By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Do you know that we have to appreciate the Governor, of the State of Osun, Mr AdegboyegaOyetola, for the unwavering commitment of his administration in tackling the spread of the Coronavirus in the State and his commitment to employing the necessary technology and creativity to prevent community spread of the virus? Do you know that we have to appreciate, too, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi for donating two motorised Modular Fumigators to support the State to contain the spread of the virus? The voice of the Governor interludes: “We have seen this as a creative way of dealing with such a situation as we have been told that the device can also be used after COVID-19 for agriculture and industrial purposes. So, I must commend this initiative and express gratitude to our monarch for the gesture.”
Do you know that countries in West Africa rely on Nigeria to provide leadership? Hurray! Have you heard the news? Do you know that member countries of ECOWAS held a virtual meeting on Thursday 21st April, 2020 during which the chairman of the ECOWAS and President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou, lamented about the effects of the deadly virus on the people and economies? As at that date, do you know that Benin Republic had 54 coronavirus cases, Burkina Faso 609, Cape Verde 73, Cote D’Ivoire 952, the Gambia 10, Ghana 1,154, Guinea 761, Guinea Bissau 50, Libera 101, Mali 293, Niger 662, Nigeria 873, Senegal 442, Sierra Leone 61 and Togo with 88? Do you know that all these countries have all implemented different measures including social distancing, stay-at-home order curfews, travel bans and lockdown in key regions and cities to curb the pandemic and the disease was not near a blink, receding? Do you know that the body appointed Nigerian President Buhari as the coordinator of the sub-regions’ response to coronavirus? Can you now see that there is no ambush in the air for us to provide leadership to some other smaller nations? The tweet of Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman on 1st April,2020 cuts in:
“ECOWAS leaders at an extraordinary summit held by video conference have appointed President Buhari as Champion that will coordinate the COVID-19 response in the sub-region.”
Do you know that we must appreciate President Buhari for constituting the Federal Government Economic Sustainability Committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to focus on developing sustainable response to the economic downturn arising from falling oil prices amongst other things, to develop a clear economic sustainability plan from now till 2023, identify fiscal and monetary measures to enhance oil and non-oil revenues in order to fund the plan, develop a stimulus package and come up with other clear-cut measures to create more jobs while keeping existing ones? Have you heard the news? Do you know that oil prices plunged to a record low and into negative territory on Monday 20th April, 2020 as uncertainty mounted about storage for excess supply? Do you know that WTIcrude oil futures expiring in May plunged 321%, to -$40.32 a barrel, while Brent crude slid 9.5%, to $25.41 at intra-session lows as Covid-19 torpedoed demand for oil, with fuel use in cars and planes slumping? Do you know that this oil plunged into negative territory for the first time in the last 70 years? Are you aware that the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mele Kyari, said Nigerian crude oil grades were stranded in the global oil market like expired snacks? Do you know that the NNPC has announced that Nigeria may stop production of crude oil if the prices of crude oil in the international market continues to fall consistently? Do you know that this is the time we need Strategic Thinking on the fate of Nigeria without oil, which is part of the riddle that the Economic Sustainability Committee must crack? The voice of Obateru of the NNPC cuts in:
“We should be positive and hope that things improve. But again, if the situation persists, definitely I think it will come to that. Nigeria may stop production of crude oil.”
Do you know that the Committee is poised to salvage the current situation in the country? Do you know that the Committee needs our collective support to play the ace? Do you know that it is strategic for us to convert this vicissitude of the pandemic to fortune as done by other nations? Do you want to know what other nations are doing, not necessarily minding the heresy of President Trump of the United States who on Thursday 23rd April, 2020 suggesting research into whether coronavirus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body and irradiating patients’ bodies with UV light, a suggestion seriously criticized by the scientific community? Do you know that he is dead serious in post Covid-19 agenda -setting for his country, a scenario you will see soon? The voice of Prof Osinbajo cuts in:
“ What we will need to do is something that is bold, radical and one that our people can understand and buy into. .. We are faced with a challenge that no government in the history of Nigeria has ever faced. So, we have to redesign our economic planning and change our thinking. . We must design a broad vision..to implement a big plan inclusive of a focus on mass local productivity and mass employment”
Are you aware that on Friday 24th April 24, 2020, the World Health Organisation and world leaders launched $8.6bn required to implement the plan to contain COVID-19? Do you know that German Chancellor Merkel, French President Macron and European Commission President Ursula were among leaders who took part in a video-conference to unveil the plan? Do you know that the Director-General of WHO, Ghebreyesus, who hosted the event, said the world was in urgent need of tools being developed in some parts to combat the pandemic which could only be defeated with a common approach? Do you know that the United States boycotted the virtual meeting? UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, cuts in:
“The world needs the development, production and equitable delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,… Not a vaccine or treatments for one country or one region or one-half of the world, but a vaccine and treatment that are affordable, safe, effective, easily-administered and universally available, for everyone, everywhere. Data must be shared, production capacity prepared, resources mobilised, communities engaged, and politics set aside.”
