You’ve heard many people tell you to always think outside the box. Hmmm…think outside the box they say. But what happens when the box is dark and full of terror? What happens when there is no cross ventilation inside the box to enable thoughtful exercise? What if the box is too small for your head? My take is, think outside the box ONLY when YOU ARE outside the box. This article I hope will enable us find ways outside the box of crisis; so that we can savor the fresh air to think clearly, creatively, constructively and innovatively in finding ways beyond the box of crisis in Nigeria.
I’m going to be blunt and straight on this topic; yet, I will do as much as to refrain from boring you with too many facts about what you already know regarding the pandemic. Nevertheless, I’m going to have to make skeletal referrals to some of that fact in other to buttress my point, and maybe take a little walk into past occurrences that have unfortunately shaped our sorry situation in Nigeria; especially when it has to do with crisis management before, during and after the fact.
Ever since the pandemic struck our home land (Nigeria) in March this year (2020), what has been the attitude and response call by the Federal government, State government, Local government and allied organizations? Like any other government, ours was a lot more preventive and reactive, but not proactive. We recommended a sit-at-home method, we shutdown businesses, we locked down buildings, we ordered curfews, we sensitized and educated the people on hygiene using every means possible and we practiced social distancing amongst others. Yet, we lost jobs, unemployment rose exponentially, crime rate increased at an alarming rate; as day light robbery were witnessed at some quarters of affected areas of the state, the curve on statistics of those said to have been infected shot-up like a rocket, well-meaning individuals donated relief materials and other equipment to the SAME government who should have had that in its health sector in abundance – now that tells you where our budget has been channeled to; as too many eye brows were raised over the insufficiency. Some donated buildings, ventilators, cash and other resourceful materials needed to combat the situation; even though those were good gestures, it hasn’t flattened the curve in any way by the report we see. If we take a cursory look at some of the disasters that had happened in the country; like flood, fire, building collapse, elections, security, terrorism, accidents, communal and tribal clashes, poor infrastructural challenges, the civil war and many more; you would notice that there has been a pattern to our response. We’ve been a lot more reactive, a lot less preventive and a reliance on fire brigade approach towards them. Rarely have we been proactive before these situations occur.
Whilst the government is currently licking its wounds as its being caught up with the vestige of the pandemic (Covid-19), they should be rest assured that a second hit is underway; and this time, far worse than anything we’ve ever experienced before. The question is, are we even prepared going by our style and manner of approach? What has been the outlook to crises management in Nigeria and projections of future occurrences thus far? We should at this point create the enabling environment to weather the coming storm. The pandemic has undoubtedly tested our muscles; though the government deserves some commendations on what they’ve done so far, I still think there is a lot more to be done. We must as a people anticipate a far reaching consequences of a second hit on our people, our businesses, our economy and our lives. We must look at ways we can upscale businesses and the scheme of things across board; to maintain a certain threshold of such activities amidst any global shock; we must move from traditional methods to technological and innovative methods by creating a framework across all levels, debate them, develop systems and structures that can safely absorb negative global hits and still preserve the status-quo to a minimum; rather than being caught up with just accessing, monitoring and preventing a current effect.
For instance, one of the major problems in Lagos is the hellish traffic commuters experience on a daily basis. For me, that’s a crisis situation in the state; owing to the negative effect it has on Lagosians. Now Lagos became the epicenter of the virus; yet, on a flipside, the total lockdown of business activity in the state to prevent the spread of the virus somewhat solved the ‘hellish traffic’ situation in Lagos. The roads were unburdened, pressure eased for the most part of Lagos. However, the adverse effect was, the people who were supposed to enjoy the freedom the roads enjoyed were ordered to stay home, and jobs/businesses locked in their various base of operations. Therefore, the multi-million-dollar question is, is it possible to keep people off the roads, thereby easing traffic, while they operate their jobs/businesses from home? Is there a way we can schedule it, monitor it and assess its output on productivity before we adopt it as a model? Would that in any way reduce stress levels caused by the hellish traffic, solidify social distancing, keep them safe from infection and solve the hullabaloo about the rising curve on statistics of victims? And maybe explore other options by tapping into virtual models that provides tools that suit our venture? How can we maximize time and space to achieve our goal using technology? I AM JUST SAYING.
In conclusion, when I saw the post that the vice-president of Nigeria reeled out from his verified tweeter handle about a certain FEC virtual meeting; which was held in Aso Rock by few attendees, whilst the rest attended same remotely, I said to myself: “this tech should have been readily made available for our schools…or close to it at the very least.” I tried to juxtapose that with the early statement the government issued out to schools saying: “schools remain closed…teach online.” That statement can be likened to the biblical story of the people of Israel in 1 Kings 12:16, when the king hearkened not unto his people when they (the people) said “…to your tents O Israel.” The educational sector across board have been sent to TENTS! Rather than STRUCTURES. Structures/systems and/or an enabling environment that should have been provided for to effect the public order by the government. The government told them to teach online but they didn’t tell them HOW they would make that possible. Many of the schools have been left dazed and in limbo on how to go about effecting a continuous learning process by keeping in touch with their students. What in heaven’s name would the schools be doing in TENTS. How can they be effective in a tent when tech is readily made availbale globally? Many schools tried to explore WhatsApp, but WhatsApp has its own features and can not offer all the learning tools needed to fill in. They struggled and they’re still struggling; and so far, they haven’t even gone far enough because somebody isn’t thinking outside the box. This is where the government and stakeholders should get involved by way of thought out investments. When you go for an exam, (pandemic) you don’t go sulking over your result sheet (our current attitude). You prepare for the next exam (the next global hit). It is time for us in addition to what we’re doing, to set the stage for THE NEXT GLOBAL HIT. Again ask yourself. Is Nigeria ready? To loose more jobs? To loose more businesses? To loose more lives? And to keep going in circles right back where we started? Think about it.
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