NIGERIANS DESERVE APOLOGY OVER DIVERTED PALLIATIVES
By Ubaka Okofu
No doubt, the scramble for CACOVID palliatives as witnessed across most of the states of the country indeed has justified the view that Nigeria was, and truly remain the poverty capital of the world. There were stampedes, and most vulnerable persons, mostly women and children were killed in the scramble. Most tragic was the gory story of a pregnant wife and mother who died in one of the food stampede incidents in Jos, Plateau state.
Why would anyone die trying to get food to eat in a country where crude oil flows like water? The bizarre situation we have found ourselves against the back drop of incompetent leaders has further shown that the condition of the ordinary man and woman on the streets of Nigeria is not only helpless and hapless, but would take a firm and committed resolution in standing up to confront inept leadership in any way possible; including perhaps a civil revolution of sorts as we have just witnessed in some parts of the country in the ENDSARS protest which ended in 20th of October in bloodbaths across the nation, especially the epicentre in Lekki -Lagos.
It’s disheartening that government actors – from the President at the federal level to the various state governors with the notable exception of say, the governor of Borno, Prof. Babagana Zulum, have refused to take responsibility for the carnage and destruction emanating from their poor management of the ENDSARS protest. Would the peaceful protest have turned bloody if government had not called in the military to disperse protesters with live ammunition? Nowhere in the world are security agents allowed to confront unarmed protesters with live bullets. The Lekki incident of the 20th of October has shown that Nigerians are living in a stone country. It also showed that the systematic failure of the Nigeria state is execrable. Every responsible government under the unfortunate incident of the 20th of October ought to have apologized to the impoverished citizens considering the fact that there is practically no future being held out to the young generation of this country. Already, the country has huge debt tied around its neck like an albatross which might take long to be paid off, say 10 years or so.
Obviously, I believe that some degree of desperation was applied to get these food items. Again, why would anyone be desperate if there was a fairly small resource to get by? The Nigerian poverty situation is unimaginable. It suffices to say that the government of the day has so sodomized the people that sooner, if nothing urgent is done, the people might feast on one another for want of what to eat.
The argument by some of the governors that the palliatives were stored away to give relief to their indigenes in the case of a fresh outbreak of Covid-19 does not hold water in a country where millions of people barely live within $2 daily. As far as one is concerned, it is a ruse and deliberate act to divert the food items to party faithfuls during the yuletide season which is barely two months away.
Further making a mincemeat of the foregoing is the prompt action of the Borno state governor who did not waste any time in distributing CACOVID palliatives sent to the state by the coalition Against Covid-19 which has the likes of Tony Elumelu, Alikot Dangote, Otedola and a host of other billionaire Nigerians. Over N27 billion was raised for the initiative, and home grown food items were purchased and distributed equitably to the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory, FCT. The essence of purchasing food produced in Nigeria was to further strengthen the economy by putting money in the hands of farmers and manufacturers of consumables.
The distribution of CACOVID food palliatives to all states and the FCT was reportedly concluded on the 28th of September by the coalition yet, most state governors refused to share the food items to the indigents and vulnerable persons that they were meant for. None would have heard and known anything of these palliatives in most states if the ENDSARS protest had not taken place. The Delta state Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa was reported in Niger Delta Today, as saying that anyone who attempts to break into stores where these food items are kept should be treated as a common criminal. This is regrettable because, the food items, in the first place are meant for the people, and government has no right to withhold them.
At the end of the day however, one point may have presently come to the fore. Between the leaders and the led, the country’s narratives will not remain the same again. If anything, the people are now aware that power lies with them. And that indeed is a pointer to what is to come going forward. May Nigeria be better.