Former representative of Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe, has advised that Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike’s measures to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus will prove counterproductive if he fails to give his policies a human face.
Senator Abe said the war against the pandemic was fundamentally about collective humanity and, therefore, must be fought on strictly humane and just terms.
Abe, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt by his media aide, Parry Benson, said the demolition and auction of private property, the closure of sources of survival for Rivers citizens without due consideration to their means of sustenance in the name of the battle against COVID-19, were measures that would prove counterproductive in the long run.
He stated: “I am constrained to say these few words on the worrisome development in my dear state, Rivers.
“Lockdowns should come with clear provisions for the sustenance of the people, particularly the vulnerable population (the young, the old, the sick and the infirm) and exemptions must be made for emergency and essential services, such as foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, press, medical care, security services, electricity, telecom, fuel supply and others,” Abe noted.
Abe, a chieftain and factional governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 election, asserted that Rivers’ war against COVID-19 at the present rate “runs the risk of dividing the state into two distinct camps; those who support the governor and will justify, glorify and applaud any action taken by the Rivers State Government no matter how callous and ill-advised, and those who oppose the governor and will oppose every action of the state government no matter how well thought out or well-intentioned the action may be”.
He argued that in the face of seeming excesses, everyone will be compelled to choose one side or the other, and the state would suffer.
“This need not be so; there is still time for the Rivers State Government to reconsider its strategy, and understand that this is a scientific war against a virus and all of us will need to be involved.
“At this rate, the government may win the lockdown battle and lose the war. COVID-19 is going to be here for some time and we need the goodwill and cooperation of the majority of our people to win the war against this virus.
“True victory will be when we survive united in utmost solidarity and our economy rebounds as we hope for recovery and prosperity.
“This war is fundamentally about collective humanity, it must, therefore, be fought on strictly humane and just terms,” Abe cautioned.
Meanwhile, Governor Wike has announced a temporary lifting of the total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas from Tuesday to Wednesday.
The governor said the decision to temporarily relax the total lockdown on the two LGAs was to enable residents in the affected areas to restock their homes with foodstuffs and medicines.