In the evening of Sunday (29th March), President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the Nigeria nation on the ravaging Coronavirus Pandemic that has made way into the country, and in his address, he pronounced human and vehicular restrictions of residents living and working within the territory of the federal capital territory (Abuja), Lagos and Ogun states for an initial period of 14 days beginning.
According to the President, the measure is to control the spread of the Coronavirus that has already infected over a hundred and eleven people in the country, including a serving governor and the chief of staff to the president, and has led to the death of a former managing director of petroleum products marketing company.
Prior to the president’s action, some governors across the federation has instituted similar restriction orders in their states that have led to total or partial lockdown of activities. They include, Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Nasir Elrufai (Kaduna), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Willie Obiano (Anambra), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Bala Muhammed (Bauchi), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Umar Ganduje (Kano) and several others. These governors closed markets, banned movement, shut down peoples means of livelihood, closed all inter and intra state borders within their states’ territories and announced other drastic measures to keep residents of their states indoors. But just like the President, not a single one of them made effort to provide any welfare or feeding arrangement for those that will be affected by their draconian order.
While the president enjoys infinite powers by the Nigeria Quarantine Act (1926) and the Governor empowered to act when the president fails to take action, But the same Act also requires that the government must take responsibility of the welfare and feeding of every resident of Nigeria who are locked at their homes. But in disregard of this provision, the President and state governors are yet to make any provision for the feeding and welfare of those that will be locked in their home by their sit at home order.
The federal government and state governments must as a matter of urgency, respect and implement the entire provision of the Quarantine act and make provision to ensure sustenance of citizens to guarantee their survival while controlling the spread of the disease. President Muhammadu Buhari must emulate governments of other nations that not only instituted stay-at-home restrictions order but also ensures that citizens locked at home are well taken care of. Taking care of the feeding of Nigeria that are affected in this development should not be seen as a favor done by the government to the affected people but a right that the affected people are meant to enjoy.
The danger of locking people at home without making any provision for feeding and welfare is that they may be left with no other option other than to call the bluff of the federal and states governments so as to avoid dying of starvation.
Furthermore, it is counterproductive for government to be instituting the spread of hunger virus pandemic while is making effort to control the spread of Coronavirus Pandemic.
Permit me to add that the federal government and state governments cannot claim not to have money to take care of the feeding of affected Nigerians in this their lockdown period. This is because aside what is left in the treasury, the government has gotten money through donations of well to do citizens and corporate organisations. The government must make the welfare of Nigerians affected by this lock down restriction as a top priority otherwise, they may not get the desired result as the people may not be cooperating. The affected people may ignore the order and go about their ‘normal business’ due to the need to fend for themselves and their families.
Moreover, the so-called “school feeding program” that President Buhari claimed to be in force is like pouring water inside a basket and expecting it to be filled to the brim. Schools are affected in this period of lockdown, specifically, schools within Lagos state, Ogun state and federal capital territory are affected by the presidential shut down that takes effect 11 PM on Monday, 30th March, 2020.
The President also announced 2 month of food supplies to Nigerians living at the camps of internal display persons. While this is commendable, the government must realise that the feeding of people that will be affected by the stay at home order is as important as those living at the IDP camps. Abandoning those that are affected in the lockdown is likened to using table spoon to evacuate the water that is in the Atlantic ocean to a different location and expect to get desired result.
The government must come out clean and own up to their responsibilities. The government must take serious its duty aa regards the welfare of Nigerians. This is not the time to play politics or make empty rhetorical statement. Restrictions orders are welcomed but feeding arrangement for the affected must be put in place. This is the only way that the sit at home order will make sense. This is the position of the Nigeria Quarantine Act.
On Donations Made To Government…
Since the pandemic hit Nigeria on 27th February, several personalities and institutions have made donations to government to the tune of over a billion dollar so far. Those in authority should not see these donations as another free money to share among themselves but ensure that they are judiciously used to achieve the objectives of the donors.
Moreso, I believe that it is more appropriate for corporate and other donors to make their donations directly to the people by buying items such as test kits, hand sanitisers, face masks and hand gloves, bags of rice and other food items, and distribute directly to majority of Nigerians that cannot afford these items. Also, instead of donating billions of Nigeria to Nigeria’s political leaders that are notorious to embezzle any and every corporate organisations should take direct charge of every purchase and supplies, and fund any need of government that they can afford.