By Tony Ajero
Yesterday, we called upon all citizens to get involved as this isn’t a war for government alone. And for more reasons than one. Fundamentally, that arm of our society has never been our best. In other climes, the best human resources go into politics/governance, the civil service and academia, in ours, the reverse is the case. Our best brains go into business and the private sector. This illogicality means our quantum leaps come from the private sector. Worse, the populace, from repeated experiences, has little confidence and trust in the leaders.
Same yesterday, with my wife, and one of our sons, we went to the neighbourhood supermarket for essentials towards the lockdown – we live in Lagos. The queue snaked beyond the corner as people entered in batches. And you guessed right, absolutely no Social Distancing. Driving back two hours later, weary, a few items in tow, the radio newscaster plodded through government’s assurances there was no need to panic-buy fuel. Just then, we passed a petrol station, the queue spoke volumes.
Did anyone speak to Health units at the Local Government levels – the closest to the people? What about the Private Security organisations that have almost replaced the Police Force in our communities? Did the Government and Health Ministries reach out to the numerous NGOs in their network? How are we integrating already-on-ground structures into the fight? What is the strategy for getting to the grassroots? We had ample warning: Corona Virus was formally named COVID-19 on December 31, 2019.
More than ever before, Citizen Action is essential. Government needs to think creatively, working with all segments of the society. Yet, we cannot wait for Government seeing they appear already overwhelmed. CACOVID needs to spread its dragnet. The Church, the media, the Community Development Associations, CDAs, the voluntary organisations, we all need to stand together in this.
After Divine intervention, our fate will be determined by how quickly and efficiently we adjust our regular skills, careers and vocations to this pandemic. Who knows, this may be the beginning of the New Nigeria of our dreams.
The SERAP Example
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has, under the Freedom of Information, requested the Federal Government to:
1. “Publish weekly details of exact funds and other resources allocated by the authorities and received from the private sector, as well as details of use and planned use of any such funds and resources to combat the spread of Corona virus in Nigeria.”
2. Disclose information on the exact number of tests carried out for various classes, how many are in self isolation etc. This will show how many common people have been tested vis-a-viz high-ranking public officials and politicians.
This is the way to go. We all need to get involved through our traditional areas of strength, profession and vocation.
Two deaths were in the news yesterday: Chris Olakpe, retired policeman and CEO, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA. The announcement from the Agency said he was not ill, went into hospital and died. The second, a Mr. Christogonus Aguwa Osuagwu, an Owerri hotel owner, who was alleged to have recently returned from Europe. He then travelled to Abuja where he died. While it is expedient in these times, that the corpses – as should be in all cases – are properly ‘autopsied’ and the results shared with relevant authorities. May their souls rest, and the bereaved receive God’s comfort.
Our Lawmakers, Again!
Ordinarily, the news that Senators will donate half their salaries to the Coronavirus fight should elicit plaudits, but…. Beyond the unclear methodology, the donation rankles: we all know their salaries are pittances in relation to their allowances. This backhanded charity comes as they take delivery of their multi-million naira gleaming new exotic cars. Who’s fooling who? But, it has always been our lot, hasn’t it? “Beggar no get choose na,” “at all, at all nah im bad.” We accept, thank them, and will remember this ‘generosity’.
Lastline: Lagos and Abuja today began the first of a 14-day lockdown. After engaging with the FG, Ogun – affected due to its various geographical ‘hand-shake’ with Lagos – will begin its on Friday! This, the State said is to enable it prepare especially essentials and foodstuffs for the people. Beyond legality, this development throws up yet another worrying signal – was that decision made without consultations with the state? What happens to those grey communities which were the reasons Ogun was included in the first instance?
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