My dear President, Billions and Billions have been donated to government to help fight the pandemic, one would expect that as part of the preparation all our Primary and secondary health care centers would receive a boost within a few days, this may include, new building rehabilitations, new equipment supplies, stocked up pharmaceutical units, increase in the number of new Doctors and nurses, supply of generators and tanks filled with diesel to power generators, purchase of new ambulances and training of newly hired paramedics. Mr President, this is what Nigerians expect from this donations, is there hope this is also what you think should be delivered?

How soon will Nigerians start seeing this readiness at local levels? Do we wait for people to start dying before we start to acting? Nigerians would expect a step by step guide on how you plan to handle this pandemic as the numbers keep rising especially plans on medical supplies and medical stabilizations at primary health care level.

We all know if one percent of Nigerians are infected that our tertiary health facilities, the university teaching hospitals, National Center for disease control would be overwhelmed, they won’t be able to handle it, so we have to resort to primary and secondary health care institutions, the question is are they ready to take this challenge?

A few days ago you announced lock down in some states and Abuja, people stockpiled perishable foods, with no lights how can foods be preserved? how can this lockdown be effective? Can it really last for seven days? Can our broken down systems sustain a lockdown? Do we have a system to identify and separate the sick for treatment as the Chinese did or are we locking down just for the fun of it?

I watched some young men in Lagos revolting and challenging security men because majority of them do not even understand why there is a lockdown. Mr President if this pandemic goes out of control in our country, have you considered it may be more out of large scale public ignorance?

Mr President, Can we learn anything from this pandemic? Wouldn’t we as a nation be better if our system financially empowers local governments to address health care, security, education and finance it to the grassroots and villages? If we had a functional decentralized system I would be calling on the local government chairman to put things in place instead of the president, but our current system where every instruction comes from Abuja in a country of two hundred million people makes governance cumbersome.

Mr President, Is this current pandemic unveiling the fact that our governance structure may not be properly configured to deliver the dividends of development to the common man? How long do we drive under this tunnel before we see the light? Moreso, is there really light at the other side?

How prepared are we to face a national epidemic? How prepared are our Doctors and nurses? How prepared is our public enlightenment systems? If this pandemic goes out of control, are our community health workers prepared to handle such emergencies? What is the state of readiness of our health system? Is this the best we can give to our people? Mr President the buck stops with you that’s why I am bringing this to your attention.

Billions have been donated, committees are formed in some states and in most cases these billions will vanish in thin air just as it came in. That has been the story of our country. Do we expect anything different this time around? We all know, Six months down if we do not fix it now our healthcare will still be the same.

Nigerians are dying slowly in lockdown, Nigerians are hungry, our healthcare is in shambles, some local governments have less than three medical doctors, some General hospitals have no running water, broken toilets, patients take medication on empty stomachs, most Doctors, nurses and health practitioners cannot even feed their families, have no back up in the event they fall sick, some General hospitals have no cotton buds, syringes or basic vaccines, Mr President, in all honesty are we prepared to tackle these pandemic if it rains on us? This is the reality out there that your aides may not tell you, Mr President at the end of the day, the buck stops with you.

Princewill Odidi writes from Atlanta. [email protected],com

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