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Lagos State Begins Enforcement On Okada, Tricycle Today

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Okada

*Over 10,000 Accidents, 600 Deaths Recorded In Three Years – Information Commissioner

 ***It’s An Attack On Masses-Bike Rider

***Megacity Should Have Different Means Of Transportation- Gokada Manager

Lukmon Akintola

Lagos

Transportation is an integral aspect of any economy, as the movement of people, goods and services from one place to another is inevitable.

In developing continents like Africa and indeed countries like Nigeria, means of transportation differs depending on the terrain.

Predominant means of transportation in Nigeria include vehicular transportation, train and ferry services. However, the hinterlands are covered by tricycles popular as Keke Napep, and commercial motorcycles also known as Okada.

While the government continues to strive to achieve an ideal transportation system, individuals have set up alternative means of transportation basically as a business.

However, supposed evolution, restructuring all in the name of reforms appears to be doing more harm than good for these businesses, especially as the government has been accused of not caring about the consequences borne by the masses in their bid to achieve desired goals.

This is why a recent ban on Keke NAPEP and Okada in six Local Government Areas (LGAs), nine Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) and 10 major highways across the state with effect from today, Saturday, February 1, has sparked off reactions, as residents of the state who make use of this means of transportation frown at the development.

Attributing the ban to scary casualty figures from accidents on Lagos roads between 2016 and 2019, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso while announcing the decision of the government at the State House in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos on Monday, January 27 said: “After a robust assessment of the debate on what has been widely referred to as the motorcycle (Okada) and tricycle (Keke) menace, the Lagos State Government and the State Security Council have decided that the security and safety of lives of Lagosians are paramount.

 “The figures are scary. From 2016 to 2019, there were over 10,000 accidents recorded at the General Hospitals alone. This number excludes unreported cases and those recorded by other hospitals. The total number of deaths from reported cases is over 600 as of date.

“Also, the rate of crimes aided by Okada and Keke keeps rising. They are also used as getaway means by criminals. Therefore, after consultations with stakeholders, the State Security Council, in compliance with the extant Transport Sector Reform Law 2018, has decided to commence enforcement of the law which bans the operation of Okada and Keke in six Local Government Areas and nine Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).”

Also banning Okada and tricycles from plying 40 bridges and flyovers across the state, Omotoso said the lack of regard for the Lagos Traffic Laws by the Okada and tricycle riders had resulted in preventable loss of lives, adding that their impermissible movements on restricted highways had also contributed to traffic jams. He thus directed security operatives to embark on total enforcement of the state’s Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 to immediately address the chaos and disorderliness created by illegal operations of Okada and tricycle riders in restricted areas.

Coming barely three years after erstwhile Governor Akinwunmi Ambode placed a ban on Okada on 520 roads, attributing his action to the level of insecurity in the state, members of the public have described the move by the government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu as a wrong one, with some people even describing it as a deliberate attack on the masses who voted in the government.

“We voted them into office, now they are after us. It is the same old story every time a new government is about to come in. They promise heaven on earth but forget the moment they get there. There are no jobs, a lot of people who do this Okada business are graduates, but they have had to settle for this to be able to feed their family, now they want to take it from us. What do they want us to do? We are useful during elections, but afterward, we become filth to them forgetting that it is not everybody that owns a car to use as a means of transportation and fingers are not equal. Some of us even got the Okada on high purchase just to make ends meet, but is that going to be possible with the ban?” Oojor a bike rider in Ajah bust stop told Saturday INDEPENDENT.

 On his part, Akinola Ajana (not real name) who rides a Gokada commercial motorcycle described the ban as one which was not well thought out, adding that it would discourage investors. According to him, the lack of continuity synonymous with politicians is what is happening with this ban.

Explaining Ajana said: “The government of Ambode encouraged investors to come into the state and do business. Since he left, there have been several clampdowns on businesses like ours. Ordinarily, one would expect that companies like ours would be exempted because of the setup, we are organised, registered and with an office, they can go to the office anytime, but nothing like that has happened. Rather it is a ban that they have slapped us with.

