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Humanity at the center of technology

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The emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in China, in December 2019 had led to a global outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the disease started to spread all over the world and became an international public health issue. The entire humanity has to fight in this war against the unexpected and each and every individual role is important.

Healthcare system is doing exceptional work and the government is taking various measures that help the society to control the spread. Public, on the other hand, coordinates with the policies and act accordingly in most state of affairs. The roles of technologies in controlling the pandemic cannot be overemphasized. Using potential technologies is yielding great benefits and these technological measures can be framed either to control the pandemic or to support the confinement of the society during pandemic which in turn aids in controlling the spreading of infection.

The Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) emanated from China, Wuhan, China in December 2019. Eventually, it started to spread in various regions throughout China and on 30 January 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC, WHO2020a) which later became a global pandemic. As of 7 April 2020, the WHO Situation report-78 recorded more than 1.2 million confirmed cases and deaths greater than 72,000 globally (WHO, 2020b). The infection is spreading on daily basis and the medical systems across the globe struggle to take care of every infected individual especially in excessively infected countries such as the USA, Italy and Spain among others.

Although the characteristics of this coronavirus are not well known, we can infer its traits from the data such as rapid rate of spread, vulnerability is higher for low immune, diabetic and aged people, different pattern of recovery rate and other information we have is that it spreads by a human to human transmission through droplets or by direct contact and the incubation period for the infection has been estimated as 2–14 days.

To control the incidence, healthcare systems have put their tremendous efforts in treating the infected individuals and also for, testing the public for coronavirus diagnosis. Governments are doing their best to alleviate the infection and also to meet the requirement for the medical system. Unfortunately, there is neither a generally acceptable medicine for the cure nor a vaccine for prevention of this novel coronavirus.

However, countries have been trying various treatment methods and techniques in combating the pandemic.

The preventive measures recommended by the WHO are to wash the hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub, following social distancing, and practicing respiratory hygiene (WHO, 2020c). Masks will also play a role in protecting people from infection and it is compulsory to know when and how to use the mask.

Apart from this, the only way to stop the infection from spreading is by staying at home and avoiding social gathering, following social distancing and isolating the infected people or subjecting them to quarantine. Thus, to stop the spread, it requires a concerted effort from all social bodies such as the healthcare system, government and more importantly from the public. And they can be controlled only to a limited extent.

In addition, the extensive utilization of potential technologies together with effective healthcare treatment and strong governance will be astonishing that would strengthen the defense line to fight against COVID-19.

Technologies have been persistently significant in solving human problems especially during an unexpected circumstance such as COVID-19 pandemic. The role of these technologies to support humanity in various means is noteworthy. It is of course known that the credits for the healthcare system is extraordinary in tackling the situation but the part of technologies in supporting the healthcare system, government and also public remains unnoticed. The contribution of these technologies in fighting against monstrous coronavirus may be either directly impacting or indirectly impacting. The former refers to the technology by the implementation of which the spread of the infection is mitigated or the difficulties of the healthcare system have been buckled down. The latter involves those technologies that have been helpful in supporting the government and the public to deal with the situation.

The COVID-19 is a rapidly transmitting disease primarily due to human-to-human interaction and it is given a status of the pandemic. The essential information like disease nature, how it is transmitted, involved risks, precautions and government policies are required to inform the people at the right time. For public enlightenment, mass media and social networking are crucial in transferring information from source to the user end. All the updates that are occurring related to pandemic were broadcasted globally via radio, television, newspapers and the internet.

And social media carries special attention in spreading news across different platforms throughout the globe. Now, arises the question of a communication challenge, how to effectively communicate, the extent of risk perception by the people after the information is communicated, the reliability of information perceived. We will answer these questions from the management aspect.

