April 20, 2024

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COVID19: NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME – Tunde Dawood-Akerele (a Lagos based novelist, poet and publisher)

5 min read
Now, here in Nigeria, what we are witnessing can be best described as a celebration of a season of shame, as expected, no reasonable measures or steps are being taken by those in power to cushion the inherent hardship of social restriction order caused by Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the whole world. Due to shortage or absence of relief packages, thieves are back in every street operating freely, people are complaining of hunger while living is getting tougher for the less privileged at the time our leaders are becoming richer. Many Nigerians could not afford to eke out their means of livelihood despite the fact that they go out everyday let alone now that they are restricted for 14 days without any provision. What do we expect those men who don’t have saving, poor artisans,, petty traders  poor labourers , indigent, beggars to feed on during this restriction period? Social Restriction Order is not odd but adversely hazardous in any place where adequate provisions are not made the government. Hunger is flogging Nigerians but those in position of authority are not aware of that as they lead direct opposite life to the poor – never lack any means of survival. 
In other nations where citizen welfare is well valued, to their citizens feeding is even easier at this difficult time unlike here where government eloquently pronounce Social  Restriction Order, extend restrictions without making any adequate provision for the masses.
This is the first time I write criticaly about President Buhari’s attitude and his administration. Even when millions of Nigerians were calling him names such as Baba Goes Low during his tenure I refused to join them. Now, I’m left with no other option than to share my candid opinion of him and his government.
In so many areas, PMB has not succeeded in doing things better than his predecessors. Even there are many areas of the economy  where some past military and civilian heads of state had performed far better than him. Either correct or not, we had population census during the military rules that gave at least rough estimate of our population that still helps government in some ways. The Buhari’s administration never considers it good to have or improve on existing database. The federal office of statistics can never give a rough estimate of male, female, adults, working class, dependants, Muslims, Christians, etc.
Now that COVID 19 draws everyone’s attention to this silent and salient issue, the Buhari’s administration finds it so difficult to know how many billions of naira can provide relief stimulus for the poor Nigerians for 14 days restriction period while sharing modality is another source of headache peradventure they think of it.
Some states have received billions of naira as palliative from the federal government and philanthropists. Less than 1% Nigeria population had received cash reliefs while the rationale for sharing such is not yet clear to many of us. The 1% are from some states in North.
It’s disheartening to hear and read that many state governments had released billions of naira to provide food relief to the masses while those food items are yet to be found or shared. To many state governors, COVID 19 pandemic is a blessing not only in disguise but also in the open to corner a lot of money. Some governors here in the Southwest boastfully declared that they have made  provisions for food reliefs that can take care of 50% population of their citizens while a week into restriction only one loaf of bread per house, one pack of noodles for a whole street while larger area have not sighted those  items. 
Those politicians who could afford to lavish oodles amount of money on radio jingles, TV adverts, billboards, branded vans, different sizes of posters, give out a quality T-shirt, cap, wrist band, yards of Ankara, flash drive, foodstuff and cash to each electorate during the  electioneering campaign now find it difficult to share a bag of rice among ten households and dole out cash as they characteristically do both the primary and general elections. 
Likewise, those politicians who electoral fortunes failed to smile at are not left out. Sharing and identifying with the masses should not be limited to campaign time. Just because they failed to emerge, they have suspended sharing time till campaign days. That’s odd.
Many ex political office holders are richer than the incumbent courtesy of billions of naira they successfully diverted while in power but they are of the opinion that they are less concerned about people problems so far they are no longer in power therefore every responsibility lies soley on the incumbent. That’s why almost all the past political office holders decline to make any reasonable contribution towards relieving masses of feeding challenge at this hard time.
Many contractors get more money than those in power but instead of aiding and relieving  the masses in form of Community Social Responsibility at this critical time of restriction they rather pretend as if they run those juicy contracts at loss. It is so shameful that they can travel around the world in private jets  but never deem it fit to assist their friends and relations at this trying time.
It sounds somehow ungodly to hear that many religious leaders have devised different means of taking or extorting their members during this difficult moment. A man of God who can afford to feed the church/mosque conveniently during this period is still warning his members of negative implications of not remitting offerings and tithe. 
Now is the right time to learn some lessons. Now is the right time to do critical evaluation of PMB’s administration in terms of attending to real people’s oriented projects, people’s welfare, people’s health and security. Imagine the current state of many of our general hospitals and how many new ones this administration has successfully put in place. Government and governance is not limited to fighting corruption and railway construction.
Now is the right time for those political mercenaries, touts and women leaders to understand that they only waste their precious time and conceited efforts in winning elections for this set of politicians who have no single plan for them as an individual or a group. 
Now is the right time for every Muslim and Christian to apply their commonsense instead of following or observing their leader’s detectives dogmatically particularly when it comes to issue of money.
Tunde Dawood-Akerele 
(a Lagos based novelist, poet and publisher.)

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