MADAGASCAR: DID PMB COMMIT A DIPLOMATIC FAUX PAS?

 

BY

 

UBAKA OKOFU

 

Did President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, PMB commit a diplomatic faux pas in receiving the COVID 19 herbal treatment from Madagascar? Yes, and no. Yes, because as the President of the biggest country in Africa,  President Muhammadu Buhari owes the continent a duty to support anything that has its roots in Africa, particularly at a time when  leaders of the continent are  encouraging themselves  to look inwards. However, poring through the reception session, Buhari’s euphemistic rejection (or non-enthusiastic response some others would say) of the Madagascan cure to COVID-19 may have further darkened the cumulus of suspicion over the efficacy of the herbal cure.

We may want to recall that the President of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina would evidently not be very pleased today with the leadership of the WHO and a few other world and African leaders who have tended to seemingly dismiss the Madagascar cure with the wave of the hand. n this wise, it may be said to be unhelpful if  Buhari is seen as toeing the same pathway as the World Health Organisation, WHO and the other naysayers that did not waste any time before declaring the Madagascar’s effort as still largely unproven and at best a mere scratch on the surface.

On the flip side,  one may exonerate  Buhari  who said all that a patriotic president would have said under that circumstance. Reading between the lines of the President’s  speech to the President of Guinea Bissau who had brought the message from Madagascar, one would say that Buhari has not committed a faux pas of any kind. President Umaro Embalo of Guinea Bissau was in Nigeria to convince his Nigerian counterpart on the need to avail his people of the Madagascan cure.  However, those who watched the broadcast of the meeting between both presidents had no need  waiting to hear the last of Buhari’s  response that “we will not put it to use without the endorsement of our ( scientific ) institution” to know that the mind of  the President  was already made up on the drug.

The President’s seeming rejection of the herbal cure on the ground of it not having secured appropriate scientific verification at the moment has sent several Nigerians rueing. Before now, the President and his Presidential Task Force on COVID 19 had been condemned for their seemingly tepid approach to the pandemic, most especially the one-size-fits-all-approach of lockdown, social distancing and quarantine. Many have argued that indigenous approaches are better adopted given the obvious fact that our topographies are quite at an end from those of Europe and America.

There is no gainsaying that members of the Presidential Task Force are largely bereft of what to do than a routine of  daily press briefings which are now too  monotonous and otiose in the eyes of Nigerians. No doubt, President Buhari and his Presidential Task Force will have to double their pace if Nigerians must take them seriously in the fight against the pandemic.

One is tempted to ask, are there functional and independent scientific institutions in the country that can come out with more dependable results?  After all, will it be worth the trouble carrying out a scientific verification of the Madagascar  drug knowing very well that several research laboratories in the country are largely comatose ?

Instead of burying their faces in shame, the President and his team had downplayed the Madagascan effort. 81 days after the first case of COVID-19 in Nigeria, our so called “scientific institutions” touted by the President have not made any headway in finding a cure to the pandemic. Rather these Professors of science had joined government to chorus the monotones of lockdown when the people have no food to eat or money in their accounts.

It is true that Nigerians are quick in hauling blames, particularly at politicians. One may also not blame them for being bellicose.  It’s not less to say that President Buhari has been invisible since the index case on February 27th. Instead, Nigerians are left in the limbo as to their fates as the economy bites header. Palliatives have been inadequate and poorly managed by government officials Nigerians are desirous of results and government preparedness against a post COVID-19 economy. Sticking only to preventive measures without any effort tailored toward a cure may sink us steeply. Already, some governors had refused to buy into government’d plans to lockdown the country still. Surprisingly, Governor Yahaya Bello, a close ally of President Buhari recently dismissed Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC for marketing the virus at every radio station and TV house to instil fear into Nigerians. The Governor was reported to have sent officials of the organisation away from Kogi without any reaction from Lai Mohammad and Femi Adesina, the Minister of Communication and presidential spoken person respectively. What does this tell us? Very simple: President Buhari and his COVID-19 team are not very organized in the fight against COVID-19.

 

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