The people in a pandemic situation need to have clear understanding on government decisions, policies, travel bans, quarantine periods, and other such important updates. The communication should impart awareness among the public for such an emerging infection and should be clear regarding what the health care system knows and that does not about COVID 19. The information must be updated as soon as verified by the authorities and at the same time, risk perception of the public should also be considered depending on the dose of the information. The challenge can be overcome by carefully conscientizing the mass public in such a way that the information does not increase the panic among the people. For instance, if the quarantine period is extended for an additional 2 weeks, then the information should also carry a solution for by how people can access the basic need. This will help in reducing the fear among people. When the update is not enough to report, the mass media can add the basic infection control information and other pieces of information which will impart awareness among people.

For effective risk communication, a simplified model of Government-Expert-Public-Healthcare system risk communication is propounded by Zhang et al 2020. This communication model of one is a message – centered approach. The model comprises of four interaction mediums; that is, the healthcare system – experts, government – experts, government – public and expert – public. In this paradigm, the government is the ultimate decision-maker in controlling the activities and the decision will have an impact on the populace which can be observed from their behaviour as feedback. The government–public communication is typically an external communication and the information to be conveyed must be complete and accurate.

The public must remain optimistic to cooperate with the government and perceive the importance of the information conveyed by the government. The actual public response is compared with expected one and needs to be evaluated for effective communication In addition, feedback elicited from the general public would help the government to reshape its communication strategies.

The government – expert communication is the key for the whole risk management and decision-making policies and it acts as internal communication. The expert panel consists of expertise in professional knowledge, management, and technology. They are empowered by the government bodies and they give the data, evidence for the risk communication. They assess the risk and help in making a rational decision which best benefits the society. Expert – healthcare system communication is the source for assessing the risk or potential impact the identified problem would cause and is regarded as internal communication.

Healthcare system is the one which accurately knows the seriousness of the epidemic, what health facilities it requires, how much time it needs, precaution steps to tackle the situation. This is communicated to experts which in turn to government to raise the fund towards the need, making decisions, or informing the public. The expert – public communication is required to bridge the gap between them and it depicts an external communication. The public usually fails to understand the complexity of the risk analyzed or involved. Thus, experts can play a role to convey the issue in a more simple and explicit way to make the public understand and act according to the facts (Gesser-Edelsburg et al., 2015). In general, risk communication management should neither be too centralized nor be too de-centralized (Conrow, 2003).

Another important lesson learnt from affected countries like China and Italy is that the risk communication should initiate as soon as possible from the instant the risk is identified and evaluated (Lundgren and McMakin, 2013). For a case of an unknown disease, the communication should be abrupt without any sort of conclusions and once the proper shreds of evidences are gathered to prove it as a novel case, the information should be disclosed immediately to the public with appropriate remedial strategies. Any delay in such instances will cause an unexpected consequence.

Although effective communication is important, the false information would result in an unpredicted consequence. The filtration of false news especially on social media is unfeasible but actions have been taken consistently to reduce the same.

Furthermore, it’s a decentralized way of information communication and hence, its control on spreading false information is in the hands of users. It is highly recommended to the public to follow a reputed or official page where verified information is provided. It is reported that Facebook blocked all the health pronouncements related to COVID-19 except official sites and Pinterest made all of its search related to COVID 19 posts, created and approved by WHO (Ratzan et al., 2020).

Matteo Cinelli et al. analyzed mainstream platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube and also some regulated social media platforms and from their analysis, it is observed that the spreading of information is due to the interaction of specific patterns of a group of users engaged with the topic. Thus, it is recommended that government should makes legislations that will prevent consumption of false content and spreading of misinformation among different mainstreams. Government and corporate bodies should invest more in medical technology in order to prevent future outbreak of epidemics.

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Opinion

DOGARA TO APC: A Homecoming From The Other Home By Adamu Bello

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To Dogara and his likes, every political party is a home. PDP and APC are like maternal and paternal grandfather’s Household. To them, like in a perfectly competitive market, there are no barriers for entry or exit.

