Some of our educated and moderately comfortable folks have wondered why the poor do not seem to believe the fear around the Corona virus pandemic.
From investigation, it is the inconsistency of opinion leaders, the educated people and the governments that has done the most damage to the sense of belief among the people at the base of the socioeconomic pyramid.
Remember Ebola? The people believed totally then. Why? Because governments at all levels spoke same thing and pulled in one direction on the issue. BRF and Amosun of Lagos and Ogun were ACN/APC while President GEJ was PDP but there was seamless cooperation among all. Even religious leaders were on the same page. Today, what do we have? Even Kogi (APC) is not in agreement with the APC centre. Same with Kano. Not to talk of Rivers. Not to talk of religious leaders.
From the mouths of some of the governors and religious and community leaders, the poor have heard that the Corona virus issue is a political and monetary issue. Add this to government claiming there is no cure for Corona virus in one breath and, in another breath, claiming it is treating and discharging patients without giving the people an idea of how the feat is being done.
The poor people, especially the uneducated, are not going to believe that, no matter what you say. Not when, rightly or wrongly, they already believed the ‘no Italian brought any virus into the country’ story. If we think the poor are stupid and carefree, we miss the problem.
The truth is the poor too don’t want to die. They don’t want to confront death stupidly. However, they are not just going to run because the educated and comfortable folks shout death, death, death…when all the poor can hear is a cacophony of inconsistency.
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The day the elites across all strata- political, religious, business, legal, etc- attack issues of dire consequences with same sincerity of purpose, the poor will naturally cooperate. This is the major flaw of our battle against this COVID-19, in my own opinion.
Lekan Ishola, a Public Relations expert writes from Lagos.