The Nigerian Government is currently facing an uphill task to contain the spread of the Coronavirus in the country but available data have shown that the government has not done enough under the prevailing circumstances.
The country had locked down three states regarded as epicentres of the virus. The include Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory. The lockdown ran for almost five weeks in order to counter the spread of the disease to other states. Quite contrastingly, the number of affected states grew from six as at March 30 when the lockdown took effect to 34 including the FCT, out of a possible 36. As it stands, only Kogi and Cross Rivers states are yet to declare any active cases.
This incredible spread has been attributed to a lot of reasons. Government had acted late in effecting a lockdown, hence infected persons had already entered other territories; the lockdown was not effective as there were still movement from the epicentres to other states; the state governors are manipulating figures in order to enjoy part of the booty COVID-19 offers; and the government had simply not done enough test to have a full grasp of the situation before effecting and during the lockdown.
While other reasons may not be verifiable, the figures show that the latter is most likely the case. In a research done by the Civic Media Lab, Nigeria has declared 1, 932 cases spread across 34 states and the FCT (this means nine cases per one million). There have been 319 recoveries and 58 deaths (0.3 per million). This means the country has 1555 active cases, according to Worldometers (as at 1st May).
The number of cases seem relatively low but it is not as a result of any ingenuity on the path of the government, rather it shows the lacklustre reaction of the government as it has not carried out as many tests as it should.
Nigeria has done just 15,759 tests (76 people per million), according to worldometers.info/coronavirus.
If a country of 205,259,546 population and a nominal GDP of $446.543bn (as at Q4 2019, Source: World Bank) can only do less than 20,000 tests in eight weeks since its index case, then it shows the government is either unserious, dubious or downright inefficient.
Within this same period, some other African countries with lesser populations and even lesser GDP have ramped up tests and seem to have a full grasp of their reality, unlike Nigeria. According to Worldometers, South Africa with a population of 59,308, 690 and a nominal GDP of $358.839bn, have done 14 times more tests than Nigeria with 207, 530 tests (3499 per million), despite having their index case two weeks after Nigeria. The country currently has 5,647 cases.
Egypt with a population of 102, 334,404 and a GDP of $302.256bn has carried out 90,000 tests (879 per million) with 5,537 cases. Morocco with a population of 36, 838,497 and a nominal GDP of $120bn have carried out 35,803 tests (970 per million) and have 4,529 cases. Ghana, with a population of 31,072,940, with a GDP of $67.077bn have carried out 113, 497 tests (3,653 per million) amounting to 2,074 cases.
Interestingly, countries with very low GDP are making concerted efforts to save their citizens from avoidable deaths at this time.
The foregoing shows countries with similar and less economic power have taken the COVID-19 fight a lot more seriously and put the people first. Nigeria however, ranks low among countries with far lower GDP like Mozambique, Senegal and Burundi.
The Civic Media Lab posits that the government, through the Ministry of Health, agencies and committees owes the Nigerian people an explanation on the reason it is lagging behind the rest of Africa and the world in testing despite all the international support it had received and the sacrifice Nigerians have made enduring the lockdown.