By Ayoola Olaitan
As the increasing cases of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria forced President Mohammadu Buhari to extend the lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the extension may spell doom for residents in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun States which have entered three weeks of total lockdown.
There have been pockets of crises with theft and armed robbery increasing in Lagos and Abuja; with hunger pangs increasing for the residents who have been forced to stay home even though most depend on daily income at their respective jobs.
This 14days extension of the lockdown is coming at a time when citizens lament the absence of palliatives to cushion the effects of the stay home other.
The poor security situation in the country and nonchalance of security operatives especially in Lagos and Abuja, condemns lives and property of citizens to uncertainty as such trying times.
In Ikeja last week, our correspondent observed a checkpoint operated by touts just ahead of a police checkpoint as the touts flagged down vehicles pleading for money for ‘stomach’
These hungry touts were seen pleading during the day, saying, “Oga/ madam help us with anything abeg. Na coronavirus keep us for house, no money for food! We no wan die!” and the police officers looked at the operation with smiles.
At night, however, these seemingly nice beggars become more autocratic, armed with sticks, knifes or guns and extorting from passers-by and commuters.
While hunger isn’t a justification for such crimes, it simply highlights the inefficiency of security agencies to nip this anomaly in the bud during the day and it stresses the need for the federal and Lagos State governments to develop and execute a food intervention that gets to this category of people.
The President observed that the lockdown helped the country to identify cases, giving the nation victory over the spread of the virus, meanwhile the core areas of security and hunger pangs facing a large number of affected citizens weren’t addressed during the national broadcast on 13th April, 2020 which announced the 14days extension of the lockdown.
The economic implications are beginning to tell on the nation as the country might be faced with recession after the lockdown extension and economic experts are beginning to express fears that the world could be heading for a global recession.
According to statistics from the International Monetary Fund, IMF, the informal sector in Nigeria is responsible for over 65% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the bulk of those who make up the sector depend on daily earnings to make ends meet.
The country’s economy activities has been stalled for the past two weeks and this would extend to 28 days as the country’s commercial and political centres remain lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.
For the aviation sector, International Air Transport Association, IATA Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, described the devastating impact of lockdown on the global airline industry as the worst crisis ever in the air travel sector with the airlines’ passenger revenues falling by $252 billion and 25 million jobs at risk.
Despite efforts put in place to curb the pandemic from spreading, protection of lives without the protection of livelihoods is a complete imbalance and might spell doom to the nation’s economy in coming days.
However, one issue the government fail to address in the extension of the lockdown is state of unrest in Lagos and Ogun state, where citizens can no longer sleep with their two eyes closed due to recent cases of robbery in the two states making citizens live in fear and resorting to self defense.
Lagosians are beginning to feel that they are left alone to secure their own lives.
Prior to the extension, citizens had cried for help as they were robbed of their valuables and properties and this extension seems to guarantee a continuation in the unpleasant trend.
There is the troubling health implications of burning tyres which citizens resorts to, in combating the attacks by hoodlums who took advantage of the lockdown to rob them.
These health effects could include irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, respiratory effects, central nervous system depression, and cancer.
The health hazard might be another round of health issue after the defeat of the COVID-19 pandemic in the states or the nation at large.
The extension broadcast by President Muhammadu Buhari failed to address the issue of palliative measures that could reduce the hardship from the lockdown.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, National Publicity Secretary , Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, recently faulted the lockdown address by the president on disbursement of the palliative materials and funds.
According to him “Nigerians expected Mr. President to directly address the established failures of his palliatives distribution, particularly the provision of funds to the poorest of the poor, which has been marred by allegations of corruption and diversion of funds. This is in addition to allegations of diversion of rice and other food items meant for the poor masses.
With over 38.5 million people already enrolled on the Bank Verification Number, BVN, citizens are beginning to ask the government to send their palliatives through the medium as diversion of this palliatives is the trend tend for looting by leaders who can not account for it.
Youths across the country using various social media to push their voice on Tuesday trend an hastag to the president with over 50,000 tweets with the hashtag #PayUsViaBVN been posted.
Meanwhile, Corps Marshal Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi has ordered Commanding Officers across the country to step up ongoing enforcement on restrictions and physical distancing amongst vehicle occupants as part of efforts to carry out the Presidential directives holistically by impounding at sight any vehicle found violating the orders.
Also, the Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu , IG, had ordered the state commissioners of police across the country to immediately rejig the security architecture in their various commands to tackle all emerging crimes associated with the COVID-19 lockdown.
There is need for all anti-graft agencies to be on the look out and help prevent an anticipated looting of the donations by both corporate organisations and Nigerians, and avoid misappropriation of the donated funds.
The ambience in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT is already heated with the rising records of Covid-19 infected patients, it would be unreasonable for the federal and state governments to look out for the new anomalies rising as a result of the pandemic and it would also amount to a failure, not to address the security woes and hunger pangs confronting citizens.