How does anyone justify this, as in the words of Mazi Sam Ohuabuwa, Nigeria has about 174 universities compared with Madagascar’s six. It is Nigeria with 43 Federal universities, 52 state universities and 79 private and 20Faculties of Pharmacy and about 69 Federal-funded research institutes that has Madagascar to thank in a way. The research institutes include National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, and the National Institute for medical Research while Madagascar has only one Faculty of Pharmacy and nine Research Centres.
The emergence of Coronavirus pandemic has many lessons to teach Nigeria. It has exposed us as a country that is big for nothing. Government functionaries would rather elect to live in opulence than worry about the general welfare of the citizens, what if they were not in government they would not be able to afford by themselves. But for the vigilance of the members of the Zamfara House of Assembly and the courage of the state governor, recall what the erstwhile governor, Abdulaziz Yari was going to be carting home as perks every month. Professor Itse Sagay alarmed the nation that a Senator is paid N30million a month. Nigerians thanked Shehu Sani who said it was N13million for his accustomed candour. Nigerians felt that with the information coming from Shehu, a beneficiary, we were getting somewhere. A humungous sum was voted for the renovation of the National Assembly in the current budget and a similarly scandalous amount to buy cars. They were unmoved by negative public opinion on the issues. Deaf ears are turned to research institutes complaining about underfunding. Up till today, the pay of our legislators is still wooly. And senior government functionaries live practically at no cost to them. Mitchell Obama, speaking to Oprah Winfrey on her book on her experiences as America’s First Lady, she said every nut she and her husband took was counted and at the end of the month, they received the bill from the kitchen.
Senate President Lawan himself was distressed when he visited the University of Abuja by the lack of readiness in terms of facility to receive those who may have tested positive to rampaging Coronavirus. These are our internal problems of callous irresponsibility the nation would have no choice but to face once we can see our way through the war on the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have Nigerian Natural medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) and the National Board for Technology Incubation which has centres called Bioresources Development Centres (BIODEC) and Technology Incubation Centres (TIC) in about 30 states in the country. The research institutes, in addition to charges of gross underfunding levied against the government, complain of sidelining. Many herbal companies and producers, according to Ohuabuwa, have announced specifically that they had herbal formulations that could do the same “invention” from Madagascar can do. He continued: “They have suggested that a portion of the nearly N25million donated/ allocated for the COVID-19 pandemic should be dedicated for local research and development. But our government has remained essentially silent, only waiting to participate in WHO sponsored or mandated trials. We have been told that Nigeria is participating in WHO solidarity trial, but nothing on trying our own inventions and formulations. Now we want to import COVID-19 Organics from Madagascar to try? Why are we like this?”
This column is persuaded that the expertise obtains in our country to tackle the pandemic. Every night we are regaled with the number of those who have been successfully treated and allowed home. Total discharged in Lagos as of Tuesday night was 502 persons, 41 in Sokoto, Ondo 5 and Ekiti 5. Nation-wide as of yesterday morning, the total number of those discharged after testing negative twice was 959 persons. This attests to the knowledge and ingenuity of our experts and doctors.