President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation on Monday and intimated all that new guidelines as from Monday 4th May will be in force in respect of our nation’s tortuous fight against Covid -19. He spoke like a leader who felt the pains of his people. He acknowledged the fact that people’s livelihood have been cut off. He gave hope that the economy will begin what we all know will be a slow movement of recovery. As of the time of writing this, Nigeria has over 1900 cases of the dreaded Covid- 19. He acknowledged that the lockdown of five weeks cannot continue for long, that there is need to balance the fight against the virus and keeping the economy going. Unfortunately, this is a planting season that farmers should be on their farms to avoid food shortage in the future. But the truth is that it is already late, and there is no way this will not affect our food sufficiency in the future. This lockdown has made inflation so high which was admitted by the president. Above all, the president apologized to Nigerians for the hardship the measures adopted to curb the spread of the Covid- 19 virus would have caused the citizens.
While President Buhari is apologizing to Nigerians for the hardship they are facing and assuring them that life will get back to normal, Governor Nyesom Wike is threatening fire and brick stones against any one that would challenge his authority. First, he gathered journalists in what he described as a press briefing which turned out to be a brow -beating engagement.
The governor told us that even his father cannot tell him what to do. We now know that the governor does not listen to anybody. He has imposed a total lockdown on some parts of Rivers State for violating his closure of market order. He warned that he will acquire any property whose owner allows the place to open during this total lockdown period. The suffering of the people does not matter to him. After all, according to him nobody has died of hunger before. To him there is no third term in office, so why won’t he do as he pleases? The governor threatened the federal government, companies doing business in the state and just anybody. He is now going out to ensure that the total lockdown is not flouted. According to the governor, people must be alive before they eat. Possibly, he does not know that people must eat in order to stay alive. Honestly, one wouldn’t know why Wike is panicking.
The president in his nationwide broadcast imposed a nationwide curfew from 8pm to 6am every day until further notice which will start from May 4. The President hinted that what other state governors do should be in line with the position of the federal government. No inconsistency should be allowed.
By this, Wike’s indefinite lockdown of parts of Rivers State will collapse by mid night 3th May. This is because the broadcast of the President covers the entire field. What Wike does not know is that locking up people as a way of punishment is a breach of their fundamental rights. While it is expected that economic activities will start on Monday 4th May, it is not yet clear what is Wike’s plan for Rivers State. We are still talking of palliative while others are talking of opening up their economy. The said palliative we are told is being shared on ethnic basis. While this may not be confirmed as true, what is true is that the Rivers State government made a hype of the said palliative when same is a mere drop in the middle of an ocean. Governor Wike has used this period of people’s suffering to score cheap political point.
If he is not at war with the federal government, he is tongue lashing journalists for not praising his efforts in the state or he would be threatening to acquire citizens’ properties. I am not a fan of President Buhari but Wike has some leadership lessons to learn from him as far as the handling of this issue of Covid -19 is concerned. Even when the governor insisted that the palliative should not be shared on party line, he insisted that he will not allow one Igbo boy to head the distribution of the palliative. He told everyone who cares to listen that the federal government covid-19 taskforce is headed by a PDP member and a close aid of the President. The fight against covid-19 in Rivers State has been turned into a political war where the governor is a lone ranger against the rest of others. Funny enough, no one is fighting back the governor as the people are only interested to see how to get out of the doldrums called covid-19. It will be a good thing if the governor focuses on governance. I heard a presidential aide say that the fight against Covid-19 is a very serious one.
Chimezie Elemuo, Port Harcourt