John Kpoobari Diidi
On the 4th of May 2020, Rivers State Governor announced the total lockdown on Port Harcourt City Local Government and Obio-Akpor Local Government; the two Local governments that make up the state capital, Port Harcourt. The lockdown was to begin on Thursday the 7th of May 2020.
The announcement of this lockdown sparked panic buying and doing business among residents who wanted to stock up. Markets, banks, and Supermarkets were all overcrowded, throwing the social distancing mantra needed to fight COVID-19 to the winds on those days preceding the lockdown.
It also saw Rivers indigenes travel out of the state Capital to their villages, to escape being locked down. An act capable of causing severe damage at the community level if one infected person decided to join the relocation party.
On Day 3 of the lockdown being Saturday 9th of May 2020, news filtered in that the state Government was going to demolish Prudest Hotel, Eleme, and one other because they violated the Governor’s Executive order which banned hotels, bars and night clubs in the state from operating.
On Sunday 10th May 2020, Governor Wike shocked the entire world and kept to his promise, by taking bulldozers to the sites of those hotels and bringing them down. The Governor did this in flagrant abuse of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.
Only him became Judge, Jury, and executioner in a case he had a special interest in.
The Governor insisted that the demolition was right, as his love for Rivers People made him do it in order to curb community spread of the virus in the state.
The main shocker came the next day, when the Governor announced a temporary 2-day relaxation of the lockdown, on the premise that he wanted Rivers People to stock up again.
But that was a blatant lie, a typical “Maradona Esque hand of God goal at the 1986 World cup” from a Political Maradona. The main reason was that the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State needed to inaugurate its Executives.
Governor Wike who claimed the Lockdown was to fight COVID-19, was willing to sacrifice Rivers People as lambs to be slaughtered at the altar of Coronavirus, just because of his selfish ambition of seeing his party Executives sworn-in.
Tuesday and Wednesday, 12th and 13th of May 2020 saw another unprecedented crowding at Markets, banks, and SuperMarkets, a situation which got critical that Rivers residents had to be well-connected to be able to buy bread from Market Square due to the large number of people who came out to stock up.
At the PDP state Executive inauguration, hundreds of party faithful were gathered in a hall, in flagrant abuse of the President’s order of not more than 50 People to be gathered in public across the country. Also, social distancing was not adhered to when they took photographs, an event the Governor was present himself.
Isn’t it hypocritical that while the Governor could demolish a hotel because it operated, so as to fight COVID-19, he, on the other hand, supervised the breaking of the law on public gathering, which saw people packed at the inauguration of Rivers state PDP executives?
In the days of the Lockdown, the Governor has made no steps to disinfect markets, bus stops, and other public places.
Yesterday the state recorded 16 cases, the highest it has recorded prior to the lockdown. And these cases are bound to rise due to the actions of the Governor which led to a panic buying and overcrowding situation that put residents in harm’s way because they wanted to stock up.
Governor Wike needs to shun hypocrisy and completely call off the lockdown, as locking down is not a sustainable way of curbing the virus.
With the recent report by WHO that Covid-19 is now endemic and that the world will need to learn how to live with it, the Governor needs to adopt another strategy.
Governor Wike needs to do more in public enlightenment and engagements about necessary steps to be taken to prevent contracting the virus, urge People to stay home and only come out when necessary, enforce the use of Face mask, and social distancing in public transportation.
Rivers People are not slaves to be locked up and released from the cage at the discretion of a tyrannical leader.