Femi Aduwo is the National Coordinator of Rights Monitoring Group
Natural changes do occur, especially during crises, disrupts people’s expectations, reducing their sense of control and their ability to process information. Therefore, it’s imperative for any discerning leader during this Conoravirus crisis to help his people move through this predictable reaction by informing them.
So, appropriate right engagement tactics can do wonders to shorten the duration and amplitude of the disruption and give people a bit of indirect control over the situation.
Among world leaders, President Trump was exceptional in the manner he honoured Americans. Not only did he set up a high powered Conoravirus Committee under the chairmanship of Vice President Pence, he also showed the seriousness attached in tackling the epidemic by leading the committee to brief Americans daily on the situation.
Unfortunately, the reverse was the case in Nigeria. The President and his aides did not believe it was necessary for him to address the nation on the preparedness and the palliative measure put in place. Such early statement would have allayed the fear of the people.
To make the situation worse, those who should be of assistance to the President on how to engage the people through media were indifferent or lack adequate knowledge of the short and long term implications of the virus.
Because of the peculiar nature of our society, l was not expecting the Committee on Conoravirus to be chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). Members of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) should be involved, not politicians, as information management by the committee is inadequate.
For instance, Prince Charles of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert who is the Head of State of Monaco were not ashamed to tell the world they were positive. Till today, there is no official communication from the Office of President on the current status of the Chief of Staff to the President and members of the Federal Executive Council who had contact with him.
The Minister of Information said it is their liberty to disclose their status, but l beg to disagree because these people are public figures. Nigerians have the right to know. If government officials are hiding their status why is government after people who recently arrived from high risk countries? That’s Animal Farm approach.
What happened to Abba Kyari was avoidable if due diligence was observed. At the time he arrived Nigeria, Germany was already on fire with conoravirus. Without being told, self-isolation was the first thing to be done and assuming the system is working, the medical aide to Mr. President should have been able to monitor presidential aides who just came back from outside the country. Meanwhile, despite the situation, it is redeemable; Mr. President should brief the nation on a weekly basis alongside the committee.