By Ajibola Abayomi,
Covid 19 keeps ravaging Nigeria. As at April 1, 2020, a total of 151 persons have tested positive.
There is no debating the need for restriction of movements of persons and even total lock down beyond the presidential order limited to Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States.
As a matter of fact in our own interest, all the prescribed health procedures are necessary for all to comply with.
With the zeal shown so far, the sincerity of the government to fight the killer disease is not in doubt.
But on the other hand some school of thoughts have persistently argued that concrete attempt to ameliorate the plight of the suffering masses even before the outbreak of the virus on the path of the government, remains a suspect.
While it is imperative to obey the stay at home order to in order to further halt the spread of the deadly virus, government have announced suspension of some categories of loan repayment plans, agric supplement and of course other pronouncements but these only covered less than two percentage of the nation’s population.
Giving government’s body language, I am one person that won’t agree that any of the previous governments would have done better given the track record of failures most especially since 1999 till date.
While the stated cliché is not an escape route for President Muhammad Buhari administration, frankly, the situation at hand doesn’t require the service of soothsayers or self acclaimed experts to address.
Key issue that cannot be buried in the midst of the pandemic is the hunger hitting Nigerians and pretence of those in power.
It doesn’t matter what is being done elsewhere to assist citizens, Buhari’s government, being the trustee of the nation’s common wealth must take precise and timely action and should not be seen taking belated actions when not needed.
Yes, a crucial rhetorical question. Which do we prefer? Either to go on hunger spree for months or caught in the web of large scale of deaths as being witnessed in Italy and Spain soon because of coronavirus?
Does the government have the capacity to give the people life line while containing the disease? The answer is affirmatively yes.
In Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s inniative on palliative targeted at 200, 000 families is commendable but far from being effective or the needed succor in a state with over estimated 200 million people.
Well, half bread to the needy might be better than none.
When will Nigeria jettison tokenism and the positioning of poverty as virtue?
Steps by Lagos government should challenge the FG and other states to roll out real palliative measures for Nigerians if there is any.
If aero planes could be used for political campaigns, what stops the government from using the aircrafts to distribute relief materials to her citizens instead relying on trailers and busses?
Not only these, I have also noted with total dismay the description of “most vulnerable or unprivileged” Nigerians while mouthing the usual consideration for the people in the speeches emanating from the presidency and state governors.
These adjectives are not only laced with absurdity but an attempt to stick to the elitist tactics being used to deceive the people.
In Nigeria, there are two categories of people, the rich and the poor; employed and the unemployed. Those are the contending adjectives, nothing like middle man ranking.
Time has come to face the reality of our environment.
There are more people living in abject poverty than the erroneous average comfortable persons, the United Nations hunger index is a testifier to that, although the pain didn’t start with the current government.
A more committed nation would have disinfected the markets, other public places, and empowered the citizens weeks before announcing any lock down in any state.
Bankers claimed there were millions of Nigerians registered with Bank Verification Number (BVN), yet, the government remains adamant and insensitive to reach the masses through that.
It is not too much to distribute just mere N20 billion to the masses using the banking system as identified by the BVN.
After that is done, the so called distribution of palliative like food stuffs can complement. What is being done now has no effect at all.
Like late Bob Marley sang “many more will have to suffer, many more will have to die, don’t ask me why”,
Lagos is showing leadership, it is glarrig that the state is a victim of fraudulent censors in Nigeria otherwise, a more sensitive FG would have given the Governor Sawwo-Olu led administration more financial support in range of nothing less than N100 billion to start with and equally assist other states to prevent the spread of the disease.
While all hands must be on deck to kill Covid 19, the government must address the issue of hunger killing majority of Nigerians.
A key panacea needed at the moment is for both the state and the FG to reach out to Nigerians on how to couching the effect of ravaging hunger so that people can effectively support efforts to contain the Covid 19.