By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Are you aware that students of our tertiary institutions cherish their individual privacy? Do you know that there was a popular sticker posted on doors of ‘executive’ students in the halls of residence in our universities in those days that read: “ Not Every Person Who Comes to Our Street Enters Our Door: Keep Moving!” Can you believe that such injunction cannot be placed as a blanket ban on COVID-19 and the only feasible option is to obey the prescribed protocols? Can you believe that its teachings are firm and immortal? Do you know that all levels of government are already preparing for a post COVID-life? You care for more? Come along, please.
Hurray! Are you aware that on Wednesday 20th May, 2020, the Governor of the State of Osun Mr Adegboyega Oyetola commissioned a 160-bed isolation centre? Do you know that the health facility located at Mercyland Hospital, Osogbo, renovated by a non-governmental organisation, the Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID) in collaboration with the State Government of Osun? Do you know that the coalition donated 100 beds with equipment and consumables while the State Government provided the buildings with 60 beds, other consumables, personnel and logistics? Do you know that the same Mercyland has another 20-room single-bed intensive care isolation centre with high resolution equipment thus making the entire facility a 180-bed isolation centre? Do you know that the State Government had renovated and equipped three other isolation centres which include, 130-bed facility in Ejigbo; 12-bed capacity in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, a 20-bed isolation centre and 8-bed Intensive Care Unit at State Specialist Hospital, Asubiaro, Osogbo? Do you know that the State now has 342-isolation beds? Are you aware that at this occasion, the protocol of social distancing was acutely observed to balance the issue of health and wealth? The voice of the Governor cuts in:
“We are adopting a holistic approach to winning the pandemic, including working with the National Centre for Disease Control and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19… We have also provision of palliative for citizens, introduction of lockdown and curfew as appropriate to ensure effective containment of the virus without hurting our economy and livelihoods.”
As one of the ways to balance health and wealth, are you aware that on Thursday 21 May, 2020, the Government of the State of Osun distributed farm inputs to no fewer than 6,000 farmers to boost food production in the State as part of the activities of Governor GboyegaOyetola to flag-off 2020 Planting Season? Do you know that his administration is fully committed to developing agriculture value chain in all strata and it has created an enabling environment for agricultural businesses to thrive, thus creating employment for the youth through the establishment of cottage industries in the State? The voice of the Governor interludes:
“In the face of dwindling revenue generation from crude oil, which has been the mainstay of the nation’s economy, this challenge presents a great opportunity for serious and would-be farmers to take advantage of. In view of the above, our government considers it necessary to support all farmers in the state to boost agricultural production, which will ensure food sufficiency and availability of raw materials for our industries.”
Are you aware that the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele has tasked industrial conglomerates operating in the country to support efforts of the government to grow the nation’s economy and return it to its green days? .Do you know that he warned that the apex bank would not support the importation of items that could be produced in Nigeria as he emphasized that the bank could not spend its foreign exchange reserves on what would not boost the economy and generate jobs for Nigerians? The voice of the CBN Governor cuts in:
“As Nigeria continues the process of the full reopening of its economy due to the lockdown over Coronavirus (COVID-19), the nation needs industrial conglomerates to support efforts aimed at growing the Nigerian economy…Conglomerates should key into the current administration’s drive of diversifying the base of the Nigerian economy by taking advantage of its large population to market their products that could be produced in Nigeria and exported to the rest of the world. CBN is willing to provide foreign exchange to companies that required such for raw materials and machinery that could not be obtained in Nigeria. With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA) now billed to commence in January 2021, Nigeria provides the companies with immense opportunities to produce their items and make huge profits through the Nigerian market, which is large enough to support their respective businesses.”
Do you know that as we key into agribusiness, we need to retool the energy sector too, to run our isolation centres and cottage industries and hospitals? Do you know that the power infrastructure should be evaluated now and optimized to deliver on its mandate to support the zeal in us to stave off this pandemic with the least casualty? Have you seen scores of Almajiri children ferried around States in container-carrying long trucks? Do you know that this is enough abuse of these children as members of humanity? As we prepare for post COVID-19 resilience, do you know that we have to factor their plights in, particularly as we celebrate this year’s Children’s Day?
Are you aware that Children’s Day is a commemorative date celebrated annually in honor of children, whose date of observance varies by country to country? Do you know that in 1925, International Children’s Day was first proclaimed in Geneva during the World Conference on Child Welfare and since then, it is celebrated on June 1 in most countries? Do you know that Nigeria celebrates the Day on 27th May of every year? Are you aware that on 20 November 1959, the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and it adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1989? Do you know that in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals outlined eight goals, six of which are dedicated to meeting the needs of children so that they are all entitled to fundamental rights written in the 1989 international human rights treaty? Do you know that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by the UN in September 2015 and the goals will inevitably impact children’s rights advocacy by determining the areas that will receive international donor money? Do you know that are inextricably linked to human rights generally and the rights of children specifically?
