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Easing of the Lockdown in Lagos, FCT and Ogun: Wise or Foolish Decision?

There is no science to it. It is all subjective and all you get would be personal and community opinions influenced by partisan affiliation, ethnic considerations, economic reasons and disparate sentiments. The fact is: there will be no shortage of arguments in support of or against the easing of the lockdown by the president with millions trooping out of their homes on Monday for the first time in weeks.

No control

Let us start with the obvious. The conducts of many across banking halls in Abuja and Lagos as we saw all over the internet on Monday made mockery of all government regulations and guidelines mandating people to observe some measure of social distancing at public places.

Obviously, the thousands who rushed into the banking halls first thing on Monday morning did not get the memo. It can even be argued that they have little understanding of what the world is currently grappling with.

To be clear, there are still many Nigerians across the northern and southern parts of the country who believe that the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax, a scheme by the government to embezzle money and a plot by certain global players to further tighten their grip on global affairs while pursuing their clandestine objectives of introducing a new world order. Ideas and philosophies like this could have influenced the nonchalant disposition of the crowd we have seen in Lagos and Abuja banking halls over these two days.

If I die, I die…

There are also some elements of disaffection with life to it all. Many Nigerians no longer care whether they live or die. They have become so frustrated with life that death no longer scares anyone. Most of those people we saw in the banking halls had mobile phones; TV sets at home and of course, transistor radios. They listen to the news; they read people’s troubling accounts of their battles with the virus, they know about the deaths (more than 200 thousand now) and so they are certainly not ignorant of the confusion and chaos in the world today. Now pray, why would anyone decide to risk his life even with so much information at his disposal? Call it desperation, call it frustration, I call it disillusionment with life.

The curious decision

So on the evidence of what we have seen so far, the decision to ease the lockdown was not an entirely wise one. The virus is still active and raging and what’s the wisdom in announcing a lockdown when there were less than 300 cases and then proceeding to ease things when the number of confirmed cases is approaching 3 thousand?

You see, it does not make sense. There is no vaccine yet; the isolation centres are poorly equipped and just yesterday in Gombe, we saw inmates of the state’s isolation centre take to the streets in anger over their poor treatment and inadequacy of care. We have also seen the isolation centre erected by the Kogi state government collapse as a result of a downpour. Things are clearly falling apart and the sheer wickedness, the kleptomania and disdain of the public officials towards members of the public are no longer open to disputation. From Abuja to the state capitals, Nigeria is largely being led by men who have no single business occupying public positions.

Every data is political

The average Nigerian leader has a certain contempt for knowledge; data means nothing to them and everything is done on a rule of thumb basis.

While official figures claim that Nigeria is populated by over 200 million people, informed sources opine that there are actually less than 100 million people in Nigeria. Where, for example have you heard that dry, desert, unproductive locations have more population than rich coastal, productive cities? How on earth does the beleaguered Kano state have almost the same population as the entirety of Saudi Arabia? Some claim it is because of polygamy but isn’t Saudi the world capital of Islam?

If you do a careful calculation, you will observe that over the last 50 years, most nations of the world have merely increased their population by 10-15% while in Nigeria, population increase between 1970 and now is in hundreds of percentages. Isn’t that crazy?

Truth is: the Nigerian population is a big scam, and many know it, but few admit it because of political correctness. Now, pray: why on earth would a country lie about the size of its own population? A sequel would be: if the leadership of a country tells lies about its actual size; what else will it not lie about?

Billions set aside for palliatives gone down the drain- into private pockets rather

Think about the distribution of palliatives during the lockdown. Officials in Abuja said they shared hundreds of billions of naira to poor and vulnerable citizens. Many Nigerians are however confused as to what metrics were used in determining the poor and vulnerable and how they were reached.

Billions of money poured into the government’s coffers from the private sector following the outbreak of the crises in the country. Sadly, there is still no transparency in the utilisation of the funds. It is all smokes and mirrors and many consider every utterance from the officials an irritation.

In several countries of the world battling this pandemic, you see their presidents and high ranking officials addressing the people every now and again. In Nigeria however, the case is entirely different. President Muhammadu Buhari only shows up every fortnight to record a broadcast and simply disappears from public view. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s case is a lot worse. If he has made any public comment since the outbreak of the crises, it must have been a closely guarded secret. The man has simply gone incommunicado.

A pragmatic decision

So in view of the afore, could it have been wise to ask the people to remain indoors while the officials largely abandon them or steal funds that ought to have been deployed to tackling the pandemic? You can now see why easing the lockdown was indeed the only sensible and pragmatic thing to do?

Nigeria is a day by day economic system. Unlike in other economies where the government continues to provide for the people even after 6 weeks of lockdown, the officials in Abuja cannot even afford to fend for the poor and vulnerable in our midst for a day. It is terrible.

Interestingly, some of these countries providing palliatives for their citizens in a clear and transparent manner are not entirely richer than Nigeria. In Africa, we have seen how orderly things were done in Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa and Algeria. Are these countries really richer than Nigeria? Certainly not.

What they have more than Nigeria is a collection of smart and empathic leaders who put their countries first. Not some dishonest, hypocritic, fawning cowards who abandon those they promised to lead from the front at the first sight of a major crisis.

Going forward…

It is now obvious that Nigerians are on their own. The leadership class is largely irresponsible and cannot be trusted to lead us out of the looming apocalypse.

What I consider most practical post-COVID-19 pandemic is an honest discussion on the wisdom of allowing this thudding behemoth of a country to continue towards its path of doom or do we take our destiny in our own hands.

We thought we got it right in 2015. Sadly, what happened was that a damaged irredeemable product was nicely packaged and handed to crafty marketers to sell to desperate, gullible and unpatriotic electorates. Now, do we wait till 2023 before we begin a sincere discussion on changing the recruitment template that makes it easy for the rest of us to be led successively, by the worst of us? Time shall tell.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect ROOT TV's editorial stance.


Okafor Chiedozie
Okafor Chiedozie is an economist, political writer and amateur Igbo historian. He pursues these and other interests out of Abuja.