-Ed Chukwuemeka Otuchikere
This last week the Nigerian masses have, once again, been privileged to see the real colour of most of our governors: Men who took oaths to defend us in the face of any threat either remote or immediate. Recent events have revealed that they have consistently failed the people when it mattered most.
To the consternation of many, these men, it appears have connived to entrench a culture of sorrows, tears and blood in our national polity. They have unconsciously exposed our population to the worse type of threat in the face of a ravaging global pandemic called covid19. While governments elsewhere made provision for their citizens, ours, it appeared, made excuses.
However, recent events have revealed that it was not like we thought from the onset, that actually food grains and dry rations were supplied by private initiatives and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to the various state governments. Report has it that these foods were sent to the states before June 2020 at the peak of lockdown. These food rations have been sitting in various state warehouses until last week. Many have expired or on the verge of expiration.
These warehouses became common knowledge, as angry mobs across Nigeria protested. Inspired by the end SARS protest, these mobs went from one location to another breaking into government warehouses harbouring colossal stocks of food materials.
Video and pictorial evidence have shown that many of these warehouses are holding food and grain capable of feeding millions of households. The big puzzle is, why are these rations being hoarded. As these embarrassing videos make the rounds, suddenly some state governors under the auspices of Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) issued a collective statement. The summary of which is that the food rations and grains were meant for the vulnerable in society. Good as this sounds, some of us think it is harebrained. The question is how you determine vulnerability during a lockdown occasioned by a pandemic of the magnitude of covid19.
Just in case the governors are being clever by half we can help them determine who qualifies to be considered vulnerable during a lockdown that spanned more than three (3) months in some places.
- i) People exposed to the threat of the pandemic and cannot move around
- ii) All those whose sources of income were impacted due to lockdown
iii) Everyone who could not go out in search of regular employment due to the pandemic
- iv) Women, children and the elderly
- v) All physically challenged persons and those living with permanent disability
When you consider the various categories of persons it means that most Nigerians were truly vulnerable or rendered vulnerable as a result of the global pandemic. So for the governors to come out and tell us that they were reserving the food for the vulnerable goes to show the lack of empathy, sympathy and charity among the ruling class in Nigeria. From all indications, they are hell bent on testing the suffering tolerance limits of Nigerians.
Now that the warehouses have been burst, the people like any invading army of locusts attacked the storehouses to retrieve foods that were sent to cushion the impact of lockdown in May and June 2020. Obviously many of the food had gone bad or expired, a clear indication that they were not supplied only two (2) weeks ago like one of the governors tried to explain away in a televised broadcast yesterday.
In certain quarters, the feeling is that the Minister, Hajia Farouq Sadiya and Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs deserve an apology. As the minister consistently maintained that relief materials and supplies had been distributed nation-wide. The learning point here is that the various ministers have to do things in a more transparent manner carrying along civil society groups and similar bodies that can hold our governors and those occupying high office more accountable.
Otuchikere, an entrepreneur and social commentator can be reached on: email@example.com