By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
Former Minister of Information and the National Secretary of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Labaran Maku, has asked the federal government to adopt more effective means of ensuring that palliatives meant to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic reach the intended segements of the population.
He advised that palliatives promised by government should be distributed through committees comprising town unions, community associations, NGOS and professional associations to cut down bureaucracy and partisan distractions
Maku in a statement said that lack of a reliable social safety net to absorb sudden shocks on most people who live on daily income may lead to mass resentments, especially if the current lockdown of the states continued.
He said that federal and state governments should promptly look into the situation.
“As we enter the second week of President Buhari’s restriction of movements in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states, as part of measures to contain, control and defeat the coronavirus pandemic, there are increasing and expected reports of protests mostly in the social media from Nigerians who are facing genuine hardships due to the lockdown! Many citizens are finding it difficult to cope with feeding their families, especially the self employed who are in the majority everywhere in the country,” he said.
The former minister said it was obvious that the shutdown would witness some resistance from less privileged citizens because our system has no reliable social safety net to absorb sudden shocks as most people live on daily income from the marketplace and the field.
“The Federal and state governments should promptly look into the situation. The palliatives promised by government should be distributed through committees comprising town unions, community associations, NGOS and professional associations to cut down bureaucracy and partisan distractions that could undermine the fight against this pandemic,” Maku said.
The APGA Chieftain pleaded with Nigerians who are in a position to help to extend a helping hand to the less privileged neighbors, adding that APGA’s slogan urges all to be their brother and sister’s keeper.
He urged religious leaders to pray without ceasing for God’s mercy on the country.
He further said that everyone should rally together at this crucial time of a national emergency and threat to collective wellbeing.
“It is heart warming that many Nigerians have responded positively to the call for contributions to the fight against COVID-19. Especially Nigeria’s corporate community. The effort should be continuous till the virus is defeated.
“This is the time to demonstrate our religious piety and compassion in the best traditions of Christianity and Islam; this is the time to prove the resilience of the African culture of taking responsibility for community members! Our extended family system is a lasting example of our compassion, and a clear alternative to a cold world of everyone for himself and God for us all! Let’s do all we can to support the weak and work hard to defeat this monstrous pandemic!
Maku exptessed the hope that government will handle the situation with wisdom; employing mass public enlightenment and rigorous contact tracing techniques with the help of the media, NGOs, CBOs, Town Unions, Faith based groups to galvanize members of the public to fight the spread of the virus.
He said that he was confident that medical professionals will be able to overcome this virus if given the right motivation and leadership having witnessed their heroic effort during the Ebola fight.
“We need greater understanding at all levels everywhere! God will help our people as we act together with wisdom!
“Failure will be a major catastrophe for our people and the nation! We face a grave situation as a nation! Let’s all do our little bits the best way we can wherever we are!
“The World is expecting a sad story from Nigeria and Africa; but we can disappoint doomsayers as we did during the Ebola threat under the able leadership of our Former Président, Dr Goodluck Jonathan!,” he said.