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AfricaNigeriaOpinion

COVID-19: When Politics Gets in the Way of Public Health

By Ifunanya Obeme-Ndukwe

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The Speculations
A lot have been said about the emergence of COVID-19. Some say it is a bio weapon, others say it is a weapon by some individuals to destroy world’s economy, some have also connected it to the 5th generation technology (5G). Some Christians believe it is the prophesy of the Holy book, a sign of the end time.

All these speculations have its percentage of Nigerians that believe in them. But, a greater percentage of Nigerians believe there is no COVID-19 in the country. They say it is a ploy by government to steal money and get grants from international organisations. They have as well demanded for pictures as evidence to prove there are patients undergoing treatment in isolation centers in the country.

The Doubt
The mindset of these people cannot just be attributed to ignorance because, they believe the virus exists, but not in Nigeria.

This is as a result of distrust the people have for the Nigerian government and its officials. The corruption, which has eaten so deep into every sector in the country, including the very health sector. Some also do not dispute the fact that the virus is in the country, they believe the numbers published by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), is not a true reflection of the number of cases confirmed in the country. They believe the numbers published are manipulated.


Videos had as well emerged on social media displaying patients having fun in isolation centers in the country. Including COVID-19 patients who have in different videos complained of being unattended to, demanding to be released to their homes.

The issue also gets worse as some patients who have recovered still have doubt they ever had the virus. One of such persons is the Owner of Daar Communications, Raymond Dokpesi. He, in an interview on television said him and his family were treated of malaria (a common illness in Nigeria) as they complained of not seeing their test results to confirm they actually had the virus.

Despite the number of cases and deaths recorded in the country, most Nigerians still stand firm to their argument that their is no COVID-19 in the country.

The period has also recorded a number of prominent people die in the country. 99% of which the government said died of the COVID-19. This did not convince the people as they say these politicians and prominent people are dying because of the dilapidated health system of the country. They say these set of people died because they had no access to foreign health care as the borders were closed. They were trapped in the country.

Most of the responses from interviews are; “people were dying before COVID-19”, “people were coughing and having headaches before the COVID-19”, “don’t mind the government, let them show us one person that is infected”, “do you know anyone that is infected?”, “the governor just wants to punish us with this lockdown because they have refused to give him money”, “anybody that dies now, they’ll say it is COVID-19”, “they just want to steal money”, “COVID-19 is politics in Nigeria”, COVID-19 is business in Nigeria”, etc.


The Negative Impact
This has in turn made so many people who could have lived longer, die due to fear of going to the hospital. They say they will be forced to the isolation center as COVID-19 patients. So they stay at home, self medicate and when it gets out of hand, they die. Those who also think they have the virus decide to self isolate at home and self medicate rather than be taken to the Isolation center. Isolation centers are dreaded in Nigeria.

The politics practiced in Nigeria and the overwhelming level of corruption has caused people their lives. They have no trust for the government, not even for the health sector and medical practitioners that signed up to keep people alive.

All these disbelieve have forestalled the efforts being made to convince the people that the virus is indeed the country. For these reason, most Nigerians tend to live their lives as usual, going about their daily activities as usual, endangering the lives of the people around them, helping in the spread of the virus. People have gone back to living their normal lives.

Convincing the people in the face of the virus that has killed over a million people in the world is still a battle. They believe because some anti malaria drugs are used for treatment, it means the virus is mistaken for malaria.

Because the number of people tested is poor and individuals self isolate out of fear, it is difficult to really state a figure for confirmed cases in the country. Hence, the number of deaths caused by the virus already can’t be confirmed.

Lives that could have been saved have been lost. Deaths that could have been avoided have also occurred, all because the government have failed it’s people.

Until the government, it’s officials find their way back to gaining the trust of the people, until the health sector is fixed, more lives will be lost. Until policies that directly benefits the common man are implemented, nothing will change. 2020 is an eye opener of the worst things that can happen. We hope the politicians in Nigeria have learnt one or two things.  


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