BY AKINMOYEJE TIMILEYIN PRECIOUS
One of the most interesting yet dangerous ways of travelling is by sea. A ship in transit requires occasional checkup from experienced and professional personnels. Failure to do these may lead to disaster- ranging from leakages to complete wreckage- when the ship is hit by a storm. We could say that the storm exposes the laziness or hardwork, professionalism or inexperience in a ship’s maintenance.
The world has been hit by a very deadly storm- the Corona virus. This storm has persistently raged against all global activities, consequently pushing the boundaries of medical advancements beyond their limit. Like all its counterparts in the world, Nigeria is greatly affected by the violent wave of the deadly pandemic. It has made the effectiveness or incapability of certain governmental ministries very ostensible. To a large extent, the loopholes of pre-pandemic Nigeria-in the attempts to provide basic services like healthcare and security- have been discovered.
In view of the above, it is imperative that while constant reparatory activities are ongoing to prevent Nigeria from a looming shipwreck, preparations for an after storm transit and possible future emergencies should be made. In other words, while trying to prevent the country from falling apart, thorough considerations and adequate preparations should be made for the post-pandemic Nigeria and forestalling possible future emergencies. That however births the questions, where do we work on? Which parts of this national ark should be strengthened? Which parts should be repaired? Which sectors need reforming?
The pandemic has greatly influenced the world economy especially the global exchange business. March 2020 came with a sharp decrease in the price of oil globally. Meanwhile, the economy of the country has in previous years fluctuated due to instability of oil price. If this continues, it may spell doom for the economy especially with the daily advancements made in energy technology.
The effect is further pronounced because the pandemic has temporarily crippled other sectors of the economy that are supposed to act as buffers to the shock of sudden increase or decrease in oil price. The effect it has on the aviation, and tourism industries should drive home the point. Aside the above, there has also been a sharp increase in government expenditure especially due to the distribution of palliatives and attempts to strengthen the health sector and research sectors.
These have directly or indirectly affected the common man. From the road transport worker to small and medium entrepreneur and large firms, an average Nigerian barely struggles to make ends meet. Poor homes have to survive on lesser food in terms of both quality and quantity.
Owing to the above, it is imperative that the government make and implement practical policies aimed at economic diversification. The future Nigeria should be able to produce the meal of the common man without depending heavily on importation. In the same vein, the future Nigeria does not have to shiver from the constant fluctuations in the price of oil. The future we need is one whose economy can conveniently sail through the storm of a pandemic without falling into recession.
A WORKING RESEARCH AND HEALTH SECTOR
The President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Francis Faduyile raised an alarm over shortage of healthcare practitioners in December 2019. He stated that only 42,000 doctors are available for Nigeria’s population of over 200 million people. He further mentioned that the decisions made by this health workers was informed by how unconducive the work environment is. The advent of the pandemic made the above very obvious. The inadequacy of government hospitals and certified doctors is a testimony to that effect.
The most logical approach is creating enabling work and research environment for medical practitioners in the country. It has been statistically deduced that even before the pandemic, doctors are not enough. Would it not be disastrous if after pandemic people still no longer have access to quality healthcare? In light of this, the responsibility of adequate funding falls largely on the executive and the responsibility of administrative transparency falls on the bodies made to implement laid down projects. Nigeria in the nearest future should be able to boast of a quality healthcare sector, one that has proficient research aiding facilities.
REBUILDING THE ACADEMIC WORLD
The Nigerian media space became wild with protests and reprimands from citizens when the federal government announced the adjustments made in 2020 budget- the UBEC to be precise. Media reports also served as an incendiary to the already raging flame of discontent. Of a truth, the current state of the Nigerian educational sector is rather opprobrious. Learning has advanced will the help of the media, in saner climes most of the learning procedures have become electronic. In view of this, it would be safe to say that the country is far behind in this sector. The recurring ASUU strike and of poor facilities in Universities, primary and secondary schools is an evidence to that effect.
