COVID-19 lockdown: what’s wrong with Federal, State governments palliative measures

Prof. Chidi Odinkalu

By Anayo Ezugwu

A Human right lawyer has called on the federal and state governments to expand their palliative measures during the coronavirus lockdown to reach many Nigerians. Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, former chairman, National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, said Nigerians are suffering under the lockdown order imposed by the government.

Answering questions from Realnews on whether governments at all levels have taken adequate palliative measures on the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, Odinkalu said, “If there have been any measures, I am yet to see them. There has been an abysmal lack of fellow-feeling about these measures, which makes it difficult to fully buy into them.

“There have been exceptions, of course. For instance, the Governor of Ogun State deferred the implementation of the lockdown in his state until he had ensured his people had prepared with their supplies. And he is administering it in a humane manner with provision for them to re-stock every two days. In Abia State, a bumbling Governor has been rather inhumane about it. In Kaduna, they have martial bluster to their own.

“That is why the people claiming to enforce these things are killing and abusing fellow citizens in the name of enforcing them. Those of us who are elite and generally think we have a good life have this snootiness about this whole thing that, for me, is very off-putting and insufferably so. We go to the social media to mouth off about how these and those other ones are not social-distancing and how this or that market is open or how this or that mosque in that neighbourhood is open.

“I am willing to concede that this thing is showing up the limitations of the Nigerian political model, but you can’t give people a choice between hunger, extra-judicial death and virus. The virus will lose 100 percent of the time. By the way, in the mostly Muslim parts of Nigeria, the only thing people have is their faith. It is an elixir, an escape too and lots more.

“Plus it is also their biggest market and source of livelihood – the place where they can sell their most goods in any week. So, why you would lock it down and expect people to respect that when you offer them nothing I can’t understand,” he said.

According to Odinkalu, the Social Investment Programme of the federal government is not working in this period of lockdown. “Point is we are not in this together. It is clear. The Social Investment Programme was essentially an election campaign database for the ruling party.

“When you look at the 11 million of so database they say they have, you will see how it closely tracks the demographics of political party support across the country. The states mostly in Northern Nigeria in the traditional base of the ruling APC have huge representation in the database. The states, mostly in the South East and South South that are not in the APC conurbation are very poorly represented.”

– Apr. 13, 2020 @ 18:59 GMT |

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