LOCKDOWN OPINION By Kefas Bangripga: How African leaders got it wrong, plateau state in focus

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Since the global outbreak of the COVID 19, which has brought the entire world to her knees; crippling the socioeconomic, sociopolitical, sociocultural and every other aspect of human activities.

For centuries, this is the first time humanity is humbled, technological advancement rendered useless, world powers surrendering to nature than depending on their technological know-how.

This virus which spreads fast like wirld wind, has registered its presence in almost every country of the world. It has decimated about two hundred thousand (200,000)people

and about two million (2,000,000) people have been infected with the virus, while the curves of death toll and infection are still progressing world wide.

Against this background, different governments world wide, regardless of political and economic ideologies, have improvised different strategies of flattening the curves and keeping the devastating impact of the pandemic to a bearest minimum

the most common of which is “LOCKDOWN “.
In Nigeria, the federal government has since initiated a lockdown in states that have been considered as the epicenters of the pandemic namely: Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (with Kano likely to join).

The lockdown template adopted by the Federal Government can be compared to that of the United States of America (USA) where movement is strictly restricted, citizens are asked to stay at home, with palliatives given to them in order to cushion the hardship occasioned by the lockdown.

Essential workers such as; health workers, security personnel, media men, food vendors and so on, are exempted from the lockdown.

However, the difference between Nigeria’s lockdown and that of the United States of America (USA) is; in the US, the pallitives are given to every citizen, where each adult is given $ 1,200(#480,000) and every child is given $ 500(#200,000).

While in Nigeria the palliatives are; #20,000 and other food items given to those considered as weak and vulnerable in the society. The distinguishing factors are; organisation, resources and capacity.

Well if we are not as organised as they are, and do not have sufficient resources and capacity as they do, why then copy their lockdown template? Why can’t we come up with our own template that is relative to our socioeconomic and sociocultural reliaties?

Climbing down the State level, one will be clasped by confusion as to what guiding principles did our Governors adopt before initiating lockdowns in their respective states.

Do they even put the socioeconomic realities and sociological structures of their states into cognisance? Whatever the case may be, these two (2) factors have significant bearing on the effectiveness of a lockdown in any society.

Looking at the lockdown template in plateau state
This is a State where significant proportion of the population lives in abject penury, a larger chunk of the employment in the State comes from informal sectors like; petty trading,

hawking, physical labour and other businesses. Most of the people in the State rely on their daily earnings to feed. With the economic activities in the State put on hold.

as occasioned by the Lockdown, how can these people battle hunger? How will this affect the effectiveness of the lockdown in curbing the spread of the virus in the State?

These are questions that seemingly were not asked or sufficiently answered by those advising the Plateau State Government before initiating the lockdown.

The extension of the lockdown in Plateau may cause more harm and could be more catastrophic to the State. With the palliatives not reaching everyone, the people will be tired of being locked-down without food and they will revolt.

The protest by the women at Zaria road on Saturday April 24, 2020, was a prelude to the impending consequences of the lockdown.

When hunger begin to take it toll on the lockdown population, the lockdown may metamorphosed into; high rate of crimes, civil unrest and disobedience to constituted

authorities, which will make the law enforcement Agencies to use force in trying to enforce the lockdown, this will also result to unnecessary deaths, thereby constituting devasting impediments to the State.

In the countries where lockdown originated from. It is initiated while aggressive massive testing is conducted simultaneously, which makes contact tracing easy and curbing the spreading of the virus becomes more feasible, because contacts are traced and quarantined concurrently.

In Plateau State where majority of the population lives in slumps, with no adequate water supply. Even with the lockdown people in places like: Gada Biyu, Farin Gada,

Anguwan Rukuba and Jenta Adamu, still gather in crowds to get water from a single source.
With no comprehensive database and a disheveled strategy of palliatives distribution.

People in their 100s still have to congest in ques to be given palliatives. Imagine the number of people that will be infected with the virus in the above scenarios, if one person amidst the crowd is a carrying the virus.

Initiating a lockdown without aggressive and massive testing is a miscalculation by the Plateau State Government. With the State having one index case, if contact tracing is not done aggresively and properly, the lockdown may have reverse effects on the fight against the spread of COVID 19 in the State.

Recommendations

  • Government should come up with an organised and well coordinated way of distributing palliatives : like door to door distribution.
  • The Government should expand the bracket of those to be given the palliatives. And should ensure equitable distribution of such.
  • Attention should be shifted to the borders to curb interstate movements than intrastate lockdown.
  • Security agent manning the borders should be closely monitored as most of them get compromise for bribe
  • Government should come up with the policy of no mask no movement in the state
  • The public should be vigorously sensitised by the media, using jingles produced in indigenous languages.
  • Government should provide the primary need of the people

Kefasbangripga@gmail.com

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