Via The Guardian in Nigeria: Profit And Loss Account Of Ebola. Excerpt:
The scourge is throwing up some interesting details about Nigerians. They love life on earth and would want to stay put. It is also clear that although Nigerians love to make heaven, but none wishes to die to quicken the journey to heaven. Regular washing of hands is now a national culture. This is the same simple point that never sank among the people in spite of campaigns by public health authorities.
Now, people do not even wait till they visit the toilet before washing hands; they do so instinctively at reasonable intervals, sometimes rising up to a ridiculous frequency of one hourly.
I never heard of hand sanitisers until the advent of Ebola. I think the stuff is about the fastest selling item in stores and pharmacies nationwide. And its demand is not affected by any of the market variables. It is one realistic case of the theoretical state of perfectly inelastic demand, which puts supply permanently under demand. Price has also ceased to be a factor in the traditional clash of market forces. Rather, what remains a factor is availability as the product is completely bought off the shelf at whatever cost when available.
When the scourge was just about a week or so old in Nigeria, I had acquired a king size of the stuff for N2,500 for the family and a mini size for N300.00. Next day, the entire stock had been cleared when I visited and there was none for a dear friend who wanted me to assist in procuring some.
When it came back on the shelf after two days, the price had doubled to N5000.00 for the family size and N600.00 for the mini. It has been good business for both manufacturers and sellers of hand sanitizers. It is also fast business for unscrupulous persons who see the short-run pressure as an opportunity to fake the product to earn illegally.
Outside these economic concerns, we must give it to Ebola for doing so well to sanitise us. Sermons on personal hygiene no longer require emphasis before they are imbibed. The level of compliance is simply astonishing. In fact, Minister of Information Labaran Maku, underscored this in one media briefing when he said the huge public enlightenment that attended the outbreak of the disease had induced a culture that is beneficial to “public health” in Nigeria. Good observation.
There are other benefits. While the hysteria lasted in Lagos, the state government and authorities in Abuja were constantly in communication in an unprecedented bipartisan collaboration to fine tune strategies at containing the virus. Neither Alhaji Lai Mohammed of the APC nor Dr. Doyin Okupe of the PDP was issuing statements and counter statements to introduce partisan perspectives in a matter that affected everybody equally.
Instead, the two men that were always talking on the issue are medical practitioners who understood the need to put politics aside and act professionally.
They are the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu and Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Jide Idris. They saw themselves as doctors and not politicians. And it was good that things went this way regarding the Ebola virus. If politics had taken centre stage as it is the case with the Chibok adoption saga and the Boko Haram challenge generally, there would have been so much heat without light or so much water without a solution.
The huge gap between Lagos and Abuja, which had proved unbridgeable, through political engineering, was closed overnight by Ebola.