Beyond the Coronavirus Pandemic – By Binzak Azeez

April 25, 2020
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Scholars in history and other fields in the humanities and sciences such as ; medical anthropology, epidemiology and pathogenesis have proven that humans and viruses have been at war since antiquity. The emergence of pandemic diseases in the pre – modern age and post – civilized world has been traced to the rising interaction between man and animals, environmental and climate changes, and globalization and urbanization.

Many infectious diseases previously unknown to human communities were contracted through the contact of animals bodily fluids, the consumption of contaminated wild animals, livestock, food substances and water infected by animals, and the carnal knowledge of animals (bestiality). The changes in environment and climate may increase global temperature and wind. The alterations could therefore enhance skin – related diseases and geographic distributions of vector – borne diseases. The increasingly mobile and global population, unplanned urbanization, inappropriate land use and changes in ecosystems are fuelling the increased outbreak of infectious diseases.

The emergence of infectious diseases was reported to have claimed more lives than all the historically recorded human wars. The Antonine’s plague of 165 AD killed over 5 million people across the globe. The Justinian’s plague of 541 – 542 AD annihilated over 25 million people across Europe. In the 14th century, the Black Death pathogen also wiped out nearly half the entire human population across Europe, Asia and Africa. The 2013 – 2016 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa killed more than 11, 000 people, while viruses such as lassa fever, meningitis and SARS – CoV – 2 are on the rampage across the globe.

SARS – CoV – 2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus – 2002) has added to human roster of deadly diseases. It is the causative agent of the current COVID – 19 which has continued to spread disproportionately with growing mortality rate. This global menace has reignited the longstanding supremacy battle between science and religion since religious activities have been restricted as a preventive mechanism for escalation.

Nigeria as a case study has declared its unreadiness and helplessness in combating the COVID – 19 pandemic. The nation could only boast of internationally renowed religious leaders, gigantic religious houses and government project on pilgrimages. Nigeria has failed to fully emulate Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Republic of Turkey,  Italy and other topnotch religious nations which continually invest in both science and religion.

Nigeria’s political elite have continued displaying political rascality, misplacement of priorities and administrative perfunctoriness. The exposition was reflected in the government’s lackaidaisical attitude towards the prevention of coronavirus outbreak in the country. Nigeria’s future is gloomy as her political terrain is susceptible to future violent and bloody change of government. The people have ventilated their anger and readinesss to defy the curfew imposed in some states. There are reported cases of disobedience and clashes with the law enforcement agencies in Delta State, Abia State among others. The barbaric episode of bloody change of government is looming if the masses’ anger is aggravated, coordinated and exploited.

The possibility of revolution should not be underestimated in Nigeria. The government across boards should sketch an inclusive social welfare state during and after this trying period. Nigeria would collapse totally if it encounters the degree of disease which has thrown Italy, Spain and the USA into disarray. Therefore, all the aforementioned causatives of outbreaks should be effectively tackled. The state architecture should also promote science through the establishment of duly equipped national and states’ laboratories,  issuance of grants and improved conditions for research and promotion of science education.

Binzak Azeez writes from the faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife

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