The People’s Redemption Party, (PRP), the only political party with roots in radical ideological politics in Nigeria, has distanced itself from the strategy of lockdown in Nigeria in terms of containing COVID-19, saying it is a lazy and uncreative response to controlling the pandemic. It is, instead, asking for review of it with a view to introducing what it calls common sense and logic.
The party is also asking President Muhammadu Buhari to ask the Minister for Humanitarian Services and Disaster Management to immediately tell Nigerians the names and location of the 2.6 million Nigerians given N20,000.00 as well as the methodology used in the disbursement of the N5.6b involved. And the party has threatened to keep making this demand should the president fail to do so, saying it sees “satisfactory answers to above as the litmus tests of President Muhammadu Buhari Presidency against which the Nigeria Talaka that almost worshiped him will judge him and his administration”.
Describing as very hard to believe the idea of spending the amount involved within four days, the party is also asking where the money came from or when it was appropriated if it came from the public till.
To lockdown or not lockdown has suddenly become a debate in Nigeria, with those for and those against advancing arguments in defence of standpoint. For instance, the Health Sector Reform Coalition, (HSRC) made up of over 100 of professionals on the trenches for containing COVID-19 issued a statement earlier today calling on all Nigerian governors not to pander to any pressures for lifting of the ban on public gathering, especially in markets, mosques and churches. To do so could produce a catastrophic outcome, it said, (https://intervention.ng/19691/).
But, three days earlier on, a report by the Kano based Centre for Information Technology and Development, (CITAD), showed that people were minimally observing the lockdown in the state. The report which must mirror the situation across the country thus suggested incongruence between the people and the culture of lockdown, (https://intervention.ng/19668/).
The question is whether this is a case of collective indiscipline or collective response to the social context of the practice of lockdown in African countries such as Nigeria but not South Africa, for example. Some African experts are arguing it is neither the genetic constitution of Nigerians nor about whether lockdowns are effective or not. Rather, they say it is about whether lockdown is sustainable in poor, overcrowded African countries where most people survive on the margins and governments lack the capacity to step in and feed people, (https://intervention.ng/19694/).
Attacking “Lockdown of Nigerians Without Sustenance” in a statement signed by Mallam Abdul Gombe, its National Publicity Secretary, the PRP says it has not seen any meaningful sustenance put in place to ensure that those locked in their houses in the lockdown are fed. “Our investigation amongst our members in some metropolis has shown that quite a number of people now feed only once a day and that is not from what the governments have provided but from what neighbours and relations have helped with”
While acknowledging lockdown as one of the surest ways of containing the scourge of Corvid-19, the PRP argues the process has so far been dominated by brutal exhibition of force rather than logic.
It is, therefore, demanding governments that have ordered lockdown in their States to provide for sustenance of those locked in beyond what it says it has seen so far such as providing a bag of rice of 50kg, a carton of Indomie, a gallon of oil and small measure of beans for 80 families. This, it describes as inhuman and certainly unacceptable, insisting that the governments must evolve more effective responses involving wide establishment of Testing Centers easily accessible to all community members so that spreading the virus could be nipped in the bud “instead of NSCD wasting billions in sending text messages”; mass production and distribution of face masks and teaching the populace how to produce and sanitize their face masks; conscientising on social distancing in public areas; limiting gatherings to no more than 10 persons and prevention of religious gatherings.
“Adoption of above measures even in these hours are more realistic and strategic and would be more effective and relevant in our circumstances and strongly recommended in preference to lockdown”, said the PRP.
Describing Covid-19 as having turned out to be a terrible disease which has sunk the entire human race into utter confusion, the PRP noted how Governments across the world have been rattled in the absence of any known cure. It refers to how many governments, including in African countries such as Ghana and Rwanda have responded to the crisis. It cites how the British government has announced 80% pay relief for three months to all its workers locked in as well as some bailout loans to the businesses. It further cites the bailout response of the United States Government amounting to $2trillion package in Phase 1 of its Palliatives which has seen direct payments to citizens and bail out of both small, medium and large enterprises.
The PRP did acknowledge though that the Federal Government is implementing a 2.6million palliative for the poor; starting a process of putting in place a N500billion fund to assist businesses overcome challenges brought about by COVID-19 and the billions of Naira to the Covid-19 Support Fund by some rich Nigerians.