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“First, it was something about the particular kind of bikes that could be found on highways and the company had to upgrade its motorcycle to 200cc, now they have returned with a new restriction, do they want to kill the business, what happens to the money invested in the business?

“Meanwhile, we still suffer from task force arresting us and touts in different locations collecting money from us. This kind of situation will hardly encourage investors because today, a government makes a policy encouraging businesses and the next days, it is making another one which negates the interest of the same business.”

Indeed the position of Ajana sheds some light on the implication of this decision, but there are other far-reaching consequences like an increase in crime rate resulting from unemployment, while there will be more people left stranded due to shortage of alternative means of transportation. This is explained by Tope Biobaku, a middle-aged civil servant, who said Lagosians should be ready to witness experiences of insecurity and criminality synonymous with Lagos State some years back.

“The truth is that the state government is either knowingly or unknowingly signing the untimely death of many people in the state. An idle person we know is the devil’s workshop. It will now be survival of the fittest, and I see folks doing anything possible to survive,” he said.

The reality of the decision taken by the state government appears unclear to the decision-makers. This is based on the fact that a week before it decided on the ban, it said deliberations with stakeholders in the industry were ongoing only to return with a shocking judgment for both investors and members of the public.

“We have just concluded our routine security meeting, during which the issue of Okada and tricycles was discussed exhaustively. For now, no major decision has been taken on the matter. There are several factors for this development, but the main reason was to reckon with various opinions expressed by stakeholders.

“So many people have made representations to the Government concerning commercial motorcycles and tricycles, including human rights groups, unionists and traders. They came up with many reasonable observations; all their views have been collated and are being considered.

“We feel it will not be good enough for the Government to take a final decision on the matter without considering the opinions of the stakeholders. That would be against the spirit of democracy for which the Sanwo-Olu administration stands,” a statement signed by Omotosho and released before the restriction placed on Okada and tricycles said.

Members of the public are now asking if the consulted stakeholders who ordinarily should include investors and operators in the industry agreed to the government partially shut down their businesses.

There have also been questions about why the government appears to want to cripple the industry when it could have created a reform and organised the sector, while also sensitising commercial motorcycles and tricycle riders on the need to obey the law.

Amidst the ban, some believe that the decision to ban Okada in Lagos State might be politically motivated. These crops have questioned why the companies operating these businesses were given a license of operation by the state government only to turn around and shut them down, forgetting that millions have been invested into the sector.

This position is supported by Idowu Wilson, a community leader who was quick to ask what becomes of the corporate couriers’ motorcycle services and branded FMCG company tricycles when he heard of the ban.

However, the Lagos State Government has stated that nobody has been given a license to run Okada business in Lagos State.

Speaking during an interview on Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels Television, Omotosho said that the government was trying to regulate commercial motorcyclists so that their excesses can be curtailed.

According to him, “As far as I am concerned, the government has not registered any company to come and be running Okada.

“What the government was trying to look at is how to regulate these people so that their excesses can be curtailed.

“But as far as I know, nobody has been licensed to go and start running Okada because it is unfortunate the rate at which people are being robbed on the roads, the police are worried, everybody is worried.”

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Further, Omotosho clarified that the ban did not affect courier services operators who are allowed to ply all routes because they don’t constitute so much danger.

“The guys who are doing courier services, for example, they don’t carry passengers and they don’t constitute so much danger. So, those are allowed.

They have to be above 200cc and you have to have a box behind you that you are doing courier service and you don’t have to carry passengers, you have to be well-kitted and wear your helmet,” he said.

Indeed, just as the consequences of the ban is going to affect individuals, it will also affect transportation and E-commerce companies who use bikes.

