It is now no secret that the world is battling the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and affected millions. One common trait worldwide is the absence of global leadership in the face of this deadly pandemic. Earlier yesterday, US President Donald Trump in a dangerous move cut funding to the World Health Organization after weeks of threatening to do so. The move which has generated condemnation—and deservedly so—hardly helps the position of the US as a global leader, a role which the country seems to be relinquishing. The Chinese hardly seem to be the ideal candidates either due to growing suspicion about the origin and their handling of the Virus. Further across Europe, the strong Angela Merkel seems to be hiding in a shell while her British counterpart is battling for his life as a result of the Virus. The Saudis are also dealing with the dwindling oil price. The world appears to be lacking leadership at the moment. The same can be said of many countries, Nigeria inclusive.
The country is torn between fighting another perhaps deadlier epidemic in Lassa fever, staggering oil price, and combatting insecurity, terrorism, banditry, and hunger hardly seem to be holding up at these trying moments. The cumulative effects of these seem to be more evident in the north—Arewa— where hunger and starvation is the norm, and insecurity has crippled households. And then comes the stay-at-home order enforced in some states which have reduced many to living from hand to mouth. The bitter pill remains, this is still the better option of the two, the other being risking community infection on a large scale which will be devastating.
In light of this, the leaders of the region should have done more to alleviate the suffering of the people, provide more palliative measures, and further take measures to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 Virus. Yet, not enough has been done as many have not taken adequate measures needed while some others are virtually absent from the scene of decision making in their states. To further buttress this point, this could be seen in how a governor in the region attended Friday prayers hours after being discharged from an isolation center! Another lifted the ban on the Friday prayers despite leading scholars and NSCIA advice to the contrary. These acts and many other inactions of leaders may prove to be dangerous later.
Others, however, have proved to be tall on their feet and top of the situation and are therefore worth special mentioning and commendation. The governor of Kaduna has shown tremendous leadership in the first weeks of the epidemic before being side-lined by the Covid-19 virus himself, yet the vacuum of his absence is still not felt thanks to his ever competent deputy and the entire members of the state task force. For others like Prof Zulum of Borno, it is business as usual as he keeps providing relief packages to vulnerable communities in the state. His counterpart in Yobe also seems to be emulating his good examples, by donation of materials and the non-stopping work on some much-needed infrastructure in the state. Perhaps His excellency should cut it back on the inspection of such works and commissioning until the pandemic abates.
In all these, one clear thing is that the hard choices our leaders have to make during these hard times—such as enforcing of lockdowns —goes a long way in guarding our collective health and lives and also ensuring we don’t feel the burden of the crisis. Already dealing with plights of hunger, unrest, and coupled with failing healthcare, the effect of the crisis would be devastating if left unchecked. As such, all hands must be on deck to ensure this doesn’t happen. From religious scholars; to traditional rulers, security agencies, wealthy individuals, and the general public, everyone has a role to play to support the government in its fight. Lastly, the government(s) should as a matter of urgency speed up the provision of palliative measures and donation of relief package as this would go a long way in determining the level of compliance among the public.
May we all come out of this stronger.