By Hassan Suleiman
The Federal Government of Nigeria recently visited Lagos with a view to flag off the conditional cash transfer and supply of relief material for the vulnerable in Lagos, being the epic entre of the COVID -19 pandemic . According to report, the Federal Government team was led by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq , claimed that the donation is part of the relieve package to Lagosians with a view to mitigating the effect of lockdown and sit at home occasion by the COVID -19 pandemic. Before now, prominent Nigerians have made financial donation and relief material to Federal Government in order to increase its capacity to respond to the spread of COVID -19 pandemic. Nigerians such as Alikko Dangote,Tony Elumelu, Femi Otedola, Abdul Samad Rabiu, Herbert Nwige, Segun Agbaje, Jim Ovia, , Emmanuel Lazarus, Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice –President under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo tenure and Tuface Idibia, one of the Nigeria ‘s popular musicians. Couple with this, the Federal Government also made a donation of 10 billion grant to Lagos, being the epicenter of the pandemic while 5billion naira was also allocated to the National Centre for Disease Control(NCDC). Other corporate organizations such as Access bank, Zenith, and Guaranty Trust Bank gave I billion each with facilities for Isolation Centre while the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) gave 11 billion naira to combat the spread of the epidemic. No doubt, the efforts of these individuals and corporate organizations should be commended.
The efforts of these individuals and organizations are being complemented by legislatures in both the national (House of Representatives and Senate ), State Houses of Assembly and Chairmen of Local Government and Local Council Development Areas who have come up with various intervention measures for those they referred to as the vulnerable. These measures include provision of edible items and food stuff such as rice, garri, semovita, noodles, spaghetti, Milk, eggs, and cereals
The concern of this piece is to reveal the poor who are mostly the vulnerable that need the condition cash transfer and the relief material. The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has emphasized severally that the present administration is geared to making adequate provision for the proper upkeep of the vulnerable during the lock down in most states that preceded the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who then constitutes the vulnerable? According to Macmillan dictionary, vulnerable is defined as someone who is weak or easily hurt physically or mentally. One can as well define vulnerable as aged person, the elderly and the old men and women, the internally displaced persons, people living with different kinds of deformities and need physical , emotional and financial support to be able to meet up with its daily engagement, labourers, petty traders and hawkers. A vulnerable can also be described as someone whose livelihood earns a meager wage and needs to be supported by care -givers and corporate firms to be able to meet his daily engagement.
From noted the definitions and explanation, one can as well classified unemployed graduate who after graduating is denied employment just because he is above 30 years, a master degree holder who teaches in nursery and primary and earn low income, a vulcanizer who has a makeshift shop along the road and does not have modern facilities to satisfy his customers, a physically challenged male or female who have to sell sachet water on our busy roads, the orphan, those in remand and correctional home, youths who after completing training from technical and vocation centres have to battle with epileptic power supply to earn a living , a graduate who has just been sacked by bank just because he is unable to meet up the marketing demand of his responsibilities, sex hawkers who have to stay indoor throughout the lock down , Baba Ijebu poll agent who have to close down his shop in order to comply with Federal Government order, Mei Suya (Hausa meat Seller ). Mei Tea (Hausa Tea and bread Seller ) cart pushers, waste collectors, petty launderer, shoe repairers, , street cleaners, drainage cleaners, crippled and blind beggars and others whose are mainly daily earners as part of vulnerable.
From my personal observation and interaction with people, this definition has being twisted by politicians and other authorities who are conferred with the power of distributing these relief material and fund. Some of the relief materials and fund made available in the state, local government and wards ended in the hands of party elders and supporters, who are comfortable and do not need these package. There are some online cases where youths and mostly crowd forcefully break into the secretariat of this local government and cart away these materials. This is where these politicians get it wrong. There are various avenues that the Federal Government, State and Local government can adopt in ensuring that these package achieved its desired goals. Politicians in the two federal chambers (House of Representative and Senate) as well as state Houses of Assembly should work hand- in – hand with stakeholders such as Bale, opinion leaders, age grade groups, religious groups and associations, social- cultural groups, vocational and technical associations, as these set of group comprised the vulnerable. Also, Associations such as Keke NAPEP, Okada riders, National Union of Road Transport Owners and Workers. . Pepper – Grinders Associations and others in the small and retail businesses
More so, politicians should also be mindful that palliative given at the COVID -19 period should not be used as campaign tool but rather meeting the needs of the poor and those in abjectly poverty condition. Lagos State Government should also deem it fit to be transparent in the distribution of cond
Hassan Biodun Suleiman is of the Department of Journalism, School of Communication, Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos.