There is no gainsaying the fact that these are no normal times in most parts of the world today because of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Here in Nigeria, because of the norm of lack of a good healthcare system occasioned by years of corruption and maladministration, among others, we are already overwhelmed with the near-300 cases recorded so far within the last five weeks when the disease surfaced in our country.
In an effort to contain the spread of the scourge, different measures have taken by governments at different levels. The most impactful of them is the total lockdown of FCT Abuja, Lagos State and Ogun state as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari and some other states as directed by their governors.
Enforcing some of the measures could be challenging because of socio-economic factors. Nevertheless, as good citizens, each and every one of us is required to obey the laws and rules of the lockdown as spelt out by the authorities.
So, in doing the right things to get rid of coronavirus from our country, we don’t need to unnecessarily flex muscle as Rivers state Governor is currently doing with the Federal Government. Also, we will be doing a disservice to the system (whether the legal system or any other one) if we resort to playing to the gallery in the quest to fight (COVID-19).
Governor Wike cannot stop flights into Port Harcourt International Airport a Federal Government-owned facility because Civil Aviation is a preserve of the Central Government in Nigeria as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
While the governor is doing his best to protect Rivers State from COVID-19 by declaring a lockdown, he should not entangle himself or the state in a needless constitutional logjam.
Therefore, Governor Wike should, as a matter of urgency, effect the release of the two Pilots of Carleton Helicopters illegally arrested on his orders for purportedly violating the RiversI state’s lockdown order because the constitution is superior to any law of the state.
The Pilots were granted permission by the relevant aviation authorities to undertake the journey to Port Harcourt, hence they have no business with Rivers State save for the fact that the journey presented the state government with revenue prospects even though it was wrong for Federal Government not to inform the Rivers government.
Also, the Lagos spectacle of ‘social crowding’ or is it social distancing at a Lagos Magistrate Court three days ago where popular actress, Funke Akindele, alongside her husband was charged and sentenced for hosting a house party in contravention of a ‘directive’ of the Lagos State Governor on Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in Lagos State.
The speed and energy used by the Lagos State Government in prosecuting the case left me wondering whether there is another definition to the idiom ‘playing to the gallery’ other the one we are used to.
The Lagos state government betrayed all intents and purposes when it announced it has dropped charges against other accused persons. And the big question is what was the state government or its officials thinking when they picked on Funke and her husband despite the actress explaining their side of the story with apology?
Perhaps, they made a scapegoat out of the celebrity couple to please the social media mob, who shouted loudly ‘crucify them, crucify them’.
Lest I forget. some of the security agents involved in the task of enforcing the presidential lockdown order to contain the spread of coronavirus in some places are going outside the call of duty to harass and extort either Nigerians on essential services like journalists or those with emergencies like seeking medical help, going out to get food and other necessities.
This is not to say there are no defaulters. Definitely there must be. But they should arrest only those on the wrong side of the law without molestation after fair hearing.
This is an emergency time, all hands must be on deck in order to win the war against Coronavirus (COVID-19).
This is certainly no time for muscle flexing or showmanship from any quarter of the country.
Gbadebo is a Deputy Editor with LEADERSHIP Newspapers, Abuja.