By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo
For Nigeria, Coronavirus might have infected us with many right attitudes. The NNPC plans six first class hospitals in the six regions. The NNPC has lived for ages with a reputation for profligacy and oddities, like being the source of bribes used to undermine the integrity of elections.
The NNPC had never seen itself as an agent of change. It’s certainly a new dawn because NNPC has announced the obituary of petrol subsidy. The very subsidy we had all believed Buhari would slaughter on day one, and deny the demons of corruption a strangle hold on the jugular arteries of the nation. The subsidy which by its ludicrous longevity made us all believe it was immortal is what one agency of government, alive to its responsibilities to the nation, has simply banished by a mere announcement.
The CBN has always had the capacity to build two or three proper public libraries and museums. It can choose to build and equip a first rate Cancer treatment center somewhere since it sees how much foreign exchange poor Nigerians waste traveling to India to treat cancer.
Twelve years ago, I had a meeting with the managing director of one of the banks . I asked him why they were building new branches and declaring huge earnings without bothering about their health and safety.
Since Coronavirus came, our billionaires have been reacting , opening their wallets. They must be commended. But these donations would have been better utilized if they were ploughed more thoughtfully into our healthcare system rather than used to fight fires. If once in a while they pulled themselves together and intervened to fill a social service gap left by government, they would achieve more. The nation needs a modern trauma/ orthopedic center. Lagos can host it. I hope two or three people can take up the challenge.
Our universities are in shambles. The churches have done very well. Covenant university has a first rate university. Our banks can effortlessly build and run universities. If every state in the north perhaps had the kind of university Atiku established in Adamawa the north could be a different place.
The private sector can set the standards of excellence we want to see in the public sector.
Suddenly, we are all talking about the poor and hunger. Even those who mocked Trader Moni and termed it wasteful are now shouting at the government to take money to the streets. A friend of mine who once derided the paltriness of N10,000 is now championing calls for the government to pay 10,000 naira to all poor Nigerians as economic stimulus. Hopefully it would become part of us. I have seen neighbours calling on neighbors asking them if they need food. Folks have put money together and sent food to their home towns. Hopefully a new consciousness has been awakened.
More will come.
It is foreseeable that our revenues from oil and monthly federal allocations to states will dry up. So every state may have to find a way to survive. For many years we have sung and danced tunes about diversification of the economy. In a few months to come diversification could become a way of life. There is no way the profligacy center and local levels will continue after this. And the good thing, if it can be so called, about the recession we are dipping into is the feeling that we are not into it alone. Everybody will go through a recession.
The Post Coronavirus period globally will be a new era. We will shake hands and hug less. We will keep healthier lifestyles knowing that when the agents of the devil come, they snatch those with co morbidity more quickly. We will smoke less perhaps because Corona virus and its cousins could be in the shadows and they have great appetite for smokers. We will watch our weights better because obesity sometimes makes us vulnerable to Diabetes Mellitus which leaves us unarmed against some wayward viruses.
In Nigeria, in the Post Corona period, we could be wiser. We have watched pastors and Imams hold strongly onto foolish opinions. So we should have learnt not to swallow what we hear in churches and mosques without chewing them. We will engage less in frivolous trips abroad knowing that something sinister could just be lurking somewhere and that sometimes we are not safer abroad. If Corona, despite all its evils, weans us off oil then truly it would not have been as cruel to us as it has been to some others.