By Ayo Akinfe
(1) Like most of you, I watched with horror yesterday as hundreds of people gathered for the funeral of Abba Kyari in Abuja. Government functionaries turned out on their droves unprotected in total defiance of health warnings to maintain social distancing
(2) Having watched the show of shame in which the Nigerian elite showed utter contempt for their own government guidelines and World Health Organisation advice, you have to ask yourself if Nigeria now has any moral right to tell its populace to stay at home and observe the government lockdown order. Does double standards get any worse than this?
(3) Sycophancy is arguably our biggest threat to good governance as everyone in Nigeria wants to be in the good books of oga at the top. It is why hundreds of junior government officials turned out yesterday to prove their loyalty to the powers-that-be. With such an unhealthy national pastime, discipline and good governance will always elude is. These officials forgot, however, that ordinary Nigerians saw them as the funeral was filmed and make no mistake about it, there will be a counter-reaction
(4) If our elite are allowed to defy a government lockdown in pursuit of political brownie points, appointments and the approval of the powers-that-be, they have no moral right to tell the ordinary Nigerian to stay at home in the face of hunger, for the supposed greater good of society
(5) There is no compelling reason to attend a funeral of a government official but there is a compelling reason to go out and search for food. To make matters worse, none of the people at that funeral observed the two metre distancing rule, which for me just makes it clear that this lockdown order in Nigeria is just a ruse. Why won’t the poor see it as class warfare with the rich imposing an economic blockade on them?
(6) For a lockdown to work, your people need to be disciplined, there has to be ample supplies of food, medicines and essential items and above all, people need to have faith in the credibility of the system. All of these are currently lacking in Nigeria and most developing nations
(7) For the Nigerian masses, the lockdown is just an economic blockade imposed on them by the elite to impoverish them further. In Lagos, we are already witnessing poor youths visiting gated estates to ask for food or they will attack. In response, most of the well-off do a whip round and raise some money to buy items to stave off an attack from the masses
(8) When I look back to the last time we had an economic blockade in Nigeria between July 1967 and January 1970, I shudder. The consequences were disastrous and if this lockdown continues we could be faced with a similar catastrophe
(9) It has been three weeks since we have had a total lockdown in Lagos and Ogun states and the Federal Capital Territory and the response has been there for all to see. You simply cannot introduce a lockdown without supplying people with essential food items. We copied what was being done elsewhere in the world except the food supply aspect of the programme. You have to ask yourself if those who initiated the plan gave it any thought at all before introducing it
(10) What we really need in places like Nigeria and other developing nations are the mass distribution of facemasks, gloves and hand sanitizers, coupled with strict social distancing. Introduce these and avoid the total lockdown as has been done in Sweden. We only needed to ban mass gatherings like sporting events, religious worship and political rallies. Normal economic activities could have continued to avoid a worse epidemic. Losing 2m children to starvation as happened during the last economic blockade is far worse than anything Covid-19 can throw at us