Minister Ehanire, I beg to disagree

LAST Friday, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, gave a cheering report of the nation’s second novel coronavirus case testing negative to the disease and that he would soon be discharged. He also spoke about the index case being clinically stable and experiencing much improvement. He said the medical team would still monitor his progress for a while before deciding on when to discharge him. Given the devastation that COVID-19 is wreaking across the world, it was quite gladdening to learn that the case is largely under control in Nigeria.

However, while it was quite heartening to know that the worst might be over concerning the first two COVID-19 cases in the country, it is a matter of great concern that the minister said the government was not contemplating the imposition of travel ban on travelers from countries where COVID-19 is already endemic. He also said the government was not considering banning large gatherings. The minister’s reason is that the spread of the disease in the country had not reached the point of taking those steps. But I beg to disagree with the minister as development in Iran suggests that the spread of COVID-19 could spin unpleasant surprises.

The first COVID-19 case in Iran was reported on February 19. However, by March 12, about three weeks later, there had been over 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 429 deaths. As of today, Iran has the third highest number of COVID-19 deaths after China and Italy. A number of high profile Iranians, including the country’s senior vice president and two cabinet members, have tested positive to the disease just within three weeks.

If it could happen in Iran, it can happen anywhere.

The argument by the minister that the spread of the disease in the country had not reached the point of banning public gatherings or restricting travelers from other countries flies in the face of reason. One fact known to all great leaders is that everything that can go wrong will eventually go wrong. That is the Law of Murphy. To stop anything from going wrong, you have to be proactive in your thinking, planning and actions. Rather than waiting for the deed to be done before running helter-skelter to correct it, the best approach is to stop it from happening in the first place. As espoused by Albert Einstein, the difference between intellectuals and geniuses is that while intellectuals allow a problem to brew before proffering solutions to it, geniuses prevent problems from taking place in the first instance. In managing the COVID-19 crisis, those in government should think and act like geniuses and not intellectuals.

Unless the government believes the beer parlour tale in town about the spread of the virus being slow in the country because of our pigment and environment, there is no reason not to place travel ban on some countries. It is a serious matter of concern that while countries like the United States of America are taking proactive measures to curtail the spread of the disease, our government is relying on the fact that “the disease not being indigenous to us cannot just spread like that.”

By now, there should be restriction on public gatherings in every part of the country. We need not wait till we have a disaster on our hands before we start doing what is right. Why should those in charge of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) insist on having the Batch A 2020 orientation camp now? Which is more important, the orientation programme or their wellbeing? Why should we insist on having the National Sports Festival now when we know that just one COVID-19 case that is not well-managed is enough to put the whole country in jeopardy? If money-spinning sporting events in different parts of the world could be put on hold because of the virus, why can’t we postpone our sports festival? Those who are goaded by the belief that Nigeria is safe from the spread of COVID-19 should remember that within just three weeks, Iran went from 0 COVID-19 case to over 10,000 cases. If it could happen in Iran, it can happen in Nigeria.

It is always better to err on the side of caution.
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 Re: A descent into bestiality

 

Indeed, your write-up of above title in Sunday Tribune is a must read for all persons of conscience, with due concern for humanity. The cases relayed therein are grim with a sense of foreboding! In answer to your concluding question, it is a duty for all of us: parents, religious leaders, traditional rulers, teachers at various levels, opinion moulders like journalists, leaders at various tiers of society; and of course, political leaders! And may God imbue all these classes of people, and more, with the correct frame and view of life, for herein lies the pathway to reorientation, correct value system and sanity.

I am particularly enamoured by your declaration, made in consternation: “lt is the loss of humanity and the degeneration into bestiality”. The statement qualifies for WORD ON MARBLE. Kudos!

— Olaitan Makanju – olaitanmakanju@gmail.com

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