By Dave Okpogadie, Asaba
A makeshift market at Ugwuatakpo Primary School Ibusa, Oshimili North LGA, Delta State
The most talked about issue today globally is the COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic that has brought the world to its knees.
The virus, which was first detected in Wuhan city in China last year, has claimed tens of thousands of lives globally and unfortunately deployment of arsenals of war against the pandemic is useless otherwise, the likes of Russia, USA, and China etc would not be so worked up as it stands today.
The incidence of the coronavirus spread is alarming and has hit the four corners of the earth in a short time.
All over the world, governments of various countries are now battling to contain the pandemic and in doing that, measures are being put in place. Because it was discovered that the easiest way to contract the virus is through contact, various governments have imposed restrictions on movements while urging citizens to remain indoors and avoid crowded environments.
In this regard kudos should be given to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State for being very proactive in the fight and protection of the state from the spread of the deadly virus.
The followership in this clime is unfortunately negatively strange for the fact that they derive pleasure from being disobedient to constituted authorities.
The directive issued by the state government to the people in the wake of the lockdown was meant to save lives of the people but what is playing out gives credence to the saying in Yoruba – ” A ngba adie l’owo iku, oni a o jeki oun jeun lori atan“- meaning “The little chick being shielded from the danger of the hawk laments that it’s being denied feeding from the rubbish heap.” This saying vividly captures the average Deltan and Nigerian in general.
The situation is so bad that people who ought to be role models adorn themselves in the garb of avante gardes and are leading in the disobedience to government order.
Funke Akindele, the Nollywood actress and her husband hosted a party in Lagos in disregard to government directives. Notable figures in the society, including a former gubernatorial aspirant attended the party. In other climes, these people ought to be in jail for jeopardizing government’s efforts at curtailing the spread of COVID-19
Back to Delta State, it is very obvious that there are people who are hell bent on flouting every directive from the government. These people still move about and gather as they like in disregard to the no movement order of the government. Some religious leaders are also not helping matters as they continue to congregate against the government order. Recently, about six pastors were arrested in different parts of Delta State for conducting church services.
The sit-at-home order of the state government has been successful in some places while it is not so in other places.
The disobedience instinct is having the better of many of us. This is a very delicate time and all must join hands and make the necessary sacrifices to win the war against this scourge.
It, definitely, will not be an easy battle. The pain is enormous but we have to endure the pain if we must conquer. The lockdown is affecting everybody from all social strata. It is therefore erroneous to think it affects only the poor. True, the effect on the poor might be more but there is nobody that has the antidote to the pain inflicted by COVID-19 and the measures put in place to contain it.
Security operatives, it must be said, have not performed satisfactorily.
There are evidences to show that security operatives at the borders compromise, thereby allowing movements in and out of Delta State. This is in addition to brutality meted out to those on essential duties who were exempted by the state government.
Norbert Amede, a photo journalist with The Pointer Newspaper was recently brutalized while carrying out his legitimate duty. Even though he identified himself, the policeman still pounced on him and inflicted serious injury on him. Resident doctors in the state also downed tools as a result of the excesses of security operatives against their members. Things would have been worse if not that the doctors were quickly prevailed upon to rescind their decision.
To curtail the spread of the virus in the state, Delta State government also made provision for several isolation centres across the state where affected persons can be isolated and treated.
Makeshift markets were also created at designated places across the state in order to observe social distance in the process of buying and selling. The various local governments have also played significant roles in this direction.
The government, in fulfillment of Governor Okowa’s promise to cushion the effect of the lockdown, has put in place palliatives to ameliorate the pains on the poor people.
Consequently, a food bank was created where food received and bought were kept and shared to Deltans.
Besides the palliatives by the state government, individuals and corporate bodies have also reached out to the people by way of donating cash and food.
Members of the State House of Assembly and political appointees have also reached out to their various communities with food, cash and medical items.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege donated N85 million to his constituents while the majority leader of the Delta State House of Assembly DTHA donated 170 bags of rice, 91 bags of beans, 130 bags of garri, 260 cartons of noodles and 65 bags of salt. Chief Ighoyota Amori, Chris Onogba, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu among others made handsome donations to their people.
There is virtually no community where there is no donation of cash or food. Yet these are not enough to feed the people adequately hence the cry by the people, calling on the government to end the lockdown.
There is no doubt about the suffering in the land as majority of the people in Delta State are self- employed who largely depend on daily jobs and sales to make ends meet.
In Sapele, there was a protest after the governor extended the Stay-At-Home order by another two weeks. The protest later became violent and four persons were severely injured.
According to the protesters, the hardship occasioned by the lockdown was unbearable and the palliatives were not commensurate with the pains.
Deltans are yearning for an end to the lockdown but whichever way it turns out, they are definitely between the devil and the deep sea.