Just as the federal government appears insensitive to the demands of the federal universities, the state government have their own share of the blame. The UBEC according to the provisions of the law requires certain inputs from each state governments. As of now, many states have refused to access this funds even though it is meant for improving education in their respective States. Could it be because those funds have been diverted? Well that is beyond the scope of this write-up. If even before the pandemic, the country could not boast of a smooth running physical educational system, then the usage of the internet to advance learning is- at the moment- a ignis faatus.
The future Nigeria needs is one in which the academic community can boast of a hitch free service and consequently vast improvements in research and innovation. This however is dependent on the federal government, state government and University managements. In the future, students should no longer need physical presence to access quality education.
It is no gain-saying that post-pandemic era would present complex issues for the country. However, if the right steps are taken in the right direction, it could be the inception of a better Nigeria. The sectors discussed above if reformed would have positive and developmental consequences on the whole nation. God bless Nigeria.
When the United Nations made its declaration in 2012 themed, ‘The Future We Want’, it majorly generalised on the general opinion aired and agreed upon by certain leaders whose interests laid at the top and gave less concern to those at the grassroots. And when I say grassroots, I refer to the actual grassroots like the women with a kiosk in front of her house filled with petty home use or the old mechanic with five uneducated children or the young lady who works as a shop attendant only to earn a meager as salary. But rather, it was like the assembly came together to discuss ‘strategic issues’ in the name of ‘deliberation’ and said, ‘let us talk; our duties as leaders of our people is to create a world like a mounded city, built on a solid rock; designed by the finest marbles; inhabited by the precious beings, led by intellectuals, with a strong focus, faultless policies, an highly industrialised state, a unique sovereignty, faultless health, pension and life insurances, regulated pay rates, less or no strike actions, free education up to masters level, direct and easy access to health facilities, social amenities and all basics of life; most especially good food, great foreign diplomacy and ‘encouraged followers of good justice’.
Well, these are all great policies, I mean, who would not like to have Germany or France or USA (without the shades of racism) as a country. But with a clearer overview of development between then and now, certain issues still stand as a challenge to every state of the world. From racism to high mortality rate, communicable and uncommunicable diseases, diseases which serve as a threat to corona virus, a pause in education, low market sustainability, more responsibility for those in Artificial Intelligence, political conspiracies, internal and external crises, economic partial lockdown, loss of jobs, negative consequences for businesses; most especially startups.
Let us discuss a few. It is not a new story that the world is currently battling with a rather knowingly unknown virus which has affected the whole world and brings along with aimless and uncertified facts, rumours, fears and medical challenges. The rumours most especially have taken rather various dimensions ranging from political, religious, spiritual, moral and ethical opinions. Currently, over 2000 medical personnels have been affected with this in Nigeria with the numbers increasing on a daily bases. And while everyone faults the inability of the government to fully fund the health sector which has led to a rather poor system occupied by less qualified and inexperienced individuals, poor health facilities as well as inhabitable buildings, it is also important to be aware of the dangers of blaming the past in lieu of protecting and finding a lasting solution to the problems of today.
Education. We all say while growing up that ‘we are the leaders of tomorrow’. And while we spend our present speaking and reciting quote, poems and prayers into our tomorrow, battling the odds, trials, negatives and terminals stops that might affect our future, our tomorrow would then come with our head frozenly white and lazy, with arithmetic signs and crooked waists, we might then decide to lead. Some might be lucky and become madam Okonzo-Iweala; the indispensable, while the rest might be BUBU; the illogical corruption fighters. And I will say that that quote has never been for once wrong. Tomorrow.
