By Mike Kebonkwu
Tossing the coin will not be of much use because the head or tail, the choice and the consequences are grim and terrible enough. Recent human history has not registered anything as catastrophic as this widespread death worldwide. Chinua Achebe, the literary icon of blessed memory would have the coronavirus tragedy in mind when he declared in his classic work, & # 39; Things Fall Apart & # 39 ;, that & quot; the trap of & # 39; Nte & # 39; caught is greater than & # 39; Nte & # 39; ” . In any case, men must die; death by Covid-19 is real, just as death from hunger is also real enough. With high hopes and high expectations now dashed, especially for those involved in the arcane ritual of New Year's resolution, the year 2020 will go down in history as the year of the great plague and pandemic of the Covid-19 or corona virus.
The harvest of death by Covid-19 is frightening in its great number. It compares only to launching a weapon of mass destruction at a population like a biological or nuclear bomb; death will be such a common place that there will be no one to bury the other. Death from hunger is also distressing, because it is a slow and painful death and, even worse, you can come face to face with loved ones, also distressing, but there is no food to eat.
Businesses are closed and offices are closed, while the proverbial common man on the street is forced to leave his sanctuary, not thanks to the Corona virus and the government blockade to prevent its spread. Life has really become so depressing that one would prepare for the worst and ignore the death angel on Covid-19's wings to go and look for something to eat.
We should have reached an agreement now that the social blocking and detachment regulations are the most effective and essential corrective security measures to restrict the spread of the community to the corona virus community until a cure or vaccine is found.
It is a bitter pill that we may have to accept and swallow, but the main concern is the extent to which a depressed subsistence economy can sustain the blockade strategy without a boomerang, where a large part of the population is in the informal sector and earns a daily living base .
Where will the palliative come from to support the vulnerable part of the population? Does the country have a strategic reserve to meet the basic needs of life for ordinary citizens? How do you determine vulnerable people and demographic distribution where there is no verifiable database and statistics? We do not have accurate records of births and deaths and our census figures for our population are still a matter of official speculation for political consideration without resemblance to reality.
Undoubtedly, social blocking and detachment seem the most appropriate methods to contain the spread of Covid-19, but it is not clear how much longer we can sustain it due to the socioeconomic variables of the population where most people do not have it. economy. or any income.
Obviously, the considerable efforts of the government at the center and the state governments within the available resources cannot be ignored. Even so, the palliative can never be enough, if it were implemented in a uniform, fair and equitable way. For a subsistence economy like Nigeria, the blockade is not a sustainable way to manage the scourge and spread of the corona virus, giving our circumstances without risking civil disobedience. Removing citizens from their business without income in a prolonged blockade is a recipe for disaster, because the battles on both fronts are extreme.
However, it favors social detachment to appear as a more sustainable option and strategy, so that people can engage in limited tasks to earn a living. It is time to start interrogating all this so-called palliative thing that the government is giving to the so-called vulnerable section of the population that looks amorphous. We should stop ridiculing ourselves by getting involved in that primitive way in which government officials carry bags of banknotes and distribute them to unhappy Nigerians. It is a pity that, in this 21st century, our government officials are going from one village and community to another, lining up people in line and counting money and giving citizens as beggars; this image is not good enough for us and unacceptable.
Even with government handouts and trifle where there is a window for replenishing basic supplies, the reality is that there are few food items to buy on the market with hyperinflation and factories are producing minimally, having reduced their workforce to maintain social dominance. distance in the workplace. We are talking about an economy that is monetary and carries without production and enormous unemployment and poverty.
Someday, Nigerians need to demand that their leaders consider stewardship, because, regardless of the length of night, daylight will arrive. Even in death, some of them will have to pay exactly as the top ruler, the late General Sani Abacha, who is "funding" tomb projects with his looting. This was unimaginable and no one ever thought it was possible in Nigeria before now.
Even with the best of intentions, the federal government's planned palliatives for the urban poor to mitigate the extent of the block in their conditional cash transfer (CCT) are fraught with obvious barriers and susceptible to political manipulation and fraud, as people have already said. hint. Most of the urban poor known to me do not have bank accounts and, therefore, no Bank Verification Number (BVN) that can be accessed by the committee. Most of the urban poor include women who sell & # 39; okpa & # 39; and & # 39; akara & # 39; (bean cake) at street corners and bus stops that are the bread winners of the family. They are those who bake corn, sell pure water (sachet), water suppliers that supply families, since most people do not have running water, vulcanizers and people who travel in vehicles that seek commerce.
Countries with a social assistance system have biological data on citizens and know those who qualify for unemployment benefits and other social interventions. If anyone asks, where did the government committee generate the record or data they are using? We should stop tokenism and the media and take governance business seriously. We will appreciate the situation we are in better if we recognize the fact that poverty and lack do not start and end with the urban poor; most Nigerians are poor, including government employees. While someone appreciates the government's efforts at least to recognize the fact that people really do have genuine needs, the fight against coronavirus must be well calibrated to ensure that a viable method of social interaction is planned and not just enact complete blocking as a complete remedy for Covid-19. Popular opinion seems to favor social distancing against the blockade; so, leave the social distance!
- Kebonkwu Esq writes in Abuja.