By Magnus Abe
I am constrained to say these few words on the worrisome development in my dear state, Rivers.
The demolition and auction of private property, the closure of all sources of survival for citizens of Rivers state without due consideration for their means of sustenance in the name of the battle against Covid 19, are draconian measures that will prove counter productive in the long run.
Lockdowns must come with clear provisions for the sustenance of the people, particularly the vulnerable population (the young, the old, the sick and the infirm) and exemptions must be made for emergency and essential services, such as foodstuffs , pharmaceuticals, press, medical care and security services, electricity, telecom, fuel supply etc.
To do otherwise even in times of physical warfare is a war crime, for power without compassion is tyranny.
The Rivers state war against Covid-19 at this rate runs the risk of dividing the state into two distinct camps, those who support the governor and will justify, glorify and applaud any action taken by the Rivers state government no matter how callous and ill advised, and those who oppose the governor and will oppose every action of the state government no matter how well thought out or well intentioned the action may be.
In the face of glaring excesses, everyone will be compelled to choose one side or the other, and our state will suffer.
This need not be so, there is still time for the Rivers state government to reconsider its strategy, and understand that this is a scientific war against a virus and all of us will need to be involved.
At this rate the government may win the lockdown battle and lose the war.
Covid-19 is going to be here for sometime and we need the goodwill and cooperation of the majority of our people to win the war against this virus.
True victory will be when we survive united in utmost solidarity and our economy rebounds as we hope for recovery and prosperity.
This war is fundamentally about collective humanity, it must, therefore, be fought on strictly humane and just terms.
* Senator Abe represented Rivers South -East District in the Senate from 2007 to 2019.