Caséy Amaefule

Buhari’s Lockdown Extension: Is It The Right Thing?

YESTERDAY, DURING HIS PRESIDENTIAL address, President Buhari extended the lockdown in Lagos State, Ogun State and Federal Capital Territory by another 14 days after the expiration of the initial 14-day lockdown.

He said it was a necessary move in order to curb the spread of the lethal Coronavirus.

In his words, “Having carefully considered the briefings and report from the Presidential Task Force and the various options offered, it has become necessary to extend the current restriction of movement in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the FCT for another 14 days effective from 11:59 pm on Monday, 13th of April, 2020,” he said.

He noted that the extension would be effective from 11:59 pm on Monday and urged Nigerians to cooperate with the government in the fight against COVID-19.

The move had been met with mixed reactions from Nigerians, majority of who had been complaining of hunger, starvation and inability to make ends meet in the last 14 days.

Some sects of people accuse him of being insensitive to the sorrows and hardship facing the vastly poor masses. Over 70% of Nigerians accounting for almost 150 million people live below the poverty line of $1 per day (N360). Majority of these people feed daily based on what they make from their daily petty trades.

Now with the lockdown extension, how are they supposed to feed themselves and their kids?

In fact, the situation had got so bad that people are forced to choose between going out to hustle and dying of Coronavirus and then staying home and dying of Hunger Virus, which I must admit, is more pervasive than Coronavirus. There have been reported cases of robbery and unrest in some parts of Lagos as people are forced into crimes following prolonged starvation at home.

And never forget that, like I said yesterday, many Nigerians still do not believe that there’s such a thing as Coronavirus in Nigeria. They believe the figures are cooked up, and it’s all part of the government’s grand plan to steal public funds as usual.

Many believe that this Coronavirus thing is a propaganda by the Nigerian government to pull off a MONEY HEIST as usual, with the seemingly-innocent lanky ‘bespectacled’ president doubling as the “Professor”, and his APC inner caucus representing the likes of “Moscow”, “Denver”, “Tokyo”, “Helsinki”, “Rio” and even “Nairobi” (the robbers in the movie series); while the rest of the masses are just the hostages, held against our will, manipulated and used as pawns on their robbery chess board, helping them to achieve their nefarious scheme.

It is one big pathetic situation we are in.

However, regardless of the unpopularity of the president’s decision, the sad truth is that it is the correct one.

Coronavirus is indeed in Nigeria like I said yesterday, and while, with 343 cases and 10 deaths as at yesterday, we have not recorded as may cases or deaths as compared to the scale seen in the USA, Italy or Spain, there’s a propensity that if the government fails to recognize the lethality of the opponent we are at war with and act fast, the cases in Nigeria could explode to unbelievable proportions within a short time.

The USA, even with all their health technological advancement, have over 500,000 Coronavirus cases and 20,000 deaths. Their health system is overwhelmed, they are struggling, asking for medical support from anywhere. The primary reason for this is the lack of preparedness of their government, with President Trump initially calling it the “Chinese Virus”. Now, it has massacred a lot of Americans within two months, and the chicken had come home to roost.

We don’t even have up to a tenth of America’s healthcare manpower or equipment, now if we were to let down our guard and soft-pedal with this virus, we could have twice more fatalities than America in half the time.

President Buhari’s move is both politically and epidemiologically correct. It is a precautionary measure, but the right one. Sometimes the test of leadership is not in making the most popular move, but the correct one!

We may not see the impact of this lockdown extension move now, but believe me, from a public health point of view, it is very correct.

I have seen a Covid-19 patient die in UBTH. The only recorded death in Edo State so far was someone I attended to a little over two weeks ago. Before we knew he had Covid-19, he had a kidney problem and I cannulated him when he was about to undergo dialysis (I was fully protected, of course, as the dialysis cannulation SOP demands). With his Covid-like presenting symptoms, samples were taken and sent to ISTH for testing, the result came back and the patient was said to be POSITIVE for Coronavirus. He died in the Intensive Care Unit on 31st March, and consequently I was sent into self isolation for 14 days (alongside 24 other doctors). In total, we were more than 80 health workers that went on self isolation, if you add the nurses and other caregivers.

Now we are back – I’m back – hale and hearty. No symptoms. Thank God.

Therefore, believe me, you don’t want to know what it feels like to see a patient who is struggling to breathe due to Coronavirus even when connected to a mechanical ventilator. It is a heartrending sight. More importantly, you don’t want to be the patient either.

So let’s kindly bear with the government and try to comply. We know it ain’t easy. But remember that health is wealth.

Na who dey alive go make money, abi?

Please stay home and stay safe. This, too, shall pass.

+++Impossibility is nothing. Just believe+++

~ © Caséy Amaefule 2020