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    Friday, April 24, 2020

    Coronavirus Lockdown and Public Security

    By Tayo Ogunbiyi

    These are, indeed, tough and trying times for the entire world, as the deadly coronavirus pandemic fiercely rages on.

    Since the venomous virus broke out in China late last year, there is little or no sign of its receding yet. Infection and fatality cases continue to rise globally on an increasingly alarming rate.

    As at the point of penning this piece, the virus has led to the untimely death of 188,437 people on a global scale with a total number of 2,699,388 confirmed cases.

    Not surprisingly, our treasured nation also has her own share of cases of the pandemic. As at 11:45 p.m, on Thursday, April 23rd, the country has 981 confirmed cases of the pandemic across 26 States and the FCT while we have equally lost 31 of our compatriots to this evil virus.

    Lagos remains the epicentre of the pandemic with a total of 582 confirmed cases while the FCT comes next with 133 cases. They are both followed by Kano, Ogun and Katsina with 73, 29 and 21 cases respectively. The rising profile of the pandemic in Kano is particularly dreadful, considering the huge population of the famous pyramid city.

    The worrisome progressive status of the pandemic in the country has led to the declaration of total and partial lockdown in some parts of the country. In Lagos, Ogun and the FCT, for instance, the Federal Government’s enforced lockdown has gotten to the 4th week.

    Explicably, the objective of the lockdown is to help in containing the spread of the rapid pandemic. This is in view of the fact that it spreads easily at large gatherings.

    From the experience of a few nations that have successfully curtailed its spread, strict adherence to the principle of social distancing as well as staying at home clearly played a huge role.

    At the initial stage of the lockdown experience, one essential issue came up. This is the need to cushion its economic effect through the provision of various palliative packages, especially for vulnerable and poor compatriots.

    Somehow, both the Federal and respective State governments, with the support of many corporate and faith-based organisations and individuals, have been able to reasonably and creatively rise to the occasion.

    However, just as efforts were being made to frontally address the palliative matter, a major challenge also came up. This occurred, particularly, in both Lagos and Ogun States where there were reported cases of security breaches by hoodlums who were on rampage at some satellite communities of the two States.

    The grudge of these criminal elements, according to reports, was that they were hungry. It has, however, been argued that those hiding under the unfortunate coronavirus crisis to foment trouble are nothing but common crooks and shameless opportunists.

    One of those who hold this view is the Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu. According to the governor, it is yet to be seen how hunger could be the motivation for these rogues to terrorise and dehumanise fellow human beings.

    The logic behind this line of reasoning is this: How are the criminals sure that their supposed victims aren’t hungrier? No doubt, the impudent foray of these rascals, at such a time of edgy national crisis, only shows them as discreditable characters.

    Fortunately, the two major states concerned, in collaboration with the Federal government, have stoutly risen up to the occasion by beating the hooligans to their game.

    In Lagos, for instance, over 100 of the miscreants were apprehended by the police, just as the Inspector General Police (IGP) had deployed a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) from Abuja to lead a special force to burst criminal gangs breaching the peace in the affected communities.

    Certainly, with this fresh strategy, in Lagos in particular, there is an increase in mobile police deployment in all trouble spots in the metropolis; as well as the police intensifying their patrols around residential areas, boundary communities, and other critical areas of activities during the lockdown period.

    At every given opportunity, Governor Sanwo-Olu has continued to reiterate the resolve of his administration to protect the lives and properties of all residents in the State.

    At a recent fora, he sum up the intent thus: “As an administration, we will live up to our responsibility of ensuring the security of the lives and properties of all citizens. We will not abandon this responsibility at any time. There is no room whatsoever in Lagos for criminal gangs or miscreants of any kind”.

    Cheerfully, the governor is not only talking tough, he is also working tough, as these criminals have been reasonably dislodged.

    It is, however, crucial to call on every segment of the society to support the government and all the security agencies so as to enhance public safety across the country. An effective public security cannot be obtained without the active involvement, participation and support of every section of the society because public security is the responsibility of all individuals, groups, communities, organisations and other units that constitute the state.

    Criminals are not spirits, they dwell in our midst. We must, therefore, observe and report every strange movements and activities in our neighbourhood to the appropriate authorities. It is only when we develop a communal fortitude towards public security that the huge investment of the state government in security could be effectively harnessed.

    Perhaps more importantly, the very time we are in really calls for sober reflection among everyone. The deadly Coronavirus has declared an all-out war on all nations of the world, and our beloved nation is equally caught in the middle of this rather protracted and fierce battle. As all tiers of government, across the country as well as other crucial stakeholders, continue to pull resources together to prosecute this war, every act capable of distracting our focus must be discouraged.

    The whole scenario is quite precarious because we are fighting an unseen enemy that is out on a deadly mission. This is, therefore, not the time for unnecessary disruption. For us to successfully prosecute this battle, all hands must be on deck.

    God bless Nigeria

    Ogunbiyi is of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos

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