Rt. Honorable Yakubu Dogara was a PDP stalwart who later crossed over to APC during the merger formation, where he contested and won the 2015 election.

After a serious tug-of-war between the executive and legislative arms of government, while he was the Speaker of the House of Reps coupled with the series of disagreement with the then Bauchi State governor, Dogara dumped APC for the opposition PDP, where he also contested and won the 2019 election.

Not far in the journey, the romance between Dogara and PDP hit the rocks again, owing to the purported disharmony with Kauran Bauchi and 2023 political calculations. Speculations thicken that the ruling APC tempted him with the Vice Presidential slot in the forthcoming election, hence the reason for his defection.

Whatever may be his reason, cross carpeting is not atipycal in Nigerian politics. Professor Jonah Onuoha, aptly described Nigerian politicians as a crop of people, who have no sense of shame and are only out to seek personal gains above serving the people. Our politicians are synonymous to scavengers.

In a country where defection is a norm, Nigerians were not perplexed by Dogara’s decision to stage a homecoming from his other home. Even more so, Nigerians are expecting other self centered politicians to follow suit, because it happens more than one can shake a stick at.

Before 2019 elections for instance, no fewer than 14 senators, 37 members, triplet of Sokoto, Benue and Kwara state governors alongside many APC heavyweights like Atiku, kwankwaso, Saraki, and Dogara himself defected to PDP in pursuit of their selfish interests. Neither for patriotism nor for the compatriots. Masses are always secondary in their equations.

Whether or not Dogara accomplish his mission in this precedented homecoming, Nigerian democracy is further relegated to the ridicule. The practice of free entry and exit into our political parties like a market square not only embarresses Nigeria’s democracy in the international community but also casts a huge shadow of doubt over the country’s future.

I wish Honourable Dogara returned home for good.

Adamu Bello Mai-bödi
Writes from Gidado Bombiyo residence
K/kaji Azare

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Opinion

Social Media: It Has Now Become Attention Media By Yusuf Abba-Kyari

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Social media has now become almost the direct opposite of what it used to be. We used to login to a social network to interact, share ideas and find lost acquaintances on social media (remember Yahoo messenger chat rooms?) with people from other parts of the world.

Lately it has become more of attention seeking media. We travel to a nice place, post on social media. Attend an online training, post it on social media. Graduate from school, post it. Any minor detail, post it. It has also turned into an advertisement tool for products and services and big companies are making a fortune on us.

As human beings, we like to show others the little accomplishments we’ve had at any moment just to draw attention to ourselves and the funniest thing (to me) is, we’re hardly who we say we are on social media. While I am in no position to tell people what to post or not to, we should do it (in my opinion) for the right reasons.

According to some psychologist, the more hours we put on social media, the higher our anxieties and insecurities become. So we become lonely and depressed by the day. This is due to the amount of people’s lives we feed ourselves everyday.

My advice; check your phone’s usage of social media apps. If you are active for more than two to three hours a day combined, then you are using too much.

Try to reduce your screen time. It’s good for your eyes, it relaxes your brain, it frees your soul and you will become more focused on the most important things in your life.

If it helps promote you or your business, then convert your account to a business account. That way you don’t have to be checking up on others (unless if they are your competition). You can also work for someone as their social media managers. That way your skills set is put to good use.

Currently, I’m only active on LinkedIn and I connect with my loved ones on WhatsApp. I don’t have Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other social media account. My screen time is now less than two hours a day and it keeps reducing. On LinkedIn, thanks to A.I. it filters out the posts from my connections that actually post educative or relevant information that relates to my interests.

According to a survey by “We Are Social”, 63% of the global population are not active on social media. There are prominent people who do not use it. This does not affect their lives in any way and they are arguably happier than most of us. Most of the celebrities, public figures do not directly handle their accounts. They hire social media handlers. So if you can afford to, hire a social media handler.

A wise man was asked; “Why are social media platforms free?” He answered; “If you are not paying for a product, then be rest assured that you are the product.”