 In an earlier conducted interview, Gokada’s Offline Marketing and Partnership Manager, Akinwale Afolabi described the company as a tech company leveraging experiences in logistic to solve the major issue in Lagos State which is traffic.

Afolabi refuted links to Gokada being a transportation company saying:

“For us, we believe that Lagos is a megacity meant to have different means of transportation to make life easier for the people. As it stands today, we have the conventional Yellow Buses, BRT, Lag Bus and a little of ferry. We believe that it is our responsibility to make life easier for Lagosians and that is why we came up with this. We are not a transport company, we are a tech company leveraging on our experience in logistic, e-commerce as well as in other sectors to solve the major problem in Lagos which is transportation.”

Afolabi acknowledged the existence of traffic laws but believes that with consistency and regulation, the government would realise Gokada is not just Okada, but transformation, and a free traffic Lagos idea which is done in partnership with security and traffic agencies such as Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), Federal Road Safety Corps, the police among others. He also revealed that Gokada was at a recent stakeholder meeting held to stop traffic congestion in Lagos State.

Asked if he didn’t consider the fact that Gokada plying restricted roads are committing offence, Akinwale said “It is not the issue of offence. Most of these government regulations are due to people’s yearnings, people’s feedback. We are all the government, we voted them in and our feedback decides the next policies, so it is as a result of vices attached to conventional Okada riders that we have these issues. As time goes on, the government will come to see that what these guys are doing makes sense, people are coming to accept them and they are beginning to change the face of this means of transportation.”

Journalist, Hazeez Balogun agrees with Afolabi, urging Lagos State to borrow a leaf from countries like Malaysia, Singapore and many others where motorcycle taxis have been embraced. “Tens of thousands of men without jobs. I hope Lagos understands the security implications of this. What is wrong with motorcycles as a means of transportation? Is Lagos better than Malaysia and Indonesia, or Argentina that motorcycle taxis (as they are called) are a major transportation means? Any tourist to these countries, talk about how convenient and fast these commercial motorcycles were to move around the city. There are tons of YouTube videos you can watch to confirm this.

 “Instead of an outright ban, why not institutionalise them? Create separate lanes for them as the Benin Republic has done. Register each motorcyclist, train them, monitor them, encourage them to join apps like Gokada, and also encourage more of similar apps. The recent ban will not stop them from operating, it will only increase their fares. Except the governor wants to go and stand by the road himself. And of course, there will be more ‘something’ for LASTMA, and police, if you know what I mean.”

 Indeed, there have been speculations of law enforcement officers taking advantage of the low level of education of Okada and NAPEP riders. It is indeed a common sight to see Okada riders who hardly ply proscribed roads being arrested by police officers all in the name of enforcing the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018.

While reluctant to comment on the new ban on Okada and Tricycle saying that it was too early to react, Lagos State Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO), Bala Elkana, while speaking with Saturday INDEPENDENT, in an earlier conducted interview, agreed that criminals now use Tricycle for one chance to rob people, adding that undercover patrolmen and ‘stop and search’ strategies are now being used to battle the menace.

 With the ban kicking off today, commuters in Lagos State can get ready for the worst experience as far as transportation to and from their destination is concerned.

 

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Opinion

FUNKE AKINDELE: WHO WILL ARREST THE JUDGE, OFFICERS AND THE PRESS FOR NOT OBSERVING SOCIAL DISTANCING?

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Legacy

By Dr. Ope Banwo

Funke Akindele is a friend and a former client and against the natural instinct to defend a friend, even I could understand why she needed to be arrested and made an example of to underscore the seriousness of Coronavirus for everyone else. Unfortunately.

She is a very big public figure, possibly one of the top three biggest Yoruba actor/actress in our country in terms of reach and influence, and should have known better

She is an ambassador for Dettol disinfectant, and even the government on different occasions, ironically including NCDC itself, and should know better that she is a role model that can help or hurt public policy with her actions, no matter how innocent. Its was an error of judgment, she has already regretted. So, let’s not pile on.