Do you know that children are affected by all of the SDGs, whether poverty (Goal 1), hunger (Goal 2), health (Goal 3), education (Goal 4), gender equality (Goal 5), climate change (Goal 13) or violence against children (Goal 16.2)? Do you know that the goals that are pronounced as rights are not legally-binding commitments and that is the reason that vulnerable children on the streets in our country will continue to be seen as objects of charity rather than as holders of human rights? Do you know that the International Labour Organization in 1999 adopted the Prohibition and Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour including slavery, child prostitution, and child pornography? Do you know in a report published on 16th July, 2018, titled 10 Basic Facts about Child Labor Globally, it was revealed that 218 million children between 5 and 17 years were in employment; 152 million were victims of child labour, almost half of them, 73 million, work in hazardous child labour and hazardous child labour is most prevalent among the 15-17 years old? Are you aware that the Convention obliges States to allow parents to exercise their parental responsibilities?
Do you know that the Convention also acknowledges that children have the right to express their opinions and to have those opinions heard and acted upon when appropriate, to be protected from abuse or exploitation, and to have their privacy protected, and it requires that their lives not be subject to excessive interference? Do you know that Article 19 of the Convention states that State parties must take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence? Are you aware that in 2003, Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Act to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child? Do you know that the State of Osun, is one of the States that passed the bill at the State House of Assembly for implementation of the content of the Child’s Right Act at the state level in 2008? As we engage the future as a post COVID-19 strategy, do you know that we must factor in the welfare of all children as COVID-19 frowns against any form of homelessness?
Are you familiar with Ray Ekpu, a very distinguished journalist, writer, essayist, humanist, patriot, activist, award winner and great mind ? Did you read one of his articles titled: “If this is a Lesson”? Do you know that the article was published after the duo of Banbangida/Abacha regime banned their publication called News Watch? You say which Abacha? The same Abacha who have been “sending stolen fund stashed abroad to us from his grave through Jersey Island”? Do you know that the magazine was banned for being too critical of the administration and journalist-colleagues began to publish unverified and untrue news about the moves and attempts made by the dramatis personae to cause the ban to be lifted on their publication? Do you know that the expose titled “If This is a Lesson” is apposite now as we witness the acme vulnerability of an ordinary man to all vagaries of misery and privation in nearly all countries of the world? Do you know that “If this is a lesson”, is better suited for our post-COVID-19 preparations? You want to know more about that, come along, please.
Are you aware that the governments of countries are facing acute challenge as they grapple with the medical crises while also trying to save their economies from collapsing? Do you know that the urge to balance the economic imperatives with the health and human rights agenda during the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be one of the most delicate, daunting and defining experiences for all leaders and all governments as we trudge on in this pandemic? Can you believe that if the re-opening of societies is mishandled, all the huge sacrifices made during the initial lock-down will have been for nothing as the infection may rebound with devastating payloads?
Do you know that as there are demands to relax the lockdowns, we must all keep to the WHO guidelines which stress that transmission needs to be controlled while healthcare systems must be able to detect, test, isolate and treat every case, and trace contacts? Do you know that South Korea, New Zealand and Germany are countries that have followed this advice from the outset and they have profited from it? Do you know that we have to learn great lessons from South Korea and Germany which have seen a resurgence of COVID-19 cases since relaxing their lockdown and emergency measures? Do you know that there is the need now to address disease risk in vulnerable locations such as campuses of schools, IDP camps, care homes, religious revival centres, psychiatric institutions, refugee camps and detention centres and local markets?
Do you know that we need special measures in high-density residential areas such as slums, and other areas without adequate water, sanitation or healthcare facilities? Do you know that plans to ease lockdowns should include specific measures for high-risk groups, which include millions of out of school children, street beggars, common run of artisans, workers in public and private sectors, people with disabilities, those with existing underlying health conditions, the elderly and the unemployed? Do you know that architects have to initiate new designs for all schools, hospitals, religious centres, hotels, means of transportation, theatres and social centres in line with the protocols of social distancing? Do you know that the virus has come to stay with us and there is no ambush for it in the sky?
