Kano is on the edge. Any other city would be, not just on account of the number of people lost to death within one week but also the caliber of people involved. Once the elite cannot protect themselves in any situation, it is a sure sign that the entire society is at risk.
Still, neither Kano nor Nigeria should panic. To panic is to surrender to paralysis and increase vulnerability. The country cannot afford that at a time like this.
As acceptable as never submitting to paralysis is, it does not stand on its own. It can only work if authoritative information backs it up. The country should be hearing authoritative voices giving information at intervals, analyzing what is going on, why they might be occurring that way and what people need to do. The operative word here is authoritative. That must be someone whom the community sees as signifying authenticity so that the information will work. It could be a community leader, a medical hero, an NGO actor who has cultivated communal solidarity. In other words, it is not everyone who is a signifier. Ideally, it should have been the elected leaders. The reality is that having come to power through rigging, most of them are not believable when they speak. They signify no values when they speak and have no utility in this types of moment.
Framing this reality is more urgent than any other thing so that demobilising interpretations do not set in. The assumption is that other states and centres of terribly diffuse population are watching what is unfolding in Kano because Kano presents what might follow in most of the states.
It all speaks to a ‘Risk Society’ theory of Nigeria. That is a society endangered from a number of things it has been doing over time and which are bound to come back. Cities are not planned. They are not served with water. There are no internal drainage system and the ones that exist are easily blocked. The political parties have no organic links as for them to be relied upon to channel food and other essentials under conditions of emergency. Merchants of so-called cure-all herbal products are everywhere selling their products without control. Malaria is rampant. The health infrastructural outlay is ramshackle and antiquated.
In this sort of situation, a COVID-19 emergency is bound to be nearly impossible to manage. This is what the scenario in Kano points to. It must suggest to all reasonable people that if care is not taken, that is the scenario the rest of Nigeria is awaiting except probably Lagos State which has a health management establishment that knows its onion. We cannot escape playing politics with everything, including leaving a segments as vital as health, education, agriculture, urban renewal and the environment to so-called loyalists who have no loyalty to manifest when it matters most.
It is a pity Kano is passing such a stressful moment!