HUNGER VIRUS VS COVID-19 — Nigeria As A Battleground | Kunle Sotibi
‘May we not eat the food of the enemy’ — is a prayer said amidst comfort, but when discomforting situation visits one, the prayer point changes, it becomes — ‘may we not die of hunger’ — not minding from which end the food to survive comes from. One can only pray that may the gods of hunger not visit our abode.
It is not a news that the world is fighting against the strongest type of coronavirus, named COVID-19, the virus broke down in Wuhan a province in China in the later part of 2019 and in 2020, spreading all over, leaving Asia to Europe, headed to America and of course Africa wasn’t left behind among the continents COVID-19 virus have visited. For many advanced countries, the government has not wasted much sweats about the welfare of their people because before lockdown, there had been a strong foundation concerning the welfare structure of its citizens, the government has been able to satisfy the people’s hunger.
Before the pandemic, poverty level in Africa was on the increasing rate. According to world bank the average poverty rate for sub-Saharan Africa stands at about 41 percent, and of the world’s 28 poorest countries, 27 are in sub-Saharan Africa all with a poverty rate above 30 percent meaning Africa stands as number one continent where poverty strives the most.
Similarly, according to a document released by the world bank in November 2019, the report documents the remarkable progress the world has achieved toward ending extreme poverty by documenting its decline from 1990 to 2015. In 1990, 36 percent of the world’s people lived in poverty — defined as an income of less than $1.90 a day in 2011 purchase power parity — and by 2015, only 10 percent of the world’s people lived in poverty. In raw numbers, that is a decline of over 1 billion people living in poverty.
However, when compared to East Asia and the Pacific’s contribution to declining global poverty, and more recently South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa’s much slower fight against poverty has been unable to match the progress of these other regions. According to the report, people living in poverty in the region grew from 278 million in 1990 to 413 million in 2015. As of 2015, most of the global poor live in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Nigeria, the troubled giant of Africa has continuously increased in poverty rate yearly. According to a BBC news report on 13th of February, 2012, it reported that Poverty was on the rise in Nigeria, with almost 100 million people living on less than a $1 (£0.63) a day, despite economic growth. According to the National Bureau of statistics, 60.9% of Nigerians were living in — ‘absolute poverty’, this figure has risen from 54.7% in 2004 meaning from 2004 to 2010 poverty rate in Nigeria has increased by 6%.
Despite the natural resources and wealth of the country there is increase in poverty rate in the country. Many Nigerians depends on their daily income for survival with many having little or nothing to save, so when the outbreak of coronavirus hit Nigeria, the government was stuck in not only fighting the virus but to also cushion the effect of the virus especially for citizens who are battling so hard with poverty. So rightly we can say, that in this part of the world, hunger has been the most immediate effect of the pandemic then the death surrounding the pandemic.
So many vices has befallen Nigerians as a result of the pandemic, the virus struggled to enter our country due to carelessness, our government restricted the movement of citizens who feeds on daily earnings, there is lockdown in some states including the metropolitan state of Lagos which has also resulted into numerous cases of robbery — the hands are idle, the mouths of the strong muscles are dry, therefore, the shops of the innocent becomes the way forword for the thieves.
Can we say, that it is hunger that visited Nigerians and not the virus? Let’s not disregard the fact that the the coronavirus pandemic is real and that it is in Nigeria and at the same time, it is not a gainsay to note that, there has been an increase in the rate of hunger among the citizens. Street beggars who are caged in their homes can’t go to hustle because of the lockdown and restriction of movement.
Lockdown of states during this pandemic is a wise decision no doubt about that but the question is that, are the victims who will be affected as a result of the lockdown be adequately catered for? Even in Oyo state where there isn’t total lockdown, there has been an increase in robbery in the state capital.
The coronavirus has exposed the whole situation and for us to remember that poverty is around the corner, it has reminded us that Nigerians will keep extorting themselves amidst crisis, it has also reminded us that no place like home – our eagle-like leaders have to stay home for safety because where they run to for comfort is no longer at ease. While the world is fighting COVID-19, looking for antidote, Africans, Nigerians are looking for how to make sure hunger and insecurity does not pose another greater harm.