When the news broke out that the Lagos State Assembly would look into the Coronavirus pandemic in the state, what comes to mind is that top of its list would focus on how the people wouldn’t starve as a result of any partial or total lockdown forced on the people as a result of Coronavirus.
This ideally should be what a clear-headed and people-oriented Government should give credence to not proposing punishments for offenders. Certainly, a huge outbreak in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria would be almost impossible to contain considering the long history of leadership failure in the country leading to dilapidated state of Health facilities. However, another virus sits in the corner and that is the hunger virus.
The Lagos Assembly passed a ₦100,000 fine or a year sentence for anyone who flouts the lockdown order without providing measures to ease the burden on Lagosians who majority live from daily earnings. Such a bill is elitist and anti-people to avoid sounding too scathing.
Too quote the bill verbatim, it states that:
“Where there is a violation of a close down or stay at home order, security Agencies shall have the power to arrest without warrant and may detain any person who violates the close down or stay at home order for at least 48 hours.
“Where the arrested person is found guilty, the person is liable to a fine of N100,000.00 or one month imprisonment or three months Community service.”
As much as this appears a needed and progressive bill to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in the state, there should be adequate provisions for people living in the state during this period. Loads of small scale enterprises would be hardly hit by this lockdown. Already, the Coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on these businesses and rather than provide succour, the state government doles out stringent measures without palliatives.
The state Government has gotten funds from different agencies to combat the pandemic and without mincing words, it has been proactive in tackling this virus. However these funds should also cater for the people of the state. The Federal Government approved the immediate release of ₦10billion to the state, the state Assembly also gave the Governor the go-ahead to spend at least ₦20billion in combating the spread of the disease and corporate organizations have also come to the aid of the state in its quest to combat the virus. The people deserves to be paid in these trying times
When a news reporter from Arise TV asked the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, about his plans for the people of the state during the closure of ‘inessential markets’, he countered by saying the state/country is not in the same ‘level’ as those developed nations doing that before he delved the question and simply implied that there was no plans- at least for now.
These other markets(asides groceries and Pharmacies) and businesses could be tagged ‘inessential’ by the government, but they are fully essential to the owners as without these, ‘hunger virus’ could set in.
Another worrying issue that should be addressed is the act of ‘thuggery’ that will likely come with the enforcement of the state’s directives by the Police. Already, there have been videos circulating on social media showing members of the Lagos State task force destroying people’s properties. There’s no justification for such act as the country is definitely not a ‘zoo’ like some claims.
A total lockdown is apparent in the state but the people should not be left to die of the hunger virus. Again, many take to the street to eat. Coronavirus is deadly but not as deadly as hunger virus. The country is capable of being responsible at this point in time and the people shouldn’t be made to suffer again, as they have always been! Hunger virus is an ‘original virus’ too.
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