As paraphrased by Rahm Emanuel, former Chief of Staff to the Obama administration: “Never let a crisis go to waste.” This eternal truth now sits pretty in the face of the virulent SARS-CoV-2, the respiratory virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
This ruthless biological invader, its origin, and the places it has hopscotched to are no longer news items. In fact, in trying to make sense of the cataclysmic potential of this pestilence, different multi-disciplinary perspectives spanning: history, economy, political, medical, religion, biological, sciences, social and technology have all been espoused, most times with shades of hue and gloom.
What if we further look through the ashes of the scourge to behold the beauty therein?
Without a doubt, one would have thought that, perhaps in today’s super-advanced and technological- driven 21st Century often extolled with all sorts of markers of progress; that a mere biological strain wouldn’t have been able to cheaply disrupt its global multifaceted synchronization. Well, as it has turned out, COVID-19 has not only seemingly de-globalized the world, it has, in fact, widen its fault lines; then exposed the subtle vulnerabilities embedded within it. And in not letting a crisis go to waste, we should definitely begin to take some learnings from these experiences, then right the wrongs where necessary as this would constitute the beauty mined from the ugly scourge.
In the 1970s, Toyota pioneered the business philosophy called “Just-in-Time”(JIT), originally inspired by Taiichi Ohno, a Japanese industrial engineer. The Just-In-time model is merely about the efficiency of today, as against the robustness of a bigger picture which, of course, not only focuses on today but equally plans for the unforeseen of tomorrow.
From the 1970s, fast-forward to today: the seemingly adoption of JIT by a larger chunk of world governance has essentially intensified the devastation caused by COVID-19. This is unarguably so going by the fact that most nations of the world have been so focused on the efficiency of today that they didn’t adequately prepare for the unforeseen disruptions that could have happened, which in this case would be the fallouts from COVID-19.
Back here in Nigeria, we’ve been so focused on the efficiency of oil money that the needed willpower to diversify wasn’t adequately mustered. And with the shocks from the ongoing pandemic, our economy has been significantly plunged into misery.
Truth is, the supposed robustness of global economy has long been replaced by the delusion of just-in-time efficiency, based on a belief in the perfectly reliable global interdependence so much that, even at the onset of the pandemic, most nations were simply not in a hurry to lockdown their borders for economic reasons. Some lives could have been saved if these were not the case. And all these point to the failure of leadership across board. Now that the chips are down, the blame-games are up.
Germany, France, the U.S, and a handful of other countries are now excoriating China, slash the World Health Organization (WHO) over the upshots of COVID-19. Across Africa, leading voices are equally calling on China to either pay reparations to Africa countries over the coronavirus they’ve brought upon us, or simply cancel any indebtedness by Africa nations.
This leadership failure, further down the line in Nigeria, explains the disjointed approach between the federal and state governments in the battle against COVID-19; suffice it to say that, some supposed religious leaders are equally going all out with misguided hypothesis. Even further down to professional bodies, advertising in particular, leadership lapses starkly manifested.
With a potpourri of instances where people ridiculously denied the existence of coronavirus, or simply flouted safety-tips out of sheer ignorance, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) could have shown proactive leadership in mass sensitization. After all, in the words of Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi, ex-chairman of the council: “APCON is the major organization that plays a key role in public orientation and serves as a gatekeeper.”
Inspired by APCON, and under the direct purview of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), and in partnership with the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON), the leadership of key agencies could have collectively joined forces with the federal and state government in combating COVID-19 by way of mass sensitization. Forget the slight financial implications, some public-spirited top brands could have willingly sponsored this laudable cause. And it would have been a win-win for all parties involved.
Again, the very beauty of this pandemic would be the many learnings for all to take.
I’M JUST SAYING.