Do you know that COVID-19 will increase geometrically, overhead cost as all employers have to ensure employees are protected when they return to their jobs by providing all essential workers with masks, sanitizers and shielding materials with special allowances never negotiated by the labour centres? Do you know that as lockdown eases, moving forward will also mean consulting with citizens in decisions that affect their lives as already done during the periods of emergency measures? As we lift lockdowns, do you know that those without stable incomes that will engage in wandering about will face the highest risks of being engaged under the regime of social and physical distancing? Do you know that COVID-19 has inadvertently imposed Welfarism as a universal political ideology on the entire world? The voice of Ms. Bachelet, the UN Human Rights High Commissioner World Health Organization cuts in:
“Never before has it been so starkly clear that it is important for all of us that no one is left out of social protection schemes. And in some countries such schemes barely exist.”
Are you aware that post COVID-19 study is fast becoming a Science? Do you know what is now called #NovelEconomy popularised by Brian Solis? Do you know that Brian Solis is a digital analyst, speaker and author, a principal analyst studying disruptive technology and its impact on business at Altimeter Group, a research firm acquired by global brand management consultancy Prophet in 2015? Are you aware that he publishes annual industry reports that track technology and business trends and offer change management direction to companies? Do you know that his term #NovelEconomy is now used to describe this period as companies begin to navigate toward a new normal and post-pandemic life? Have you heard of Brian Solis, current Global Evangelist at Salesforce and an industry-leading influencer specializing in disruptive technology trends? Do you know that he has designed three stages of economic transition of this pandemic? These include:
Phase 1: Survive – Reaction to Crisis
Phase 2: Alive – Build, Secure, and Operationalize for Transition State
Phase 3: Thrive – Next Normal Business Continuity, Disruption Proofing, and Innovating Forward
Are you aware that in order to be excellent in Phase One according to Solis, 5Cs of Stabilization and Rapid Transformation” in the survival phase of the #NovelEconomy are prescribed, namely: establish confidence, practice compassion, understand customer context, specifically in each moment, as it evolves, serve content and offers that are native, personalized, relevant and empathetic to their intention and desired outcome and prioritize digital and mobile native experiences at every step of the way?
Do you know that COVID-19 seems a preacher, making a born-again of all of us? As political activities take off in two States of Ondo and Edo in Nigeria, do you know that we must take politics and economics out of the equation of managing COVID-19 and employ careful, sensitive, science-guided policymaking, and humane leadership? Do you know that we will not be able simply to return to the ‘normal’ economy, and other parts of the pre-COVID-19 status quo, when eventually, the pandemic is over? Do you know that Rwanda is teaching us a lesson in recovery plan? Do you know that the current pandemic and the vagaries of weather are conspiring to cause food scarcity? Do you know that like Joseph of the old in the palace of Pharaoh in the creationist account according to the Bible, Rwanda is now storing up an equivalent of maize and beans for 10 per cent of the population at 2,500 kilo-calories per person per day, in a bid to ensure strong food reserves after the pandemic is defeated? Do you know that Rwanda increased resources for National Strategic Reserves to stock food, by supporting the districts to establish their own district food reserves and mobilising farmers to have community stores as well as storage facilities at the household level? Do you know that this is done in addition to a fund established to support businesses and small, medium enterprises in the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic? Do you know that Federal Government must encourage States, Local Governments and individual households to engage in any form of agriculture now to boost food reserves?
Do you know that we have to work spiritedly to flattening the curve of the pandemic? Did you notice that when the number of confirmed cases were plummeting in countries like South Korea, in a surprise move, Apple and Google teamed up to help track the virus? As these figures are plummeting in Africa, have you seen any of these tech companies teaming up to help track the virus? Does this not teach us enough lesson to stand firm, knowing fully well that we are our own? Do you know that the reality of the moment is that as Nigeria is thinking of lifting lockdowns and as we patiently wait to have a vaccine, do you know that new public health protocols for how to prevent another calamity of this scale should be put as a compulsory subject in all levels of education in our country? Do you know that in line with Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) the press must make all tiers of government and institutions accountable to compatible policies with the protocols and welfare of the patients infected with the virus?
Do you know that in the new economic order, we must respect healthcare workers more than sportsmen and entertainers as they continue to be in the frontlines saving our lives? Do you know that if they could be pushed to their wit’s end, we die and consigned to mass graves? Do you know that despite shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), they show up to work using at times, DIY-solutions like ski goggles and bin bags with a high risk of being infected? Do you know that many of them are working overtime and witness patient after patient succumb to the disease and death? Do you know that some of them succumb to the disease and death too, enduring extreme work conditions and sacrifices in order to help the infected?
