By Ademola Adedoyin
Ordinarily, the title of this short piece would have been Covid 19, Sensitisation and Nigerians, but since I’ve not been privileged to have a firsthand report of the situation in other parts of the country, I’m concentrating on Lagos where I’m domiciled, hence the above title.
Since the first case of coronavirus disease was confirmed in Lagos on Thursday, February 27, 2020, the Lagos State government under the watch of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has demonstrated leadership qualities that are rare in these climes to tame the contagious and deadly pandemic to the applause of local and global watchers.
In respect of trace, test, isolate and treat, the Lagos State government has proven it’s worth and its template has become the model that the central authorities and many governments are adopting to fight this titanic battle against this deadly invisible enemy.
Such is the situation that as at today, through aggressive pursuit of contact tracing, Lagos alone accounts for 5729 of the 12,233 confirmed cases nationwide as at this afternoon. Of this figure, Lagos has discharged 944, while recording a comparatively low figure of 67 deaths out of a total of 342 in the country.
In spite of the sterling performances of the Lagos State authorities in fighting this pandemic, there is no doubting that the battle strategies for taming this monster will require constant review in order to achieve success in areas that are posing serious challenges.
One of such areas is the issue of sensitisation and enlightenment of the citizens on the Covid 19 pandemic and the health challenges it poses. Truly, the information machinery in the state has been revving at full throttle in this respect, but a lot still need to be done to enlist Lagosians on this battle against the deadly pandemic.
With this pandemic at community transmission stage, the need to evolve a workable sensitisation programme that will comprehensively mobilize all the citizens to tackle this deadly infectious disease cannot be overstated.
In the afternoon of yesterday, yours sincerely went visiting a lawyer friend at his Chambers somewhere in Iya Agan Street, off Olokodana street, off Apapa Road. I’m deliberately giving this details to buttress my story. In these communities on Lagos Mainland, it may not be wrong to say that they probably have never heard anything about face mask and social distancing. In the long stretch of Olokodana Street, adjoining streets and Iya Agan Street, this reporter did not sight anyone wearing a face mask, yet one saw clusters of area boys, traders, children, urchins, enjoy a typical saturday, oblivious of any ravaging disease that compels social distancing and wearing of face mask.
Weeks back, I was at the vehicle spare parts market and mechanic settlement at Clegg Street, Surulere. You saw mechanics, technicians etc crowding over a vehicle without any care for the rule of social distancing. You sighted traders and customers haggling over prices of items oblivious of the new normal dictated by this pandemic. Those who had the presence of minds to wear face masks, wore them on their neck rather than their mouth and nose.
The situation is not different in the markets. I had cause to drive Madam to the popular Ojuwoye Market, Mushin at the peak of the lockdown to pick up some groceries she had earlier told her contact to get ready for her. What one saw in that market was a very disturbing scenario. Total disregard for the social distancing mantra, very few traders wearing dirty and unhygienic face masks on their necks…
If this can be happening in urban communities, one shudders to imagine what the situation would be in the rural areas.
In the area of sensitisation and enlightenment work, the authorities need to evolve communication strategies that will take this campaign to the communities through the media organs that they readily identify with and in the language and lingo that are their own.
It is what a time like this requires.
Ademola Adedoyin is a Lagos-based Public Relations Consultant