President Buhari, Give Every Nigerian 50,000 Naira, Electric Power Now to Help in Covid 19 Shutdown – Yul Edochie & Others Demand
The Covid 19 Pandemic has reminded humanity of an essential fact that we tend to forget or take for granted. The earth’s biosphere, in which humans had survived and thrived since antiquity, is a unified ecosystem that is dominated by microbes, the most abundant of which is the virus. In the earth’s biosphere, the virus is king! Civilization may have gotten us to believe that the lion is king of the jungle while man rules the world. Moments like these offer all of us the opening for a reality check.
This reality check was initiated recently by the Abuja-based poet and author, Dike Chukwumerije, in his article titled “Dealing with Covid 19 as A Nigerian – Reality Check” (https://bit.ly/3dMhbQL). In this well-written article, Chukwumerije reviews all the recommendations made by world experts on managing and coping with the Covid 19 Pandemic. Experience in China demonstrated that frequent hand washing, social separation and complete shutdown of afflicted areas are practical tools in containing the spread of this deadly disease. The Chinese experience is also being replicated elsewhere in Europe and North America and global best standards for handling a pandemic of this nature. Hospital admission for severe cases, including intensive care services, is part and parcel of the package recommended for all societies worldwide. Chhukwumerije’s bewilderment is how Nigerians can implement basic handwashing, as recommended, when as much as half of the population has no access to clean water, for example.
Beyond worrying about what the outside world anticipates Nigerians to do to checkmate the expanding Covid 10 Pandemic, a closer attention must now be paid to what Nigerians, by themselves, are expecting of their own government and society at this time of pressing national emergency. This YouTube video captures the extreme anxieties of Nigerians who find themselves being asked to partake in an economic lockdown that shall surely put their lives in great jeopardy. China shut down the country’s economy for months as the preferred means to stop the local spread of the highly infectious virus. Hustlers in the streets of Lagos were instructed to shut down all activities, vacate all public places and remain indoors for the foreseeable future. Nigerians have experienced only a few days of total shutdown and they are screaming M-U-R-D-E-R already!
It is quite engaging to watch the women in the video passionately demand a regular supply of electricity to mitigate the misery of being locked indoors 24/7 without access to the supply of fresh farm produce. Perishable food items cannot be preserved without electric power. So, many Nigerians make up for that deficiency by powering up their private electric generators. Then, the cumulative effect of the noise from multiple disparate engines in the neighborhood is enough to drive an already distraught lady insane. The younger lady is more adroit in her message to the government. “Let there be light… let there be light … let there be light….” she screams as if that singular can assure relief from the immense pressures of the moment.
Yul Edochie, Pete Edochie’s son, chimed in by asking the distressed folks to take their challenge to the government in this time of high anxiety and need. He laments a scenario where many Nigerians who are suddenly impoverished by the Covid 19 Pandemic resort to begging from celebrities like him as a matter of routine. He receives scores of messages from desperate fellow Nigerians pleading for help, no matter how small. He helps to the extent that he can, but his means are not limitless. He directs those who besiege him daily for help to take their pleas to the government. He called it the “Buhari Challenge”. He notes that governments worldwide provide for their citizenry worldwide, especially in periods of emergency like the Covid 19 Pandemic.
How Nigeria Must Be Prepped Now for the Next Pandemic
What this YouTube video and Dike Chukwumerije’s article teach us is that one cannot give what it does not have. The Covid 19 Pandemic has put humanity in immense danger of a magnitude that has not been witnessed in the past century. Human societies are organized as nation-states with sovereign rights over the lands they occupy. In terms of extreme emergency, nation-states focus attention on protecting and salvaging their countries first. It is during a real emergency that the term self-reliance shows its true meaning. From this reasoning, Nigeria and its citizens should be falling back on what they already have to help them in overcoming the unexpected challenges of the Covid 19 Pandemic and the resultant economic shutdown everywhere one looks. But, here is the trillion-dollar question. Does Nigeria have anything to fall back upon to assist its citizenry in this moment of dire need?
The angst manifest in the exasperations of the two ladies asking for a steady electric supply is palpable. But alas, they are confused because they don’t even know who exactly to blame for the lack of constant electricity supply in the national grid. The generation, transmission and sale of electric power supply in Nigeria rest entirely in the hands of the occupant of the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja. This is so because electricity is one of the 58 items in the Federal Exclusive Legislative List which must not be regionally owned or managed. This stupid law implies that power is not generated and distributed according to need and capacity to pay for it, but instead by the political whims and caprices of whoever controls the reins of power in one single l location called Abuja. The electricity needs of the angry lady holed up her residential flat in Lagos and the Almajiri inhabitant of Kano may be weighed on the same scale by whoever make the political call about who to connect and who to shed from the national grid.
The best way to generate, transmit and distribute electric power supply in successful countries ios to decentralize the entire process. In the United States, for example, electricity generation and distribution are no business of the Federal Government in Washington, DC. The states make their individual policies and then allow the private sector to generate, transmit and distribute electric power to the public. If Nigeria and its citizenry truly wish to permanently solve the electricity shortage in Africa’s most populous country, then the US constitutional model, which is being partly adopted by Nigeria, should be implemented in full. In brief, what shall bring stead electric power supply to Nigerians is not angry rant over generator noise, but active support for the immediate replacement of the imposed fraudulent 1999 Constitution with a brand-new one written by “We the People…”
Economic Package for Covid 19 Relief Is Wishful Thinking in Today’s Nigeria
Yul Edochies’s bleeding heart notwithstanding, It is hard to foresee a scenario where resident Muhammadu Buhari would mobilize the national government to enable the release of N50.000 (fifty-thousand naira) to every Nigerian as suggested by the famous film star. Perhaps, the shortest reason for outright rejection of the sweet package relief is that there is no cash to pay for it. Equally important is the fact that there is no credible database to rely upon in assuring that the relief shall get to the neediest in a timely fashion.
The lessons from the Covid 19 Pandemic are many. Some things that were presumed to be consistent with normalcy begin to disappoint and fail to meet expectations in times of global emergency as we have today. These are the times when the mighty can fall on their faces and no one would hardly notice the incident. Nigeria has been able to trudge on with a heavy limp caused by several decades of self-inflicted trauma.
The severe injury of the current Covid 19 Pandemic may indeed become the last straw that’ll break the camel’s back as far as Nigeria is concerned. This unprecedented global emergency has shredded the veil of confusion that used to create the illusion of grandeur among Lagosians who live in Lekki over their fellow compatriots eking out a living in Ajegunle. Some say that Covid 19 has become a big leveler for all Lagosians. Possibly, for all Nigerians too. Covid 19 virus is indeed an equal-opportunity killer.
It is already too late for the likes of Nigeria to do anything about the Covid 19 Pandemic short of to hunker down and hope for the best. For this time around, Nigeria is grossly unprepared. What matters now is the future. Shall there be any future? Sure, enough. But it must be a future where the lady in her Lagos flat laments the absence of electric power supply that never existed before the crisis. Financial handouts, as advocated by Yul Edochie, should not be anticipated from a president who concedes greater rights to his cattle herds than the very electorate that had put him in power.