By Donu Kogbara
WHEN I was a teenager, my father bought me a poster that I stuck on my bedroom wall. The words emblazoned on it were: “Sometimes, I look at things that are and I ask myself ‘why?’ At other times, I think about things that aren’t and ask myself ‘why not?’”
That poster has been at the forefront of my mind since the frantic race to develop and mass-produce COVID vaccines started last year.
Britain, America, China and Russia have pulled off this amazing feat; and the thing I keep asking myself is why can’t Nigeria live up to its “giant of Africa” swagger and become the kind of country that achieves world-class triumphs?
Do super-inventive people in other countries have two heads or more brain cells? I think that we can all agree that the answer is No!!!
There are many brilliant scientists in Nigeria and many brilliant scientists of Nigerian origin in the Diaspora. We possess the ability to curb chronic public sector corruption, thereby releasing government funds for worthwhile projects. We have tycoons who would be willing to contribute huge sums to pharmaceutical research if they were sure that their money would not be stolen.
As I write, millions of Nigerians, Africans and Black folks in the UK, US, etc, are refusing to get vaccinated for a number of reasons, including a widespread belief that the superpowers who have developed vaccines can’t be trusted and might use us as guinea pigs.
Given that Black people have been treated like non-humans in the past and exposed to dangerous drug experiments (please Google the Tuskegee Syphilis Study), this fear is not entirely irrational.
But the White establishment has changed, within this context at least; and I’ve been vaccinated twice because I reckon that getting vaccinated is an intelligent move and the best way to minimize health risks (let us please not forget that COVID can kill), whatever your age.
I am also allergic to lurid conspiracy theories, especially those involving Bill Gates (a global philanthropist I hold in high esteem); and I’ve urged several Black refuseniks to take a leaf out of my book and get double-jabbed…on the grounds that if the vaccine is good enough for the likes of Queen Elizabeth, Joe Biden, President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo, it is good enough for the rest of us.
But the anti-vaccine (anti-vaxx) recipients of my lectures usually scoff and tell me that they are absolutely convinced that Bill Gates wants us dead and that we are not being offered the same vaccine as foreign or indigenous VIPs.
Some anti-vaxxers even express the view that Buhari and Osinbajo are mumus who have been deceived into allowing toxic substances or sinister surveillance microchips to be injected into their bodies!!!
Meanwhile, many Nigerians who do want to be fully vaccinated are being frustrated, in Abuja at least, because vaccines have run out.
My driver got the first dose in June but has not been able to get the second dose. And some have not even been able to get one dose.
If a Nigerian vaccine existed, anxious Nigerians on various waiting lists would not be sitting around waiting for charity, as in waiting for foreign governments our government has begged for help to send a few spare vaccines our way.
We’d be running our own show and rolling out our own vaccine. We’d even be exporting it to other African countries and clawing back some of our research and development costs via sales revenue.
And I’m assuming that a vaccine developed in a Black country would be more acceptable to Black anti-vaxxers in Europe and Beyond.
Imagine a situation in which Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, has to wearily reach out to Buhari in desperation, to plead with him to send some Nigerian vaccines to the UK for Black Britons who “don’t want no White” vaccine and cannot be deported because they are UK citizens or doing vital jobs in hospitals, etc!!!
Imagine how much self-respect we would enjoy if we fulfilled our potential! Imagine how much real respect we would attract! Imagine how high we could hold our heads at the United Nations! Imagine how much a visionary government could inspire and economically empower the citizens of Nigeria!
We really need to start dreaming big and disciplining ourselves to do big stuff. We must learn to keep asking ourselves “why not?” and to take on challenges that Black nations have never taken on before. We must prove that we can think laterally and stop messing around and magnificently match Whites (or the Chinese) on the world stage.
Questions that need to be answered
SOMEONE just sent me some statistics they want me to highlight, in the hope that Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State for Petroleum, who is a Niger Deltan Bayelsan, will provide a coherent answer.
The figures below relate to maintenance costs:
*Port Harcourt refinery— $1.5bn
*AKK Pipeline— $2.5bn
*Warri refinery— $897m
*Kaduna refinery— $586m
Total borrowing: $5.483bn
“You are,” says the disgruntled Vanguard reader, in a complaint that is addressed to Sylva in particular and the government as a whole, “servicing redundancy with heavy borrowing when you have acute food inflation and shortages and crises in education and security…
What’s wrong with the managers of Nigeria?”
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