COVID-19: Why Nigerians Must Not Worry But Stay Alive

*Aerial view of some part of Victoria Island in Lagos State

By Ebiowei Lawal

When I read the news that crude oil price in the international market has dropped to about $11 or $12 per barrel, I was reminded about an interview I watched on the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Network Service. That night, the person featured on the interview programme was an American born Economist (I have forgotten his name). He visited Nigeria to validate the speculation that Nigeria was actually the Giant of Africa.

In course of the interview, the interviewer asked, “You have spent two weeks in Nigeria carrying out your research about the strength of her economy, what are your findings?” He replied, “Well, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed my stay really, but I discovered that Nigeria is the strongest economy in the world.”

He went on to explain that “I have not said she is the most prosperous economy of the world, mind you. I say so because Nigeria happens to be the largest economy that can survive with the absence of government support except in the area of ensuring security, law and order. “In America for example, the Wall Street would crash if there is failure of public power supply for two hours. In London the transportation system would fail and there would be huge economic loss if there is power failure for two hours. There would be chaos and breakdown of law and order if government fails to supply water and gas to the people for one week.

“But in Nigeria, the government fails to provide health facility, the people don’t complain. Private individuals provide it at high cost, they live with it without complaints. The government fails to provide quality education, private individuals provide it at high cost, they embrace it and live with it without complaints. The government fails to provide electricity for local industries to thrive but when private individuals want to start a business, they use their personal funds to purchase a power generating set and buy fuel at very high cost to run their business then still feel comfortable paying multiple tax to the same government.

“When the government fails to provide public transportation for the free movement of goods and services, in Nigeria a private individual would somehow source for funds to buy a car and convert it to a cab to ensure the free flow of goods and services and at the end pay tax to that same government and feel cool about it. So, in a nut shell, Nigeria’s economy is surviving almost without the support of her government. But take away 50 per cent support of government from the so-called great economies of America, England, Germany, France, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Africa and Japan, their economies would crumble within weeks.”

So, my take home from this interview is that when crude oil was selling at $65 per barrel before the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic came, Nigerians didn’t feel the effect. Rather it is a selected few that kept looting the money. Now that crude oil is selling at $11 or $12 per barrel, we still do not feel the impact. The only problem of the average Nigerian is the fact that he/she has been deprived the freedom to go out to look for his or her daily bread. At the end, I believe we shall overcome.

*Mr. Ebiowei Lawal is a social commentator.

Please note that the opinion expressed by the writer in this article does not reflect the position of the publishers of

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