Atiku believes that if a country like America is struggling to supply its own healthcare workers with personal protective equipment, Africa cannot think they will be a priority as far as the US is concerned.
According to him, China that is even wondering how to explain itself to the world once the pandemic is over cannot be relied on as well, so we must start learning to fall back on ourselves during the pandemic.
He added that now is the time for every money made in Africa to stay in Africa because the continent has hospitals to build, economies to reboot and citizens to care for.
His words, “BEFORE the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the globe, Nigeria spent 42 per cent of her earnings on debt servicing. We have arrived at a new reality today: Even if we devote 100 per cent of our income to rebuilding our economy, it still will not be enough.
“COVID-19 has wreaked such damage to the world’s economy, and this is now very evident in the West. But we should not take solace in any false sense of security that nations like Nigeria are either immune to the vagaries of this plague or that we would not be as hard hit. The reason countries in the Western Hemisphere are reporting more significant numbers than developing nations is primarily due to the availability of testing and real-time information.
“Ignorance is not bliss in this instance. We shall soon know the truth and, sadly, this truth will not set us free. It will shock us. Had we closed our ports of entry early, we would probably have had better reasons to be hopeful.
However, the past is gone, but we must be proactive in going forward. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Nigeria and other African nations are yet to see the worst of the effects of this scourge. That is why we should unite together and seek debt forgiveness, as a direct consequence of the impact of this pandemic on our economies.
And we have a perfect case because almost every African nation with a COVID-19 infestation had an index case that originated outside the continent. Nigeria’s index case was Italian, Liberia’s was Swiss.
Ethiopia had a Japanese index. South Africa’s index case was South African, but he and his family got infected in Italy.
This crisis should force a commonality of purpose in Africa. And more so in Nigeria. This is beyond politics. Beyond religion. Beyond region. And beyond ethnicity. As crisis go, this one can be described as existential.
While it is true that in a situation like this, the international community should invest in all countries needing help, we must be mature enough to see that that is not going to happen. The only thing that is standing in the way of the coronavirus in Africa is ourselves.
And we should not give in to panic by the doomsday scenarios being painted by analysts. They mean well, but if they only shout fire in a crowded theatre, all that their good intentions will cause is widespread panic.”
We had the Wild Ebola Virus, and we defeated it because we did not panic. We must apply that same level-headedness to this crisis. But this does not mean that we should go to the other extreme and become overly optimistic or pollyannaish.
Even when we are able to avoid a high human toll from this virus, we would not be able to escape a much higher economic toll. We may have a recession. The challenge right now must be to mitigate it, since we cannot avoid it.
Already, we see forced currency devaluations from the Cape to Cairo. These will no doubt lead to internal inflation, which will spell trouble for nations like Nigeria, that have a high external dollar debt burden. Already, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is projecting that Africa’s growth will at least drop to 1.8%, and maybe more. Bear in mind that, thanks to nations like Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania, we had been projected to grow 3.2 per cent this year.”
Faced with this crisis, Africa cannot even think of falling back on China, or the West. When a country like the US is struggling to supply its own healthcare workers with personal protective equipment, Africa will not feature high on its priority.
Where China is wondering how to explain itself to the world when this dies down, our challenges will be far from their minds. We must fall back on ourselves, or we will fall headlong. We must take responsibility for navigating our way out of a challenge that was forced on us from outside the continent.
This is the time for every money made in Africa to stay in Africa. We have hospitals to build. We have economies to reboot. We have citizens to care for and return to work. We certainly should not be sending money out of Africa and into Asia and the West. Not now and not for the foreseeable future.”
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