Heal the world. Make it a better place for you and for me to thrive and to survive…and our own could be better, if we care enough for each other to make it a better place for you and for me.” – Micheal Jackson
It is no more a news that COVID-19 has reached our shore in Africa. The pandemic – as it was declared by the World Health Organisation – in February has now become another calamity that plagues the world. Around the globe, no country is exempted from being infected by this dreaded virus.
The outbreak of the virus has called for introspection from us to dissect the interplays between leadership and followership. In the contemporary world, where the leaders are responsible and accountable, it is easy for them to persuade their followers to comply with their directives in their quests to minimise the spread of the pandemic. However, in other parlance, where the leaders are not responsible and accountable, we have witnessed followers’ lack of trust and reliability on their leaders.
Having noted the distinctions between leadership and followership at the local precepts, it is also necessary to shed light on the perceived collective responsibilities we should have taken in stemming the tide of the pandemic.
As at December 2019, it has become known to the whole universe that a new virus may likely attack human race. Instead of rising to the challenge, the Chinese Authority itself, who should have played the lead role in combating the pandemic resulted to blame game, thereby sacrificed the physician who raise the awareness of the world to the pandemic, Dr Li Wenliang.
Assuming the Chinese Authority has not embarked on suspicious approach, which is ominous to the entire human race, it would have attract sympathies from other parts of the world. We cannot continue blaming or suspect ourselves and we would expect our engagement to remain the same. They could have resulted to brainstorming on how to curb the rise of the pandemic. Gbenga Adebambo, in one of his messages noted that “Brainstorming attacks the problem by evolving a viable solution while blaming others evade the problem and attacks the person.”
It was this inability to brainstorm and proffer solutions to our common problems that affected one of the world’s leaders – from a respected nation – to result to verbal abuse in demonstration of his loquaciousness, profanity and dislike for the Chinese. He either refers to the pandemic as “Chinese Virus” or “Foreign Virus”. Why can’t he direct his energy towards saving the world from this calamity?
The COVID-19, as it has been observed from those infected, knows no identity! It spares no one! It affects both the whites and the blacks. It affects both the mightiest and lows. It affects both the rich and the poor. It affects both the leaders and the followers. It is no respecter of religion, race, colour or tribe. The submission of Ahmed Bola Tinubu fits in here when he said that “COVID-19 attacks those who pray at the altar in church as well as those who face the Qiblah when praying in the mosque. To corona, we are all the same.”
Now that the pandemic has landed in Nigeria, we have heard several opinions on how it can be contained. The pedestrian school of thought opines that Africans cannot be infected with it because of our weather conditions. The religionists have told us that it is God’s wrath for our brazen, wicked and brute deeds! However, we cannot say they are all wrong since the epistemologists have not tell us what really causes the pandemic, even if it has consumed more fatalities than we had assumed.
Its effects on our social order have left us devastated and confused! We have been told to avoid social gatherings; what is most troubling is that our religious gatherings has been affected too . But does COVID-19 wrong? Obviously not. We cannot now blame COVID-19 for not gathering ourselves to pray on how it could be contained. Alas, before now, there were several worship places and houses that were turned to places of settling scores on political, tribal and other sorts of social ridicule and mendacity.
Allen Neuharth advised that “Don’t just learn something from every experience. Learn something positive.” The positive things we have to learn from this pandemic is how we all now rise together to contain it; how we manage our affairs from our respective homes and how some philanthropists have showered love on us, sharing their resources to us and bridging the gaps between the privileges and the downtroddens. These are testimonies that the world can encounter attack and survives it if it doesn’t attack humanity. But the world can never survive any attack that ravages humanity.
This makes it mandatory for us to be commending everyone – corporate bodies, government institutions, organisations and other responsible individuals – who have deemed it fit to sensitise the populace on how to contain the pandemic. Their roles, to a larger extent, have proven that humanity is truly about forging peace, compassion and love. We hereby compel everyone to adhere to directives and medical advices as given by appropriate bodies, as abiding by those advices and directives will help us ameliorate the spread of the pandemic and help the entire world in containing it.
COVID-19 is not about China, Italy, Spain, United States or Iran alone. It is about you and me. It is about you and your neighbors. It is about the sacrifices we are all ready to make to ensure this world is a better place for you and me to live!
Sulyman Sodeeq Abdulakeem is a writer who co-authored the book “Responsible Living: Live to Fulfill Your Potential.”