By Ayo Akinfe
(1) As we celebrate the end of World War Two that came about today 75 years ago with the formal German surrender in Berlin in 1945, I cannot but keep drawing parallels between then and now. With this coronavirus pandemic, we are faced with similar economic challenges
(2) In 1945 the global economy was in ruins with the whole of Europe and Japan bombed out. Countries like Germany, France, Holland, the Soviet Union, Japan, Poland and Belgium were just huge piles of rubble. Industry had collapsed, essential services like water and electricity were not working, unemployment was rife and there was disease everywhere
(3) In Holland and parts of the Soviet Union, people had resorted to cannibalism to survive, while across the rest of the world, people were on weekly food rations. Today, things are nowhere near that bad but if they were, do we actually have the discipline to survive such conditions?
(4) I suspect Europe, China and Japan will be able to draw on their World War Two experiences and dig in deep but I am not sure about the rest of the world. As per Nigeria, I just shake my head in despair. The level of unprecedented indiscipline I have seen over the last week makes me shudder at the thought of what would happen if collective discipline was required to beat this pandemic
(5) You cannot defeat a global pandemic or the aftermath of a world war by force of arms. Under such circumstances, the state does not have the manpower to police the populace and requires the cooperation of its citizens to see the nation through tough times
(6) When the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control asks for two metre social distancing, that should be enough. There should not be any need for the government to have to enforce this with bodies of armed men. Equally, there should not be any need to get the police to man inter-state road blocks. Our policemen are only able to collect bribes because our people are refusing to obey the stay-at-home guidelines. If there is no travel, there will be no one out there to bribe the police
(7) Building a nation involves a social contract between the people and the government. We are always quick to point out the failings of the government but can we honestly say that the Nigerians citizens are any better?
(8) In this picture is Captain Robert Campbell, a British officer during World War One. He was captured and detained by the Germans but while in detention got word that his mother was gravely ill. Captain Campbell wrote a letter to the German emperor begging to be allowed to go and see his dying mother, which the Kaiser allowed, as long as he gave his word that he would return. You know what? True to his word, this gentleman returned, giving himself up to the Germans after his mother died in February 1917
(9) It is this kind of civic spirit that is missing in Nigeria and for me, it is the last remaining piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Our loyalties are to personal material wealth and position, hence the high degree of sycophancy and adoration of the oga at the top. When we start to show some civic responsibility based on values, fairness and integrity as we saw with Captain Campbell, Nigeria will start to go places
(10) For me, our government fulfilled its end of the bargain by lifting the lockdown and the citizens had an obligation to play their role by observing social distancing, wearing facemasks and not engaging in inter-state travel but alas, our indiscipline did not allow us to honour the social contract. Frederick Lugard kind of summed us up well in 1929. The fact that he was a racist did not negate the facts he laid bare