On Sunday, January 31th, 2021, Funmi Iyanda discussed the second wave of COVID-19 in Nigeria with Nigeria’s Leading Virologist, Professor of Virology and Former vice-chancellor of Redeemer’s University, Professor Oyewale Tomori, National Coordinator for the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, The Chairman, Lagos State Branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Adenekan, journalist, Joey Akan, and a researcher, and COVID survivor, Chioma Ogwuegbu.
Public Eye went into the streets of Lagos to find out what the average Nigerian feels about the second wave of COVID-19 and the government’s reaction. Here is what they had to say:
“If there is really a pandemic, why is the government being so contradictory? They say we should stay at home and avoid large crowds, but we’re supposed to gather to get our NIN? They never even wear masks, themselves!”
“It is not real.”
“The first lockdown would have worked if the government had provided for us.”
“COVID na big man disease.”
For many Nigerians, COVID-19 is a fictional character brought by the government to scare them, much like the boogeyman.
Dr Adenekan confirmed this on the show, “The average Nigerian does not believe in COVID-19 because of what the government is doing or not doing. Whether the government responds to this appropriately is another thing entirely. How are you taking charge of your health?”
According to Mr. Joey Akan, we can’t rule out the incompetence of the government. “There are about 200 million people in Nigeria. How many testing centres do we have? After the first wave disappeared, free testing disappeared. Politicians have held campaigns during a pandemic.”
“They tell people to crowd out the NIMC centres during a supposed second wave. They tell us to send our kids back to school. Isn’t that doublespeak? Will you trust this sort of government? The message and the actions should tally.”
We were joined by Mrs. Chioma Ogwuegu, who survived COVID-19. “We have this idea that it is only people who have underlying symptoms or people who are old that get severe symptoms. So people are willing to risk it. That’s a lie.”
“COVID is like Russian roulette. You never know what symptoms you will get if you get infected. Plus, you still have to cope with the after-effects of COVID. For me, it’s debilitating fatigue. It’s best to do all you can to avoid it.”
Professor Oyewale Tomori joined in via Zoom. At the start of the pandemic, Professor Tomori had had a conversation on Public Eye Live regarding what Nigeria’s response should be and what needs to be done. He was displeased at the way Nigeria handled this pandemic.
“We can’t deceive ourselves. If Nigeria had done what it was supposed to, we won’t be having a second wave. We are testing 1 in 200 million. That is poor.”
“If you have a skilled carpenter with no saw, no nails, no hammer, he’s as useless as any other person. Nigerians have the capacity, but we are not providing them with the facilities they need to function effectively. Provide laboratories for testing.”
Dr. Sani Aliyu also spoke to Public Eye via Zoom. As head of the presidential task force on COVID, he is in the best position to provide accurate information on where we are headed with COVID-19 as a country.
“Here is the flaw in people’s reasoning: Why don’t we allow children to have measles, after all, malaria is more common than measles.”
“Yes, it does not kill everybody. But for those that it kills, it is devastating. The youngest person in Lagos to die of COVID was just 27. Over 23% of those infected over 50 died. Even if it does not kill you, you can have long-term side effects.”
On vaccination, he said, “The goal is not to vaccinate the entire population, it is to vaccinate 70%. That’s the number of people we need to vaccinate to establish herd immunity.”
“We will start with the most at-risk groups e.g. the front liners, security personnel, elderly people, and people with conditions that make them likely to die if they catch COVID.”
The full episode is available on Public Eye’s YouTube Channel:
Public Eye airs every Sunday at 5 pm on TVC News. You can catch them on any of these television channels: DSTV (channel 418), Startimes (channel 307), GOTV (channel 45), or channel 572 on Sky.
Public Eye is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.