By Joel Popoola
A lot of people have overtime harboured an erroneous conception that the new 5G technology is harmful, and of course capable of transmitting the dreaded Coronavirus disease.
Well, let me shock you: As one of Nigeria’s leading technology entrepreneurs, it’s imperative I tell that it is actually possible to get the coronavirus from a 5G mast.
How? If you lick it.
And even then, you will only get sick if those masts have very recently been licked by someone who has COVID-19.
So unless you, your friends and your family regularly get together to lick telephone poles, you cannot get the coronavirus from a 5G mast.
But across Nigeria this myth is taking root. And social media is where that root finds the most fertile soil.
From Ogun to Borno, in Whatsapp groups, and Twitter posts and Facebook pages, people are spreading claims that twenty-first century telecommunications are to blame for the deadly worldwide outbreak.
These claims are as dangerous as they are ridiculous.
The myths have been discredited in detail by the Nigerian Communications Commission, who have written:
“Firstly, there is no correlation between 5G Technology and COVID-19.
“Secondly, there is no deployment of 5G in Nigeria at the moment. The NCC back in November 2019 approved trial test for 5G for a period of three (3) months, and the trial has been concluded and installation decommissioned.”
To put it another way: 5G doesn’t cause the cornonavirus, and even if it did, we wouldn’t have to worry in Nigeria as our communications infrastructure isn’t good enough!
That trial, by the way, was limited to three offices in Lagos, Abuja and Calabar and finished months ago.
Still don’t believe me? Well answer this. Iran is one of the countries hit hardest by COVID-19, with 120 times more deaths than Nigeria. If that pastor on YouTube or the meme your Auntie sent you is right and 5G does give you the cornonavirus, how has that happened to a country which has never had 5G!
Improved telecommunications infrastructure is in fact the cure for the epidemics like the coronavirus, not the cause.
5G will allow Nigeria to fast-track the mass adoption of technologies that is key to our economic future, productivity and quality of life – from artificial intelligence and self-driving cars driving around smart cities to virtual reality, remote surgery and internet-connected domestic appliances.
As President Buhari stated in his televised address to the nation the lockdown is only being lifted “with aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors”.
Contact tracing is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of infections. It means rapidly finding everyone who has come close to someone who tests positive for an infectious disease like COVID-19 straight away.
But how can you identify every single person someone has come within two metres of in the last two weeks? It’s not possible.
But it is possible if their phone can record being close to your phone. And 5G technology makes that job a lot easier.
You can also send them an alert or message encouraging them to self-isolate – within seconds.
5G won’t save Nigeria from the COVID-19. But the contact tracing it makes possible could save us from the next outbreak, whatever outbreak that is.
In the meantime, our elected leaders need to take responsibility for standing up to social media myths.
Rate Your Leader, a free app I created, allows voters to identify and connect directly with their elected representatives at the touch of a button, direct from their phone.
At a time when myths about COVID-19 are spreading on social media almost as quickly as the virus itself, and when face to face contact is impossible, this connection is even more vital.
People might tell you that they don’t trust their local politicians, but in reality they are high credibility sources with a unique power and reach to promote crucial health messages through their networks.
Platforms like Rate Your Leader have a vital role to play in allowing accurate information to be communicated unfiltered from reliable sources to the people who might otherwise be panicked into listening to less reputable advice and taking steps which might actually be dangerous or damaging to their health.
Blaming 5G is not the only epidemic idiocy out there online. At Rate Your Leader, we have seen bizarre stories circulating on social media – like how COVID-19 can be cured with sesame oil or shaving.
Local leaders must keep their people safe by rapidly rebutting these harmful fantasies.
Nigeria is not alone in these problems. The United Kingdom saw at least 20 cases of 5G masts being attacked in one weekend alone – including one mast serving a hospital treating people with the Corononavirus.
Nigeria’s telecommunications are behind the times as it is. We cannot cope if people misguidedly destroy the assets we do have, because not enough effort has been made to counter the dangerous misinformation they have been given.
Yobe Governor, Buni Marries Abacha’s Divorced Daughter, Gumsu
Yobe Governor Mai Mala Buni on Wednesday married Gumsu Sani Abacha in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The marriage was held at the Abuja residence of the new wife’s brother, Mohammed Abacha.
