By Akin Ojumu

Till date, just about 4.43 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Nigeria. That translates to roughly 1.44 million Nigerians who have been fully vaccinated and 3 million who have received at least one dose. Going by the current best estimate, the population of Nigeria hovers around 200 million people. Meaning, less than 1 percent of Nigerians, i.e., 0.7 percent to be exact, have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and about 1.4 percent who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The low rate of vaccination in Nigeria is mostly due to inadequate supply. The country simply doesn’t have enough supply of the COVID vaccines for its teeming population. While it is true that Nigerians are enigmatic, they are not idiotic. They are mostly reasonable people who would want to do the right thing – at least for themselves if not for anybody else. 

Moreover, there’s one thing Nigerians fear more than anything else. And that is death. No Nigerian wants to die. There’s even a popular saying among Nigerians. “Who wan die?” An average Nigerian would do anything to preserve his own life and would do anything to survive. 

So, I have no doubt in mind that if the COVID vaccines were available, majority of Nigerians would line up and get the lifesaving shot. The challenge is that, unlike the governments of other countries, the Nigerian government has not made the vaccine available in sufficient quantities to meet the demand of the massive population.

That being said, Nigeria is also a place given to rumor mongering and it is a fertile ground where conspiracy theories thrive. Hoaxes travel at the speed of light in Nigeria. It doesn’t matter the level of education, Nigerians tend to fall easily for anything they read online or pops up on their social media platforms and they are quick to imbibe the lies in cyberspace. Perhaps because of their religiosity, easy believism is the bane of many Nigerians. The average Nigerian tends to believe anything that comes from the pulpit; they would accept as true whatever a man of God says.

Therefore, there is a significant number of Nigerians who have bought into the falsehoods propagated by anti-vaccine advocates about the coronavirus and the COVID-19 vaccines. Among the 99 percent unvaccinated Nigerians, there is a considerable number who are unvaccinated not because of the unavailability of the COVID-19 vaccine, but because they believe in the conspiracy theories that if they took the vaccines, they would be microchipped for government control, marked for eternal damnation with the number 666 (mark of the beast), have their DNA altered, and turned into monkeys or zombies.

It is to this later group that this write-up is directed.

Data doesn’t lie, conspiracy theorists do. The approved vaccines are effective against SARS-CoV-2, multiple data from around the world bear that fact. The vaccinated are living while the unvaccinated are dying. Hospitalization for serious infection is a lot fewer among those who have received the full dose of the vaccines. Of the hundreds of millions of people who have been vaccinated around the world, none of them has turned into a monkey and none has become a zombie. The DNA of the vaccinated have not been altered and there are no microchips embedded into them. If anyone has the mark of the beast engraved on their body, I can assure you it did not come from the COVID vaccine. It’s probably because of the other sins in the life of such a person.

I know some would read this and ask, “Why do you care if I got vaccinated? What’s in it for you?” 

Well, the reason I care is because I have seen what COVID does to people and the only thing in it for me is the joy of seeing you live. I know the anguish, pain and suffering that accompany getting infected with this deadly virus. Furthermore, the reason I care is because I hate to see Nigeria turn into a COVID-19 hot zone. The country’s health care system is not equipped or robust enough to handle a full blown COVID-19 pandemic crisis. 

And in the lyrics of that famous song by Tunji Oyelana and Wole Soyinka,

I love my country I no go lie
Na inside am I go live and die,
I know my country I no go lie
Na him and me go yap till I die

I may live far away from Nigeria, it is still the place I call home and the zeal for the well-being of its people burns deep in my heart. It does not matter how long I'm away from Nigeria, my love for the country never wanes. I want what’s best for Nigeria, and in my own little corner, I try to do what’s best for its people by being a good ambassador in distant lands. I want Nigerians to get vaccinated because it’s the only way the country can escape the inescapable wrath of COVID-19.


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