COVID-19: Government’s negligence and the mistrust of the masses
As the world is fighting the deadly corona pandemic, every country is putting its very best to tackle the widespread of the disease as well as providing the livelihood support to ease the tension among the citizens. In Nigeria, poor democratic governance is the major challenge hindering the sensitization against corona virus disease popularly known as COVID 19. Lack of quality representation and cordial relationship between the people and government is bringing different dimension in the process. The question that is always echoing in the mind of this author is, do Nigerians even believe in COVID 19 disease at all? This is because the significant population that occupies the country are left behind wallowing and struggling with abject poverty, unemployment, diseases and extreme hunger. The government neglected not only health sector but the entire sectors of the economy. In my interaction with Dan Sadi, a water vendor (Dan Garuwa), he said “there is nothing like government in Nigeria since I am not benefitting anything from them, I can only hear from them whenever they need our vote so why will I even waste my time on the issue of corona”?
According to him, government created the virus to get more money from the western world and oppress the poor masses, and I believe many people in Nigeria hold the same view with regards to the pandemic. From the glance of the international best practice against COVID 19, one can agree with me that an average Nigerian that is not enjoying the services of his state but listening over the radio that for instance, government the world over had packaged and distributed all forms of palliatives to its citizens, or US directs cash payments of $1200 corona virus relief package directly to citizens accounts, regardless of whether the individual belong to any political party, association, faith, working class, retired or not. While here, government asked you to stay at home, with no constant drinking water or electricity, talk-less of bringing food items to their door step. Not only that, how many people are even leaving above one dollar per day. I recalled what Hajara, a widower left with nine children without N9,000 to cater for the family said to me when sharing views with her on COVID 19. She believed that the palliatives are not for the people like her, “because the government only helps the politicians and other influential individuals’ not poor widow like me”. She said. The continued widening of the gap between government and people has created mistrust between them since before the emergence of covid-19.
Most people do believe that people in power are interested more in representing their pocket than the ordinary man on the street who spent several hours to get them into the public offices. And with this issue on ground, people are thinking that government is just using the pandemic to get more from the western world. A perfect example can be seen in people’s comments on Ganduje`s request for $15billion from federal government.
Another angle of this gap is conducive atmosphere for the merchants of fake news and misinformation, this however is as a result of government’s inability to communicate to the people effectively on the pandemic especially at the grassroots level. Purveyors of fake news are busy misleading people both on the existence of the virus and stands of Nigerian government. For instance, there was a purported video of covid-19 patients in Kano isolation center, claiming they aren’t afflicted by the virus, which had gone viral on social media platforms. Another horrible video was that of Gombe isolation centre, the place is becoming a dramatic stage with different scene every day. Another one was in Katsina, where the two sons of the deceased doctor who was reported to have died of the virus, appeared on Facebook video debunking the existence of the virus. All these and so many other instances, have created doubt and continue to fuel fears in the minds of the people on whether or not the virus is really in existence.
In as much as I blame some Nigerians for not believing the government, much blame is the government for sustaining continuous lies aged. No matter what Nigerian leaders will tell masses, they will not trust them. Nigerians have been dying for so long, as a result of contaminated water, preventable diseases, hunger and unemployment, so what do you expect from Nigerians while they are experiencing worst than corona virus in the country?
Until Nigerian leaders provide masses with good health care system, security of lives and properties, sound education system, job opportunities to the teeming unemployed youth which will draw people closer to government and its policies, the masses especially those without democratic dividends will never believe in COVID 19 or any of government’s policies. This is because government has failed to perform its functions and as thus, keeping people away from their leaders.
• Mohammed is a violent conflict researcher and democratic governance expert with Usmanu Danfodio University.
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