As Nigeria’s confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) increase by the day, there have been worrying examples of the privileged and elite class in the society disobeying health protocols and flouting the social distancing rule.

Actress Funke Akindele celebrating her husband, JJC Skillz’s birthday noisomely and with a crowd of more than 20 persons, smack in the middle of a pandemic, is yet one more worrying example of how the elites in our society have handled this disease with levity and how they have not shown the right kind of example to the rest of the country.

It is worth noting at this point that most of Nigeria’s currently confirmed coronavirus tally of 238 are imported--that means the disease took root on our shores no thanks to travelers who were returning from high risk countries.

In the early days, and just before President Muhammadu Buhari announced a wide ranging travel ban, it was difficult getting the nation’s elites to self-isolate or observe social distancing as soon as they landed on our shores.

President Muhammadu Buhari preaching the wash your hands regularly campaign [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]
President Muhammadu Buhari preaching the wash your hands regularly campaign [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]

There were reports that some travelers returning from Europe or the United States rendered false information on flight manifests or on forms handed out by the health ministry. Others simply lied about their travel histories as they visited health facilities or pharmacies. All of which has made it doubly difficult for the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to trace and monitor most of them.

Some members of the privileged class hit night clubs and parties as soon as they touched down and socialised as much as they could, transmitting the disease as they huffed and puffed along.

Others stormed banking halls just hours after their return from high risk countries and hugged just about everyone they saw. There were reports of returnees worshiping in churches and mosques, going shopping and just practically carrying on as though the coronavirus was a hoax and the world were at peace.

Politicians who traveled locally or internationally were also guilty of flouting the hygiene practices they were preaching, and kept transmitting the virus during economic council meetings and during flights.

Governor Nyesom Wike and Babatunde Raji Fashola show the right example of how politicians should behave in public [Twitter@NyesomWike]
Governor Nyesom Wike and Babatunde Raji Fashola show the right example of how politicians should behave in public [Twitter@NyesomWike]

Today, Nigeria has gone from importing the disease to locally transmitting it. Community spread of Covid-19 wouldn’t have been a thing or would have been reduced to the barest minimum if everyone isolated or quarantined themselves from the airport or just washed their hands regularly or used hand sanitizers upon touching down in the country.

There have been recent images of the privileged class taking to the roads in Eti-Osa local government area of Lagos, despite a government pronounced two-week lockdown.

Eti-Osa by the way, has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Lagos, the nation’s Covid-19 epicenter.

Across Lagos, elites are eager to disobey health instructions on the virus, are in a hurry to grab a beer or two down the street during the lockdown and they have been pulling out their cars from driveways and onto empty streets when no law enforcement officer is watching.

There is a sense that most Nigerians are still treating this pandemic like a hoax across social classes. In densely populated Lagos suburbs, social distancing is an alien concept. There is still a lot of socialising going on in inner city streets of Yaba, Surulere, Isolo, Gbagada, Ikeja, Ogba and elsewhere in lockdown season and only a few can be seen sporting masks or observing health protocol.

There have been images of Lagosians jogging on the streets or playing football on deserted stretches of roads in their numbers, as government and healthcare officials continue to preach social distancing. We are never going to beat Covid-19 like this.

It is up to Nigeria’s middle, privileged or elite class to show the rest of society that coronavirus is real and that anyone can be struck by the flu.

To flatten the curve, everyone has got to play a role. But more than ever before, the more educated and enlightened among us have got to lead the way in preventing the rest of society from contracting the novel coronavirus.

Pulse Editor's Opinion is the opinion of an editor of Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the organization Pulse.