When the year 2019 gave way to the year 2020, millions of Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief that it was all over. Many smiled and jubilated for entering the then new year. Unfortunately, little did we know that as we were celebrating the departure of 2019, we were ushering in perhaps the worst year in our life time so far.
Indeed, it was not too far in the year 2020 that the sad news of the spread of a deadly virus was in the offing. First, it was reported in all the world’s media houses, the print and the electronic media houses the world over. Originally, it was spotted first in an industrial city of Wuhan that is in China, the most populated country in the world. By the end of March it had killed a little over few hundred people.
By the end of May, it had been reported to have entered Europe. As time went by, people were gradually becoming apprehensive. And by the end of March, half of the world’s nations were locking down.
Specifically giving the poor leadership we have in this country, it was the month that Nigeria joined most of the nations of the world in the hasty decision to join the lockdown. With the lockdown, without speedy and well organized process the Corona Virus began to spread in the country without unrelenting rapidity.
It was then that the country’s leadership embarked on several measures of restrictions and ordering people to adhere to some measures of protocols. These included closing of our borders, which tantamount to a farmer closing his farm after all the herd of his animals had left. Part of the protocols included the mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing of at least six meters and regular washing of hands under running water.
At the heat of the lock down things became very difficult for every Nigerian including the rich, the poor and the downtrodden. Movements of people were seriously restricted. Some state governors went wild with their own measures to effect the total compliance by the citizens in their respective states.
Consequently, while millions of Nigerians were suffering severe economic hardships, some members of the security apparatus went into a spree of making fortunes from helping helpless fellow Nigerians who fell short of the adherence of the restriction orders. In fact it was a tale of lions and tigers, freely roaming the forests.
Indeed among some security personnel, it was a show of shame. Those posted on the roads to enforce the restriction order were the most notorious of them all.
On our high ways, some of them detained those who flouted the restriction orders, compelling them to pay heavy bribe money before they could be released. On its side, both the federal and state Governments meant business by inaugurating various Task Forces who did everything possible to enforce various restriction orders in various states across the country.
In many states, social interaction were restricted or even banned. In many, the most sacred thing such as burials was banned and that resulted in too many dead bodies pilling in various mortuaries across the States.
In some states, people decided to be burying the dead secretly without the usual and elaborate ceremonies. Sounds of cannon guns disappeared and all the glamorous niceties of burial ceremonies were almost gone.
Worse of it all, churches and mosques were directed to reduce the number of worshippers and hours of worshipping reduced. In addition, inside the church building, worshippers were restricted to social distancing rules of not sitting very close to each other.
In addition, wedding ceremonies- religious and traditional were almost banned as young suitors groaned in endless frustrations. Thus, things did not work the way they were working before the lock down. Schools and Universities were shut down including the regular orientation camps of the NYSC were equally closed.
Consequently, the inevitable wide spread of hunger set in the country. Many people particularly children of the downtrodden began to show signs of malnutrition close to that of war time general malnutrition of the populace particularly among children.
Fortunately, the people, particularly those in the Southern part of the country reenacted the wartime practice of “helping your neighbor.” There came into the society the act of supplying of support materials known as “Palliatives” to help reduce the intensity of hunger and starvation.
In the South East, our sons and daughters in Diaspora went wild in sending food items and medicaments including clothing materials to ameliorate the sufferings of their folks back home. Indeed, they did miraculously well in addition to sending sums of money for their relations, friends and loved ones to taste sucre. Because of their support and assistance, many of those who would have died due to the consequences of Covid19 were saved.
Gradually, the wide spread nature infection gradually began to diminish,. Consequently, steadily but gradually, most of the restrictions were lifted by the Federal Government, while state Governors reacted according to the situation in the various states. By the end of August, gradually things began to ease up: flights and travelling in and out of the country began. Thus, unfortunately, the virus has started to raise its ugly head again to the effect that we are about to go back to the various lockdown. God forbid.
As we enter the New Year, we hope and pray the coming year, 2021 would be by intent and purpose a better year for us all. Because, 2020 is a year people will never wish to remember. May God grant us including all my readers more prosperous and more favorable 2021. In God’s name I pray. Amen.
By Dr. Chuks Osuji