one thing I have noticed in many of the distribution venues is that people have disregarded social distancing. I have seen videos of instances where people even fight.There was an instance where a big man was distributing foodstuff in his Parkview Estate mansion; you need to see the crowd and, of course, social distancing was jettisoned. If one infected person gets in their midst, we will be in hot soup.Palliatives are being distributed overseas but in a very orderly manner. Residents of cities in the United States and Europe get foodstuff delivered to their doorsteps. They do not even get to meet the person who has come to do the delivery, and there is no fear that the items will be stolen.The items are dropped at the doors and the residents are informed by knocks on the doors. Cash palliatives are paid into accounts, unlike ours where the Federal Government has been going around with millions in cash for distribution to the people.Our conducts must reflect that Coronavirus is on the prowl and we must avoid the distractions about any link between the virus and 5G network, or the laughable attempt to link the whole pandemic to the 666 debate.This is a time for us to stand firm against the wiles of the virus, which has made a mess of our world.My final take: Our situation calls for serious reflection: the way things are now it is like we are continuing in sin and expecting multiplication of grace! Governors, politicians, and movie-cum-music stars are public figures, looked up to by the people for direction. Whatever they do at a time like this will rightly or wrongly guide the people.
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