False Hope for Nigerian Students, By Kabir Nizam Baba
POLITICS DIGEST- At the risk of sounding pessimistic, since June, I had dispelled all hopes of Schools resuming in 2020. To compound this discouraging mindset, when relatives, friends and colleagues suggest that schools would only open in January, I used to offer a qualifier to their hope: ‘If we are lucky’. Meaning, we are only likely to return to classes in January if we are lucky!
Schools and many public institutions in Nigeria were closed on the 23rd of March 2020. This is exactly six months since the closure. Other public institutions closed around that date include the aviation (both domestic and international flights), worship centres, shopping malls and markets. This measure was courtesy of the dreadful COVID-19 virus that was ravaging the world.
Nigeria wasn’t the first nation to put these measures in place. In fact, it simply adopted what the western world applied. And for all that is apparent, Nigeria acts only when they act, and mimics the exact approach they employ. Sometimes even exaggerating and over-blowing the situation. This, notwithstanding the peculiarities of the Nigerian state in strengths and weaknesses alike.
An instructive insignia on this point is the Secretary to the Federal Gov’t, Boss Mustapha’s rather unsavoury, threatening statement he made recently that another lockdown is possible. Reason? ’…Israel, has re-introduced a three-week lock down, the United Kingdom is considering another lock-down phase, Spain is enforcing a partial lockdown in Madrid, and France, amidst protests by its citizens apart from other stricter measures they introduced to contain the virus…’.
I find that very laughable and saddening alike. We are still copycats!
With time over the months, and with an apparent decline in the rate of contagion and fatality, Nigeria began the process of easing the lockdown measures in phases. But typical of a country that belittles and relegates education, schools, at least tertiary institutions, are yet to open. No one can afford to wait for a cure in the form of a vaccine or whatever. The reality is that the virus is here, and we have to learnt to live with it.
Gladly, the non-medical interventions have proven viable. With the safety protocols and the evidently low fatality rate (of less than 2%) of the infection, and the clinical trials that have proven workable like Dr Stella Immanuel’s hydroxychloroquine treatment, there is no logical reason schools should remain closed while every other institution opens.
At the infamous outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, just as was the case with the 1918 influenza that was nicknamed ‘Spanish flu’, ‘French flu’, ‘German plague’ and other similar names, some states and individuals have taken the rather implausible step of stigmatizing a nation by labelling it ‘Chinese virus’ for the supposed responsibility of the (Chinese) nation in the calamity. It goes without saying that such stymie had done more harm than good, and the rest is history.
Here we are in September, approaching Nigeria’s 60th independence. While the federal government is planning on a mega ‘diamond anniversary’, students, teachers, parents and vendors whose livelihoods or peace of mind or both are intertwined with a working educational system are now stranded, disappointed and frustrated. I wonder what Nigerian students and those in the sector have to celebrate on October 1st, 2020.