Funke herself posted evidence of herself violating the law on social with, she posted evidence, complete with pictures and videos. That action suggested a lack of appreciation of the seriousness of the need for social distancing that many are unfortunately guilty of. Including many of those now hypocritically condemning her all over social media.

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Her initial lukewarm, self-justifying apology after the complaints broke also didn’t help matters. I put that one on her handlers. They should have guided her better. For instance, I would have insisted on a total unqualified apology for the error of judgement, with no excuse and a self offer of serious community service and aid for victims of coronavirus.

So, while I am sad this happened, this is not a defense of my friend. She has apologized and pleaded guilty for her mistake.

Hopefully, the judge will be merciful and Funke will just be sentenced to Community Service, instead of jail, since she has really been a good community person, always helping with major enlightenment projects. We all must agree that Funke does have a large heart and has earned some public credits that could be applied to this mistake.

Funke does not deserve jail for this in my opinion. The public humiliation and loss of endorsements this will bring is more than enough in my objective opinion…

Having said that, I also think the NCDC AND THE COURT AND THE PRESS needed to be called out for violating the same self-distancing law she has been arraigned for.

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Yes, as you can see in the pictures and videos of the chaotic court scene, that NCDC agents, police and the courts themselves were GUILTY OF THE SAME OFFENCE of not observing social distance!

Look at the video and pictures of that court hour. The officers claiming Funke violated social-distancing rules were themselves jostling into each other with no space. They crowded the doorway and crammed the court. They are packed like sardines in court and the photographers were basically spitting on each other in that court scene.

So who is going to arrest the Judge, the police officers, and the press for the same offense? SMH. It just shows we ALL need more education and sensitivity on this Corona thing.

Its not a joke. People are dying of this thing and everyone needs to be more vigilant. Let’s stop the finger-pointing. Most of us are no better. We are getting away with it because we have no celebrity status.

Dr. Ope Banwo writes from Omaha, United States of America.

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Opinion

The Disturbing Success Of Coronavirus: Who Will Save The World? By Omoshola Deji

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Insurance Cover

 

These are very abnormal times. The earth we labored to build is shutting down before our eyes and we have no magic wand. Although we’ve faced several challenges in our lifetimes, overcoming them never made us thought something so disastrous could surface that would cause us to be still. Suddenly the novel Coronavirus, otherwise called Covid-19 struck. It rose to pandemic and the earth stood still. We are striving not to perish, but have only made a tiny progress after a tired race. Who will save us from Covid the viral virus?

 

China struggled to restrain Covid to its origin at Wuhan, but it escaped. The virus has managed to infiltrate 195 countries and territories through our innocent bodies. At the time of writing, Covid has afflicted 882,191 persons, out of which 185,094 has recovered, while 652,961 remains ill. Over 44,136 persons have passed away, with Italy recording more deaths ahead of Spain, United States, France, China and Iran respectively. The casualty keeps mounting as Covid rages wide and wild.

 

Covid is omnipresent. It is present in every continent (except Antarctica) and attacks people irrespective of religion, gender, class or race. Some Africans who boasted that the virus can neither survive their hot climate nor subdue their acclaimed ‘strong’ immune are now recanting their words. At the time of writing, Africa has over 5,780 cases in 49 nations out of 55.

 

Covid is one confident virus. It passes security checks unnoticed to afflict the powerful. The virus took photos with United States President Donald Trump through Fabio Wajngarten, the press aide of Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro. Wajngarten tested positive few days after he met with Trump. Covid also infiltrate US Vice President Mike Pence’s office, but never got him – his staff paid instead.

 

Leaders living with Covid across the world includes Prince Albert II of Monaco; Iran’s Vice President, Masoumeh Ebtekar; Cameroon national assembly speaker, Cavaye Djibril; and the archduke of Austria, Karl von Habsburg. United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, also tested positive. As if that were not enough, Prince Charles, the oldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and heir to the British throne is down with the virus. No one can trouble these leaders without paying dearly but Covid has.