As part of the strategies to manage the case before potent vaccines come our way, can you see how various tiers of government are competing to give palliatives to disadvantaged people in the informal sector to cushion the biting effects of the lockdown occasioned by Covid-19? Can you see how the issue of social security is playing out in this period of emergency? Are you aware that in a period of emergency like this, the rich cannot sleep when the poor are awake? Do you know that social security is any government assistance that provides monetary or material assistance to people with an inadequate or no income? Are you aware that Social security was fingered as a human right in 1944 in the Philadelphia Declaration of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which approved ‘the extension of social security measures to provide a basic income to all in need of such protection and comprehensive medical care’, a precursor to the ILO Income Security Recommendation 67 of 1944 and the ratification of the ILO Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention 102 of 1952? Do you know that there is provision for it in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Article 22 cuts in:
“Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”
Are you aware that the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights all make provisions for social security? Do you know that the International Labour Organization (ILO) in its 1952 Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention (nr. 102), itemized social security to include: old age pensions; survivor’s benefit; family benefit; medical care; maternity benefit; unemployment benefits; sickness leave benefit; disability benefits; employment injuries and people who cannot reach a guaranteed social minimum for other reasons may be eligible for social assistance?
Do you know that a report published by the ILO in 2014 estimated that only 27% of the world’s population has access to comprehensive social security? Do you know that the main idea behind social security is anchored in welfarism which presses for a valid claim to an equal share in all good basic things to support wellbeing of individuals in the society? Do you know that in Nigeria, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the right to social security remains a fleeting dream to a large majority of the citizenry as social security laws are targeted mostly at workers in the formal sector of the economy and poverty and lack of attention were the lots of the majority of Nigerians in the informal sector? Are you aware that the right to social security is given recognition in section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, which provides that ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’? Do you know that this provision is inserted in Chapter II of the Constitution entitled ‘Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy’? Do you know that part of the generous provisions of Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution are provisions on the right to suitable and adequate shelter; suitable and adequate food; a reasonable national minimum living wage; old age care and pensions; unemployment benefits; sick benefits and welfare of the disabled; the right to adequate medical and health facilities; and the right to education? Can you see how progressive these provisions are to deliver viable social security system to the mass of Nigerians?
Alas! Do you know that the drafters of the Nigerian Constitution, 199 (as amended) inserted the provisions of section 6(6)(c) of the Constitution which has generally ousted the jurisdiction of the court in respect of any issue or question as to whether any act or omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution? Thus, do you know that the rights enunciated in Chapter II of the Constitution are not binding legal entitlements, but mere desires that are non-justiciable for fear of fiscal constraints?
Are you aware that under the Exclusive Legislative List on which the National Assembly has power to legislate on, by virtue of section 4 of the Constitution, ‘to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof’, the National Assembly is empowered to establish and regulate authorities for the Federation or any part thereof ‘to promote and enforce the observance of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles contained in this Constitution’? Do you know that the National Assembly has not been acting in this capacity to promote universal social security for all citizens? Do you know that the right to social security in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 is enforceable in case of any breach? Section 27(1)(c) and 27(2) of the 1996 Constitution of South Africa states:
“Everyone has the right to have access to social security…. the state is obliged to take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of the right of access to social security.”
Do you know that in Khosa & Others v Minister of Social Development, a law that excluded permanent residents and their children from access to social assistance was challenged in court and in the wisdom of the court the provision was declared very unreasonable and inconsistent with the provisions of section 27(1) of the Constitution of South Africa, 1996, which guarantees to everyone the right of access to social security and social assistance, as well as with section 9(3) of the same Constitution, which prohibits unfair discrimination? Do you know that we have committed huge resources to provide Voters Register since 1999 and we do not have a time-tested social register as a country? Do you know that Covid-19 with all its woes has provided us with a unique opportunity to quickly join the Economic Sustainability Committee headed by Vice President Osinbajo to engage in Strategic Thinking now for Nigeria and the countries of the West African sub-region? Do you know that this is what most countries are doing right now as a post Covid-19 exit plan? Do you know that we need this Strategic Thinking? Come along, please.
