At 7pm on Monday, the 14th of April 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation for the second time since the Coronavirus pandemic spread to Nigeria. Both addresses were to announce a preventive measure to slow the spread of the virus within the country. Like other countries across the world, Nigeria has chosen to embrace a mixture of contact testing for people confirmed to be exposed to the virus, social distancing for citizens when they move in public, banning of social gatherings of more than 10 people and a restrictive lock down on movement of people and vehicles. This initiative lauded by the WHO and the NCDC, fails to address the reality that the majority of Nigerians are in living in extreme poverty and rely on daily wages to survive.
Already we have seen in Lagos and Kaduna, two states where lock downs are in effect lead to mass violence against law abiding citizens. In Lagos and Ogun states, hundreds of armed robberies and acts of vandalism have been perpetrated by thugs and hooligans who formerly relied on the corrupt system of road levies for their daily bread. With public transportation gone, those hooligans are breaking their leashes and attacking citizens.
The president has just announced it is extending the lock down by 14 days, to ensure that the gains made from the previous lock down aren’t lost. What gains we ask?
Nigeria has been warned by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) of severely under testing for the Coronavirus and suggests our current infection numbers are gross underestimates. The reality could be much worse. The government has also allegedly lost records of the disbursement of several billion naira to ‘poor’ families as part of its palliative scheme to ensure the poorest people in the country are cushioned during the lock down. It is laughable because this loss happened because the Accountant General’s office conveniently burned in a ‘freak’ fire.
There is need to worry and need for the Federal government to find other ways to fight the Coronavirus without killing citizens in the process. Lock downs are a palliative measure, not a real solution.