 

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, the government’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and son of ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar are both down with the deadly Coronavirus. The governors of Bauchi, Kaduna and Oyo States tested positive, while about 15 other governors are at risk, having come in contact with Kyari. President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had to self-quarantine.

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Other nations’ leaders in self-isolation includes Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi; German Chancellor Angela Markel; and the Prime Ministers of Spain and Canada, after their wives, Begona Gomez and Sophie Trudeau tested positive for Covid. Apparently, more than a few nations’ first families are either undergoing tests, in self-isolation, or have tested positive for the virus.

 

Is the earth’s governance so flawed that Coronavirus seeks to wipe out a portion of the ruling class? If so, I pray it starts with my country, Nigeria. The reason is one: Nigeria works for the leaders only. Over seventy percent of the population are incredibly poor, living in slums, and lacking basic amenities, despite the nation’s enormous oil wealth. No thanks to the corrupt leaders, who now has no option than to use the collapsed healthcare system they failed to build for their Covid treatment.

 

Who will save the entertainment industry from Covid? Entertainment helps our brains restore to functioning capacity when we’re dull or tired. Sadly, some of those bringing us the cheers are down with the deadly Coronavirus. Celebs who have tested positive for the virus across Europe and America includes British actor Idris Elba; Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju; famed opera singer, Plácido Domingo; Cascada singer, Natalie Horner; 19-year-old singer Charlotte Lawrence; keyboardist David Bryan; TV host Andy Cohen; and several others. Actress infected includes Rita Wilson, Rachel Matthews, Olga Kurylenko and Debi Mazar, among others.

 

Africa is not left out as Tanzanian rapper, Mwana FA and saxophone legend, Manu Dibango (now late) contracted the virus. Fearfully, disaster looms as top African celebrities who graced the recent Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) have been advised to self-isolate. This came after a number of persons at the event tested positive for Coronavirus. One can only imagine how many people the carriers have infected at the energetic, star studded event.

 

Worst still, the new carriers would have, after the event, mingled with friends, families and fans, passing the virus unknowingly, before the isolation announcement. Coronavirus started from one person, but we now have thousands of people spreading it.

 

Who will save the sporting world from Coronavirus? Sports makes us feel happy and relaxed, especially when we watch with friends. Aside helping us to maintain a healthy social life, some persons also earn from it via betting. We all thought nothing could stop sports until Covid-19 surfaced. Aside halting trainings and tournaments, Covid also afflicted the players.

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For basketball, NBA players such as Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of Utah Jazz; Kevin Durant of Brooklyn Nets; Christian Wood of Detroit Pistons; and Marcus Smart of Boston Celtics, among others are in Covid’s net. The virus also kicked both football managers and players into its net. Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea; Blaise Matuidi of Juventus; Arsenal head coach, Mikel Arteta; and AC Milan technical director Paolo Maldini are all down with the virus. African football legend, Mohamed Farah; former Olympique de Marseille President, Pape Diouf; and former Real Madrid President, Lorenzo Sanz died from it.

 

Cycling is not spared as Colombian cyclist Fernando Gaviria and Russian ProTour cyclist Dmitry Strakhov are down too. Sadly, some of these sportsmen may no longer be fit to deliver the sterling performance they’re known for before now. Such may affect their carrier, even if they survive the virus.

 

While elites of nations are quarantining in luxury and could afford first class health care in their countries (if they have), a lot more needs to be done for the hoi polloi whose lives are hanging in the balance. Many live on daily earnings and the lockdown is making survival ever more difficult. Whether living in luxury or penury, no one is immune from the Coronavirus. Thus, we must follow the social distancing and hygiene precautions to remain aseptic.