Do you know that Strategic Thinking is a rise to a mental plane to engage in serious thinking process to achieving a goal? Do you know that it can be done individually, as well as collaboratively among key people? Are you aware that Strategic Thinking finds and develops a strategic foresight capacity for an organization, by exploring all possible organizational futures, and challenging conventional thinking to foster decision making today? Do you know that this is the right time as a post Covid-19 exit strategy to look at our Constitution again on the issue of Social Security? Do you know that Covid-19 is going to be around for awhile and rapid community transmission of the pandemic may force intermittent lockdowns? During such lockdowns, do we still continue to hold that provision of the Constitution in abeyance?
DO you know that the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has advised the federal government to design a lockdown exit plan as part of its COVID-19 exit strategy as a prelude to reopening the national economy? Do you know that this call is in line with international best practices? Do you know that this pandemic has changed the way we do things? Do you know that uniforms for schools will have to change? Do you know that methods of instruction will have to change? Do you know that the mode of examinations will have to change?
Is it not a notorious fact that now that UN Security Council meeting, G-20 meeting, WHO Conference and ECOWAS meetings were held virtually without physical presence? Do you know that National Assembly sessions can be held virtually as part of our take home strategy to cut cost of legislation in this country in line with the protocol of Covid-19 that forbids large gatherings? Do you know that Covid-19 hass taught us now that we can use the public resources spent on pilgrimages by some agencies to improve infrastructure for the people? Do you know that the same doctrine of necessity imposed by Covid-19 is silently teaching the mass of people in Nigeria that religious miracles do not happen everyday and that the best of self-appointed miracle healers have their moments of doubt and reservation to invite for healing the Covid-19 patients? Do you know that it is against this background of a complete revolution from our old ways of doing things that the Federal Ministry of Justice is advancing a post-Covid-19 Justice System in Nigeria? Do you know the Economic Sustainability Committee cannot rely on the current judicial system, a judicial system that has more than 70% of the in-mates in Correctional Facilities as “Awaiting -Trial”? What are these propositions of the Federal Ministry of Justice? You care? Come along, please.
Do you know that the Ministry of Justice is giving us template on post Covid-19 Justice trajectory? Do you know that the Honorable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has rolled out plans to invigorate the judicial system in post COVID-19 era to consider how best to start opening up as soon as possible and to start tackling backlog of cases? Are you aware that in a statement issued on Monday 20th April, 2010, Malami affirmed that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, with the support of relevant stakeholders, will see to implementation of the under listed strategies:
– Empowering the institutions of the ACJA, 2015 to commence functioning immediately. For instance, Part 46 dealing with the administration of the Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee; Section 251-witness payment; sections 107 & 108 etc. The net result will galvanise the judicial sector into rapid mode to fast track trials and release of those who are deserving.
– Deployment of ICT facilities to fast-track taking evidence from witnesses. Digital platforms such as Skype and Zoom can be used. NTA stations across the country can be connected to courts to facilitate taking evidence as witnesses do not have to necessary be physically present in court. It is expected that NTA facilities are to provide the rudimentary structures for video conferencing in view of their digital switchover process. Using their existing IT infrastructure, the courts may only need video screens and bandwidth at the minimum to ensure connectivity between parties to the proceedings.
– Speedy processing of pending civil matters that have not reached advanced stages of hearing and with the consent of parties and their solicitors to opt for out of court settlement. This may even mean using multi-door mediation avenues in courts that already have one, such in the case of Lagos and the FCT and a few other states.
– Criminal charges of minor and non-indictable offences should be summarily tried and sentenced to non-custody penalties. Even in cases where sentenced persons cannot pay their fines, the court should consider other alternative punishments other than jail term. This can include parole or probationary sentences and, if possible, community service like cleaning public places etc.
– Persons awaiting trial on minor criminal charges should be discharged, especially in cases where adjournments have been at the instance of the prosecution.
