Ezeakukwu Emmanuel Nsoedo (Ph.D.)
The effect of the outbreak of the Covid-19 referred to as coronavirus pandemic and its devastating impact led to the shutdown of the world’s biggest economies in the world. The move to stem the tide of infection and the associated massive deaths, one could not help but worry about Nigeria and many impoverished African countries. The death associated with the coronavirus pandemic in nations that had taken the mastery of technology for granted would never anticipate that they would be so helpless with the vicious onslaught of a virus that experts believe is very fragile, however, opportunistic in the mode of infection.
The worry deserves considering the fact that most of the countries in the sub-Saharan belt are not only economically weak, but they do not have strong institutions to tackle such public health issues of a mega proportion. Most of these countries are ravaged by self-induced corruption that had stunted the development of many of the institutions that could be of help in this novel time that a novel coronavirus is devastating the world. It is no wonder that the countries already being attacked by this virus must find a way to deliver support with the provision of the personal protection equipment (PPE) that the health providers must have to be able to assist those that are down with the covid-19 disease. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) chipped in with debt-forgiveness to help many of the classified poor countries cushion the impact of the economic downturn associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The financial analysts are already projecting that the United States is on track to have over 20 million people unemployed. However, the Washington Post published that the United States already has over 22 million unemployed, and as a consequence, the decade- record of employment gains have disappeared.
To find a solution to the creepy coronavirus pandemic attack, countries such as China, Italy, Spain, UK, and United States, etc. opted for the nuclear option of shutting down their economy and way of life. In several instances, companies have either volunteered or were asked to produce variety of equipments necessary to save the lives of those afflicted by the covid-19 disease. The aspect of the organized and developed countries’ effort to quickly find solutions to the creepy virus did not stop with shutting down everything and closing their borders to foreigners, they provided succor to those who are unemployed, the small and medium businesses, as well, as the big business.
The United States of America passed a $2 trillion Relief Package, which is the largest stimulus package ever by the United States government. The relief package will extend cash to the household to keep the engine of the economy humming, small and medium businesses will have access to guaranteed funds to help them protect their businesses while retaining their workers. The same goes for big companies, while special provisions were set aside for service industries, such as hotels and airlines. The federal legislators are going ahead with the passing of a second stimulus bill to ensure that consumers are empowered sufficiently to be able to support the economic recovery.
The Japanese government also passed the largest stimulus package of $1 trillion since the founding of Japan. The Japanese government planned to implement the stimulus in two phases. The first phase would include giving cash to families and small business. The second phase would involve sustaining the economy to remain on a positive trajectory through the purposeful economic stimulus to avoid a depression. The United Kingdom, for the first time in its history, is going to pay the wage of all the workers. The economic relief was designed to forestall the massive unemployment that would have hit the country without the government’s support. The United Kingdom, for the first time in its history, is going to pay the wage of all the workers. The economic relief is designed to forestall the massive unemployment that would have hit the country without the government’s support. The economic relief is intended to forestall the massive unemployment that would have hit the country without the government’s support. Additionally, the United Kingdom would inject various economic stimulus packaged to incentivize businesses to maintain the workers’ employment during the economic recovery. The rest of the affected European economy towed the same path of action.
Nigeria’s response to the effect of the economic hardship to the people and businesses has been haphazard. The Nigeria government announced her economic stimulus targeted at the businesses and citizens. The stimulus package cost announced by the Nigerian government could not be determined in terms of the definitive amount of money, except for the $136 million credit fund earmarked for businesses at reduced interest by the Central Bank of Nigeria. The problem with the government stimulus package is that the benefit would exclude most of the people and businesses. The government lacks data to determine that all intended recipients would be taken care of. The money the government promised to the citizens has been doled out to families from certain parts of the country while the vast majority of the citizens were left out. Meanwhile, some officials have claimed an astronomical amount of money already distributed.
It is very important to note that no one in the Southeast geopolitical zone has received such federal government largesse doled at the citizens from some geopolitical zones. As bad as this may appear, I am somewhat ecstatic at what has been going on among the Igbo people. One may wish to christen it: the 2020 Igbo renaissance. It is spectacular gauging events from the actions of many unsung Igbo people to share from the little they have with their neighbors to those that band together to raise resources during this season of lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
Many times, you may be unfortunate to run into individuals who would try to convince you how the Igbo people are their own worst enemies. Depending on whom the unholy sermon is being directed at, he or she may fell assaulted by such warped logic or fall for the illogical argument, not knowing any better. The reason activities of these Igbo people’s determination to be their brothers’ keeper ought to be celebrated because of this perilous period in Nigeria where poverty and insecurity are overtaking hope, while the cost of doing business has become astronomical. Businesses are crashing along the Nigeria shrinking economy, further devastated by the sudden crash in oil prices.
Many of the Igbo people from the times of the Igbo Union yarn with the nostalgia of the era, when men speak and stand by their pronouncements. They accuse those that came of age after the civil war of being soft, selfish, and lacking in the moral dictum of ‘Onye Agha Nwa Nneya’—granted that you may disagree to some extent with the preceding perception, as we all know that most developments in almost all parts of Igbo land are always worked out by consensus. This is often followed by levies and freewill donations as the prime mover of most projects. Still, you may harbor some nagging feeling that those men of yore may be right, considering many violent and unnecessary deaths Igbo people cause themselves in foreign lands.
I am very convinced if no one else is that the ‘Onye Agha Nwa Nneya’ philosophy never left the Igbo people. It is ingrained in their DNA. Let me limit my generalization to what I observed of Anambra people both in Nigeria and the diaspora in the past two weeks. Immediately the governments made the pronouncement on the lockdown, without prompting, young people, many born after the war led the charge of donating large sums money to be distributed among the various Igbo families that need assistance. Some of them would move down to the village level to dispense cash and food items. Some of such generous giver is Ifeanyi Iycon Ekwulugo, Chief Engr Dozie Mbanefo, and his brothers.
Other notable givers such as Chief Innoson Chukwuma, Chief Ben Okoye, Chief Chicason Okafor, and Dan Duco, etc. delivered so generously. CEO of Chisco Transport and affluent Amichi people organized a large food bank that they delivered to needy Amichi people both at home and Lagos. Engr Arthur Eze, Dr Ernest Obiejesi (Obijackson Group) Sir Emeka Offor, Dr ABC Orjiakor, Chief Chika Emenike of Tummy Foods. So many organizations, both Adhoc gave so much; an example would be the Egbu youth that purchased bucket taps and hand sanitizers distributed to those that could not afford one, and uncountable number of donations from Igbo people all over the world. It will be impossible to account for every name because the sharing was almost infectious and universal, that I just want to celebrate the unsung heroes. Indeed the Igbo ethos was never lost; it just waited for the right time to manifest.