Throughout history, there have been a number of pandemics of diseases which COVID-19 happens to be the latest. The 2019, coronavirus disease, was declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO).
As at the last count, the virus has hit 209 countries across the globe of which Nigeria is among, with total number of over 1,133,758 confirmed cases and 62,784 deaths.
The major strategies put in place to curtail the spread of this dreaded disease are containment and mitigation, which has led to a standstill in the affairs of the world as the disease is seen to affect almost every aspect of human activities including a threat to the global economy.
However, what this virus doesn’t seem to affect is the bond and strong relationship between Nigeria and its Diaspora.
Right from the outbreak of this virus till date, a close contact has been maintained between Nigeria and its Diaspora. Despite the enforcement of social distancing, what they seem to practice is more of physical distancing while keeping in touch through daily affairs.
The Federal government through the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission has maintained constant communication with the Nigerians in diaspora globally.
An instance is the immediate intervention rendered to Nigerians in Wuhan, where the virus first broke out, which was coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other Governmental Agencies to ensure that Nigerians in Wuhan are protected from the dreaded coronavirus outbreak.
Similarly, a group of Nigerian Diaspora from UK (APC United Kingdom) donated boxes of COVID-19 protection kits to the Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa in solidarity with their homeland.
The donation was one of the Diaspora contributions to help Nigeria curb the virus outbreak.
Recently in a statement, the Chairman/CEO of NiDCOM Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa commended the efforts of the Nigerian Diaspora for Organising a COVID-19 Diaspora Support Initiative, which is supported by various Nigerians in Diaspora Organisations across the world, to collectively support Nigeria in the fight against the pandemic.
However, despite the anxieties and fears caused by this pandemic, the Chairman of NiDCOM has appealed to Nigerians, wherever they are in the globe, to adhere to the health advice in their various countries of residence and urged them to practice social distancing while supporting each other as the world works hard to end this pandemic.
As if that is not enough and in line with citizen diplomacy of President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the Federal Government through the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission in a statement by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa stated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs directive to all its missions abroad to compile lists of nationals who wants to come back home.
Arrangements have since commenced as the online form has been circulated to the public for interested persons.
The statement also made it clear that all returnees must observe compulsory 14 days quarantine on arrival into the country before socialising with the general public.
While the whole world is struggling through this tragedy together, Nigeria still remains concerned about the welfare of Nigerians wherever they are.
Sadly enough, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission is taking cognisance of the deceased Nigerians abroad who lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic with condolence messages to the bereaved families and missions abroad.
It must, however, be pointed out here that coronavirus is not a death sentence, the world is known to endure pandemics and it will also endure this one. However, we must not panic but ensure to play our parts by taking necessary precautions, obeying medical advices, staying home and practising social distancing and taking responsibility. We shall surely overcome this pandemic soon.
Khadija Shehu Bamalli, staff writer, Media and Public Relations Unit NiDCOM, Abuja.