The Guardian
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Lagos needs relief not a shutdown


Sir: The lockdown of Lagos State over the scourge of coronavirus is problematic, stripped of a well calibrated purpose, lacking in comprehensive discernment, obviously without art or vision. Yes, it is acknowledged that the Federal Government had intervened because of the dreadful infectious pandemic which is sweeping across the globe. True, the decision was predicated on saving lives and ultimately banishing this scourge from our shores. But it was a knee-jerk reaction without necessary provisions to ameliorate the economic burden that is now savaging the most vulnerable Lagosians.

You just don’t close down a vibrant, economic hub and perhaps the fifth largest economy in Africa without making provisions for the  huge fallouts. The streets are now deserted, grim and bleak. The markets are shut down. The local groceries stores are shuttered. The banks are sealed and silent. The neighborhood grocers are hibernating in their homes weighed down by miseries. The transporters and all those who depend on daily wages are stricken with starvation.

The PHCN has heightened its non-performance by reducing the homes into permanent darkness. The access to the gas stations by those who can still afford to fuel their generators is cordoned off by ill-trained security personnel who have chosen to add to the widening state of discomfort and harsh economic regimen. Even the distribution of relief palliatives to the needy are being halted and disrupted by soldiers and various law enforcement agencies who are apparently undiscerning of their cruel actions. Now Lagos moans, weary, savaged, reeling from a grim, disturbing, total economic prostration.

Surely, this is not how to govern a country.  For governance is not about mere martial ordering of the populace and shutting down a commercial hub without thoughtful ameliorative provisions. Good governance is not about whimsically churning out decrees. You consult. You weigh various options. You put on ground emergency Marshall Plan to cushion the burdensome emergency which is now lacerating both the weak and the strong.

Forced to the wall, those who now huddle in desperate ghettoes of Amukoko and beyond are reportedly smashing shops, wielding all kinds of cudgels in a widening slide to the rule of formlessness. Something has got to give. The Lagos State government apparently lacks the will, the knowledge, and the contemplative decisiveness to cushion the burden of the needy. The federal organ which behaves like a military overlord in an alleged democracy is equally unappreciative of the savaging fallout of their action. This is now the time to do some kind of a rethink about Lagos and return life to a dying, battered state, gradually slipping into an undeserved perilous and parlous irretrievable characterisation. Mr. President, remove the total shutdown and give back to Lagos even if it is a semblance of normalcy in this harsh and regimented existence.
Prince Uthman Shodipe-Dosunmu is author, poet and freelance journalist for LA Times.


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