Can you now see why they are given higher wages that other professionals should not envy to cause industrial disharmony? Do you know that these are war-like scenarios where unclaimed victims are laid to rest in mass graves by health workers? Do you know that the ensuing psychological stress and burnouts can bring an onrush of serious symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Do you know that after this war, we will have to brace ourselves for the aftermath on medical professionals on the frontlines having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Can you believe that we need to re-kit the Are Mental Hospital to accommodate as many as possible of the health workers that may develop post-traumatic stress disorder?
Are you aware that before the advent of the pandemic, the world took for granted certain level of trust for prescribed civilized nations? Can you imagine the situations now as we see President Trump threatening to withdraw from funding the World Health Organization, bragging to exit from the organization and calling this much-respected body a puppet of China? Do you know that this is profane enough? Have you heard that any immigrant to the United Kingdom, including diplomats and Presidents have to undergo quarantine as a doctrine of necessity, thus amending international laws guiding immunity and reciprocity? Are you aware that we will think twice before going somewhere or to meet someone, including our bosom family members? Do you know that people are suspicious to accept gifts just from any body for fear of being infected? Do you know that this is already exacerbating signs of social anxiety and agoraphobia, a mental disorder affecting all of us at the same time? Are you aware that agoraphobia is an abnormal fear of being helpless in a situation from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing that is characterized initially often by panic or anticipatory anxiety and finally by avoidance of open or public places? Do you know that this disorder will be with us for a long time? Do you know that Aro Mental Hospital has to be re-kitted to cope with thousands of referrals after the pandemic is over?
Have you noticed that the pandemic highlighted the shortcomings of healthcare systems around the world? Do you know that no country needs further preachment that the overburdened hospitals need an upgrade at every level from their infrastructure to their processes? Do you know that no critic of any sort needs to remind authorities to ensure a safe environment for the personnel and patients, as well as the way to better cope with any emergency situations in any country? Do you know that this pandemic has done enough of the duties of opposition leaders to any government in power that the best antidote to maintain good health for those in power is simply not to resort to seek for medical tourism abroad with all its attending risks, but to uphold the adroitness of the healthcare systems in ones countries? Do you know that no one needs further preachment that the best tourism is now the wonders of nature domiciled in ones neighbourhoods and not in Bahamas or Switzerland or Virgin Islands?
Do you know that the craze for private jets and cruise ships by the affluent in the societies will reduce? Do you know that penchant to travel abroad at all cost will reduce? Do you know that governments of the world are now forced by this pandemic to look into the case of the homeless people? Do you know that we are forced to discuss the issues of the ‘almajiri; now not because of our love and passion to assist them but because of the nuisance and danger their condition constitutes to our collective health? Do you know that COVID-19 has moved the level of our healthcare further? Have you ever considered that any tier of government in Nigeria will embark on massive fumigation of public places with vehicles including drones in our life time? So, it is possible? If yes, why have we waited so long to allow mosquitoes to be our co tenants, spreading deadly malaria in our midst and killing us every year in thousands for failure to do public fumigation? Comrades! So it is possible for rich men and organisations to put their resources together without political motive to move the healthcare system closer to civilization, or give food and other palliatives to the vulnerable people without attaching any string?
Do you know that some other developed countries in this same mess have added another pep to advance medicare? Do you know that as a result of the huge risks associated with the disease, artificial intelligence has been used in China, South Korea and Germany to manage isolation centres? Do you know that this will be a necessity very soon for many countries as the pandemic spikes? Do you know that our Colleges of Medicine have to collaborate with our Faculties of Technology and Polytechnics on how we have to come out with our own artificial intelligence? Do you know that this is the time the study of Robotics has to be made compulsory in the curricula of all elementary and secondary schools as this pandemic has come to stay? Do you know that digital health showed its aptitude to deal with such a crisis in a smooth way?
As we unlock-down soon, are you aware that those who must travel at all cost abroad must get new travel document and diplomats and Presidents with the immunity passport will still be certified to be immuned to the virus, accept to be quarantined or stay indoors for some days before being allowed to engage in any public routine in their host countries? Are you aware that in mid-April, Emirates Airline conducted rapid COVID-19 blood tests on passengers travelling to Tunisia from Dubai to provide immediate confirmation for Emirates passengers traveling to countries that require COVID-19 test certificates? Trust Nigerians! Do you know that testing for immunity as a pre-condition to obtain visas to travel abroad will inevitably result in false positives, thus undermining the efficacy of such a passport altogether? .
Do you know that the budget for research for tertiary institutions has to be reviewed upwards now as public and private universities should be put on the line of duty to address the challenges of this pandemic? Do you know that various research findings need to be published and used? Do you know that we need more E-Books in the libraries for elementary and secondary schools, rich in topics written in a comprehensive and easily accessible format?
