By Dr. Dons Eze
Millions of Nigerians now stay at home as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is currently ravaging the world.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in a nationwide broadcast, ordered a total lockdown of states suspected to be more vulnerable of the pandemic, particularly Lagos and Ogun states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, for an initial period of two weeks.
Before then, some state governments had taken initiative from the President by asking their people to stay at home, while closing down some public places like schools, markets, and government offices.
The consequence is the general lockdown of the entire system as well as the cessation of both social and economic activities across the country: no more business transactions, no more social engagements, no more extravagant burial ceremonies, no more expensive wedding events, etc. Everything comes to standstill.
People stay at home, not just because they want to comply with government's directive, but also because they want to stay safe. Nobody wants to die. It is a practical necessity. Coronavirus is an evil, which everybody must try to avoid.
Out there, however, people now suffer as a result of their staying at home. The pains are enormous and excruciating. The cost of living has soared to high heavens. Prices of essential food items like rice, beans, garri, yams, and even sachet water, have risen astronomically, gone beyond the reach of the ordinary citizen.
Transport fares have gone up, and people now trek several kilometers to get to their destinations.
Many people are groaning, they are complaining, because they have no food to eat. While running away from coronavirus, they have come face to face with hunger, which no doubt may land many people to their early graves.
For the traders whose markets are closed, and other private entrepreneurs, they are not having it easy. They have been forced to close shops and stay at home, with no more income. Yet they have their families, several mouths to feed and to take care of, house rents to pay, and medical bills to settle, etc. At the end of the day, they may not be able to estimate or quantify the loss they are incurring every day they stay at home.
In the same vein, the pockets of those who always look forward to various offerings in the church, paying of tithes and sowing of seeds, etc., are fast drying up. They may no longer keep and maintain their flamboyant lifestyle.
At the same time, while people stay at home, there is no electricity to power their electronic gadgets to enjoy or keep themselves busy while at home, and there is no water to drink and for use for their domestic chores.
At the moment, there appears to be nothing on ground by the federal government to cushion the effects of staying at home. And nobody is doing anything. The President, in his broadcast, did not say anything to that effect.
He only talked about giving moratorium to beneficiaries of Trader Moni and paying allowance to those on the roll of its Conditional Cash Transfer scheme, a conduit pipe for siphoning government's money. If you doubt it, ask Aisha Buhari, wife of the President.
According to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq, eleven million poor Nigerians have been identified by the federal government to benefit from its palliatives, to cushion the effect of the stay at home.
But who are these eleven million beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer? Obviously, those who toil day and night, doing menial jobs, who contribute to GDP, such as vendors of various items like gala meat, minerals, bottled and sachet water, emergency and roadside mechanics, etc., so to as to keep body and soul together, and who now are forced to stay at home, are excluded from this government's palliative programme.
Now, things are getting too difficult for these people, and for many others in their category, because they are staying at home. Unless there is urgent government intervention, things could really get out of hand, and they may be forced to be on the streets. We do not want to call it revolution. Dr. Dons Eze