For the first time in a while, I’m unable to hide my disappointment in my country. From the President’s latest address, restrictions are to be ‘eased’ in Lagos & Abuja from the 4th of May. Bearing in mind it is this same Lagos and Abuja that account for most of Nigeria’s confirmed cases of Coronavirus (besides Kano), and the fact that the reported (let alone unreported) numbers of positive. This is a pandemic that has brought even more developed societies to a halt. How is it to be eased? Curfews? As if to almost suggest the virus would reduce its infectiousness at midnight like a thief in the night.
The President further went on to state that ‘selected’ private sector businesses will be allowed to reopen. Quite simply, what are you really going to tell me for me to accept my business is not as ‘important’ as my neighbor’s for example? This really leaves me wondering if this has been properly thought through at all. Furthermore, are you going to tell me that it is in Balogun market we plan to enforce COVID-19 guidelines and social distancing? It is time to be real and not gamble. It is a tough decision for the President, yes. And Nigerians are tired and want the freedom to carry on with business, yes. It is all extremely sad and nobody can blame the government for what is going on right now but the truth is, the best you can do is to sensitize Nigerians about the cost of this freedom. Let them know it is literally going to cost their lives. Then continue to feed and reach as many of the impoverished as humanly possible!
I mean, think about the average daily commute to and fro the average Lagosian’s workplace alone. Forget the fact that most Lagosians sleep in traffic and the curfews are almost impossible to adhere to. At least that will only subject you to police harassment and their taxation and potentially assaults here and there from soldiers. More pressing is the fact that if you aren’t one of the few privileged to own your personal car, each trip via public transport is already a 50/50 gamble with your life. You will then do this at least twice daily. Or do we expect public transporters that can’t even maintain their engines and keep vehicles roadworthy to adhere to guidelines to be sanitizing the interior of these same vehicles? Or do we expect transporters that already carry more passengers than the vehicle manufacturers permit to limit numbers of passengers as directed by COVID regulations and reject money now at a time that they are hungrier than they’ve ever been?
It is a shame it appears we are caving in to the pressures perceived. Even with the full lockdown in place, from reports, the NCDC is clearly overwhelmed and are almost evading patients and persons calling in for tests/care as a result of symptoms experienced. Imagine how much more so with movement unrestricted? Yes, the hardship is immense for many and yes we can’t continue like this forever, but common sense I feel would dictate the time to ease or lift restrictions is NOT when your numbers are on the highest rise. I’m truly disappointed and the loss of lives this poor decision will potentially lead to truly saddens me. I truly pray that by that 4th of May, the Federal Government has had a proper think about this.