Well, maybe not an outright outbreak but a serious scare. The kind of scare that made Nigerians suddenly because very conscious of their sanitary conditions. That type that made people bathe with salt and consume more Ewedu. That type that made hand sanitizers suddenly become sold out in the country.
You see, we take a lot of things for granted in this country. We spit anyhow. Men urinate anyhow and anywhere that mistakenly has an obstacle because we just don’t care about public image and the general cleanliness of the environment. It is quite disgusting to be standing at Yaba bus stop and a random guy spits while the breeze aids the journey of the spray towards you. The guy moves on without even a backward glance. Not too far in the distance, another guy faces the wall of the power station and does his thing.
During the Ebola crisis, everyone carried a small bottle of sanitizers. We were all very about what we did in the public and people were quick to reprimand anyone who didn’t comply. It was an alarming period but also a period when the nation’s level of cleanliness was at an all time high. I definitely miss the fact that people didn’t spit anyhow, didn’t rub off on you in the bus anyhow. Everyone was extra careful and that level is what should be the norm but was the exception, unfortunately.
I have discovered that as Nigerians, we don’t react to certain things unless it is extreme. We didn’t react too much to the money being stole until Boko Haram became a menace and their continued existence was traced to diverted funds. We didn’t believe in driving the right way until LASTMA started impounding cars and sentencing people to psychiatric examinations. We didn’t think sanitary conditions were important until Ebola threatened to decimate our population.
And when the threat has passed, we revert to our initial position so we need the threat to come and stay for a while till the new attitudes and behaviour become second nature to us. Nobody jumps queue on a BRT bus queue or does anyone still do that?