Approaching this issue of Governor Wike going on a wild rampage, enforcing social distancing and lockdown rules; (while consciously flouting sake himself); and then over-reaching democratic best practices in order to prove that he not just roars; but also tears his prey apart if need be – is a very precarious situation.
There are two perspectives to this – the rule makers and the rule breakers.
First, let us look at it from the perspective of the rule breakers. Nigeria’s lawlessness as a deeply ingrained character flaw; is not an issue that is unique to the masses – the led. Our lawlessness is general in the sense that everyone feels the need to prove a point to everyone else; that they can do as they darn well please irrespective of what the law says. And when these laws are hastily made up; it becomes even easier to wish them away with a flick of the wrist.
We have watched (and read) in awe as people challenged and then threatened to dismiss the Nigerian government’s instructions; for people to sit at home in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. While I personally think that may be the only way to ensure that the virus is stopped in its tracks; there is one thing though.
The countries Nigeria is struggling real hard to copy in observing and enforcing a lockdown; did not just ask people to stay at home and then venture out into the wild. They made it possible for life to function at some level; irrespective of the fact that, it was practically breaking down all around us.
From the financial palliatives to the subtle coercion of corporate bodies that contribute to the running of “life”; as we know it, to offer some form of relief to members of the public who used their services. Offices and governments at federal, state and local levels all joined hands to ensure that; the impact of staying indoors in order to reduce contact would not be as hard felt. People came together virtually to find ways to survive.
E-lectures, e-church, e-fitness, e-medical consultations, e-office meetings, e-marriages – you name it; a way to conduct it while observing social distancing rules – was found around it. Of course, this also did not stop those who physically wanted to move from moving to wherever it was they needed to get to. Since essential services were open; people were free to move around and make use of these essential services – without harassment.
And so now, we come to the rule makers. My first question is this: do they even understand the need to shelter in place; or why they are making these laws? Or are they just making them willy nilly in the hope of appearing to be “on top of the situation”? First, we had the high-handedness of the rule enforcers – themselves an arm of the rule makers; who were obviously just following instructions and then “increasing the volume” as they wished; since it was obvious those issuing these instructions did not even understand what they were all about.
If you have essential services open; is it not a given that people would have to move around to patronize them? If a hospital is open, is it not okay to assume that people who need medical services; would leave the shelter of their homes in search of those services? Ditto markets, restaurants, gas sellers, etc.
Bear in mind that this government has done absolutely nothing to ease the burden of the lockdown on people. It is turning a blind eye to the hiking of prices on basic necessities like food. No talk of regulating or enforcing a fixed price in order to discourage price gouging. People will run out of food, they will run out of gas. People will need sanitary towels and diapers. Also, people will need to refill basic medication etc.
So, if as a governor, Wike decides to be on the streets enforcing the lockdown; it smacks of an extreme lack of common sense to just grab the nearest person found on the streets; and proceed to send them straight to an isolation centre. It seriously raises a lot of questions about intellectual capacity of Wike, the Rivers governor.
Who is this man in the street?
Where is he going at this time?
Can he prove his destination and intent?
Is it essential?
If yes, okay for him to proceed under strong advisory to conclude his business and return.
If no, admonish and administer a deterrent on the spot – such as a fine.
But what did we see?
Wike ripped a seemingly healthy person off the streets along with his aides. Thereafter, he sent them straight off to an isolation centre.
If this person were healthy otherwise but immune compromised; he is going to be exposed to and may possibly contract the virus. Assuming he is released after a couple of days because our benevolent small god Wike had a change of mind; what if this individual has already contracted the virus but leaves the isolation centre without presenting symptoms; himself and his retinue of aides. They go home and start spreading.
Because one clueless governor – who himself was breaking his own rules – wanted to prove his self-imposed moniker of “Lion”.
I do hope that Wike’s lawyers are preparing for battle o; because it is going to be good.
Now, unto the demolition of properties.
Why is this government and Nigeria’s administrators in particular so quick to destroy? What would have happened if these hotels were confiscated and turned into isolation centres for the duration of the pandemic? Why destroy? Why bulldoze? What is wrong with this country?
See, I doubt there are enough words to express my profound consternation at the way things are being handled in Nigeria; at least not in this article there aren’t. But anyone endorsing this high-handedness and wishing it off on “that is the only language that Nigerians understand”; is part of the problem.
Rule makers and rule breakers alike – they are all a part of the bigger problem. However, the onus is on one to act in a more responsible manner; not in a way that increases the sufferings of the already beleaguered masses.
Wike failed in his approach to this matter – in all ramifications.
Seriously, let us talk about this.