Depending on where you stand and the perspective you want to canvass, COVID-19 will appear as a chessboard with challenges and opportunities. In making this statement, one is oblivious of the origin of the pandemic and the many conspiracies woven around it. Even if the pandemic is a biological contraption in the hands of the deep state and its eugenics manipulators, it still offers challenges and opportunities that we must appreciate and embrace in order to be part of our ever changing world in a meaningful and respectful way.
Stone Age people were luckier than us. They lived in simple hunting and gathering bands. Each band was small in size and glued to an environmental niche, which supported its food, spiritual and other needs. The single most important challenge of the hunter-gatherer was the search for equilibrium with his environment. He did this by ensuring that his population at all times did not exceed the resources available for survival. Whenever there was a more aggressive band in the neighbourhood, the less aggressive band would just migrate to some distance away. Epidemics were not threats to Stone Age man.
Fast forward to the agricultural revolution when hunting, gathering and foraging were substantially abandoned in favour of farming. There was permanent settlement, increase in population and inequalities that disrupted the erstwhile egalitarian society-giving rise to a hierarchical society. A society of kings, elites, priests, soldiers, bureaucrats, artists, philosophers and the ordinary people whose destiny was to serve the privileged. Exploitation exploded with multiple vices including diseases some of which started breaking out at epidemiological levels.
Fast forward to the industrial and scientific revolution where all growth and development was predicated on the indiscriminate and unsustainable use of fossil fuels. Fast forward to the age of the computer and the Internet where communication is becoming faster and faster with the world going towards 5G and the possibility of connecting all humanity through chip implants and crypto currency is openly being discussed. The world will no longer be the same and even though we do not have the prophetic calling, it is clear that our world has irreversibly become a chessboard where every move is a puzzle and an opportunity at the same time.
We are without doubt in turbulent times. Countries, businesses and individuals have benefitted from the COVID-19 pandemic. The countries and big pharmaceutical companies in the forefront of vaccine development are poised to make multi billion dollar profits from nations and peoples who are too afraid to ask questions. These are nations and people who are mere pawns on the chessboard. All of the vaccines touted as antidotes to the pandemic do not guarantee that if you take the vaccine you will no longer have COVID-19. Even after taking the vaccine, one is still enjoined to wear the mask, wash hands regularly and maintain social distance meaning that the vaccine is snake oil whose logic is not yet clear. Other profiteers of the pandemic have made fortunes from making facemasks even though the relationship between the facemask and COVID-19 infections is yet not clear. Makers of hand sanitizers have also profited from the pandemic as much as corrupt managers of the pandemic at both the national and other levels. On the other side of the stick, businesses have been ruined and many livelihoods destroyed.
In Nigeria, the budget for the COVID-19 fight is intimidating and shows clearly that our choices have continued to be on the side of copying what the world does without inputs. The country is requesting $6.9billion from multilateral lenders to fight the pandemic using strategies designed from outside. Just like on the chessboard, all moves that are not carefully thought out are tactless and useless. Take education for example, Nigerian schools have literally been closed for a year. The COVID-19 pandemic did not allow schools to be in session for the greater part of 2020. Worse, at a time when school teachers at the university level were supposed to be awake and asking questions about the future of their country, the university teachers union(Academic Staff Union of Universities-ASUU) went on a fool hardy strike loosing the opportunity to understudy the pandemic in ways that will support the country reclaim its future. No one was interested in using the ‘downtime’ to prepare ahead. To think through possible challenges to overcome in order to continue providing education. In other climes, education marched on with schools at all levels migrating to online platforms of learning. Those who provided solutions to the challenges of online education and the new world of work have profited in ways that are both unimaginable and obscene. Zoom, while enabling virtual meeting to take place to beat the pandemic has led us to new possibilities of virtual classrooms that can accommodate hundreds and even thousands of learners scattered across the globe. Probably because we have been fixated in Nigeria on face-to-face learning, no one thought of online learning as a plausible alternative. This is sad but understandable. Nigerian education is based on the traditional template where teachers and learners meet physically in brick and mortal classrooms. For reasons not very clear, managers of the Nigerian educational system spent much time denigrating online and distance learning to the extent that even when the country decided on a distance learning university, it still could not disambiguate between a truly distance learning institution in the computer age from a traditional learning institution in the computer age.
Nigerian university teachers do not seem to know what e- learning is and you can hardly blame them. The computer is still a luxury amongst many who teach in the university. Internet is erratic and e-learning resources are hard to come by. It is clear that when ASUU was expressing misgivings about online learning, it was the union’s way of saying its members are not electronically skilled to migrate to online learning. This is sad because the Nigerian public university is going to find it difficult to handle overcrowding in the hostels and classrooms unless it is able to migrate some percentage of its courses to online platforms. But how can it do this successfully unless learners are able to access libraries from remote locations? How can it do this successfully unless well thought out moves are made from the ivory tower towards examination management systems that are aligned to current trend?
The COVID-19 pandemic is truly forcing us to rethink and ask more critical questions about the challenges and opportunities we will continue facing as humanity. For the first time, a pandemic is paralyzing the world in several areas and there are multiple attempts across the globe to find some vaccine, some medicine. This is big business for which developing nations like Nigeria are likely going to stay on the sideline as mere consumers. We will be unable to verify what is in the vaccine and be literally forced to take it by our undiscerning government. Nigeria’s scientific and research community will loose out on understanding and participating in some of the philosophical discourses that have continued to foreground major scientific endeavors in today’s world. Every university in Nigeria is ‘doing’ research and awarding degrees up to the PhD level. In truth, none is doing any meaningful research that can place competitive ideas on the global table of knowledge. Non can ‘scramble’ to give the world a vaccine or a drug to deal with COVID-19. This is not about brains. We have that. It is about whether as a country, we are committed to pooling the resources that can give our scholars the opportunity to leverage their intellect for salvaging the human experience.
The dearth of resources and lack of commitment has disenabled our scholars from even understanding the philosophical conversations that foreground what we call science today. The implication of this is mindboggling. When eugenics whose philosophies have transformed biotechnology and led to ‘improved’ plants and animals come close to the human zoo, we are alarmed but what can be our counter response.? When eugenics say we are sub human and in reality, we are doing what we are doing to each other- slaughtering each other, stealing from the common purse without consequences what could be our response? Are we human at all? Why are we for the first time in human history pushing for a vaccine that would change human DNA and embed Nano particles in our bodies that will mine our biometric data and connect it to crypto currency to advance the commercial interests of a few.
In the challenges and opportunities of the COVID-19 pandemic we must pause and ask: What makes us human and why are we so different from others and why do we deserve to sit on the same table with humanity? How can we together create a future for ourselves as one single human community?. How do we counter the eugenics agenda in creating a new future for our world? These are questions for a vibrant school system which we do not have for now. Our school system had been interrupted years ago and COVID-19 has made everything worse meaning it is near impossible for any learner to go through our system and clarify what challenges we face and what opportunities await us. For now, those who can participate in the COVID-19 economy as sellers are in a boom. They will wish the pandemic stays with us forever. They will not want to hear the inconveniences and challenges some face as their livelihoods are threatened. While this is true, it is also equally true that opportunities are out there now to embrace new forms of education and understanding which will make us participate in pulling ourselves back from the brink. Otherwise, humanity will suffer a check mate in the next few moves leading to our destruction.