 

Coronavirus has phenomenally crumbled our world and threatening to wreak more havoc. Sadly, ammunitions can’t exterminate it and prayer is no remedy. About 35 companies and academic institutions are racing round the clock for cure, but no luck yet. Fear grips my heart over the calamity that will befall the world, if the deadly virus lives on for months.

 

Who will save us from this deadly virus making human body its home? Who will save us from the virus sending our brethren to the final home? Who will save us from this virus keeping us at home? Who will save our world from Coronavirus?

 

*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via moshdeji@yahoo.com

 

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Opinion

Those Whose Prayers God May Not Answer 

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Olusegun Fafore

 

 

Olusegun Fafore

 

 

With the public outrage following the flouting of government’s directives by some religious institutions last weekend over the number of worshippers that could attend mosques and churches for prayers in the face of the deadly pandemic ravaging the world, God may have nullified some supplications for putting His creations in danger.

 

The contribution of a South Korean Church to the Coronavirus spread, which represents about 60% of the country’s confirmed cases of over 4,000, motivated restrictions on the number of people who can congregate at places of worship at this time.

 

The restriction terms, which allowed 50 worshippers, was further revised to 20 people, with ample space between seats and individuals who must be at worship centres for their supplications to be heard by God or Allah.

 

As attendance at religious gatherings were monitored for compliance, social gatherings did not go off the sight of governments. This is because governors will be labelled as failures and ineffective if the ruthlessness of the virus overruns our communities.

 

At a speed matching the invasive tendencies of the deadly Coronavirus, governments across the globe made pronouncements and took decisions targeted at protecting their citizens, limiting the spread of the virus and managing the level of fatality.

 

In the city of Rome, the capital of Italy, a country that lost about 743 people to the Coronavirus outbreak in just one day, the lockdown forced churches to suspend Mass.

 

Meanwhile, before this outbreak, Rome was the downtown of Catholic worship. The Pope resides in the Vatican City, a sovereign City-State enclaved within Rome, which has been a center of Christian Pilgrimage for centuries.

 

With death in the air, excursion to the holy city stopped. Priests in the Vatican found other ways to reach their congregations since science has established that Coronavirus thrives amidst multitudes.

 

Perhaps this was why Saudi Arabia’s King Salman locked-down the country’s capital, Riyadh, and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Beyond this action, the country, which hosts millions of pilgrims annually, suspended all educational and Qur’anic activities at all Mosques, closed malls, restaurants, cafes and parks, and banned Muslim pilgrims from coming for Umrah this year.

 

These decisions, are not only unusual, but are far-reaching, and genuinely reflective of the value placed on citizens lives by the government of the county.  And the impacts of these decisions are evident in the containment effort of the State, which has limited casualty of the dreaded virus to only 1, out of the 767 reported cases, since the country confirmed its first case on March 2, 2020.

 

Public safety sentiment echoes across the globe. It is a critical index for measuring purposeful leadership at this unnerving period in human existence. So that you know, the time has gotten direr in Israel and the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to implement a total lockdown.

 

The number of sick Israelis infected by novel Coronavirus has climbed to 2, 369. And it is the responsibility of the State to cater for them and prevent them from adding to the number of deaths attributed to the pandemic.

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“These steps we have taken here in Israel are being taken all of the world; however, they are not enough because the number of patients is doubling every three days” said the Prime Minister who added that “in two weeks we are liable to find ourselves with thousands of patients many of whom will be in danger of death”.

 

If this statement does not provide hint of the despair in the Prime Minister’s voice, it is reflective of the fact that he is under enormous pressure to protect his people from the scourging death and save his land from the spate of Coronavirus.

 

Netanyahu’s predicament reflects what every leader all over the world is going through at this period. Even, his case should be different because Israelis have an unending covenant with God, and they can afford to ignore the roving signs of over the world.

 

Leadership is a huge responsibility. People occupying such positions are wearing thorny crowns at this moment.  Whether they are calm or spirited, their minds are in crisis. They are thinking about the safety of everyone, and the purity of their territories, which could be a sovereign or sub-national.

