COVID-19: Nigerians are hungry and angry, lift the lockdown, Bode George tells FG

A former national vice president of the Democratic Peoples Party (PDP), chief Olabode George, on Thursday accused the Federal government to relax the blockade imposed on Lagos and two other states after the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

George, who made the call in a statement in Lagos, said the blockade imposed on the state alongside Ogun and Abuja since March 29 was negatively affecting livelihoods and raising security challenges.

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He said that while the government intends to curb the spread of the virus by blocking it, the directive left many hungry Nigerians at home without palliative care.

The PDP chief noted that there must be a balance between curbing the spread of the virus and protecting livelihoods and called on the government to relax the blockade while implementing appropriate measures.

He also warned of the consequences of the growing anger of the most vulnerable groups devastated by hunger.

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The statement said: “The Coronavirus novel, COVID-19, which is currently ravaging the world as a monstrous and invisible enemy, has distorted virtually every corner of the globe with huge mountains of deaths.

“Nigeria, of course, is no exception. Our land borders, air and sea ports have been deservedly closed to contain and, ultimately, mitigate the deadly fury of the killer virus. Lagos, West Africa's commercial center, appears to be the very hot spot of this pandemic.

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“Everywhere in Lagos is now locked. Markets, bank offices, local grocery stores, supermarkets, transportation services are all interrupted, frozen by Federal Government guidelines since March 29.

“At the superficial level, the federal government's position is to guarantee security, prevent the community from spreading the virus and banish this scourge from our coasts.

“Lagos residents have been at home for about a month. State and federal agencies have not provided effective improvement measures to cushion the effect of the strike. In a largely informal economy, where the majority of our people depend on daily wages, the burden of lack of income is devastating.

“There is a growing natural rage in Lagos, as the most vulnerable are devastated by hunger. Our young people are getting restless, pushed into the streets because they are hungry. Others deviated from the banditry, terrorizing houses, breaking into stores and robbing people.

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“And yet others have resorted to putting all kinds of sinister audio messages on social media, threatening rape and murder.

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“We certainly cannot continue like this. You cannot arrest millions of people without the necessary palliatives to alleviate the dysfunction that this scourge has inflicted on our country.

“It is a balancing act. Lagos should be phased out of this shutdown with comprehensive security measures. It is necessary to expand the test centers to ensure that the virus is adequately contained, especially among the asymptomatic population that can spread the virus without knowing that it is infected.

“State and municipal governments must buy more personal protective equipment (PPE), guarantee faster test kits and make social distancing mandatory. All of these measures can be aligned at the same time with the ease of shutdown. "

Read too: Akwa Ibom government expands COVID-19 blockade

“Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State spoke to the majority of our people when he observed yesterday at the virtual meeting of the Governors' Forum that the extension of this disconnection can bring more chaos and destruction much worse than COVID-19 itself.

“This is where good governance and recovery leadership must come. Local responses must be applied to this pandemic. We cannot simply copy the strike in the Western world without contemplation. Ghana, Dubai, Brazil and many countries are raising the barrier of disconnection. We should also have the appropriate security guidelines. "

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