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Adefolake Adekola: We Cannot Return to Normalcy



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If we took a look at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that was adopted on September 2015 by the General Assembly for the 2030 agenda, we would see that it represents the major issues plaguing our society and environment today. From ‘no poverty’, to zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, peace, justice and strong institutions, just to mention a few, we would see that we still have a long way to go in achieving all the 17 SDGs before 2030.

According to the World Bank, the poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines as at 2018 is 40.1 % of the population of Nigeria. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in March this year, said that about seven million Nigerians will experience food shortage and it will affect about thirteen states or more in the country, mostly the Northern states.

Despite these alarming numbers, during the COVID-19 lockdown, we experienced a significant positive difference in some of the SDGs. People came out in their numbers to feed others, provision of medical aid, remote work opportunities that allowed nursing mothers work rather than lose their jobs, and so many acts of kindness.

Not only did we experience a transformation in the way we viewed each other, we also noticed a change in the way the environment reacted as well. We noticed animals that were near extinction going back to their original homes, the sky was beautiful and blue as a result of low CO emission from cars and other fossil fuel activities. The CO2 levels during the lockdown temporarily reduced as a result of reduced activities (scientist say that the CO2 levels have not been this low since the early 2000s). The streets were clean; no plastic bags or bottles littering the environment. This taught us a great lesson – that we can do the right thing under different circumstances. There was no office to run, no kids to drop at school and no flight to catch.

It has been quite a year for Nigeria in particular, with the many issues we have had to face head on – the pandemic and police brutality. This is not the time for us to go back to how things were before. Be it for the society or for the environment, things have to change. We cannot go back to wasting food or water, littering our streets with waste or showing a lack of concern for the insecurity in our nation. The love and support we showed each other during the lockdown has to go on, we cannot return to ‘normalcy’.

“When our journey is over here on earth, let us be remembered for the footprints we left behind and let the earth remember we were here”

– Anonymous, 2020

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