When COVID-19 first arrived Nigeria in February 2020, it arrived as an accompaniment of the wisely travelled elite group of Nigerians whose problems are far from what to eat the next day. The poor in the country rightly or wrongly ascribed the disease to be the preserve of the rich who will not stay in one place and they did not care a hoot about the disease and its consequences.
But like the Nigerian parable says: when one finger touches the oil, it will surely stain the others. Not too long, the president and state governors announced a lockdown in order to tame the spread of the disease and the reality began to down on everyone. On the poor because they could no longer sustain their livelihoods because they depend on daily hustle for survival, and on the rich because they cannot go see places and socialise as they used to.
Obviously the poor is feeling the impact of the lockdown much more than the rich as theirs is an existential crisis and no wonder they are crying to the highest heaven to ‘let my people go’ as it were.
Interestingly, the rich cannot understand why the poor don’t want to stay at home in order to keep everyone safe. The poor says if they stay at home they will die of hunger and they claim that all death is death anyway but the rich do not agree. Death of the poor from hunger is better for the rich than death of the same from COVID-19. The reason is obvious. Hunger is not contagious but for every human person that dies of COVID-19, whether rich or poor, the entire human race is threatened. To the rich, all death is not the same like the poor claim. Now for once, the poor can brag with death when the rich brag with their wealth.
My conclusion is that as long as there is one hungry man in the city, all is not safe. Like the aircraft that quickly offload its fuel when its about to crash land to avoid fire outburst, the rich must in their own interests provide for the needs of the poor in order to keep everyone safe as long as this crisis persist.
Dr Christopher Otabor is an orthopedic surgeon and medical director of alliance hospital in Abuja