By Ime Silas, Uyo
The stay-at-home order handed down by the governor of Akwa Ibom state, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, last Thursday evening, may spark upheaval in the state, if residents carry out their threats due to what they term “excessive hardship”, occasioned by the order.
Governor Emmanuel made the order as part of efforts to stem the spread of the dreaded Corona Virus, codenamed Covid-19, in the state.
The novel Corona Virus, since its discovery late 2019 in Wuhan, China Republic, has reportedly killed about thirty thousand victims across the world with Italy, Spain, USA, China and other European countries worst hit.
As at the time of this report, 225 positive cases have been reported in Nigeria with a fatality rate of five, while about 27 previously infected persons have been discharged after successful treatments.
Of the positive cases in the country, five, according to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, are from Akwa Ibom state, though their identities remain unknown as at press time.
Announcing the total lockdown late Thursday, April 2, Governor Udom Emmanuel, who hitherto had held that there was no need shutting down the state since Akwa Ibom didn’t have any reported positive case, however noted that spread of the disease could be stopped if movement is restricted.
Three days after, residents of the oil-rich Niger Delta state, have described the stay-at-home order as “poorly planned”, maintaining that the state government did not make adequate arrangement to accommodate citizens’ welfare in the face of the global pandemic.
In a Vox Pop by The Profile Newspaper, our respondents berated the governor for the “impulse” order, threatening that if nothing was done to cushion its effects, they would be left with no other option than hit the streets for their daily breads.
A petty trader at the popular Akpan Andem Market, who gave her name as Mrs. Arit Timothy, while speaking in vernacular on Saturday, alleged that the order caused her untold hardship.
“I was at my house after I returned home on Thursday, when my daughter informed me of the government’s directive.
I trade on food stuff such as Okro, vegetables (pumpkin leaves), pepper and so on. I had parked my wares as usual, expecting to return to my shed yesterday (Friday).
“But when I managed to arrive here, police had taken over the entire place. They didn’t allow me to take out my things. These stuffs are perishable. I don’t know how the government expect me to feed my children”.
Another respondent, Idong, a commercial phone charger along Ikot Akpanabia Road, said his business had been crippled since the stay-at-home order.
He said “Though I have customers who come around wanting to charge their phones, I can’t open the shop to avoid being arrested”.
Also at Ikot Akpanabia, a resident, Ukana Eyo, lamented that there had been non supply of electricity for weeks in the area, adding that the situation was worsened by the shutdown.
“How do you stay at home without electricity? We’ve not had electricity here for weeks. I used to run my home with petrol. So now that my income is blocked by the movement restriction order; how do I survive with my family?
A bag of sachet water that we used to buy N80 is now N150. State government has not provided us with any source of clean water here. No electricity to pump our water. No money to buy fuel, and even if you have money, movement have been restricted. So, what kind of life is this?
Where the governor is locking down himself and family, is there no electricity there? He is comfortable with his family and doesn’t care about the led.
“The governor had no plan for the people. You don’t make impulse order and expect citizens to obey. It is better I am arrested while trying to go out to look for income to run my family, than obey government and watch my children starve”.
Stephen Eduok at Nwaniba said “It was wrong for Governor Udom to follow his colleagues like the governors of Lagos, Kaduna, etc, to order a total lockdown.
Those governors made proper plans for their citizens. They informed them ahead of time before the implementation. You would see in the news that those state governors make available palliatives for the the indigenes.
Fine and good. He is trying to avoid the spread of Corona Virus; what about hunger Virus?
What measures has the governor put in place, at least, to assist us in this situation? I must go out to fern for myself”
…to be continued