– The passing of the civil equivalent of the ACJA in order to fast track the disposal of civil proceedings. Civil matters are proportionately more in number and tend to clog the speedy completion of civil trials. The proposed law (civil equivalent of the ACJA) should stipulate time line for commencing and completing civil trials. Front loading of evidence should also be adopted for civil trials in order to fast track hearings.
– Setting aside special dates and that Courts work extra hours to decongest their case files. The 2020 court vacation could be suspended as the COVID 19 lockdown period has provided judges with the much-needed break from official duties.
– Having courts that are fully IT-compliant in order to fast track the digital recording and production of the record of court proceedings. The courts should also be able to automate case filing and cause list management.
– Appointment of more judges and justices, as appropriate. Additional judicial decisions of federal courts are to be created. This will, as a proactive measure, help in decongesting the already loaded court hearing schedules.
– Payment of court fees is done electronically. All court fees should be done electronically and not in cash. The courts should only receive receipts of payments and this can be transmitted online as well.
Do you know that this is a beautiful revolution in our judicial system? The voice of the Minister of Justice cuts in:
“At Courts where hearing electronically may not be possible, we can also consider having only few people attend to court matters. Ensuring that court dockets have only few cases per day can reduce the number of persons in courts. So, all the pending judgments should be drafted and concluded during short period of time. This does not require lawyers to be present. Once the judgment is ready, the lawyers should be able to receive them in their email or it should be posted on the court’s website for any interested party to download it. This is the way to go and thus provide greater transparency. The way to go in effect, Court Proceedings should also be handled in a manner that reduces the number of persons in the courts at any given time. Although this requires the movement of suspects from prisons to the courts, all such suspects should be tested, in fact everyone entering the court premises should be tested to ensure that they are not already positive, thus risking the lives of other people. While some of these changes may not happen in the short term, there is need to start the introduction of these new initiatives immediately through consultations with the Judiciary, NBA, and other relevant stakeholders”.
Hurray! The Earth Day is here! Are you aware that Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world beginning from 22 April for about a month to demonstrate support for environmental protection? Do you know that it was first celebrated in 1970, and it is now celebrated in more than 193 countries? Do you know that it evolved from the unfortunate industrial accident on 28th January, 1969 when an oil well blew out off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, spilling to the environment more than three million gallons of oil, killing more than 10,000 seabirds, dolphins, seals, and sea lions and created environmental disasters of monumental proportions? Can you recall that to mark the day in 2016, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was signed by the United States, China, and some 120 other countries to seal the climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris? Do you know that Earth Day 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and celebrations includeactivities such as the Great Global CleanUp, Citizen Science, Advocacy, Education, and art? Do you know that this year’s celebration coincides with COVID-19 pandemic which became our lot as we continue to mismanage the resources of the earth? Do you know that this year’s events include five components which are: –
-Citizen Science to engage one million global citizens in the 50th anniversary “Earth Challenge 2020,” collecting one billion data to measure air quality, water quality, pollution and human health,
-Advocacy to mobilize and take action to save our planet,
-Volunteering to engage volunteers across the globe for a month-long worldwide volunteer-driven program to remove billions of pieces of trash from our neighborhoods, beaches, and parks, working with partners to plant 7.8 billion trees, one for every human who will live on the planet in 2020,
-Education to build environmental and climate literacy worldwide among teachers, students, innovators and thought leaders to educate and activate a new generation of environmental leaders around the world, Events to recognize worldwide as the planet’s most significant civic engagement event each year,
-Artists for the Earth to disseminate information on the enormous challenges from loss of biodiversity, pollution, degradation of our ecosystems, and climate change?
Do you know that high-tech politics has started trailing each country’s actions and reactions in the management of Covid-19 pandemic? Do you know that Nigeria cannot afford to play last? Can you believe that China on Monday 20th April, 2020 rejected US President Donald Trump’s demand to send an investigation team to Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus first emerged to unravel whether the deadly virus “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology or not? Do you know that China’s reaction is suspect? The voice of Geng Shuang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman cuts in: “The virus is the common enemy for all mankind…It may appear at any time anywhere in the world. Like any other country, China is attacked by this virus. China is a victim instead of the culprit. We are not co-workers for this virus.”