Also, to say that the standard of religious sentiments and obligation goes far beyond physical and intellectual acquisition of knowledge is rather not alarming. I mean, what does one expect from a country which places more value on chasing demons and the principalities of the supernatural? And just before I get started with the number of Gods that exist, we might as well say that we all go through links. Nevertheless, in terms of physical and ethical responsibility, the acts of this virus is neither conscious of the appearance of spirituality nor is a respecter of the proper adherence to religious obligations. As a matter of fact, the only difference in religion and education is while religion helps man to gain a far knowledge of the existence beyond man, education helps man to gain knowledge for the sustenance of man. And while social distancing might be effective in some type of schools like private-owned and federal schools, the incessant rise in the usage of public transport and a discordant social and public adherence to social rules will nevertheless affect recording numbers. Also, Israel recently shut down its schools due to an increase in the number affected victims among students and teachers. Which means that even with strict adherence and medical intervention, without a vaccine for the infected, every action taken is for a greater trouble.
Rape. Do you know that the most challenging fact around the recent rape issues in Nigeria is the acceptance that ‘rape has no gender’? And this realisation is while no gender is exclusively responsible for this life threatening immoral acts, the fact that it is a rape is more important than the gender who did. And should we also discuss #blacklivesmatters or probably aviation? The state of the world has now become alarming and there is a dreadful need for every individual to recognise his state of existence and preference.
So then, what exactly determines the fate of the nation? B.N. Norton once wrote that ‘the prerequisite for motivation and success in any endeavour is a big vision for your future. If you are stuck in your past, you’re really in trouble.’ The above mentioned issues and many more are issues the nations of the world are currently battling with. While many countries are on the race of finding alternatives and adaptable solutions, it is important that Nigeria as well does not only follow suit (as it always does) but also, make effective changes to certain norms that limits it.
THE NEED TO VALUE WHAT REMAINS
It is like this. A has gold, B has silver and C has wood. A and B need wood to build their shelters and to also keep them warm and alive, while C needs gold and silver to feel among. If A and B trade with C, C’s ability to see beyond his immediate restrictions determines the value of his wood. So, if C sees his wood as inferior in economic value (which of course, it is) to A and B’s gold and silver, he would most definitely let out his good for a lower price. But in a case where C see his wood as an essential material and a good of great value to A and B, C would sell his goods in relations to how much it is needed.
The post-covid era is not debatingly going to be a tough one for everyone in every sector and with the economy sinking deeply and in the most alarming way, there is a need for business to value what they have and build the best from it and nations to trade wealthy with a view of its citizens in mind.
THE VALUE OF EDUCATION AND USAGE OF RESEARCH WORKS
The unexciting presence of this virus has shown how ineffective and uncertain the educational sector is. On a part, the inability of the educational sector to actively get involved in the search for a vaccine which is both effective and lasting springs a question mark. On another part, it reveals how poor the research pattern and how well it is being financed. Yes, one could make a list of students and institutions which have made certain moves towards proffering solutions, but what can one do when these acts can neither be supported nor financed. Little wonder the constant strikes and less qualified graduates.
Hence, the future we need is one which is invested into the quality of lives and ideas by financing the educational sector, students and research works. Also, it is not enough that they finance it, it is also important that the results are promoted and certified without the influence of the Western world.
PROVIDE AN ENABLING PLATFORMS
It is important that both citizens and inhabitants (humans) of this nation are not only considered in decision making but are also allowed to live a life worthy of existence. There is a need for the government to provide an enabling platform which can be achieved in the following way:
- Provide jobs for most citizens.
- Allow for the establishment of new business and company as well as easy and direct access to loan facility without any form of tribalism and favourism.
- Enable and finance entrepreneurs.
And that is how the world is, how nations are developed and worth is determined. The world is value; its value is time; it neither waits nor identifies with anyone who lives behind it. The thing is: women are not equal, men are not equal, races are not equal, and humans are not; even development isn’t. Hence, the quality of existence is determined by the values we insert into the future we need. And that future is us. The ‘us’ which improvise logically, assiduously inputting and working daily towards building a world; the world of our dream. And while we speak out again and again against the social, political, racial and educational vices, we must also recognise the position of the need to build a world worthy of who we are and the future we need. The future needs us and unless we act fast, the cycle would remain the same.