COVID-19 lockdown: What goverment can do to help citizens
Sir: Unarguably, the COVID-19 pandemic is the largest confrontation affecting the world today. In as much as the world is at a critical point in the response to the COVID-19 case, it is advisable that everyone gets involved in the massive effort to keep the world safe. Nevertheless, I want to use this medium to appreciate the relentless efforts of those currently managing the affairs of our beloved country Nigeria on the dreaded disease that suddenly befall mankind. It’s no longer news that Coronavirus pandemic has exude the competency of the nations’ leaders, managerial and emotional intelligence towards distribution of dividend of democracy.
There are reports that the United States of America released $1 trillion emergency stimulus to pay each citizen $1,000, United Kingdom released £330 billion business loan package and Germany released $600 billion stimulus. Canada released $20 billion Economic Relief Package, stopped payment of rents while Italy released $26 billion. They will pay the rent, pay baby sitter 600 euro and finally Nigeria removed N20.00 from fuel aside the fact that United Bank for Africa gave N1 billion to Lagos, N500 million to Abuja, N1 billion to the remaining 35 states in Nigeria, N1 billion for Medical Centres with equipment and supplies and free telemedicine call centre facility.
Nigeria as the giant of Africa should now show to the world that we are capable of retaining the leadership mantle by taking the following steps 40 million Nigerians have BVN verified bank accounts. It will cost the Federal Government only ₦100 billion to pay ₦250, 000 into each account so Nigerians can buy food for themselves and their families during the #Coronavirus lockdown. We all know that Nigeria has one of the world’s highest economic growth rates, averaging 7.4 per cent according to the Nigeria economic report released in July 2014 by the World Bank. With this type of economic growth rate, one would find it difficult to believe the fact that an average Nigeria lives on 1 dollar per day.
The National Bureau of Statistics said 60.9 per cent of Nigerians in 2010 were living in “absolute poverty” – this figure had risen from 54.7 per cent in 2004. With the bureau predicting that this trend was likely to continue. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer but the sector has been tainted by accusations of corruption. What I am saying in essence is that if Nigeria government makes a budget ₦150 billion for a National Assembly of less than 500 legislators, then why can’t we spend ₦100 billion paying each of the 40 million Nigerian BVN linked account ₦250k to cushion the effects of #COVID19? We should not only share money during election.
To have a fighting chance against Covid-19 this season, the Federal Government should support every citizen with some reasonable amount of money to assist them in their feeding especially this period of lockdown where the poor masses are being denied of working.
The government has been taking from us for long, its time to give back to ease the burden of Nigerians for listening to their ultimatum of staying at policy.
Tunde Eso, a social affairs commentator and president, Fix Nigeria Group, wrote from Lagos.