By Yusuf Abba-Kyari

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Opinion

The Cobra-Effect of Achaba Ban In Bauchi State By Adamu Bello

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The Cobra Effect is a term in Economics. It refers to a situation when an attempted solution to a problem makes the problem worse.

The decision to ban Achaba by Bauchi state government in an attempt to improve the security of lives and properties was well-intentioned. As Governor Bala fears, the proliferation of Yan-Achaba who are banned from other states into Bauchi State is a very big threat to our security, hence, the need for governments’ decisive action. No sane government will allow an open security threat to emanate and escalate without taking necessary measures. However, certain unintended consequences that may lead to making the problem worst must be considered before rushing into action to avoid falling into the ditch of Cobra-Effect.

The term Cobra-Effect was coined based on an incident in old colonial India. By some reasons, there were too many venomous cobra snakes in Delhi. People were dying due to snake-bites and it became scary for almost everyone to step out of their houses. The government of the day had to get into action to stop this menace and it offered a silver coin for every dead cobra. The results were great, a large number of snakes were killed for the reward.

Eventually, however, it led to some serious unwanted consequences. After a short-term decrease in cobra population, it started going up again. This was because few people began to breed cobras for the income. When the news reached the government, the reward program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free. As a result, the cobra population further increased. The solution for the problem made the situation even worse.

This is exactly what would happen to Bauchi State if the government sticks to its decision on Achaba ban. The Achaba will eventually disappear, but the security situation would be worse in the near future, because most of the Yan-Achaba are youths with no other means to make ends meet than Achaba. They have no certificates for white-collar-job, no capital for investment and no skill for craftsmanship. Taking Achaba away from them makes them completely hopeless and idle. What do they say about idle mine? Many of them will see no option than to join criminal rackets such as stealing, burglary, banditry, kidnapping, fraud, terrorism, kidnapping, and thuggery, etc.

Many businesses such as vulcanizers, mechanics, engine oil vendors, motorcycle and spare-parts suppliers tend to suffer huge loss. When Yan-Achaba lose their jobs, the already skyrocketed unemployment in the state would increase geometrically. The ugly labor market would get fatter and uglier, and the dependency ratio on the inconsistent salary would also multiply, hence, shooting the state’s poverty rate up. This depicts the potential insecurity the state is heading into.

There are also serious unwanted consequences of Achaba ban to the governor politically. The ban is tantamount to hatching thousands of enemies amongst citizens comprising Yan-Achaba and their sympathizers. Especially with the way police officers are maltreating and extorting Yan-achaba financially under his watch. It is a sophisticated political weapon for the oppositions to use against the governor and his political party. Pundits in the state view the decision as an anti-masses and widely unpopular policy. Many are saying government should not block peoples’ source of income without providing alternative.

Talking about alternative, Bauchi state governor promised to provide 500 Keke Napep (tricycles) for Yan-Achaba as substitute to their motorcycles, meanwhile only three-fifty keke Napep are provided, whereas there are more than five thousand Yan-Achaba in the state. This shows that Bauchi state has no resources or the governor has no political-will to provide substitute for even the registered Yan-Achaba talk less of those without register.

I recommend the reversal of this unpopular decision of total ban on Achaba across Bauchi state, because the Cobra-Effect would be devastating. His Excellency should put emphasis on compulsory registration and consistent tax payment by Yan-Achaba. This would secure the state from unwanted proliferation and would create additional income for the state and at the same time keep thousands of youths occupied.

The ban should be successive, starting from the state capital with the provision of enough substitute tricycles at an affordable soft loan. After successful abolishing of the practice in the capital, the ban could then be extended to the remaining parts of the state using similar substitution procedures to avoid unwanted consequences.

This may save Bauchi state from the mysterious Cobra-Effect of Achaba ban.

By Adamu Bello Mai-bödi
Wrote from Gidado Bombiyo residence
K/kaji Azare.

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