The raging Coronavirus pandemic across the globe is no longer news.In Nigeria, several cases of effected individuals have been confirmed, and sadly, more cases are being recorded by the day. This is a serious situation that calls for urgent proactive action on the part of government.
As a group we sincerely appreciate the good hearted Nigerians and corporate bodies for their generous donations towards arresting the situation as well as cushion the economic effect on Nigerians, especially the less privileged who live on the knife edge of existence.
The restrictions on movements by the federal and state governments to avoid a full outbreak of the virus is a welcome move, but the government must go beyond that. Nigerians are currently in pains as a result of the curfew and lockdown across the country.
The statement credited to the Hon Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social. Development, Sadiya Farouq, that the Federal government has commenced a certain amount of cash to the ” Poorest Households” in the country is most unfortunate and unacceptable.
The approach is very complicated and lacks credibility and transparency. Many questions are begging for answers. For instance, what is the yardstick to determine those who are the ” Poorest Households”? How are sure that this selection method will not degenerate to political victimization, religious discrimination, ethniticism, and tribalism. We strongly believe that the best way to effectively reach the people is through verified bvn holders.
We strongly believe that every Nigerian deserves to benefit from the palliative measures being put in place, and as such , the most effective, just , and fair way to get to the people is through bvn.
Before this could be done justly, the government has the responsibility to inform Nigerians the total number of bvn holders as well as, the total amount of the donations so far received both locally and internationally.
The donations should be treated as a “National Cake” to which every Nigerian has the right to benefit from, and those who would want to donate their share are free to do so, should not be denied.
Also, the government must do more than just than sharing of donation, we want to know how much the government is investing in this all important exercise. It will amount to insensitivity to the plight of the people if the government does nothing to augment the donations.
In view of the unsatisfactory manner the government is handling the donations, we appeal to all further donors to to personally channel it to the people the way they deem fit and best to reach the people their capacity can carry. There should be no further donation to the government.
We should also at this point fall back on the recovered loot. For the sake of transparency and integrity which this government profess to uphold so highly, we make bold to challenge this government to freely flex her ego of self acclaimed integrity by declaring to Nigerian the total money that had been recovered and plunge it to the palliative measures being put together for Nigerians.
We also frown strongly against the idea of distribution of food items as it will assault and curtail the freedom of the people from having the food items of their choice.
We like to remind our leaders of the fact that there is no nation without the people, and their is no government without a nation. How this burning national issue is managed, is a litmus test on the credibility of the government of the day, the result of which history will not be quick to forget, whether good or bad.
Dr Charles Okhai
Nigerian Association of Christian Journalists (NACJ).