Rev Ladi Thompson, pastor of Living Waters Unlimited Church, Anthony, Lagos shares a new perspective with ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA on COVID -19, saying that in Nigeria a new order will emerge from the chaos created by it
What new insight can you share with us on COVID-19?
A wise man said that ‘he that asks the right questions will get the right answers to make the right decisions.’ On this premise I must confess that it is very difficult to hold any well balanced public discourse on the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria because our education systems broke down ages ago. Our national architecture of thought has regressed terribly and our bank of knowledge is steeped in poverty. The average citizen for whatever reason does not value information much and this is not an advantage at times like these.
It is obvious that the entire globe is at its wits end on the issue of this coronavirus pandemic but we should all agree that it is not only the pandemic that should be brought into focus but the COVID-19 global disruption that it has triggered.
How would you assess the work of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) so far?
This is unspoken but we don’t have to be rocket scientists to observe that the all-encompassing COVID-19 global disruption is the major focus of the smart nations of the world. Given the facts on ground and the political dynamics of Nigeria, we should quickly commend the NCDC for what it has been able to achieve so far. The bigger challenge, however, is that Nigeria is yet to understand its role in Africa and the impact of our decisions on the continent.
But how would you access our response in terms of health facilities and other measures put in place?
The brutal truth we have to accept first is that our scientific and technological advancement as a nation lacks the sophistication required to speak with authority on the global pandemic. This is one area that we have had to outsource our thinking and the strategies of self-isolation, lockdowns and other restrictive measures adopted are not in any way original. This unimaginative trends even extend to the press briefings and media coverage styles of the pandemic and the entire affair could have been comical where it not for the direness of the situation.
How else the country could have handled this threatening situation then?
At times like these we would be better off if we armed ourselves with as much knowledge as possible to ask the right questions before formulating our national policies. We initially were alarmed by the gruesome pictures of the pandemic coming from abroad and our consternation deepened when the statistics of COVID-19 deaths in the United States downgraded the last world power to the status of a third world nation. When the confirmation came that the virus was in Nigeria we braced ourselves for the worst but something strange happened. The virus did not follow the expected script here! While we must not entertain the wild conspiracy theories of ignoramuses and propagandists, our brains cannot ignore the obvious.
How do you see the frenetic talks about vaccines at the National Assembly?
There is an X-factor in our climes that has not been explained yet, perhaps it could be an epigenetic factor but there must be something in the Nigerian system that is slowing the virus. Before we rush to receive vaccines there are a few questions we need to ask. Our National Assembly has not considered that COVID-19 has not even attained epidemic proportions in Nigeria yet because we have other deadlier epidemics that have been devastating our polity before the arrival of the foreign concoct. Shall we say then, that the far deadlier Lassa fever with its 23% fatality rate compared to the 2% of the coronavirus is of less concern to Nigerian legislators? Could Nigerians be justified in assuming that this new found zeal of the men in the corridors of power might be a product of certain undisclosed inducements by “men in the shadows” that have earmarked us as guinea pigs? Do Nigerians have any genuine cause for concern as to the value placed on African lives by the benevolent friends who wish to try out their vaccines on us? Assuming that our legislators are unaware of the Pfizer 1996 atrocities in Kano where more than 100 children were used for clinical trials of new antibiotic, trovafloxacin (Trovan) with disastrous results, can they say they know nothing about the murder of more than 7 million Africans by some pharmaceutical companies as documented in the Ugandan Dr. Peter Mugyenyi’s 2008 publication, titled “Genocide by Denial” too?
Given the fears and outcries by the Nigerian populace, what should the legislators do about this?
Nigerians have every reason as the guardian nation of Nigeria to be on the edge and the best solution would be for the legislators to be the first to be injected with the vaccines and trial drugs as a gesture of good faith. After all the Queen of England once demonstrated great leadership by taking a bath in the public to allay the fears of her subjects that showering and bathing was not harmful! Are the members of the National Assembly aware that Bill Gates released a long memo on the April 23, 2020 tagged “Pandemic 1” in which he mentioned Nigeria specifically as nation of interest? Should it not be off interest that Bill Gates summer book list for this year includes titles like “Great Influenza” by John M Barry and “Good Economics for Hard Times” by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo. Since Bill Gates has been working hand in glove with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other bodies like Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, have we taken time to scrutinise his personal views on immigration, population control and racial profiling? If his gift of free home testing kits through Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) was rebuffed by the US, Food and Drug Administration, shouldn’t we be cautious too? One clear thing is that Africa is already indebted to Bill and Melinda Gates for standing with us against malaria. We, however, still have a few nagging doubts because the brilliant programmer would have spent less teaching us to fish than supplying us fish to eat! We have refused to look the gift horse in the mouth but anyone who helps us to defeat the programme of failure that is in the Nigerian operating system knows that the new Nigeria would have the ability to roll back malaria by herself.
What gives you this confidence given the COVID – 19 phase that we are enmeshed in?
A new order will definitely come out of the chaos created by the COVID-19 disruption and our patriots need to think on the future generations and prioritise with wisdom. There are still so many questions hanging in the air and it is bad enough for man to toss his fellow man a bone but it gets worse when we get down on all fours to wag our tails and bark with great delight. Nigeria does need a Julius Malema.