Nigerian Economic Stimulus Package: A Faltering Attempt (Part 1)

With the increasing number of COVID-19 infected persons, the stay home initiative was put in place as part of the COVID-19 behavioural protocol for curtailing the spread of the virus. But, do people stay home in lack and hunger? This could result in depression and in far worse conditions if the situation is not properly managed?


Daily Hustle Equals Daily “Chop”

Statistics show that 38.8% of Nigerians are living along poverty lines (Politics Today, Channels TV; 13th April 2020). Note also that, a considerable percentage of Nigerian citizens are what I have termed, ‘the daily-jobbers’. These are families that are fed and sustained via proceeds from everyday jobs or sales. Yet in obedience to the Federal Government’s directives, fear for their lives and the need to stay safe, people have stayed home but with little or no preparation or provision for the likely indefinite stay at home period.


The current state of the country’s infrastructures has done nothing to help the situation, particularly, the state of her power supply. Some could not stock-up food for lack of resources while those who did, painfully lament the rot that befell stored food due to the lack of or poor power supply. This condition has also posed a challenge to the hopefuls who looked forward to working from home. If this is to be accomplished, they would have to run their generator sets for long hours resulting in air and noise pollution and constant emission of fumes containing monoxide (a poisonous and invisible odourless gas which if inhaled according to health experts can result in death). This is a far cry from the on-going campaign for a healthy environment in these days of global warming and climate change.


You: But the Federal Government of Nigeria directed free power supply to all her citizens for two months and long blackouts or faults should be reported. I saw the message on social media, it also contained numbers one could call and report defaulting providers.


Me: I also saw scrolling as news on TVC (Sunday 12th April 2020). “Minister of Power says the Federal Government was yet to decide on free power supply for 2 months”.


Distribution of Stimulus Package or Coronavirus?

Either a true picture or not, we have heard, seen and watched other countries distribute their economic stimulus package in an organised manner. The stimulus pack is properly packaged, boxed and delivered in an enviable and dignifying manner to the country’s citizens giving them a sense of prestige, honour and belonging. There have been attestations to bank credit alerts in citizens’ bank accounts without them having to struggle, stampede and beat-up themselves. I guess, no lesser expectation from a country with credible, working institutions and a reliable and comprehensive database.


Probably, this is not to be expected from a country with little or no proper database. We cried foul when the US placed a ban on non-immigrant visa application rather than face the why not for a country that cannot vouch or account for her citizens. A country that has not complied with the established identity-management and information-sharing criteria; a country with no proper and systematic vetting capabilities and processing of her people; a country having a practically non-existing or updated workable system in identification and verification, no tracking system and so on may not be expected to perform a miracle in the distribution of palliatives during a pandemic.


Oh! What Manner of Distribution

Distributions are and were done in a dehumanizing, demoralising manner displaying or showcasing the abject poverty level of the country. On the Island (Victoria Island of Lagos State, Nigeria), the praise of the Government is sung as people testify to receiving 10kg and 5kg bags of Rice, Beans, Garri with loads of bread available which were delivered from house to house in some cases.  A far cry from what was obtainable in Alimosho LGA of Lagos State, Nigeria, where a street that could have as much as 30 houses was given a bag of Garri or a derica of beans and rice to share with a N100naira (0.5%) loaf of bread to share. A far cry from the bad state of foodstuffs people of Ogun state claim are being distributed if there’s any truth in the social media video in circulation.  By Florin, Jakande Estate, Oke-Afa, Isolo, eye witness (11th April 2020) attested to the distribution of about 3 stems of lifeless-looking Ugwu vegetable, dried pepper tied in small nylons and Garri to the size of 75cl cups in 2 places. How far can these go?


We prescribed social distancing as part of the COVID-19 behavioural protocol for curtailing the virus but the manner in which the stimulus package was distributed was more like a scene of people going to be avid recipients of the COVID-19 virus and not the stimulus package. So, where did we go wrong?