Andrew Cuomo’s statement that the poorest usually pay the highest price in a crisis situation is likely to play out in Nigeria, Africa, and even the United States of America.
COVID-19 started from a nation with economic, military, scientific, and technological capacity. It eventually spread to the US and Europe. When it came to Nigeria, it came as an imported disease by the elite coming in from overseas. The numbers were quite few as reported by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control.
There was an initial response of lockdown and stay-at-home order in Nigeria and other developed countries.
As at the time of writing this report, the United States of America has recorded close to 65,000 deaths from COVID-19 related cases. Most of these deaths have a disproportionately high percentage from African Americans.
There are obvious reasons. The African Americans are the workers who open doors in public places. They are usually the security personnel in private businesses. They clean public places and transport systems. The video I saw of those cleaning trains in New York were predominantly African Americans because they are at the Base of the Pyramid. They are more prone to predisposing conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory problems. They also want to put in more hours of work because of low pay, large families, conspicuous consumption, and lack of savings culture. Their accommodations are likely to be less than perfect in comparison to white folks.
Read previous Lessons From COVID-19 here.
In Nigeria, as I write on the 2nd of May, 2020, the number of confirmed cases is over 2000, and it is rising rapidly.
Globally, the poor are losing their jobs and are hungry. The lines for food in the U.S. are becoming increasingly longer than a mile, though they sit in their cars, unlike in Nigeria, where we fall over each other. The unemployment figure in the U.S. is more than 30 million people. In Nigeria the people are at the brink of a revolt; some demonstrations took place in some cities, just like in the U.S..
The tragedy is that poverty might have different colours and levels, but the mentality is the same. They usually don’t fear coronavirus or anything. They have nothing to live for beyond the immediate. They have hit the wall and they have to break free.
In the United States of America, those who came to protest were hardly bothered by the laws of social distancing; only a small percentage wore face masks. No descendant of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or Sam Walton was there. The rich are protecting themselves at home. I once told an American missionary that it was not people like him that built America. I told him that the pillars, or the heart that pumps blood, and the brains that built America are very few, and they are hardly seen in public.
The same thing applies to Nigeria. Dangote, Otedola, Ibru, Agofure, owners of Innoson motors, God is Good Motors, and very rich and successful people who are even losing more money are not complaining of the lockdown or rioting on the streets.
Bishop David Oyedepo, the Pope, Pastor Kumuyi, Archbishop Margaret Benson Idahosa, and other prominent preachers are not comparing churches with markets. The Roman Catholic church, in fact, ordered their members to worship at home.
Today, hundreds of Americans flocked to watch the blue Angels do a flyover at the national mall. Many did not wear facemasks or obey social distancing rules. The rich and influential, or well-paid scientists, or bankers, were not there.
When some beaches were opened in some states in the US, the poor flocked to the beaches, disobeyed social distancing rules. The beaches had to be closed again.
Yesterday, the 1st of May, 2020, I drove out through 3 Local Government Areas. In front of a Police Divisional Headquarters, I saw people clustered round tables, drinking and shouting without facemasks. There was no social distancing. In a lot of the rural areas I drove through, the people were without masks. Some people were still clustered in very compact vehicles like sardines without facemasks.
I saw young people playing football in a village secondary school, and close to 40 young people were. The markets in several communities, I passed, were congested and teeming like beehives; few people had facemasks on.
The rate at which we are going, with increasing domestic spread, the poor will become the major victims of the disease. It will be catastrophic for the poor. Tomorrow, churches will open. Poor churches are usually more riotous and noisy. The religious are hardly scientific in their reasoning; in fact, the more you denounce science, principles of safety, and development, the more spiritual you seem. I have been there too.
If care is not taken, the rate of spread will increase. It is not a matter of God forbid or back to sender; it is rebellion; just like eating the forbidden fruit. The consequences of disobedience are not covered by grace.
Kano State and several states of the North of Nigeria are reaping the results of their disobedience and recklessness.
The Almajirai, a group of homeless children in the north, are being deported to their states of origin. They usually roam the streets begging for alms. They were used by politicians during elections to do what I suspect you know already. They were ready tools used during religious riots. Now, State Governments don’t want to be responsible for them. They are being deported to their states of origin. Tragically, a great percentage of them are positive for COVID-19. Imagine the danger we are brewing for the poor and vulnerable.
If you ever imagine that the relaxation of the lockdown was because politicians love you, then you are the most unenlightened person on earth. They are tired of taking care of you. They can’t continue bearing you as a burden. They want you to go fend for yourselves. They are afraid of outright revolt and the consequences. Now they report, “So and so number of people are dead”. But when the poor will start dying, they will remove the word people. They will just say, “100 dead”. The word people will be removed, it will just become numbers.
Andrew Coumo, the Governor of New York, rightly said that he does not want to place the dollar sign above people.
I will advise you to read the Spanish flu and the tale of Marseille. The 1720 tragedy of Marseille shows that the second wave of community infection is usually more terrible.
Please be alert.
Keep social distancing. Stay home if you are vulnerable.
Don’t become part of unfortunate statistics.
God Bless You.
Read the next lesson: Minimalism: A New Reality.