From Steve Oko, Umuahia
The youth wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has differed with the South East governors over their decision to shut down markets as a way of stemming the spread of coronavirus without putting in place some stimulus package for the people.
Ohanaeze Youths Council, OYC, argued that shutting down markets in Igboland without adequate measures to cushion the adverse economic impact of the policy was not the best option.
National President of OYC, Comrade Igboayaka O. Igboayaka, criticized the governors over the move, and urged them to review the decision.
Recall that in Anambra State ,over 70 markets were shut down on Saturday while a number of markets have also been closed down in Ebonyi State.
OYC in a press release, described the strategy as “lacking in human face, self-defeating, insensitivity and deliberate wickedness on the part of governments.”
“Shutting down markets without creating an effective alternative for daily survival of the poor among the rich is not the best,” the statement said.
Igboayaka noted that after OYC reviewed all measures of self-imposed isolation orders issued by State governors in Igboland, it discovered that the policy lacked human empathy.
According to OYC, closing markets in Igboland without alternative measures to arrest the “hunger virus” could lead the poor masses “to commit suicide.”
The statement further reads:”imposing the shutdown of markets and forcing Ndigbo to self-isolate, without putting anything in their pockets, the government is simply asking their subjects to choose between death by Coronavirus or death by hunger.
“This is because an average Nigerian is already living hand-to-mouth in abject poverty and the inability to go out every day is already a death sentence. How have they saved the citizens by this? This is not a response peculiar to our society.
“Many of our Igbo women have less than ₦1000 to ₦2000 as their daily capital from which they make up daily feeding for their Children. Over 40% of women could starve in Igboland if they fail to come to market for one day.”
OYC , therefore, urged governors of Igbo extraction and well-to-do individuals in the region , to utilize the enormous resources in their disposal and come out with a real human face welfare packages that will meet the daily bread of the poor, and provide for those who are most vulnerable during this trying period.
OYC further advised governors and other political stakeholders not to wait only for electioneering campaign periods to begin to share rice and other foodstuffs to the electorates and less-privileged.
“Now is the time to help those who are not able to go to work as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Desperate situations call for desperate measures. The European countries that asked their citizens to stay at home and self-isolate, created welfare programmes and different types of funds to put in the pockets of their citizens to sustain them during the isolation period.
“Even the United States of America with the lowest level of poverty in the world is giving out a thousand dollars (₦380,000) to each of their citizen but you want us to be comfortable isolating without food.
“It is unacceptable for our governors to go home with minimum of ₦800 million as security vote every month while their subjects sleep on an empty stomach every night. We urged these governors to set-up Welfare Technical Committee within 72 hours or be ready for mass burials that will be caused by “Hunger Virus” which will be more disastrous than Coronavirus.”
OYC warned that failure to set up this Welfare Technical Committee might attract the anger of over 30 million Igbo youths, for we cannot sit-at-home in hunger while the governors enjoy the collective resources of the people.