Many Nigerians gloat that Covid-19 is mainly targeting the country’s elite, particularly politicians, despite warnings that the life-threatening respiratory illness could hit the poor as well.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has recorded more than 600 cases since the end of February – most of them people who had been abroad, and those they had interacted with after their return to Africa’s most-populous state, which has a population of about 200 million.
So far, Nigeria’s list of people who got or have died from Covid-19 includes President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff, politicians, heads of government agencies, former ambassadors and their aides or relatives.
These are the kind of people who normally jet off to the UK, Germany, or the US at the slightest headache because Nigeria’s state hospitals are poorly funded, run-down, and lack adequate equipment.
But with borders closed and each country haunted by its own Covid-19 nightmare, Nigeria’s big men and women are now forced to use their country’s hospitals, prompting a stream of taunts and jokes.
“This is your punishment for not investing in your country’s health system,” some say.
“I thought our hospitals were not good enough for you,” others say.
Some Nigerians also hoped that the “selectiveness” of the virus might be God’s way of bringing about changes in their government.
They latched on to rumours that Mr Buhari, 72, had been infected by his chief of staff, and was gravely ill on a ventilator.
The less malicious folk shrouded their great hope in a prayer: “Let God’s will be done.”
Indignant at the expressions of ill will towards his boss, presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said: “Why do some people conjure nothing but evil? In 2017, while President Buhari had his medical challenge, they were on an orgy of negative wishes, misinformation, and disinformation.
“But God pulled a fast one on them. He brought the president back, as right as rain. Haven’t they learned their lessons?”
The rumours finally ended after Mr Buhari – looking well – was videoed in a meeting with senior health officials.