COVID-19: Nigeria’s innovations, ideas, or the lack of it

Let me start this way, a man was trying to get some rest in his home, it is the say at home, stay safe ere, the following conversation ensued with his wife.

Wife: Hermann?

Husband: Yeah?

Wife: what are doing?

Husband: Nothing

Wife: Nothing?

Wife: Why nothing?

Husband: I am doing nothing

Wife: Nothing at all

Husband: Nothing

Wife: Really, nothing at all?

Husband: No, I am sitting here

Wife: You are sitting there

Husband: Yeah

Wife: But you must be doing something

Husband: No

Wife: are you thinking about anything?

Husband: Not really

Wife: It wouldn’t hurt, if you go for a walk

Husband: No

Wife: I’ll get your coat

Husband: No, thank you

Wife: But it will be too cold outside without your coat

Husband: I am not going for a walk

Wife: But just now you wanted to go

Husband: No, you wanted me to go for a walk

Wife: Me? I don’t care at all, if you go for a walk

Husband: Good

Wife: I’m just saying, it wouldn’t hurt, if you did go for a walk

Husband: No, it certainly wouldn’t hurt 

Wife: So, what do you want to do?

Husband: I want to sit here

Wife: You are really driving me crazy

Husband: I am?

Wife: Firs you want to go for a walk and then you don’t. Then you want me to get your coat and then you don’t want me too. What do you want?

Husband: I just want to sit here

Wife: And now suddenly you want to sit there

Husband: No, not suddenly. I always wanted to just sit here

Wife: Sit there?

Husband: I want to sit here and relax

Wife: If you really wanted to relax, you wouldn’t talk to me all the time.

Husband: I will not utter a peep from now on.

Wife: Now you would have time for something you like to do

Husband: Yeah

Wife: Are you reading?

Husband: Not right now

Wife: how about you read something?

Husband: Later. Maybe later.

Wife: Just get yourself a magazine

Husband: First I want to sit here a bit longer

Wife shall I get them for you?

Husband: No, thank you

Wife: So now you want to be served as well? I am running around all day, just get up and get the magazine yourself.

Husband: I don’t want to read now

Wife: First you want to read, and then you don’t

Husband: I just want to sit here

Wife: Just do what you like to do

Husband: I am!

Wife: Then stop whining at me…Hermann? Are you deaf?

Husband: No

Wife: You are not doing what you like to do at all. You are just sitting there.

Husband: I am sitting here, because I like to.

Wife: Don’t be that aggressive

Husband: I am not aggressive at all.

Wife: Them why are you yelling at me?

Husband: I’M NOT YELLING AT YOU!!!!!!

In a state of uncertainty, we know one thing for certain: times like these lead to major innovations. And we have the history to prove it. As long as you are not yelling or being yelled at, calmness is need and a view with a heart that looks at the problem.

In 1665, Isaac Newton was sent home from Cambridge when the Great Plague of London struck. Forced to practice social distancing, Newton harnessed his creativity and had several strokes of genius: he discovered gravity when an apple fell on his head, developed his theories on optics by playing with prisms in his room, and invented the basis of early calculus.  

You may be thinking that no one’s innovations could stack up to, say, gravity, but some big tech advancements did spring out of similar pandemics.

During the early 2000s SARS pandemic, a then-small e-commerce company, Ali Baba, began to gain traction. Today it’s one of the world’s largest retailers and e-commerce companies. A few years later when the 2008 financial crisis hit, start-ups like Airbnb and Uber began to emerge. And we all know what happened there.

And now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing people build creations to combat coronavirus.

Tech: China is using drones to spray disinfectant, share hygiene tips, and deliver groceries, but perhaps one of the more ground-breaking inventions is this disinfection tunnel in Chongqing. These stations sanitize people in 20 seconds to help stop the spread of the virus.

Media: The World Health Organization is reminding everyone that you can take simple actions to protect yourself from coronavirus through their #SafeHands Challenge. This hand-washing campaign spurred a global chain of culturally unique videos to help promote safety and hygiene, like this one from South Africa, or this one from Vietnam. 

Data: Johns Hopkins University is mapping COVID-19 cases, recoveries, and deaths in a GIS dashboard. After identifying new cases from data sources like DXY, various twitter feeds, online news services, and direct messages, the JHU team updates the site upon verification by regional and local health departments and by city and state health authorities.

Here in Nigeria, in the midst of all the sad news a cheering achievement was coming out of the sleepy town of Jos, in Plateau state, as people are cautiously happy that there is no recorded cases of the Coronavirus, others are caged in the debate of there are cases but just a case of no one knows because we are not exactly testing, another section typical of Nigerians and the world have become enmeshed in the current conspiracy theory of 5G and coronavirus, they suddenly have left all that the Chinese virus, and economic power house theories, and are dwelling with Obama said do not collect vaccines, or Bill Gates manufactured the disease. So forgive all those that would not have heard or those that heard but possibly will be quick to forget Williams Gyang and Nura Jibrin, two men and friends that repaired two ventilators at Jos University Teaching Hospital free of charge for the use of COVID-19 patients.

Gyang is a civil servant working with the state-owned Plateau Radio Television Corporation. He works in the Engineering Department, and a student at the Plateau State Polytechnic studying Electrical Electronics. He had never fixed ventilators before. But had been involved in repairing other electrical equipment. 

Nura Jibrin on the hand lives in Mista Ali, a community in Jos; he is an artisan. He fixes solar power gadgets, mobile phones, allied electrical and electronics. Armed with just an education from Government Technical College, Bukuru in the Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State. He’s been at repairs for two decades, no further education, as there was no opportunity.

 They had both never seen a ventilator before. They did not spend any money to fix them.

 Finally on this introductory story both men are friends, who had been working together for some 17 years. They finished from the same technical school. We became friends and always share ideas and compare notes on the skills they both acquired. Gyang is a Berom man from Plateau state and a Christian. Nura is muslim from Borno state, they both worked together and live in peace because we need each other as we live our lives.

At government level, whether federal, state, or local, there is a lack of leadership, a lack of innovation, no idea, the security apparatus are battling keeping hungry persons indoor for their safety, the palliatives and stimuli like most donations are either audio monies or subject of controversies, as numbers of cases double.

 The minister of health here in Nigeria at his daily briefing when asked how the discharged patients were being treated or the drugs being administered, he was not willing to tell. However, the fact that we have a cure itself should be one that pushes us to go for an afrocentric solution to not just the COVID-19 problem, but also a renewed vigor at addressing our numerous problems inwardly. It is time to move beyond the political cliché of diversification and indeed diversify. We cannot afford to sit in one spot and be yelling, COVID-19 provides a gap to be filled as leaders and as citizens, whether we innovate, or a lack of it will be our bane—Only time will tell.

UNI Agric Markurdi
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