At a time like this, it might appear that we do not have much of a choice. We really do not. We are grounded. We have to stay home to be safe and keep other safe. But we still have a choice how to see the situation. It is easy to settle into the gloom and only see doom, but it is also possible to peep behind the clouds to see a new dawn in the horizon, no matter how far off.


About a month back, Nigeria joined the club of countries caught in the web of the COVID-19 pandemic. In that one month, a lot has happened around the world. The situation has become particularly pathetic in Italy and Spain, with America increasingly becoming a source of worry.

Even before the virus made a landing here, there was already palpable fear of what it could mean if the wind blows our way. It eventually did, but somehow, in spite of the all of the doomsday scenarios, one month after, it appears that we are relatively holding strong, our heads seemingly above the water.

If we go the way of data, Nigeria would appear to have somehow held its own, in spite of the massive onslaught by the coronavirus. That, in spite of ourselves. That, in spite of missteps here and there. That, in spite of some who rather than do the right thing, chose otherwise. Some even said it was a scam. Some have opted to act most irresponsibly, putting themselves and the lives of thousands of others in danger. Even right now, many are still carrying on in the spirit of ‘It’s not my portion’, mistaking what might appear important to them as essential.

Because of the recklessness of some of our people and the unrepentant commitment of some to a life of personal irresponsibility, going forward, we can only approach the new month with cautious optimism.

Yet, there is hope. Some say Nigeria has only been lucky. Some are fighting the data. Some say we are under-reporting the infections. Some say we are being under-tested. Perhaps, we are. But this protocol that restricts testing to only those with symptoms and those who have come in contact with confirmed cases is what has been adopted in some other countries, like the U.K. and U.S., even with startlingly different outcomes.

Perhaps, it is no luck. Perhaps, there is indeed a high level of preparedness over the years as those who know have explained, but is difficult to comprehend and accept by many, out of cynicism that the name of Nigeria cannot possibly be in the same sentence with the word, ‘preparation.’

I have followed what some of our experts have had to say and I see the sense in it. But then, it is no reason to be lax, rather it is reason to be vigilant and maintain the hygiene protocols, as we have been advised, while subscribing to the principle of social distancing.

…sometimes, it is all about balance. It is about knowing that the men in the line of fire might be seeing what you are not seeing, hence the need to be more mindful of the words we speak and the effects they might have on morale. Between a little responsibility and recklessness.


Some of our people have been unduly critical and cynical, but I will like to see most of that coming from a place of concern and fear. Even when some of their propositions might not be well-grounded in logic or fact-based, I want to assume them as coming out of concern.

The argument was rife then that we needed to close borders, stop all international flights and all that. I am not sure many realised then that other countries are not quite shutting the door in the faces of their citizens, but rather they are encouraging all their citizens to return home, just as our people are doing.

From what I am seeing, stopping international flights does not appear to have made much of a difference. Ghana, which many cited then as an example to follow, in spite of having stopped flights on March 16, as at today has more than 132 confirmed cases, while Nigeria which stopped flights a week after has 81 confirmed cases, in spite of the huge difference in the population of both countries. Perhaps, we are simply doing something right.

It would appear that there is not one answer or solution. Every country is struggling to fight her way through. That is one reason we must continue to lift up the hands of our experts and the medical personnel fighting this battle on our behalf. We might not fully understand their strategy and tactics. We can never understand that, in any case. But we must learn to trust them more and be less cynical.

So, sometimes, it is all about balance. It is about knowing that the men in the line of fire might be seeing what you are not seeing, hence the need to be more mindful of the words we speak and the effects they might have on morale. Between a little responsibility and recklessness.

It can only be discouraging for those in the line of fire to see possible gaps or mistakes on their part blown out of proportion. The least to do for people who are out there for us, making judgement calls on their feet, while still in battle, is to continue to lift their hands up, in encouragement. They mean well and have no interest in bungling things. They have as much at stake as everyone else.

Can we find a balance somewhere? Do we even know about balance? Are we not more accustomed to oscillating between one extreme and the other? Where is the balance between panic and calm? Where is the balance between personal indulgence and recklessness in our conduct?


It is a tug of war. Between fear and faith. Between panic and calm. The streets in other continents are deserted. The virus has come with chains for the feet. The air is eerie. Those who would rather be out are in. Those who would rather be in are out, overworked and fatigued. They must be tired now.

But are we not all tired? Are we not tired of this monotonous, unending reports and analyses of how this virus is wreaking havoc around the world? Are we not just tired of this morbid count of numbers? What good is it breaking down how many people are dying on daily or hourly basis? Is this not triggering sensory overload? When does too much become really too much?

Can we find a balance somewhere? Do we even know about balance? Are we not more accustomed to oscillating between one extreme and the other? Where is the balance between panic and calm? Where is the balance between personal indulgence and recklessness in our conduct? Where is the balance between mounting pressure to trigger action and going overboard with undue criticism and mindless cynicism? It is about us striking that balance. Between fear and faith. Between panic and calm. Between taking responsibility and carrying on recklessly. It is up to us. All of us.

Are our words soothing, cynical or sadistic? What is it, really, with fake news? What is that all about? What is it about gloating over the misfortune of others? Who says you are safe from this attack? Where is our sense of humanity?

At a time like this, it might appear that we do not have much of a choice. We really do not. We are grounded. We have to stay home to be safe and keep other safe. But we still have a choice how to see the situation. It is easy to settle into the gloom and only see doom, but it is also possible to peep behind the clouds to see a new dawn in the horizon, no matter how far off.

We are in a state of emergency, our words matter. At the end of the day, we are what we see. I see light at the end of the tunnel for humanity. Be a channel of faith, not fear. Do not induce panic, inspire hope. I choose hope.

Simbo Olorunfemi works for Hoofbeatdotcom, a Nigerian Communications Consultancy and publisher of Africa Enterprise. Twitter: @simboolorunfemi