On Friday, March 27, I began this series to bring out the the BEAUTY and the BEAST as we go through the COVID-19 season as a Third World country.

I have noted that being a Third World country, where governance is in the very back burner of the day to day lives of the people, we are likely to see more BEASTS than BEAUTIES.

The welfare and the security of the people shall be the primary aim of government, provides the constitution of Nigeria, in the spirit of the age-long principle of Social Contract.

As I submitted in my first piece, crisis comes to reveal us. This is the question: has the welfare and the security of the people been the primary aim of Nigerian government?

86.9 million of the estimated 180 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty. According to the
World Poverty Clock, Nigeria in 2018 overlook India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world. I guess that is why many refer to Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world

There is a huge similarity between us and India in terms the economic and social well-being of a large population of people living in abject poverty.

Now, India declared a Lockdown as one of its responses in curbing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Vedika Sud, CNN Film Producer reported that the poorest in India are going jobless and hungry amid lockdown.

As it is in India, so it is in Nigeria. How do we execute a social intervention program that is designed to meet the basic needs of the people without a system of intervention, driven by a well articulated and publicly verifiable data?

Anything short of this will promote nothing but tokenism and media abracadabra as we have seen in recent times. For example if the federal government says they are giving money to the poor under a scheme, the question to ask is, how many of the 86.9 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty are on the list to be reached?

It is not enough for the Lagos State Government to say they want to reach 200,000 families. The question is how many indigent people are in Lagos State, and how do we coordinate a relief intervention that takes care of the majority, if not all?

Whatever state action that does not submit to a total picture remains nothing but tokenistic approach to real life situation.

Hunger is real. Someone says, ‘rationality ends where hunger starts. Lockdown is an incomplete measure in curbing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic if we do not critically address the welfare of the indigent among us. That is the spirit of the $2 trillion dollars stimulus package, signed into law in the United States of America.

Please note that, carefully I have not used the word, ‘underpriviledged’ to describe our people, who live in extreme poverty. It is my postulation that Nigeria does not have ‘underpriviledged’ people.

What the majority of our people, who live in extreme poverty are denied of are their fundamental human rights, social and economic rights and not privileges. They are denied of food, shelter, education, healthcare, security, dignity of human person etc.

Privileges are the things you enjoy after your rights have been met. So the people, we refer to as underprivileged are the denied, the oppressed, the hewers of wood and drawers of water, the hoi polloi, who have been reduced to the wretched of the earth, in the word of Franz Fanon.

86. 9 million Nigerians are likely to be hit by the hunger pendemic, if we do not carefully and holistically address the economic and social implications of this lockdown.

I remember a story told of how some young men from densely populated and poor area surrounded a rich estate close to them demanding to be fed during the Ojota protests.

This uprising is already bringing out the many BEASTS in us. Shall they ever be tamed before the BEASTS tame us?

Do have an INSPIRED day.

I remain your Dearly Beloved Roving Public Interest Lawyer, Taiwo AKINLAMI

(C) 2020 Taiwo AKINLAMI

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