By Emma Okah
Since the sudden appearance of Coronavirus in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the World has not known peace. Human efforts, intelligence, spiritualism, science and technology have been put to unparalleled test and yet the global death toll is still escalating, (30, 864 as I write).
In Nigeria, our entrenched attitude of politicising everything and sluggishness on the part of governments in taking proactive actions has remained a major set back. Since the reality dawned, States have been running helter skelter to find ways out of a difficult and strange situation. Not surprisingly, the FGN has doled out N10Billion to one state alone while others in similar situations are left to fend for themselves at a dark moment like this.
As part of Humanity, everybody has a role to play. Observance of a stay at home directive is key and those who respect it are playing major roles. The fact that our next door neighbours or loved ones are not infected is not enough to toy with this directive. This is an extraordinary time and Government should do everything to enforce this and social distancing rules. That's the best way to go irrespective of whose ox is gored.
In Rivers State, the Government has taken far reaching steps to interprete the danger and prevent the threats we face. Some commentators have also criticised certain aspects of the actions taken by the State government. Not much to worry. It is the beauty of citizens' participation in governance even in war times as we have today.
However, I want to appeal to Rivers people of whatever dichotomy to shift gear and be constructive in their contributions as to what could be done to save ourselves at this time. Trivialising this calamity and boxing our contributions into political pigeon holes can only worsen our plight if, God forbid, we are seriouly attacked. In other words, this is not time for politicking. It is certainly not time to gain political milestones.
No Government all over the world is gaining materially from this outbreak but lives, materials, services, liberties are expended in unfathomable proportions everywhere. Better organised and more prosperous nations are weeping on televisions but God is still allowing us time to prepare more. If it spreads here, there will be no exceptions. The Government House and its environ will be hit like other parts of the State. So the government officials and their relatives are not immune from this danger. Therefore, our criticisms should be constructive and tailored to encourage, support and empathise with current efforts to save ourselves from harm.
There is a saying that when you do to a man what you did not do to his father, he would react the way his father never reacted before. There is no way emergency actions taken by any government anywhere in the face of this pandemic can be adequate to address all the needs of a people with diminishing rights to freedom and movement and little to eat.
Emergency actions are generally harsh, overreaching and suffocating but usually subject to reviews and adjustments to make lives liveable. Pres. Donald Trump of America has reversed himself within 24 hours over shutdown of New York. Our leaders are humans and not God. Their actions cannot be perfect, moreso those engineered by a monstrous crisis with little time to think more.
At a time like this, the government is not our enemy simply because they took actions that did not meet people's expectations at first. Our enemy is Coronavirus that are setting our houses on fire. So let us chase Coronavirus away first.
Therefore, let us collectively contribute all we can to douse the flame and begin to rebuild our lives once again. It is only the living that goes to the market, congregates, socialises, contests elections, criticises others, travels, etc. It is this life that the Governments and Humanity seek to preserve with the support of all of us. What is important today is to be counted among the living at the end of this catastrophe.
May God continue to preserve and protect us and Humanity.
Emma Okah is the immediate past commissioner for Information and Communications in Rivers State.