ONE of the factors that have been feeding the myths surrounding the raging coronavirus pandemic is the unusual rate at which it has affected the upper strata of our society.
It is this factor that led many to the unfounded and dangerous notion that COVID-19 is a “big man’s disease”.
The disease entered Nigeria through people who were infected while on trips to foreign lands. The first major casualty was Mallam Abba Kyari, President Muhammadu Buhari’s late Chief of Staff who succumbed on April 17, 2020, a few weeks after returning from a foreign trip.
Since then, many highly placed Nigerians have died from the disease, the most recent being the immediate past Governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi.
COVID-19 appears to have particularly targeted the seats of power across the country. Apart from the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the governors of Oyo, Bauchi, Kaduna, Ebonyi, Delta, Abia and Ondo states, along with many deputy governors and other top state officials, have been infected.
Many government officials who have been at the forefront of the gallant efforts to curtail the spread and give palliatives to the less- privileged have sadly become infected in the line of duty. Our hearts go out to all of them. We wish them quick recovery.
This fight against the pandemic has forced governors and state officials to fight for the people in a way they have never been seen to do before. We salute them as part of our frontline health workforce.
In the midst of a pandemic like COVID-19, government officials are exposed because of the highly-interactive nature of their daily routines.
This is even more so in states which are faced with major elections such as Edo and Ondo states. In such situations, the social distancing rule is almost impossible to implement.
We believe that government officials can take better steps to protect themselves, family members, aides and others who see them regularly. Officials should submit themselves for routine testing. This is how the various football leagues in Europe are able to resume and carry on with their businesses with minimal risk.
Officials should also adopt the virtual meeting strategy that has become the order of the day all over the world.
We don’t see why infection will not reduce within Government Houses if standard protocols are observed in the daily conduct of governance.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should team up with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, to evolve safer ways to conduct campaigns and elections. We must explore safe ways of living our democratic lives in spite of this pandemic.
Our democracy cannot be locked down because of the coronavirus pandemic.