Concerned Chiefs and Citizens of Niger Delta made up of South- South chiefs, elders and opinion leaders have been watching developments on the Coronavirus outbreak and efforts by the Federal Government to contain the pandemic and cushion the effect of the lockdown measures on the mass of the people.
We want to commend the efforts of the National Center for Disease Control, NCDC, in handling this scourge that has put all countries on anxiety and the governors’ for stepping in gallantly to introduce control measures that have so far, minimized the spread of the deadly contagious disease that has so far killed 81,000 people globally.
We also thank God for helping us out as the pandemic caught our government ill-prepared with an health sector that was almost comatose as recently confirmed by the Secretary to the federal government, Alhaji Boss Mustapha, incidentally, chairman of the Nigerian Coronavirus Committee, because of neglect fuelled by the love of our leaders for medical tourism rather than the development of our health system. The pandemic is now a lesson for us to develop our country as we are all trapped within.
It is in this regard that we are raising alarm over an obvious neglect of state governments by the national committee on this pandemic under Alhaji Mustapha. The Federal set aside billions to address health needs in the country to combat the Coronavirus and beyond Lagos State which was allocated N10billion to support its efforts in the fight against the pandemic, no state support has been mentioned.
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike has demanded his state’s share of the Federal government support with justification that Rivers being the hub of the oil industry in the country and the attendant dangers as well as an international air and seaport state, deserves a reasonable sum as support to boost needed facilities.
As concerned Chiefs and Citizens of the Niger Delta, we back that call for support to all the states to help them address the obvious gaps in their zones and to save the NCDC the stress of slow response to distress calls as well as improve access to the infected.
In the same vein, we condemn strongly, the glaring preferential treatment observed in the disbursement of relief packages to the poor as cushion for the pains of the lockdown introduced by government to shut off Coronavirus. The North and South have pro-poor citizens but while many in the north are being paid N20,000 each by the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, only a few handpicked obviously APC loyal supporters in the South are being paid the sum of N5000 for the same purpose from our investigation. A chart of the distribution
Even the grains from the federal government are not being distributed this way.
As the zone hosting the economic lifeline of the country, and bearing the pains of this production, we demand a halt of this neglect. Oil host communities of the Niger Delta are the most deprived and as such, are home to many people living in abject poverty and thus, deserve even more of the relief than the ordinary Nigerian who, has access to his/her ancestral land for agriculture.
Our internally displaced persons from oil induced conflict have never been visited nor attended to by the Humanitarian Services Ministry causing us to wonder if the office is for a particular section of the country. We ask for an end to these anomalies. Nigeria belongs to all and Niger Delta is not just a cash cow but a region inhabited by humans who consider themselves an integral part of the entity called Nigeria.
Going forward, we demand a well-structured and even use of the over N20billion private support donations that have come in to boost the fight to stamp out Coronavirus in the country, even as we join other Nigerians to condemn the smuggle into the country by agents of government, of a Chinese medical team for a programme the World Health Organization has commended the efforts of our national team. Our lives should matter over political ties.
We urge all Niger Deltans to unite, obey and keep Coronavirus away from us by obeying the NCDC and World Health Organization safety regulations and enjoin our political office holders and well-endowed sons and daughters to help keep hunger at bay among our people while we wait on the federal government to do the needful.
May God protect us all and bless our gallant medical teams on the frontline of this pandemic. Nigeria will overcome!
Chief Constance Meju
National Director, Media and Publicity
#Concerned Citizens of Niger Delta/COVID-19
#Kick out Coronavirus