Yes, the rich and the mighty, the untouchables, the bourgoise, those who sneeze and the world catches cold, are confronted with the coronavirus. While the poor and the downtrodden are faced with hungervirus.
Which of them is deadlier and kills faster? It is shocking to see the rich, dolling out billions to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but do not bother to donate a dime to kill hungervirus.
As Nigeria joins the world to declare a total lockdown, as a means of preventing the spread of the coronavirus, I keep asking, which of the two is a lesser evil – coronavirus or Hungervirus? The answer is like a rock and a hard place, a devil and the deep blue sea.
Is it not illegal for a government to declare a lockdown, without providing for the means of sustainability of its citizens?
Many years ago, Kofi Awoonor, a renowned Poet, might have envisaged what is happening today, when he wrote these lines in his poem: “Songs Of Sorrow”.
“If I turn here, the rain beats me
If I turn there, the sun burns me
The firewood of this world
Is for only those who can take heat
That is why not all can gather it
The world is not good for anybody
But you are so happy with your fate.”
Moreover, during the biafra war, it was on record that “hungervirus” killed more people in the South-East, than “Bulletvirus”.
We are in a country that has been adjudged as the poverty headquarters of the world, a nation where over 60 percent of its populace are living below one dollar a day. Like someone said: “Coronavirus, when infected gives you 14 days grace, and the means of survival is 90 Percent, but hungervirus does not have that 14-day grace period. Remember a hungry man is an angry man.”
Lockdown order embarked by various governments may cost lives in Africa, and Nigeria in particular. In Nigeria, millions will starve, if the global economy enters a protracted downturn. We must ask whether the number of starvation will be more than the ones Covid-19 will kill. We are only seeing the start of the economic disaster that is going to engulf us, as a consequence of the lockdown order .
Tourism has evaporated overnight, bars and restaurants are empty, football has been shut for the season, employees have no savings, no access to credits, the government lacks both the means and the competence to swiftly dish out grants to SMEs, unemployment in Nigeria is alarming. Mass unemployment means mass poverty, which means mass starvation.
The crunch question is this: what will be the case fatality rate of the lockdown order in Nigeria? I have no idea. As a Journalist and Public Affairs Commentator, I know that social distancing and lockdown order as a means of containing the spread of the virus, will not work in Nigeria.
In Nigeria township, the living conditions are extremely crowded. Socialising is unavoidable. You might as well tell people to emigrate to Mars. The poor of London could not isolate themselves, and so they died. This may be our situation.
It is similarly fantastical to expect people who cannot afford food, as will soon be the case for many more, to sit at home. You cannot eat soap. If you are starving, you will not buy it.
Total lockdown and social distancing are extremely difficult to implement effectively in Nigeria. The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, chaired by the Secretary-General of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, and his team, are to look inward. I rest my case.