COVID-19: FG Abandoned S/East on Palliatives – SERG

…Calls on Prominent Igbo Sons/Daughters to Donate

The South East Revival Group (SERG) has said the Federal Government of Nigeria tactically abandoned eastern part of the country and in the distribution of palliatives meant to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

Commending Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the chairman of Nsukka local government area, Chief Patrick Omeje for standing as gate keepers for the region and intercepting interstate travelers, particularly Almajiris from the north, the group therefore called on all prominent Igbo sons and daughters to donate to South East palliative intention fund to cushion the effect of the partial lockdown in the zone when established by the region.

The President and National Coordinator of the group, Chief Willy Ezugwu stated these at a world press conference on the State of the region in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, arguing that whether lockdown is partial or total, it impacts negatively on businesses.

Calling for the establishment of a South East intervention fund to ensure that residents of the region were taken care of in view of the far-reaching impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on both the health and economic lives of the people, the group urged the state governors, through the South East Governors Forum, to set up a central coordinating COVID-19 taskforce for the zone.

“The centre should be able to, among other things, coordinate information dissemination and measures aimed at cushioning the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people and businesses in the South during and after the disease with view to reduce the negative impact of Coronavirus spread prevention measures like the ongoing lockdown in the country.

“The key essence of the centre is to have a central purse where individual sons and daughters of the region can donate cash, food and materials that could serve as palliative to the less privileged members of the society.

“Our governors must know that it has become most expedient now that the federal government has tactically excluded the South East from any meaningful palliatives disbursement.

“The reality is that the South East region is an abandoned geographical area by the federal government, with little or no attention paid to the people of the zone”, the group said.

On halting interstate movements through the zone, the SERG “strongly advise the five governors of the South East immediately safeguard the region by closing all the interstate borders in total compliance to the curfew imposed by the Federal Government.

“If there was need for such drastic measure, it is now critical in view of the surge in new cases of Coronavirus in the northern part of the country and to curtail trans-border transmission of the dreaded virus to keep the rate of infection in the south east low.

“A total lockdown of eastern borders is necessary to avoid needless deaths in the region because we are at war with a global pandemic that has continued to claimed lives in their thousands in countries with sophisticated health system and facilities.

“As at today, there have been several reports of interstate travelling from the North. A trailer load of Almajiris was intercepted in Abia State last week while another trailer and some buses loaded with the same Almajiris were also intercepted by vigilante community leaders at Opi in Nsukka two days ago.

“They pass through Kogi and Benue state undetected by security agents because some security agencies in the region, like in many highways in Nigeria, take bribes to allow these buses and trailers to pass contrary to federal government directive.

“It is yet to be determined why these Almajiris are trouping into South East but we suspect that it is either they are fleeing the north because of the increasing cases or they are being deliberately sent to the south east to infect the people of the region.

“Recall that most of the Almajiris deported to Kano, Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi and other states have tested positive for COVID-19. The continuous influx of South East by Almajiris from the north is not healthy for the country if we want to end this pandemic.

“The best prevention of the spread of COVID-19 is quarantine. Every resident should remain in the state where they are. That is the best way to win this war, the group counselled.

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