Boris Johnson and coronavirus: Lesson for Nigeria, By Anthony Akinola
POLITICS DIGEST – But for the terrible reign and dictatorship of Coronavirus, there might have been a time it would have been considered impolite and unthinkable to refuse a hug or a handshake from a beautiful lady. However, as this acquaintance of mine was approaching fast, with a big smile on her face and her right hand already raised up, down into my pockets went my two hands. Coronavirus has warned us against over-celebrating joy upon meeting one another. The world cannot wait for its terrible reign to end for the sake of our collective sanity.
In fairness to Coronavirus, it is not one king you can accuse of nepotism or favouritism. Coronavirus is no respecter of class, race, ethnicity and religion. It has claimed the lives of the rich and the poor, as well as imprisoned a large proportion of reasonable people in their homes. It has not refused to humble the arrogant exuberance of President Donald Trump.
Men and women of goodwill celebrated with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Great Britain, arguably the most influential prisoner of coronavirus, as he left hospital recently. Just as it is with virtually all those who have been infected by the dreaded coronavirus disease, no one knew exactly how Johnson became captive. However, as one charismatic politician, his urge to shake hands with everyone that came his way had become something of an addiction. Not just a few believed Coronavirus might have got angry with him because of this.
Whatever the case, there is one great lesson we must learn from the self-isolation and hospitalisation of Mr. Johnson. By virtue of his position as Prime Minister, he was and still is British public property. Everything that was happening about his illness got reported to the British people virtually every hour. We were told when he received oxygen, moved into intensive care, and back to the ward. We all knew and saw on Television when he was about to leave hospital .Our prayers were with him throughout. As I was about to write this article, I phoned to ask a journalist friend of mine what was the latest with Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, reportedly tested positive with coronavirus. My friend was just as unsure as I was.
It has become something of a political culture in Nigeria to shield prominent political leaders against those who have every right to know what was happening to the state of their health. We saw this with President Musa Yar’ Adua, who eventually died in office in 2010. We also saw it with our current President, Muhammadu Buhari, in the early days of his administration.
His penchant to always speak through special assistants, when he should have been engaging us on television, tends to fuel fear and unsavoury rumours about the state of his health’
Be that as it may, the British taught us a great political lesson when Boris Johnson fell ill. Political authority was promptly transferred to the Secretary of State, Dominic Raab, who has ever since been intelligently deputising for the Prime Minister. Raab would frequently refer to Johnson as his boss, friend, and colleague. Of course, theirs is a parliamentary system of government where the principle of collective responsibility is at the centre of governance. Whatever policy decision emerges from the cabinet would be deemed to have been endorsed by all of its members. Even when my bias is for the presidential system of government based on the nature of the Nigerian state, this principle of collective responsibility typifies the discipline of the British system.
Boris Johnson will resume his position as Prime Minister upon fully recovering from his illness. He has been full of praise for the doctors and nurses that treated him in hospital, as well as the British people who wished him well during his ordeal. He singled out two nurses who maintained 48 hours vigil by his bedside and, among others, saved him from premature death. They were Jenny McGee and Luis Pitarma, nationals of New Zealand and Portugal, respectively.
The lesson here is that when we start to have proper hospitals in Nigeria, hospitals that wealthy patriots do not shun for medical tourism, the primacy on our health suggests we cannot afford to shut our medical doors against foreign nationals with expertise in diverse areas. Just as very brilliant Nigerian doctors and nurses have not been shut out in the foreign nations where they now excel in their practices.
It would be three weeks on Thursday that Britain has been locked down. The British people will be briefed then by their political leaders, based on the advice of scientists, what the next line of action would be- unlike in our Nigerian end where political leaders are easily pressurised and emotionally bullied by religious leaders.
It would be the dictates of science and national interest that would determine if British residents would be peeping through their windows for another couple of weeks. Boris Johnson would thankfully be obeying the guidelines from the Chequers, his official residence. He would be staying at home in order to protect the National Health Service and Save Lives.
Dr. Akionla wrote from United Kingdom.