As I sat on my balcony, a neighbour I have never seen before passed by with his head down and I wondered where he was strolling to in this sweltering heat. The heat; that is the major thing that is driving me crazy now. Any slight breeze and I am looking expectantly that rain will follow it, but I digress. The slow pace of the man, his drooping shoulders, the furrow of his brows made me laugh as I remembered the recent post of a woman living in Lagos that went viral as she recounted the marvels and wonder of Corona. The video was hilarious-she was a natural. Her opening statement was, “the fear of Corona is the beginning of wisdom.” She tells us with glee that her sister, who could not remember the last time she received housekeeping allowance from her husband, has Corona to thank as her husband credited her account with N250,000 for her to go and stock-up for the dark days ahead. The unidentified female in the video was lit with glee as Corona had made sure that husbands have no excuse in the world to go anywhere but be in their matrimonial homes because Sanwo-Olu had closed down everywhere and people have been instructed to stay in their houses. She pointed out that other countries where providing food and relief materials for their citizens and she was looking forward to hearing something of that nature. She took a jab at the politicians as she had half expected that we would be told to go to our local government areas to collect at least face masks and hand sanitizers, recalling that during election time, the politicians would buy rice and matches to distribute and wondered why the politicians didn’t think this was an appropriate and important time to do same. She expressed her disappointment in the N20 reduction in petrol prices and pointed out that not everybody had a car so technically wouldn’t benefit from the Corona palliatives.
The viral video was one of those ‘many-a-true-word-spoken-in-jest-tongue-in-cheek monologues. She had spoken the mind of millions of wives. The wives who never saw their husbands due to their busy schedules, those who didn’t see their husbands ‘due to their busy schedules’-the other busy schedule, those whose husbands barely spoke to them, those whose husbands neglected the home front financially, the ones that had not performed their conjugal duties in years, those who hadn’t been in the same space with their wives for more than 20minutes a day and now all due to Corona (AKA Koro) had come home to roost and it is no small thing!!! In her video, she advised wives to make very good use of this opportunity. Unless the marriage situation was beyond repair, this was the time for wives to talk to their husbands about their burning issues; afterall, he has nothing but time. She also advised women to up their game in the bedroom since those who used to fill their spot where no not availablepresently. She also sternly warned wives that this was not the time for women to nag about all the times he didn’t come homeand the so many other things that he had done wrong that he knows; he is home now-milk that cow!
While it was funny and true, it was tragic. She ended by advising women to use the opportunity wisely and negotiate fresh terms before chloroquine will flood the market and the opportunity would be lost. When had marriage become so bad, that her message resonated with women? When did it become alright for marriages to become prison cells of unhappiness and staying indead marriages because of the kids? I really hope as she said and I quote, “because of Corona, some marriages will have their issues resolved.”
….AND THE PRESIDENT SPOKE
The conspiracy theories that trailed the President’s address to the nation on Sunday night which ranged from he wasn’t being broadcast from Nigeria to the resurrection of Jubril of Sudan to the alleged cut and paste that made up the broadcast wasn’t as important to me as the fact that it was not a punchy enough address lacking in substance. Majority of what he said we knew. For example, it is gradually coming out that we just do not have enough test kits and most test being carried out are at VVIP-VIP level. This issue/fear and the implication of racing against a virus that had literally shut down the world was an important piece of information he could have spoken about and bring about reassurances. A huge opportunity lost there to try and reconnect with the citizenry. All the palliative measures mentioned were incoherent and not in the best interest of everybody. Granted, they are the identified vulnerable, it still didn’t make sense. For instance, with the continuation of the school feeding programme, would the children be assembled in school to be fed? Wouldn’t that defeat the aim of lockdown or social distancing or both??? There have been different announcements made as to the reliefs to be offered to different sectors or demography of people, they are all over the place. It was important that one coherent simple plan of palliatives is put in place. This is an important learning curve for the Government-we have no central up-to-date database of the citizens. The only palliative (which is no palliative) that was made that affected about 50% of the population was petrol even kerosine was not included in that palliative. It was good that he re-iterated that the PTF on COVID-19 was the official body for coordinating the response. I am assuming when he thanked the private sector for their spritely and prompt robust monetary response and asked for the centralization of the domiciliation of the funds, he was referring to the taskforce as custodians. There could have been more heart to that message, so that even though the days ahead will be long and uncertain, there would have been the comfort of well said words if nothing else it would have given hope and we all know how powerful the feeling of hope is. Another opportunity lost.
On the heels of the woman in the video, another power block that emerged from Corona is the CACOVOID-19 group that had raised at last count about 3NBN naira which left me baffled. For years foreigners have been crying out that our health system needed to be completely overhauled. To get the National Assembly to understand and even pass the Basic Health Care Provision Fund was like pulling teeth and even at that what was eventually appropriated to the fund was 100th of what had been penned down of what was necessary for the fund to take off and make impact. Our health system in shambles but it was said that if the Primary Health Care (PHC) was fixed then more than half the problem was solved. The Primary Health Care Under One Roof, a concept of having all the services in one place took into account the challenges that hindered the PHCs from functioning-the infrastructure, the system, the supply chain, the workers, the location and access to these health care facilities. And I ask myself why couldn’t these money bags lend their voices to the call for the overhaul of these facilities back then? I can even remember one of the campaigns at the time had been a call to Adopt a Primary Health Care facility, which one of the CACOVID -19 had done so? Painfully, it seems like because the virus seems to be stuck at the VVIP/VIP level, they rose to the challenge without even being prompted. Wasn’t that a good time to have put their billions to use?
Day by day people seem to be coming to terms with the way COVID-19 has radically changed our lives and how our lives will be forever be changed. Most of us will take the lessons learned, we will make unlikely friends that will become part of us till the end of our stay here on earth. We will come to appreciate thosee neighbours that we turned our noses up. We might even look at each other with compassion as the human race comes together. We had become so individualistic and siloed in the way we lived, now we are being forced to remember the value of community. It is almost impossible not to see the hand of the Divine in all this.
With the advent of COVID-19 and the toll it has taken on our world, suddenly everything that seemed to be a big deal, matters anymore. All those activities, events, meetings and outings, we thought we could not do without or we prioritized over others that we considered less important has all but been debunked. Nothing is that important anymore except not to catch the virus and if you do, to survive it. No makeup, the right outfit, the right party is now not on the front burner. All has indeed proven to be vanity in the words of the wisest man that lived. He was right after all and we have all lived to see it in practical terms.
Will we learn the important lessons? Maybe-for a while and as is with us humans we will slip back into our old ways but hopefully this time with the ability to get back on track when we derail. Some of us will make the radical changes that will be expected. What about the hate, grudges, unforgiveness, bitterness, malice that we harbor? Hopefully as we see the way it has devastated other parts of the world, we will consciously realise that that could have been us and make efforts to make amends or let go. Nigeria has been very lucky (so far) despite our initial carelessness. The virus seems to be a milder version with a higher rate of surviving. We hope this remains this way and we can sacrificially do our part in flattening the curve.
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