 

Forget the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s calm demeanor. Every additional case of Coronavirus in the State unsettles him. Since when the first case, which later turned negative was announced in Lagos State, the Governor’s determination to contain the pestilence has increased. Every update, he wished had included the announcement of a vaccine, or drugs that can permanently wiped-out the deadly Coronavirus from our World.

 

“There are about 22 million people in my care and everyone is only an arm’s length away from the other. This pandemic is highly transmissible and travels in the air from one person to the other. Aside from my domain being the most populous in the country, with an incredible density, it is also the major entry point into Nigeria. Daily, thousands of travelers come into Lagos from different parts of the world, even from Coronavirus worse-hit countries”, captures the minute-by-minute thoughts on Governor Sanwo-Olu’s mind.

 

So, his mind cannot idle away from the conjectures coming in gushes. Even, complicating the situation is the centrality of Lagos to managing the containment of the deadly virus in Nigeria. The level of the State’s preparedness and quality of facilities make it a destination for case management and patient treatment.

 

As the facilities get stretched by cases imported from outside Lagos, his mind skips; because of the ever-present imbalance between needs and available resources in life. If not for our recklessness, may be the number of cases in Nigeria would still have been as low as five, and Lagos will be zero with the index case turning negative. And this would have perhaps contributed to reduction in his anxieties.

 

But we are strange and very funny people, with immeasurable capacity for disobedience. It is ridiculous that government needed to enforce compliance with directives to stem the tide of a lethal microbe that has claimed 21,367 lives from the 475,879 cases in 198 countries.

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We sneered at instructions as basic as restricting the number of congregations to 20 if there must worship in our Churches or Mosques and self-isolate for 14 days, if we just returned from overseas trip, to abate the spread of Coronavirus amongst us.

Even, the call to avoid public places and social gatherings at this perilous time is pointlessly ignored just as much as the need for personal hygiene is discounted.

 

Excuse me, why are the doctrines of “wash your hands regularly with soap” and “observe the principles of social distancing” to protect yourself from a deadly infection difficult to obey? Are we just being suicidal, or deliberately inclined to committing large scale murder?

 

Don’t we understand that our disobedience endangers other people’s lives and diminishes government efforts at protecting the land against pandemic? If we assemble somewhere in the name of prayer or worship, and enable coronavirus fly at a geometric progression through community spread, we have not only disobeyed civil authorities, but also committed evil in the sight of God. Good citizenship is one of the conditions precedent to Godliness. For Christians, Apostle Paul espoused this in his homily on civil obedience in Roman 13: 1-1.

 

The holy Quran does not defer on civil obedience and respect for constituted authority. In verse 59 of Surah An-Nisa in the Quran, which is known as Uli al-Amr verse, Believers are ordered to obey Allah, obey the prophet and those vested with authority (Uli al-Amr).

 

So, where did the disobedience come from? If your recalcitrance increases the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria and results in loss of several lives, you are a murderer! If you fail to self-isolate when you return from overseas or are exposed an infected person, you are killer because your indiscretion will infect people with the novel coronavirus.

 

We need to comply with the social distancing and personal hygiene precepts. No one should commit suicide by disregarding these principles. God holds human life sacred. That is why the 6th commandment, Exodus 20;13 “Thou shalt not kill” is a clear directive to preserve human life.

 

More importantly, suicide is a grave sin before our creator.  It is true that in times of pestilence, prayer is a means of privileged communication with the Almighty God. No one is in doubt about the power of prayer as a source of strength in moment of crisis, but like Peter cautioned Christians to conduct their lives properly;  so that their “prayers be not hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).

 

If your actions or activities cause self-death or death of others, or endanger the society, God may not answer your prayers.

 

Stay safe. Wisdom is profitable to direct.

 

Fafore is Executive Assistant on Public Relations and New Media to Lagos State Governor

 

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