OP-UNEDITED | War Against COVID-19 And Matters Arising – By Bode Gbadebo

Without mincing words, there are loopholes in President Buhari’s address on Monday.

Extending the earlier two-week lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun state for another 14 days is commendable and necessary in order to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

But constituting multiple committees with same or vague functions is not the way to go.

Maintaining an invisible Register of vulnerable Nigerians, which the President directed in his speech to be expanded to 3.6million, is not the way to go.

It is believed that about 100 million active Nigerians (this is without children, the sick, the aged and unemployed Nigerians) are affected by the stay-at-home order in Abuja and some states like Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna, and others. Therefore, palliatives cannot be for a few Nigerians or those on the invisible social register of this government.

The palliatives like grains and other items ordered by the president are not fairly and evenly distributed to Nigerians. Consequently, there are grumblings in the land today.

If the current pattern of palliative distribution is maintained in the next 14 days of lockdown, it will breed social consequences like looting, outright burglary and robbery. God forbid!

What does the Federal Government need to do immediately:

* Expansion of the palliative net like the laudable reduction in the fuel pump price. Unfortunately, majority of Nigerians are not feeling the reduction yet because of the lockdown – their vehicles are not being used presently either for commercial or personal purposes.

For those who use generators to take care of the current hot weather, the money is no longer there to fuel the generators after being economically inactive for two weeks and where the money is available, they are still at the mercy of neighbourhood fuel vendors who still brazenly sell a litre for N200 since not all can access filling stations because of the lockdown.

* Transfer money to the 40million Nigerians reportedly with BVN. This might be selective and unfair considering other millions of Nigerians without bank accounts. Nevertheless, the number is a fair representation of the total population of the country and it is far better than the invisible Social Register of this government.

* Concretise the two-month free electricity proposal because majority of Nigerians use electricity and this must be in good faith, so that they will NOT suffer unprecedented power outage because is it free.

I thought the president’s speech will address the above lapses after the first two weeks and the attendant outcries, but the reverse is the case.

Government should NOT achieve lockdown compliance by force, it should achieve it by doing the right thing to the citizens.

I rest my case while the Federal Government and other concerned state governments do the needful.




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