Not many people had heard of virtual meetings prior to the covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria. Virtual meetings became much more popular during and after the several lockdowns as a result of the outbreak and soon gained acceptance by the Executive Arm of Government in Nigeria as many of their deliberations soon went virtual, in contrast to the Legislative and Judicial Arms of Government who preferred the old status quo.
While most courts and legislative proceedings take place physically under strict covid-19 guidelines, the Executive Arms with lesser members are often seen holding their meetings virtually. Even the President has been spotted holding parleys and inaugurations virtually even those he was expected to make a physical appearance. Needless to say, leaders of other nations are not following.
Most countries of the world, particularly the West where the disease is seriously ravaging still run the affairs of the Government without having to adopt virtual meetings.
While it is agreeable that virtual meetings are important in an era of a world-ravaging pandemic, it is becoming worrisome when key aspects of governance that require the physical presence of the President are consistently done virtually.
The concept of virtual meetings, to recap, is a real-time technology that enables activities and meetings to be conducted remotely. Conferences are now being held virtually, and parties, get together, and not-so-strangely, weddings too.
The Presidency often conducts meetings with his cabinet virtually without wearing a facemask while members of his cabinets do. If members of his cabinet are taking precautions to ensure that the pandemic is curtailed and are showing Nigerians an example, why wouldn’t our beloved president lead us by example?
Truth is, the world has gone virtual and we might as well accept the new normal because all indications are that this is our lives now. The Government should, however, be the last thing to go virtual. Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, for the people. By definition, it begs a social and physical connection. COVID-19 is powerful but should not be allowed to be greater than our democracy. Lots of lives paid to bring about this freedom. We cannot and should not surrender our government to this or any other virus or scheme nor use it as an excuse for unbeneficial, unwarranted, and undemocratic political restructuring.
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