The primary purpose of every government should be centred around the citizenry but what we see is a bastardization of the major reason for the establishment of the institution called government. From security to infrastructure down to cost of living as well as economy, the government is expected to draw up policies that will provide a healthy living for her citizenry. In our present-day reality, the world keeps experiencing massive migration of one state citizens to another state. These individuals are not hesitant to renounce citizenship if it will guarantee a better life provided by a functional government.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, every state has had to respond in diverse ways. Due to the novelty of the virus, scientists have faced numerous hurdles in the search for vaccines that can manage the virus and stop its vicious spread. To manage the spread of the virus, which has infected over 5.2 million people and a mortality rate of over 330,000 people globally, states have had to adopt various measures.

Nigeria has seen the number of confirmed corona cases increase from one on the 28th of February 2020 to 7839 as at 24th May 2020. This exponential increase has led to frustrations being directed at the government. Since Ebola came into the country through a similar route but was contained, though some lives were lost, Nigerians assumed that the government was up to task and capable of containing the spread of coronavirus. What we’ve seen as a people is not only a daily increase in the number of confirmed cases but an uncertainty as to whether the data released by NCDC is a true reflection of our country’s status.

On the 29th of March 2020, 30 days after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Nigeria, President Buhari gave his first public nationwide broadcast on the coronavirus. During his speech, he declared lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun for a period of 2 weeks. On the 13th of April. President Buhari, during his second nationwide broadcast, extended the lockdown by another 2 weeks. At the end of his broadcast, Nigerians were thrown into a state of utmost displeasure at the extension. Due to the high poverty rate and hunger in the land, many Nigerians wondered how they would survive a lockdown extension. Since many subsist on daily income, as a result of the stay at home directive, Nigerians feared there will be an increase in crime.

In his third nationwide broadcast, which was on the 27th of April 2020, president Buhari declared a week extension of the lockdown in these states. He also approved a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown and directed a compulsory use of facemask as well as a strict adherence to the safety measures put in place by the NCDC. On Monday 4th May 2020, economic activities resumed in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja. The Lagos state government also released guidelines that should be adhered to strictly.

Since economic activities were to resume gradually, many questioned the logic behind the 8pm to 6am curfew. Using Lagos state as our focal point, many questioned the visibility of people adhering to the guidelines. For context, some of these directives released by Lagos state government include the following:

  • A compulsory use of facemask in public
  • A restructuring of the transport sector: a reduction of the number of passengers to be conveyed by the public buses as well as the number of persons permitted in private vehicles
  • An 8am – 3pm working hours
  • Scheduled days and time for public markets
  • A strict adherence to social distancing rule
  • A continued closure of schools and religious gatherings
  • A ban on interstate movement
  • An 8pm – 6am dusk to dawn curfew

In compliance with the directives of the government of Lagos State, companies revised their working hours. This is laudable because due to the curfew imposed by the government, workers cannot leave their homes before 6am. This has also led to hectic traffic and gridlocks being experienced by Lagosians since they all have to leave their homes at 6am.

When Lagosians heard of the directives giving to the transport sector, many laughed and doubted its compliance. Many believed bus drivers would still fill their buses with passengers as against the eight passenger per bus directive. Going on the street of Lagos, in some part, one realises a strict compliance to that directive while in other parts, its business as usual and this is because they ‘settle’ those who are meant to ensure strict adherence to the directives. To be fair, the keke drivers have largely adhered to the two passenger per ride directive. Though this has led to hike in prices, many understand the need to maintain a safe distance.

With schools and religious gatherings still banned, a ban on interstate movement can be said to be partially effective. Travelling into Ogun state for instance through the Ikorodu axis, one will encounter over 10 Roadblocks. To cross the border, each driver ‘settles’ the security personnel’s mounting the road blocks. Officers of the Nigerian police are not exempted from this disgraceful act. Once a person gets to the border (Ogijo in Ikorodu to be precise), a police officer enters your car, directs you to where your car will be packed and then ensures the tyres are deflated. The number plate is then written and the car key is collected from the owner. Thereafter, the car owner walks up to the arresting officer and then agrees on a certain amount, which varies in prices but above ₦2000. The ban on interstate movement has become a money making enterprise as some drivers’ part away with over ₦5000 just to have their car released. When you multiply this amount by over 50 cars, then you would have an understanding as to why there is still interstate movement.

Another fascinating directive is the compulsory wearing of facemask and social distancing. On the streets of Lagos, we see individuals dawning their different colours of face mask which sometimes look weird and funny at the same time but when it comes to social distancing, it is another ball game entirely. Have you seen queues at BRT terminals? Have you seen the number of persons trying to gain entrance into the banks? If coronavirus were a person, it would be laughing aloud at the moment. It seems like banks are only concerned about those inside forgetting that before gaining entrance into the banking hall, a tug of war had to be fought and won.

Talking about banks, there is need for intensive publicity on the availability of mobile apps and USSD codes so as to reduce the number of persons trying to gain access into banks. Making shades available or locking their gates is not good enough. As a result of increased cyber-crimes, banks need to assure customers that their online banking services are safe. Banks need to also create a medium through which ATM cards can be collected without the need of going to the bank. As Nigerians, we are so used to visiting the banks thereby ignoring the other easy ways we can transact. During this period, banks should also stop the unnecessary deduction of customer’s money, as this will encourage them to visit the banking hall for explanation. Instead of visiting the bank, you can call your banks customer care (their numbers are usually behind your ATM cards).

It is expedient of us as citizens to adhere strictly to the safety measures issued by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control as well as other health organisations. The government also needs to play its role in ensuring that the sufferings of Nigerians are not increased. Jobs have been lost and businesses have folded up. This is not a time for our government to play politics and steal public funds that are meant to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. We all have a role to play but the government’s role is more important.



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