COVID 19 Lock Down Great Actors: Sanwo-Olu And Wike

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By Elizabeth Chukwuma

President Muhammadu Buhari appears to have tactically handed over the management of the lock down in the country to Boss Mustapha, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID 19, and Secretary of the Federation, Chikwe Ihekweazu led Nigerian Center for Disease and Control, NCDC and the state governors.

This may have informed  why the governors are competing among themselves to excel in the implementation of the lockdown in their respective states, turning it to mini-countries, because of the strict implementation of the restrictions  on  inter- state travels: Operation stay where you are till  further notice.

Sawo Olu: Governor of Lagos State

 There is no gain saying the fact that  since  the Katsina state born Nigerian President announced the initial two weeks lock down of Lagos and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, which are  the  two major Cities  in the country including Ogun, because of its proximity to Lagos and later extended by  another two weeks, the  President was still dictating the pace.  But all of a sudden, the  governors  hijacked  it from  him and started calling the shots in their respective states.  

They were said to    have beamed their searchlight on hoteliers, Night Club Operators and beer parlours in order to discourage  large gathering of  people at a place in order to ensure that  the COVID 19 guidelines as outlined by the PTF and the NCDC, were not flouted.

In the south west, Babajide , Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos state and Nyeson Wike, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, governor of Rivers state in the south-south geo-political region  had proved to be  very active  in the implementation of the lock down in their respective states that they are on the news on a daily basis.

Sanwo-Olu,  who many initially  believe was  treating the residents of Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center  with a  kid globe, notwithstanding the rising cases of the coronavirus  pandemic in the state, appear to have taken a cue from Wike, who has earned a name for himself in the south-south as ‘’General Wike’’ because of his no nonsense  actions, to curb the spread of the  disease in the state.

Acting on information,  the   governor  had shut  Maggi Hotel and Tambari Theatre Night Club in Badagry West, Local Council Development Area, LCD, for flouting the COVID 19 , guidelines in the state. The question on the lips of most people was why  : did it take the governor such a long time to know that  that  hotels and Night Clubs were  operating  in Lagos despite the lock down ’’.

Solomon Bonu, Special Adviser to the governor   on Tourism, Arts and Culture,  who could not hide his feelings had described the Night Clubs , particular, as’’ a place of immoral activities, home  for strippers, drug barons and all sorts of mischief that  must be shut at nooks and crannies of the state.

The shutdown  of the two facilities in the state may have sent a signal to  other hoteliers and Night Club Operators in the state  who had been operating secretly and  smiling to the  banks  on a  daily basis  to make lodgment   that  the game is over .  But the Lagos state governor may have given the Maggi Hotel and Tambari Theatre Arts Night Club , owners  a soft landing as he has  promised to institute a legal proceedings against them to ensure that appropriate punishment were meted to them.

 The Rivers state governor may have known from the onset of tackling the Coronavirus pandemic in the state  that hotels , Night Clubs and beer parlours are veritable   sources of spreading the disease in the state that  he  was forced  to reach  out to  the paramount Rulers and the Local government Chairmen   to  acquaint  them on the need to ensure that ‘’no hotel, Night Club or beer parlour operate  in the state’’.

Wike: Governor Of Rivers state

As a prelude to the  implementation of the Law,  he had  set up a Local government  Task Force on COVID 19, Thursday, May 7, 2020,  to identify  the hotels  still  operating  in the state, particular, Port Harcourt and its environs,  despite the lock down. The Task Force,   personnel, according sources, may have had some hotels in mind to scuttle down  their operations.  They   were said to have identified  two hotels  between Thursday and Saturday, May  :Podest  Hotel in Alode and Etemeth, in Onne, both in Eleme Local government government Area alleged to  be operating in the state despite the state government directive that no hotel ,Night Club or beer parlour should open  in the  because of the lock down.

An aggrieved Wike saw it as an opportunity  to use the two  hotels allegedly belonging to those in the Opposition Camp in the state , to set an example that nobody is above the law.Recall that  he  had  made it clear to the people of the state on the day of the inauguration o the Task Force  that ’’ any hotel, Night Club or beer parlour found Contravening the lock down  law  will be demolished’’.

