By Emmanuel Eya.
Work resumes on Monday, 4th May, in what the government called gradual easing-off. Well, what that means I don’t know. My father used to tell us that, “lies are better told in English.” We are easing-off, whereas some countries that began before us as still on #lockdown.
It took only one index case to spread the disease. We locked down when we had 5 cases and reopening when we now have 1,728. Am not a public health expert, but it looks like this is not a good decision.
But one thing is established. A lot of Nigerians are in dire strait now. We must reopen because we do not have the resources to remain closed like some other nations. Some may argue that we do, but data does not support that. It is a tale of two evils. Remain closed and die, open and die. Let’s choose a “lesser” evil, open and die in peace.
I don’t want to be in the Federal Government shoes at the moment. Where you must choose between two non-favorable choices.
But let’s say we want to extend the #lockdown until we are certain the #pandemic is contained. In this case, the government will be forced to provide critical #palliative measures to sustain the #lockdown as most Nigerians are subsistence in nature.
As poverty capital of the world, most citizens are leaving one day at a time. To feed, you must go out daily and hustle. Therefore, the government must provide at least food to many citizens.
By United Nation estimate, we have over 200 million people out of which 94 million (Oxfam estimate) are leaving below poverty level. What this means is that 94 million Nigerians are eking a living out of USD1.9 or about N722 naira a day.
This amount is for everything not just for feeding. It includes transportation, laundry, medication et cetra. Total package. A pittance by all standards. Consequently, the government will need a lot of funds for #palliatives. Let do a little mathematics here.
If government is to give every poor Nigerian say N500 per day for at least feeding, let’s leave the rest for God, it will translate to N47,000,000,000 (forty-seven billion naira).
It translates to 47 billion to be spent on feeding the poor for each #lockdown day. Roll it up to one month and you get a whopping sum of 1,410,000,000,000 (1.4 trillion naira).
Our national #budget for year 2020 is 10.59 trillion out of which 1.59 trillion will be borrowed. A simple arithmetic will show that our national #budget can only feed poor Nigerians for 7.5 months of 30 days each.
Let say we want to use money locally generated without borrowing. In this case, we will be taking off 1.59 trillion leaving a total sum of 9 trillion. Redoing the maths shows that total collectible revenue can only feed poor Nigerians for about 6 months.
No government will use national budget for feeding, though. So, the long and short of the story is that, we cannot do palliatives; so, #lockdown must be discontinued.
I recall when I was serving some years ago. The buzz word then was, OYO, a cull from Faze’s modish release, titled, “Faze alone.” Little did I know that a day shall come when the government will tell Nigerians, OYO.
In my melodramatic moments, I imagined a national broadcast on resumption date that begins like this:
“Fellow Nigerians, the national easing-off commences today; you are On Your Own now. Please wash your hands and maintain social distancing. Call 112 if bus conductor insists you must be 4 per seat. All ‘agberos’ are banned from motor parks. We want to ensure that parks are of 60% capacity. Keep safe and use sanitizers if you can afford it. Wear face mask …. Don’t catch #Covid-19, if you die, only 20 people will attend your funeral….”
Life is ephemeral and one thing will kill a man, but this development looks like a fast-forward for a lot of vulnerable people. From experience, the directive issued by the government will be violated. As a result, someone will contact the virus inadvertently.
I do hope that it turns out for the best and the #curve somehow miraculously #flattened.
In God, we put our trust.