I wrote an article years back about understanding the Nigerian that is worth recalling with the COVID-19 scourge.
In fact, it began when I had an epiphany on the Nigerian roads that hit me hard.
There is this junction in Agidingbi close to LTV, Coca Cola and Shoprite. Cars veer off to multiple directions from there. There are working traffic lights 99% of the time. I work not far from there. So this is a place I am familiar with.
I always wondered why there was a waste of personnel at that place when traffic lights are reliable. At any given point in time; you will find at least: three LASTMA officials, three policemen and two FRSC officials.
Why do we have so many people to enforce traffic light instructions?
Then one day, I understood why.
It was peak period and for some reason only one policewoman was there. She was with some bus driver arguing over something. In those minutes, all hell broke loose. Cars were coming from all directions. It did not matter who had the legitimate right of way. People were nosing in and doing whatever they wanted.
Left to the average Nigerian, the law is simply a suggestion that we can nose around; bribe our way around and break without fear of consequences.
People will not obey because it is right to obey.
You are a dullard if you wait for your legitimate right of way.
Self-centred behaviour contributed to COVID-19 spread
It is similar to driving here in Lagos. There is a bottle-neck ahead. So, people are in one long lane crawling ahead. Suddenly, some jackass decides he is smarter than everyone. He comes out forming a second lane and cuts in front ahead. Then other cars see this and start to do the same. Before you know it, there are two lanes and the traffic is standstill. Cutting ahead means people in the legitimate lane have to be delayed.
So, following the rules and regulations just means one is not wise in Nigeria. I remember being at the court processing probate issues with my mum. I was following the queue but people seemed to be waltzing in and out without queuing. My mum got tired as time was ticking. She went in and in a few minutes called me to come in. We were done in record time because we tipped.
There is a way round everything in Nigeria. Laws are suggestions. Anything that is not reinforced militantly will never work.
And this is how we got here with building cases of Covid-19.
People coming from high risk areas were instructed to self-isolate for a minimum of two weeks; so as curtail the spread of the virus.
What did they do?
Because it is impossible to police tons of people coming to Nigeria from all over to destinations all over Nigeria; people did not adhere to these instructions.
They came out living their best lives.
One went for an award show.
One went to a bank.
Another went to a factory.
And so on and so forth.
Risking the lives of many simply by selfishly flouting something that was to protect the general populace.
Did they think they were invisible?
Did they believe our weather was too hot?
Or did they believe black people were immune?
Whatever it was, just two weeks in self-isolation would have gone a long way in helping Nigeria with a healthcare system that is on crutches.
People pretended that they could not sit back for two weeks. Well, guess what? The whole freaking world is sitting back till God knows when.
I don’t blame people for contacting COVID-19. No one can help that. It happens.
But it could have stopped with you if you just decided to obey the rules of social distancing; as well as isolation and quarantine.
When I saw that some people who were not selling essential commodities having their stalls wrecked; for opening here in Lagos, I wasn’t mad.
People don’t get it.
Just drop this damn COVID-19 in any of the densely populated areas in Lagos and watch it implode. Did we think it was over-kill when China built a hospital in 10 days? There are reasons for this.
I am not so callous as to pretend I don’t know that daily living in Nigeria; for a lot of people is dependent on daily earnings.
I get it.
But this Covid-19 can take away just being alive.
Many thanks to the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu\/ for his relief packages for Lagosians.
Let us be sensitive to the needs of one another.
Let us not let the selfishness that got us here ravage us further.
Please let us do what is right.
Most of all, we need to work on our mentality and comply with the laws; that are laid out to protect all of us. (Mosques and Churches, take note).
Lastly, do not panic.