More than 75% of Nigerians believe COVID-19 is govt scam
Dr. Lanre Adekola teaches Statistics at the the Bells University of Technology, Otta, Ogun State. In this interview with Nigeria Today correspondent, Biodun Busari, he speaks on many issues bordering on the attitudes of Nigerians toward COVID-19. Excerpts
NTN: As the developed countries are being careful to curtail COVID-19 to prevent the second wave of the pandemic, Nigerians are complacent and careless in the use of nose masks and observing other World Health Organisation and NCDC protocols. What are the reasons for these actions?
DR. ADEKOLA: Firstly, I would like to say that an average Nigerian does not believe COVID-19 actually exists in Nigeria. A greater percentage among the populace, say 75% believe it is a scam. This could be as a result of the fact that in time past, many have exhibited most of the symptoms of the so-called pandemic and have successfully treated such symptoms with little or no use of drugs. So, the fact the symptoms of COVID-19 are synonymous with those of malaria fever which most Nigerians are familiar with and already used to doesn’t make them believe there is a new virus responsible for such symptoms.
Another reason for this could be due to the fact that many Nigerians looked at it from the spiritual perspective especially among Christians. They believe that the promise of divine protection and healing against any form of pestilence and disease according to the Bible is true and reliable. In fact, in the month of August 2020, when NCDC stated that there was consistent decline in the country’s epidemiological curve which medical experts described as “mysterious,” some Christians at that point termed it “miraculous,” justifying their claim and belief.
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NTN: What are the dangers in this careless attitudes?
DR. ADEKOLA: Carelessness and nonchalant attitudes toward preventive measures can lead to a sudden increase in the rate of infection and a daily number of cases of the pandemic. Any rapid increase in the epidemiological curve can, in turn, lead to another phase of lockdown which is of course, detrimental to the economic well-being of every individual and the entire nation.
NTN: Do you think government is doing enough to enforce the guidelines?
DR. ADEKOLA: Yes. I could remember during the 2015 outbreak of Ebola in Nigeria, the government made similar efforts to curtail the spread of the virus and virtually every Nigerian made necessary efforts to comply with the directives having the consciousness that the outbreak was real and deadly. Like I said earlier, the major challenge, in this case, is that many do not believe the virus actually existed in the country, coupled with its low mortality rate. So, no matter the matter of enforcement, many would tend to frustrate such effort until they have conscious acceptance in the existence of the pandemic.
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NTN: Is coronavirus really in Nigeria or is it hoax as claimed in certain quarters?
DR. ADEKOLA: In my opinion, coronavirus is in Nigeria. However, the percentage of infected cases is low compared with the population of Nigeria. Moreover, this percentage is mainly among those with travel history especially those coming into the country from other countries with a high number of cases as seen in the index case. These, in turn, spread the virus among their contacts, though the rate is also not statistically significant. So, it would be a great advantage for everyone at the community level to adhere to necessary precautions and guidelines in order to truncate the spread and completely eradicate the pandemic.
Lastly, I must commend some organisations and institutions that are still enforcing the preventive procedures, corroborating the government’s effort. I recently visited a shopping mall here in Otta, Ogun State and I realised that nobody would be granted access to the mall without the nose mask and washing of one’s hands at the entrance. Kudos to such organisations and institutions! Such a collaborative effort would make COVID-19 pandemic a thing of the past in Nigeria with an appreciable amount of time.
NTN: Thank you, Doctor Adekola. I appreciate this.
DR. ADEKOLA: Glory to God.