Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed millions of lives world-wide, Nigerians in different quarters have continued to doubt its existence describing it a ‘scam’.
Disturbingly, with the reality of the second wave of the deadly Coronavirus, many Nigerians, particularly religious worshipers, still seem to have thrown caution to the wind by flagrantly flouting the protocols put in place by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
Sadly, opposition to government efforts in controlling the spread of the deadly virus snowballed nationwide as some religious, traditional and other famous leaders, have continued to describe COVID-19 as an international deceit and western conspiracy against Africa.
These personalities seem to have forgotten that the rapid outbreak of the COVID-19 presents an alarming health crisis that the world is grappling with. In addition to the human impact, there is also significant economic, business and commercial impact being felt globally.
In fact, virtually, all sectors in Nigeria such as: health, economy, transportation, agriculture, education, security, politics, religion, family, sport, entertainment among others have been seriously affected and still being threatened by the virus.
Consequently, the negative impacts have been enormous on people’ jobs/works, businesses, family life and social relations thus creating more harms than benefits.
While we move to remind these doubting Thomas’s that viruses know no borders, it’s also important to stress that the impacts will continue to spread, with many seeing disruptions.
While government at all levels scramble with emergency actions to curb the spread, poor compliance attitude has remained a major challenge that undermine the control and prevention of the pandemic in the country.
This is despite the consciousness that churches and mosques have since opened their doors for worship, fun-lovers now continue with their normal parties and club like nothing was happening around them.
Though many perceive the virus to be an attempt by political elites to create an emergency and siphon public money, it’s quite unfortunate that the spread of the novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increases as at the time of filing this report the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 167,378 confirmed cases.They could be a decline or increase in the figures in the coming months.
As at on the 21st of June 2021, 86 new confirmed cases and 1 death was was recorded in Nigeria.
On June 21, 2021, to date, 167,378 cases have been confirmed, 164,037 cases have been discharged and 2,118deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The truth is that nothing could be more devastating than losing lives due to avoidable causes. This is even more worrisome as it has become increasingly difficult to convince the public about the existence of the dreaded virus.
Some common misconception about COVID-19 pandemic from few persons interviewed include: “It is an imported disease”; “It is the disease of the wealthy people”; “Maintaining physical distancing practice is unnecessary”; and “wearing of face masks is not necessary”.
The research project interviewed Chairman National Committee on Infectious Diseases and member of Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Sanusi Muhammad Bala he commented on the misconception on COVID-19 pandemic saying:
“It is an imported disease”; This is a fact, as its new disease that started from Wuhan in China, through human interactions. It was ‘imported to various countries (Nigeria inclusive) and became a pandemic.
“It is the disease of the wealthy people”; Not at all, as we are all aware it’s an infectious disease. We have seen the rich, poorest poor, young & elderly patients being affected.
On “Maintaining physical distancing practice is unnecessary”; and “wearing of face masks is not necessary” he says anybody disputing this should present himself for two weeks into the isolation centre to serve the patients for us without face mask or social distance. Definitely face mask and social distance + hand sanitizing are cornerstones towards taming the pandemic.
This belief is further escalated by the actions and utterances of some influential persons in the society like Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello and Sheikh Sani Yahaya Jingir, another influential leader of the Izala Muslim sect in Jos, the Plateau state capital.
Concerned authorities have impressively lashed at the duo of the Kogi State governor and Sheikh Human, describing them as COVID-19 deniers, who have insincerely insisted the pandemic, is a hoax, even at the risk of causing bigger problems for Nigerians in Kogi and outside Kogi State.
Despite glaring evidence of acute under-testing for Coronavirus in Kogi state, Mr Bello last December claimed a widespread testing campaign was undertaken in his state and nobody had been infected.
“After the earlier misunderstanding we had with the federal health officials and the NCDC, we later allowed them to step in and test people,” he said in an interview aired on Channels TV in December 2020.
Reaffirming his controversial claims that there is no coronavirus infection in the state, Gov Bello, in an interview aired on Channels TV on Sunday 27 December, 2020 said, “In Kogi, we say we have no COVID-19 and actually as a matter of fact, we have no COVID-19.”
Discouraging people from taking COVID-19 vaccines, governor Yahaya Bello was quoted to have said amidst a crowd of his supporters that , “These vaccines are being produced in less than one year of COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet for HIV, malaria, cancer and for several diseases that are killing us.”
While trying to substantiate his conspiracy theory, Bello asked people to learn lessons from “what happened in Kano during the polio vaccines that crippled and killed our children?”
This was not the first time Governor Bello disregarded anything associated with COVID-19. In December, he said Nigeria did not need the vaccine because the virus was not as deadly as projected.
“We don’t need to participate in this marketing of COVID-19 vaccine. We should channel the money we want to use to buy the vaccines to other things. The Presidential Task Force (PTF) should give the right advice to the President,” he said in an interview with Channels Television.
He added that it was “better to invest in tackling more deadly diseases that are killing people every day, not COVID-19 that has 99.9 percent recovery rate.
Recall also that last year, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, OsagieEhanire, lamented the hostile reception of NCDC officials sent to ascertain the state’s COVID-19 status.
On the other hand, on March 19, 2020, The Punch Newspaper’s Raphael Ede, reported that a 70-year-old woman who was quarantined in a state facility died a day after being discharged from the hospital in Enugu State.
Although she tested negative to COVID-19, her family complained that the horrific state of the medical facility and the treatment she received at the hospital contributed to her sudden death.
This unfortunate incident however, may have further discouraged a few individuals who had developed the symptoms and may have contracted the disease from availing themselves at health facilities provided by government to handle cases pertaining to the pandemic. Clearly, this lack of trust is a serious factor that could further escalate the threat of the coronavirus.