Buni is the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker National Chairman; Gumsu is a daughter of former Head of State, Sani Abacha.
Notable personalities and government officials, including the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Hameed Ali attended.
In 2019, shortly after he assumed office, Buni tied the knot with Ummy, a daughter of his predecessor and incumbent Yobe East Senator Ibrahim Gaidam.
Gumsu, 45, is the governor’s fourth wife. Her marriage to Cameroonian multi-billionaire, Bayero Mohamadou crashed in 2020.
Wike Locks Down Rivers for LGA Elections
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has ordered restriction of movement ahead of the local government election in the state.
The election is slated for Saturday, April 17 across 4,442 polling units, 319 wards and 23 local government areas.
In a broadcast on Thursday, Wike said the restriction from Friday night to Saturday is needed to ensure the smooth conduct of the election by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RVSIEC).
The governor assured residents that security agencies will provide adequate protection at all the polling units and collation centres.
“Consequently, vehicular and human movements, within and out of the state and the local government areas is hereby totally restricted from the midnight of Friday, 16th April, 2021, until the end of polling at 5pm on Saturday, 17th April, 2021, except for persons and vehicles strictly on essential duties with genuine and valid identifications,” Wike said.
“The security agencies have been directed to strictly enforce the restriction on human and vehicular movements and arrest and prosecute any person who dares to violate this ban. I have been briefed and received assurances from the RVSIEC that it is fully prepared and ready not only to conduct, but also to ensure that polling is hitch-free, fair and credible.
“Furthermore, the security agencies have clear directives to arrest and deal decisively with any person or group of persons, no matter how highly placed, who attempts to prevent the peaceful and orderly conduct of the election or compromise its integrity in any way.
“We call on community leaders and the general public to be vigilant and promptly report every suspicious movement and or illegal activity around polling units and collation centres in their localities to the security agencies for immediate action.”
Wike added that his administration will always ensure the promotion of democratic principles, including the election of officials at local government levels across the state.
“As a government that believes in the practice and consolidation of democracy, and in fulfilment of our constitutional duty to ensure the sustenance of democratically-elected local government councils in the state, we have since decided never to run our local government system with caretaker committees, except in inevitably justifiable circumstances,” he said.
“It is against this background that this election has been fixed to once again give our people the opportunity to effectively participate in the process of electing and constituting the next set of chairmen and councillors to administer the 23 local government councils.”
The governor urged voters to conduct themselves peacefully and refrain from any act of violence, adding that the election is not a do-or-die affair.
EFCC Frees Okorocha after Two Days Detention
Rochas Okorocha, former governor of Imo state, has been released from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), two days after he was invited for questioning.
Okorocha, who is currently representing Imo west at the senate, was grilled at the EFCC office in Abuja on Tuesday, over issues bothering on alleged corruption.
The former governor, who was in charge of Imo from 2011 to 2019, had been accused by the state government of various corrupt practices including diversion of public funds — although Okorocha has denied any wrongdoing.
Documents obtained by TheCable showed how the former governor awarded 12 contracts worth N20 billion in violation of the public procurement act.
TheCable had also reported how a government committee uncovered N112.8 billion “dubious debts”, which various banks owed the state during Okorocha’s tenure.
Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha’s media adviser, confirmed that Okorocha left the custody of the anti-graft agency on Thursday.
“With gratitude to God Almighty, we are delighted to inform the general public that the former governor of lmo state, and by the grace of God, the Senator representing lmo west senatorial district, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, is out of the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and he is now in his house,” the statement reads.
“He left the Commission’s office on the afternoon of Thursday, April 15, 2021.”
Onwuemeodo, who described Okorocha’s invitation to the EFCC’s office as a “trip” said the former governor had earlier given the assurance that he will cooperate fully with the agency.
“We didn’t bother about whether he spent 24 hours or 48 hours at the Commission’s office. We were only keen in his having the needed opportunity to address the allegations contained in the avalanche of petitions written by the lmo State Government, against the former governor,” the spokesman said.
“Remember also that we had alluded that EFCC was not a slaughter house, but a responsible institution, established for the good of the nation and her people. And Okorocha being in his house today, only confirmed our hypothesis that, indeed, the Commission’s office is not an abattoir.”