After days of calling out, name calling on social media, criticisms on all media platforms, the president finally spoke to Nigerians for the second time on the 29th of March, 2020, since the outbreak of corona virus in Nigeria. This ushered in a two weeks long total lockdown in three states: Lagos State, Ogun State, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. As a result, one of the facts of 2020 is that President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerians during the Corona Virus (Covid- 19) outbreak.
Read more about Covid- 19
At the expiration of two weeks, uncertainty crept in to the society. The number of infected persons kept increasing, the lockdown wasn’t friendly on daily livers, but in order to defeat this pandemic, the Federal Government has to #flattenthecurve, which means a lockdown is very necessary.
Yesterday, 13th of April, 2020, in a nationwide broadcast, President Buhari extended the lockdown further till two weeks and also promised palliatives.
However one chooses to see these, the president and presidency have effectively mastered and set in motion a hide and seek approach in dealing with citizens in these egregious times. This seems like an attempt to evade proper face to face scrutiny. Two basic things have remained lacking in Mr. President’s speeches: details and engagements.
The pre electioneering tactic of bloated promises without the ‘how’ seems to have found its way into the handling of Covid- 19.
The President said:
‘In the past two weeks, we announced palliative measures such as food distribution, cash transfers and loans repayment waivers to ease the pains of our restrictive policies during this difficult time. These palliatives will be sustained’.
If you’ve been alert and vigilant to happenings over the last two weeks, you would have noticed that the measures put in place as regards cash transfer and food distribution have failed. Questions like, how those who got cash were brought about, how much is the standard pay for who ever gets the cash palliative? More than 60% of the Nigerian population live their lives on a daily basis. Thus, what is the mapping process of food distribution and cash transfer? will the food distribution be enough to last those who are lucky enough to get for up to two weeks?, what are the health and social measures put in place to ensure that social distancing is observed during distribution of these palliatives?
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He also said:
‘I have also directed that the current social register be expanded from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households in the next two weeks. This means we will support an additional one million homes with our social investment programs. A technical committee is working on this and will submit a report to me by the end of this week’.
First question here is, did the social investment program cover the stated 2.6 million households? What did they get in actuality out of it? How will the additional one million homes be ascertained? Yes! Mr. President said a committee will look into it and a report submitted by the end of the week. However, a prudent government, knowing full well that the lockdown will be extended, having monitored the surge of confirmed Covid- 19 cases all over the nation, should have acted proactively.
These obvious lacunae are seemingly the basis for a pre recorded speech by the presidency. The avoidance of an engagement by the press and the probe for details by journalists informed their journalist absent briefings. Atleast, there would have been probing into the unsettling situation in Ogun state and Lagos state, forcing the mouth of the commander in chief to atleast, comment.
In other climes, briefings as pivotal as these are followed up with a question and answer session to make promises made, clearer. This basically depicts sincerity of purpose of some sort.
Whether the government of the day in Nigeria will rise to the occasion, become responsible, and sincere remains to be seen.
Featured Image Source: Voice of Nigeria
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