Yes, the death toll may have reduced alongside cases of fatalities, holding tenaciously to some misconception about the virus, we can not dispute the fact that the need to contain the pandemic stretched medical facilities to the limit.
In Plateau State for instance, Sheikh Sani Yahaya Jingir who also disregards anything associated with COVID-19 had significant influence on the perception of his followers.
Sheikh Jingir, described COVID-19 as an international treachery and Western conspiracy against Muslims. The cleric, in a sermon aired on the Sect’s TV and monitored by journalists in Kaduna, said, “Coronavirus is a lie”, insisting that it was a conspiracy meant to stop Muslims from performing religious rites.
This platform however visited plateau State to sample the opinion of some persons, here they are:
“ I am yet to see a victim. Of coronavirus. All I have been hearing is that we have several cases in the country. You may find the cases outside the county, because we do see their cases on television unlike in Nigeria. “
IS COVID-19 TRULY A SCAM?
For Mallam Muhammad Murtala Idris, a leader of Islamic sect Jama’atul izalatil bidi’a wa’ikamatus sunnah, youth wing, hesays:
“For me, it’s a fallacy. I can only be convinced if shown the corpses of those who died from contracting the disease as well as their graveyard. Except this is done, it will remain a scam”.
Idris praised Sheikh Jingir’s boldness and protective spirit for his congregation. We are just lucky to have him as a great leader who backs his stance with fact from verses of Qur’an and Hadith (a narrative record of the sayings or customs of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his companions).
Another respondent, Alhaji Habibu Abubakar said: “It is better to invest in tackling more deadly diseases that are killing people everyday, not COVID-19 that has 99.9 percentrecovery.
“I don’t agree that COVID-19 exists in Nigeria. This is basically because it’s not here”.
“For me, it’s a capital ” No” and that is evident in the fact that we are healthy and alive despite the lies and fears they peddled. All thanks to some of our fearless leaders like Sheikh Jingir who spoke out and enlightened us. If not for their smart intervention, we would still be on lockdown with people dying from hunger and starvation.
“I personally align with his stance after he referenced us to some verses of Quran and the narration of the sayings, doings or approvals (Taqrir) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). That is why we don’t care to follow the protocol of NCDC”.
In Kogi State, respondents had this to say;
He said: “No vaccine for HIV, malaria, for cancer, for headache and for several other diseases that are killing us, we don’t have vaccine for it. They want to introduce the vaccine to introduce the diseases that will kill you and us.
We have learned our lesson of what happened in Kano on Pfizer vaccine that killed our children.
Kogi State Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwoon May 29, 2020 on ChannelsTV said, when did NCDC start working without the cooperation of state ministry of health? We have the state-run committee and we have the state ministry of Health, they did not contact before one man was brought through the backdoor from Abuja and the declaration was made, these are clear violation even the protocols itself by the NCDC, we had a conversation with the son of the man, and he told us what transpired. it’s all fraud and is not going to be accepted by the state government. I am not one of those that think that NCDC is helping this country; I am one of those who think that NCDC has an agenda to spread COVID-19 in all the federation. And when there is no case in Kogithey did all their best to ensure that there is COVID-19 in the state. They advised the presidency to lockdown the country, the economy is bleeding people are suffering, people are hungry other ailment are killing Nigerians. While they are concentrating on a pandemic killing less people that malaria has killed last month.
Reactions from Facebook
On NCDC page https://www.facebook.com/NCDCgov/
Do we have COVID-19 in this country Nigeria? Capital No, I think what we have is insurgency, kidnapping, Boko-Haram, hunger, lack of job opportunities, corruption, food stuff very expensive, innocent Nigerians are dying like animals, no regards for human blood . COVID-19 can only survive in a peaceful e environment not in Nigeria everyone is running around for safety.
People are being killed in Nigeria and you’re still propagating your useless lies. People aren’t buying it no more. Get it?
You people should stop this COVID-19 rubbish; people are wise now, since you started this nonsense how many people have died in Kogi State?
Ibrahim Ahmed Hassan
Allow person to rest. We are talking about high rate of food price you are there talking about COVID-19 forget all that one is scam may Allah have mercy on us for this country if not problem will start.
Abubakar Sadiq Idris
COVID-19 in Nigeria is lie they just say that there is COVID-19 in Nigeria. So that they may get money like how the remaining country get money from World Bank because of COVID-19…….
Allah pass them.
Abraham John A. Jay
You have exhausted all the lies in your bag of lies, why don’t you tell Nigerians the truth and stop politicizing COVID-19 for your selfish gains.
With the claims by Sheikh Sani Yahaya Jingir, describing COVID-19 as an international deceit as well as the claims by governor Yahaya Bello that the virus doesn’t exist, a good number Nigerians have concluded that the pandemic is a scam.
However, it’s important to add that continuously holding on to some misconceptions in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic may create more harm than benefits for our dear country, thus, its consequences might be enormous as well as the negative impacts on humanity. This remains a serious concern.
We consider it important to warm that although vaccines for the treatment of COVID-19 has been discovered and administered, without positive behavioural changes in belief -systems and attitudes to completely dismiss some of the common misconceptions about the virus, concerted efforts to battle this pandemic may prove futile.
To this extent, we are compelled to recommend that religious leaders should not relent in ensuring that Nigerians change their attitudes and respect the protocols – social distancing guidelines for everyone’s safety.
This report was conducted using the OSINT tool to generate verified comments on Facebook by Nigerians about the pandemic that influence some social media followers on COVID-19 is a ‘scam’.