 It was therefore not very surprising that when  Prodest Hotel and Etemeteh, hotols  wee caught in the act, the owners knew that they have played into  Wike’s hand as he   may not go back on his words.  The governor may  have acted fast  to demolish the  facilities to avoid  giving   room to  people  both within and outside the state  to pile up pressure on him to rescind  his decision to demolish  the two hotels  True to his  as words, on Sunday, May 10, 2020, bbarely three days of the inauguration of the  local Task Force and the total lock down of Port Harcourt and its environs,  he had  mobilised  bulldozers  to supervise the demolition of the hotels , amidst tight security.  

With the demolition of the two hotels, Wike  appear to have  sent a signal to the people of the state, no matter how highly placed  aperson may be,  ‘’those who fail  to comply  with the government’s directives on measures put in place  to curb the spread of the disease in the state would face the Consequences’’.   

Dakuku Peterside, a former Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA,  didi not see any rationale for Wike’s   action, describing it as ‘’unlawful and wicked’’. Peterside, who is a known critic of Wike’s  Administration  disclosed that  he has ‘’no concrete plan to curb the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in the state’’.

Not many people are surprised at Wike’s demolition of the two Hotels in Eleme Local government Area, near Port Harcourt. This is because he had  at one time arrested two Everton Chartered Helcopter pilots for Contravening the state Lock down law at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Rivers state, which is a Fedral facility. The pilots were arrested  despite the fact  that they  were  given permission to fly into the state by the government  as explained by Hadi Sirika, minister of Aviation at a COVID 19 briefing in Abuja.

Many believe that if the Rivers state governor has been called to order in the way he is going about with the the implementation of the COVID 19 lock down in the state when he   entered the Airport, which is the exclusive preserve of the  federal government, to make arrests he would have learnt his first lesson, there is a higher Authority also watching his activities. But Sirika, the minister of Aviation and the Civil Aviation Authority, CAA, officials had merely condemned his actions.

An indigene of Obio Akpor local government Area,  who spoke to  The Value News On Phone, disclosed that the activities of the Wike’s task Force  in Port Harcourt in the recent time has thrown the oil  City into a ghost town. The source  noted that if it is possible  for the Rivers state  governor to extend the lockdown in Port Harcourt  to Onne, where the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and  the Oil Companies have their facilities, he could  have done it.  

  Note that the President  had  given Hajia Haiza Bala Usman,  the Managing Director ,NPA, the  nod  to keep the gates of the ports open  during the lockdown  to enable Customs personnel do their job of collecting duties  on imported cargoes for the government.

This is because shipping is an International business and the shipping Companies have their scheduled times of movement to discharge their cargoes  at  a particular port and  then, return to their port of destination. It is obvious that any  country  which  ports were found  to have closed down its operations because of the COVID 19, may have their cargoes diverted to another  country’s seaport. The government may have known the implication of the closure of the closure of the ports operation to the economy in this  trying and difficult times due the COVID 19, as medical equipment, supplies and Pharmaceutical drugs could  for the treatment of the disease could only be imported through the  port. Only recently,  the President  gave the nod to Hameed  Ali, a retired Army Colonel to allow  importers of Medical equipment, supplies and Pharmaceutical drugs which had been abandoned over the years over high of clearing to take delivery of it without payment of duty or Value added Tax, VAT.

 He may have taken the decision of giving blanket waiver to the importers  as  part of the efforts  to address the COVID 19, cases in the country. Already, NPA and NCS,  officials are working closely together  to ensure that the president directive was carried out without further delay. Medical experts would want NPA, and Customs personnel to act fast  to  contain the disease in the country. As at Monday, May 11,  2020, the number of confirmed COVID  cases, according NCDC, had risen to 4,399.  This is where Nigerians must support the government in ensuring full implementation of social distancing rules to curb the spread of the spread of the disease in the country.

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