How Nigeria must act now to quickly avert a major coronavirus catastrophe

Nigeria has one of the best brains in medicine and technology as well as some of the smartest in all walks of life. But, our ability to fight this pandemic short term and long term will forever define our collective resolve.

The covid19 is a global crisis and it has arrived in Nigeria. Unfortunately, we are not prepared to handle the catastrophic consequences of the virus if allowed to spread through the population. If we do not act fast, it will inevitably continue to ravage through the nation.

Sadly, this is a disease that has no respect for anyone and at the moment has been causing confusion for scientists and leaders throughout the world. Therefore, this is not the time for playing any form of games of any kind. This is a serious matter which puts every individual, big or small, into potential life-threatening danger. A matter of life and death. Our sole duty, therefore, is to move quickly on the offensive on the virus to prevent further spread and hopefully avert impending catastrophe.

This fight must be tackled from two major angles – economic and health, as well as in two phases – short term and long term.

The simple steps in both angles and phases are:

Communicate – engage all forms of media and people.

Educate – engage all levels of leaders:  law enforcement training, engage primary healthcare workers to reach the most rural areas.

Enforce social isolation (lockdown)

Provide means of livelihood for people – disburse cash to the most vulnerable directly via bank transfers and involving rural leaders in the case of remote and illiterate communities.

Prepare hospitals in all key regions in every state.

Provide electricity or alternatives.

Provide means of water supply – flowing water systems must be put in place for people to adequately follow the hand-washing and hygienic practices.

Avoid/reduce dependency on foreign items such as masks – this is time to engage local fashion designers to be involved in the production of our own masks. As a long term, this will boost and empower this industry to become directly more relevant to the economy.


Health and short-term strategy

In the short-term health strategy, the focus must now be on preventative measures whilst also preparing for managing cases. In doing this, the government must involve every aspect of the society and embark on a massive awareness campaign. Massive education and training of key society leaders, law enforcement agents, religious leaders as well as market leaders. The media – radio, TV, print media, billboards and all other forms of communication must be utilised to disseminate the message across all levels of the population. The movie, music and comedy sector must be included in this stage to get the message home and heard. The government must use social media also to target the youths. The government must also continually reassure citizens by either centrally addressing the nation or relinquishing power and delegating each state to have direct communication with their state taking lead from the federal directives.

The primary healthcare system must quickly be revived and involved in reaching the core and rural population as quickly as possible while moving also quick to prepare the major hospitals in every state and region for any eventual cases.

The government must have a goal-oriented task force whose sole responsibility is to make sure that resources are used for purposes they are meant for. This task force must be reporting directly to the state or federal government.

This is time for our leaders to be paranoid, sceptical and doubtful of any external help from any country. We must open our eyes and watch out for any dodgy offers that might cause our nation greatly. It has been projected that 10 million Africans would die from this pandemic and it is no longer a secret that there have been obsessions of depopulating Africa by some elements in the Western world. We must not allow this prophetic doom to be fulfilled.

Total lockdown and stoppage of irrelevant activities must be put in place all across the country while the few cases are ramped up on time and dealt with.


The economic and short-term strategy.

To achieve the aim of the health messages and the goals of preventing a spread and causing a catastrophe, the economic situation of citizens must quickly be a priority. Great Nigerians and businesses are donating huge amounts of money towards the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and this is highly commendable.  However, to achieve the purposes of these donations, we must think strategically on how the poorest and every citizen could be able to put food on their tables considering the level of poverty and hardship already in the country.

The government must find a strategic way to ensure that petty traders can still sell by providing makeshift market stalls and designated time slots for small villages and towns, ensuring that only essentials such as food items are being sold. This way, people can access food whilst also isolating and observing social distancing. Appropriate training for the police and soldiers will ensure this is done in an orderly manner.

The government must work with religious leaders. They may have to mandate or direct places of worship on how to assist at this time in ensuring that the message gets to them as well as converting some of their premises as grounds for isolation centre, and foods and essential items distribution centres.

As a nation, we must all put efforts together to defect this coronavirus pandemic, just as we did with Ebola a few years ago. Nigeria must put politics, religion and tribal sentiments aside now if we must win the war against coronavirus. We must act now, and fast, to avert this impending calamity.

Faustina Anyanwu is a UK-based Nigerian publisher and healthcare professional







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