A day after the Federal Government of Nigeria announced the extension of the 14-days lockdown, the Lagos State Government has announced a new measure of palliatives to cushion the effects. Nigerians, especially those in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun States had had it rough in the first 14 days of the lockdown, largely because of lack of food.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said on Tuesday that the state government is taking extra steps this time to ensure that vulnerable residents of the state have enough to eat while they stay at home.
“Today, I announce more measures to cushion the effect of the extended lockdown in Lagos. We have begun the distribution of relief items to 250,000 vulnerable residents and in addition to this, 100,000 youths will be provided one meal per day across LCDAs via our food kitchens” Sanwo-Olu said.
The governor also said the State Government has taken into consideration SMEs and MSMEs in the state, and would give them a moratorium of 3 months to ease the burden of the pandemic on them.
“We are also starting a conditional cash transfer to 250,000 people as part of our relief package while repayment on state facilitated loans to SMEs and MSMEs through LSETF will have a moratorium of 3 months to help ease the effect of the lockdown for businesses and their employees,” he added.
Concerning contact tracing, the governor added that the State Government will embark on house to house inquiry of the state’s residents’ travel and health history, as the Ministry of Health pushes to ramp up unidentified cases in the state.
“To ensure we track and eliminate the risk of a spread of COVID-19, officials of Lagos State Ministry of Health will be visiting our homes to obtain information on travel and health history of Lagosians and I implore you all to cooperate with them,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said that as a sign of goodwill of the State Government, traffic authorities (LASTMA and VIO) will release all the vehicles impounded as from March 1 for minor offenses.
“LASTMA and VIO will release all impounded vehicles all impounded vehicles for minor offenses from March 1. All these will be done to reduce the impact of the lockdown on residents of the state. This period demands a bit of sacrifice from us all. Let us join hands to defeat COVID-19,” he said.
While the new palliative is considered better than the first, some elements of it still stir curiosity.
“How will the 250,000 vulnerable households be selected”? Is a question many that are asking.
The major reason being that almost every town in Lagos can account for close to 250,000 poor households that fall in the category of ‘vulnerable.’ So it poses a big challenge when the number is only 250,000 out of millions of vulnerable residents in the state.
On the other hand, the 100,000 youths who will be provided with a meal each day across the Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) in the state does not beg to differ. There are 57 LCDAs in Lagos State, and each has a youth population of over 200,000 each, with a peculiar problem of hunger, especially in the wake of lockdown that is gradually unleashing unprecedented thuggery in the state.
Across Lagos and Ogun States, reports of unrest have stirred concern for the safety of the residents as the lockdown continues. It has been based mainly on irate youths attacking people for food and money. In many areas in Lagos and Ogun States, residents have resorted to Virgil to protect themselves from the attacks.
“Is there an association of armed robbers in this Lagos”? A Twitter user asked as robbery incidents started to trend with the hashtag #LagosUrest. “The way this people plan their attacks at the same time in different areas of the state is something that bugs me big time.”
A local farmer who was conveying his produce to retailers was stopped in the middle of the road and his farm produce was carted away by a mob of hungry youth.
In Abuja, a video of a truck carrying food supplies and was attacked at Apo Roundabout surfaced online on Tuesday. The truck driver watched helplessly as the vehicle was torn open and the bags of rice were invaded ferociously by hungry youths.
In Agege, bread sellers are getting attacked and bread carted away by hungry residents.
That has been the case with vehicles carrying food supplies in the states were the lockdown is taking effect. With two more weeks to go, the situation is expected to advance from bad to worse. And in a highly populated state like Lagos, disaster looms.
The Lagos State Government has been urged to increase the measures of its palliatives to accommodate more residents of the state. It is believed that current measures taken by the state government will not only yield disobedience to the lockdown order, but may result in an insecurity crisis that will shift the focus of the government from the fight against coronavirus pandemic.