The COVID-19 trilemma, by Saleh Babayo


Nigeria, unfortunately, is at a crossroad with regards to this novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We’re in a serious trilemma as a country. The three unfavourable choices before us are:

  1. Continual Total Lockdown

This strategy has been tried in many states like Abuja, Lagos, Ogun, Kano, etc., with virtually nothing to write home about.

The various palliatives modelled to cushion the effect of the lockdown seem ineffective and insufficient which render the continual lockdown unsustainable.

Many commentators have questioned the credibility of the way the palliatives are being shared. We all know this for sure, it won’t reach the intended beneficiaries as far as our attitude of selfishness remains.

The economy too won’t endure protracted lockdown. The price of oil is at an all-time low. That’s our main source of revenue.

Just imagine a Nigeria not being able to pay workers salaries? That’s tantamount to economic paralysis. Nothing will work in this country.

  1. Relaxation of Lockdown

The global-best practice to live with the virus is the regular washing of hands, observance of social distancing, and compulsory wearing of face masks at public places by the populace.

The simple question is that will Nigerians abide by these rules? Unfortunately, the answer is NO if our present realities are anything to go by.

Lagos State that is believed to be comparatively progressive and literate couldn’t enforce these rules when it relaxed the lockdown. People went about their normal activities without taking any measures.

We’re living witnesses to how people, in various places, flout these rules during funerals and other social gatherings. People mingle nonchalantly.

Hang on a minute, how would we cope with the people who still believe that this COVID-19 is a hoax and they, very, unfortunately, constitute the vast majority of our population?

For all practical reasons, this option will not work in any state of the federation with no exception.

  1. Discovery of a Vaccine

There is still no WHO-approved vaccine for this novel virus. No one knows with certainty when one will be available. Perhaps not anytime soon. We may have to learn to live it.

Therefore, we cannot fold our arms and be waiting for a vaccine.


Maybe herd immunity is our last resort. As it’s the established medical procedure, when many people contract a virus in a given community and their immune systems manage to fight the virus, they organically develop resistance to the virus, hence bringing it to a conclusive end.

However, this usually comes at a price. People with a weak immune system (e.g. elderly people and people with underlying illnesses) will pay the supreme price for the attainment of the herd immunity. How many more people need to die before we can attain herd immunity?

It’s crystal clear that the number of people living with Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria has been underestimated.

The total number of tests conducted is still very low relative to our population of over 200 million people.

Maybe we are on our way to attaining herd immunity without us realizing it.


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