As part of the COVID-19 exit strategy, are you aware that the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), the International Trade Union Confederation are working with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to take action to support manufacturers to survive the economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and to protect workers’ income, health and employment? Do you know that we need to endorse a call for action and commit to work with governments and financial institutions to mobilise sufficient funding to enable manufacturers to ensure business continuity including payment of wages, as well as income-support and job-retention schemes to address the impact of the crisis as a post-Cpvid-19 survival strategy? Do you know that leadership and cooperation from all stakeholders are vital to realise a future based on resilience and decent work in Nigeria? The voice of ILO DG Guy Ryder cuts in:
“The International Labour Organization is deeply concerned by the threat posed by Covid-19 to millions of jobs in the global garment industry. This is an unprecedented crisis that can only be solved through global solidarity. The priority must be to sustain businesses and protect workers. At the heart of this is effective social dialogue between governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations. We urge all actors to heed this call and take joint action that will help us avert catastrophe for the industry.”
As part of the COVID-19 exit strategy, despite huge fatalities of Covid-19, do you know that on 22nd April, 2020 Iran lofted its first military satellite into orbit, ending a series of setbacks for the nation’s space programme from the Markazi Desert in central Iran and successfully delivered a military reconnaissance satellite called Nour to orbit? Do you know that the trade war has shifted from the terrestrial to the celestial? Do you know that military satellite will be used specifically for intelligence gathering and secure communications for the navigation of forces on land and sea? Do you know that countries leverage on wars including this bio-warfare to push their national interest beyond acceptable limits? Do you know that each country is preparing for a post Covid-19 strategy as envisaged by President Buhari by inaugurating the Economic Sustainability Committee headed by Vice President Osinbajo?
Do you know that in the midst of a global pandemic, President Donald Trump, despite his failings to attempt to prescribe a cure for Covid-19 without studying Medicine, found time on 6th April, 2020 to sign an executive order for U.S. companies to commence exploitation of mineral resources from the moon to steer up the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that allows the use of such resources? Are you aware that the United States, like the other major spacefaring nations, has not signed the 1979 Moon Treaty, which stipulates that non-scientific use of space resources be governed by an international regulatory framework? Do you know that in 2015, Congress of the United States passed a law explicitly allowing American companies and citizens to use moon and asteroid resources? Do you know that the new executive order aims to land two astronauts on the moon in 2024 and to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the moon to start commercial mining there for the prosperity of the United States of America? Are you aware that the Strategic Thinking for this Executive Order began in December 2017 President Trump signed Space Policy Directive-1, which began the Artemis campaign for astrauts to prepare to move American businesses to invest in the moon, followed by a Directive to streamline commercial space regulation and the protocols for space traffic control? Do you know that Space Policy Directive-4 was signed in February 2019 by President Trump that created a standby Space Force which is now a branch of the United States Air Force? Do you know that post Covid-19 Strategic Thinking of the United States is to monopolise the mineral resources on the surface of the moon for the prosperity of the American people? The voice of Scott Pace, the Executive Secretary of the U.S. National Space Council cuts in:
“As America prepares to return humans to the moon and journey on to Mars, this executive order establishes U.S. policy toward the recovery and use of space resources, such as water and certain minerals, in order to encourage the commercial development of space.”
Do you remember Abraham Maslow a motivation theorist that once canvassed that the physiological needs of mare are simply: food, shelter, clothing, water, sleep and sex? Do you know that he hinted further that any equation to keep man alive must factor in food? Have you heard the news from the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) that reported last week that number of people facing acute food insecurity could double this year to 265 million up from a current 135 million in low and middle-income countries could be under severe threat, as a result of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you know that this is the time to put on Strategic Thinking because Nigeria is specifically mentioned in the report? Did you see on the TV News how thousands of people were defying lockdown order to search for food? Do you hear them touting: “Coronavirus is more subtle than Corona-hunger”?The voice of the WFP Dr ArifHusain, chief economist, cuts in:
“These new projections show the scale of the catastrophe we are facing. We must make sure that tens of millions of people already on the verge of starvation do not succumb to this virus or to its economic consequences in terms of loss of jobs and incomes. The greatest worry is for people living in conflict zones, refugees and displaced people, with countries of concern including north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. COVID-19 may prove especially deadly for people suffering from chronic or acute hunger or malnourishment. Africa’s 1.2 billion people face the highest percentage of undernourishment on the planet, affecting over 20 percent of the population. The COVID-19 virus has proved especially deadly for those who are elderly or whose health is already compromised. This likely includes people suffering from malnourishment. There is also considerable risk to refugee populations. Today, more people are displaced from their homes because of violence, conflict and persecution than at any other time since the Second World War. Many of those who have left their countries are living in camps. Refugee populations living in close proximity to one another, and lacking adequate medical facilities, are at an especially elevated risk from COVID-19. Covid-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread. It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock – like Covid-19 – to push them over the edge. We must collectively act now to mitigate the impact of this global catastrophe.”