Are you afraid of official surveillance of yourself and all your dossiers? Do you know that no one wants it at peace time? Are you aware that official surveillance is what most governments have to resort to in order to facilitate contact tracing of those who are suspected to be on the line of fire of the virus? Do you know that governments all over the world are rehearsing the theme of “Nineteen Eighty Four” by George Orwell as governments are using phone tracking data to locate and alert those who might be infected? Are you aware that South Korea went the extra mile by using CCTV footage and bank transactions in addition to phone use in its tracing process as an ongoing public health measure? Apart from seizing this war-time to lift the veil of incorporation of secrecy on such intelligence, do you know that certain governments, in totalitarian States, may erase a layer of privacy from citizens’ life and use it for another purpose, or under the guise of another major public health crisis, such measures could become the norm for now and forever?
Do you know that we were once taught the current protocols of hand washing, use of sanitizers and masks, cutting of nails and taking regular bath in a subject once called ‘Hygiene and Nature’s Study’ in the old curriculum of schools? Do you know that some of the teachers of old composed them into nursery rhymes so as to commit them to memory or sing them as lullabies? Can you see how COVI-19 has forced us to imbibe these protocols as reflex actions? Can you now see how it has been an infraction of the law not to wear mask before going out? Do you see how people wash fruits seriously before consuming them? Do you see friends requesting their buddies to apply sanitizers before entering their chambers? Can you see various mechanism improvised for hand-washing? Do you know that those who are manufacturing sanitizers are now making fast sales? So, Nigerians can manufacture face masks, personal protection kits, and sanitizers here in Nigeria? Why were we importing from China before? Is this not a lesson? Do you know that these new-formed habits could linger way after lockdowns are lifted, leading to overall better hygiene and economy?
Do you know that shaking of hands is strange to some African cultures? Do you know that our popular ways of salutation include kneeling down, prostrating or bowing? Can you see how COVID-19 cancelled shaking of hands totally? Do you know that “Vulcan salutation” is the fad for everyone now? Do you know it? Do you know that Vulcan salutation is a hand gesture popularised by the 1960s television series titled “Star Trek”, consisting of a raised hand with the palm forward and the thumb extended, while the fingers are parted between the middle and ring finger? Do you know that shaking of hands as signs of exchanging courtesies has been deleted and even if things will change, not everything like shaking of hands might change?
Have you been told that as soon as people receive invitation to attend burial ceremonies now, like amateur pathologists, automatically they become inquisitive about the nature of death and cause of death of the deceased before making any decision to attend the ceremony? Do you know that people develop cold feet now to witness burial? Can you believe that there is upsurge in the number of deaths, yet the undertakers are not enjoying the boom? Do you know that people will weigh the options of watching a crusade on live streams through virtual platforms than making it down to join the crowd in mass anointing for fear of COVID-19?
Have you heard that each of the isolation centre is attempting to produce the needed oxygen near their facilities? Is this not novel enough? Do you know that we are becoming more cautious in the way we dispose dangerous hospital wastes? Do you know that these developments go on to show that we are better prepared for the next public health crisis? Have you seen the way the debate on Trump’s drug, Hydroxy-chloroquine is going? Have you been told that research has shown that more patients treated with it succumbed to death than those that were not administered with the drug? Do you know that these open debates are the haulmarks of democracy of Telemedicine?
Can you notice that there is rise in the use of digital stethoscopes, portable ECG monitors and digital otoscopes used at home by the affluents and the results shared remotely with doctors? Do you know that the popularity of Telemedicine this time around eliminates doctor-patient visits whenever it is avoidable and also help reduce the risk of cross-contamination? Have you noticed the preponderance of virtual meetings for work, digital education for students and virtual events instead of physical personal contacts for conferences? Do you know that these have proved to be effective, environmentally-friendly, cost-saving and time-effectual means to operate as a new protocol in a connected world? Can you now see that there is light at the end of the tunnel fr all of us? D o you know that the protocol of social distancing may compel our government to reconstruct slums, markets and schools and possibly construct more affordable mass housing, organize cooperative unions to promote wealth and encourage neighbourhood watch to promote security? Can you now see how open the Central Bank is, engaging the public on fiscal and monetary policies and assuring Nigerians that it is always serving their interest? Are we not enough good news? If this is a lesson, how well have we learnt it? Do you know that COVID-19 is a metaphor of preachments of new John, the Baptist, calling for a new political social and economic order in which status, religion, sex and race will form no point of reference? Happy celebrations, Comrades!