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The Agege Breakdown

Covidiots And Agege Thugs: The BIG Challenge for Nigerian Police [Video]

With what happened in Agege Lagos over the weekend, it is time to have a deep conversation on security apparatus and social initiatives in Nigeria. The fear is real: if people do not have food, they cannot stay indoors for long. It is time to open the playbook of governance and see how to send support to people who live day-by-day; yes, no market day, no food that day!

Let me note that I have no better idea. Largely, the lockdown strategy can work in U.S. and Europe as people can store food items in refrigerators for days. In Nigeria, with no electricity, no luck on that. Government MUST not expect that people who have no food can be put on lockdowns in Lagos for weeks. Our hope is that the Police can get ahead of this, as the pressure is mounting with a state in  South South defying the federal government to open its economy. Lack of food can make good people evolve into something bad!

Early this week, heavy traffic jam was reported in Lekki-Epe expressway Lagos, amidst the lockdown order. The effrontery to break the rule appears to have stemmed from the lenience of authorities to enforce it. From the onset, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police (CP) Hakeem Odumosu had warned enforcement officers not to go hard on people moving around, and to allow petty businesses to continue. The relaxation of the enforcement seems to have triggered an avalanche of movement across Lagos State. But that is changing as law enforcement has commenced clampdown on the violators. Yet, Agege is running wild!

Our policymaking approach appears to be faulty, no easy answers, but we are never good at anticipating wider possibilities and probable consequences.

In our narrow modelling approach, we felt that once you announce a lockdown, and promise to distribute food and cash to the vulnerable groups, everyone will lie down, waiting for the goodies to arrive. It means that we know nothing about humans and their ever-changing and infinite complexities.

How we draw lists for 'poor people' remain questionable: are we looking at people already poor or those who become 'poor' as a result of lockdown and restrictions? Nobody has said anything meaningful in this regard, yet we somewhat believe that there will be peace in the land.

Again, there's more to life than just eating and sitting at home, it can only work for a short period. If people sense that there's no end in sight with respect to the lockdown, it naturally creates a rebellious spirit in many; that the authorities don't seem to grasp this basic psychology is amazing on its own.

Uncertainty is not good for humans, only hope makes people to keep calm for a while, and when hope is lacking? Expecting good behaviour would be delusional.

People are tired!