Do you know that as we strategise for food security, we must intensify campaign against smoking? Do you smoke or sit close to a smoker? Do you know this is not the best of times for this fad? Do you know that smoking is already known to be a risk-factor for many other respiratory infections, including colds, influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis? Have you heard the news? Do you know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made a second revision on its stance about the risks of Covid-19 and nicotine, saying that cigarettes also increase the chances of catching the disease? Are you aware that countries of the world have been advised to warn smokers in the world who are estimated to be 1.1 billion people that they are liable to have worse outcomes from Covid-19?
Do you know that this is the time that our country must decide as Japan and the seven Asian Tigers did after the Second World Wart to rebrand the country economically? Why are we not copying oil production and management from Saudi Arabia and Agriculture from South Korea and Israel? Why are we waiting for food, clothing, ventilators and loans from China as we cause discourage local capital formation and industrialsation? Do you know that the economic diplomacy of China is first to its own people and while doing that, foul may be fair? Do you know that on 6th April 2020, when President Trump was signing an Executive Order for America to commence mining in the moon, China too, was filling 58, 990 forms for industrial patency of new inventions with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) while our country was sulking in the rise in the pandemic? Do you know that the United States filled patent applications of 57,840 for 2019? Do you know that each of our Research Institutes and Universities is working in silos, blaming Government every time, even if occasionally, they fart out of reflex? Do you know that Asia continues to outpace other regions of the world in filing activity for patents, utility models, trademarks and industrial designs and accounts for 68.8% of all global patents? Do you know that the few patents filled by Nigerians were done by Nigerians in diaspora? Do you know that ownership of patents is widely seen as an important sign of a country’s economic strength and industrial know-how?
On the economic front, do you know that the total foreign reserve of Nigeria with its 200 million people as at February, 2020 was $37.5 billion whilethe worth of Bill Gates alone as a single individual on 3rd January, 2020 was over $100 billion? Do you know that Bill Gates does not deal in oil? Can you see that the Foreign Reserve of Nigeria is just a-third of the worth of Bill Gates as at today? today is less than half of the personal worth of Bill Gates? What is that saying to us and to all our intellectuals? Is it not high time we left Egypt of mental slavery and rise upto salvage our country without creed, colour, religion and sex forming any point of reference? Do you know that the Chinese investments in infrastructure across the world under the Belt and Silk Road Initiative is to make China to create additional 400 million millionaires in the next 10 years, have more access to our solid minerals including Uranium? Do you know that our collective strategic thinking must be communicated to all our University lecturers and they must be seen to have shown perfect understanding of where the country wants to get to? Do you know that we must be prepared to fund researches like we were funding sports and elections before the on-rush of Covid-19? Do you know that many analysts are saying that the world will not get back on its feet for a few more months if not a few years? Do you know that we are in a fantasy world and may be stuck in this new world until a vaccine is found? The statement of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the occasion resumes again:
“The world needs the development, production and equitable delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutics and diagnostics. Not a vaccine or treatments for one country or one region or one-half of the world, but a vaccine and treatment that are affordable, safe, effective, easily-administered and universally available, for everyone, everywhere.
As we are expecting much from the world, do you know that post Covid-19 Economic Sustainability Strategy that Vice President Osinbajo’s Committee is working on needs peace, love, and truth? Do you know that whether we get it right or we bungle it, truth will always remain constant? Do you know that this is the time to re-work our thinking strategically and collectively? A passage from the Jewish Sacred Text interludes:
“The angels were not all of one opinion.
The Angel of Love favoured the creation of man,
because he would be affectionate and loving;
But the Angel of Truth opposed it,
because he would be full of lies.
And while the Angel of Justice favored it, to
because he would practice justice,
the Angel of Peace opposed it,
because he would be quarrelsome.
To invalidate his protest,
God cast the Angel of Truth down from heaven to earth,
and when the others cried out against such contemptuous treatment of their companion,
He said, “Truth will spring back out of the earth.”