Following the hardship which the Coronavirus pandemic has generated across the nation, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, His Lordship Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye has called on the Anambra State government and law enforcement agencies to consider the plight of the masses while carrying orders on total lockdown in the state .
Bishop Okoye who made the call during an interview, said the masses should be greatly considered in the face of the lockdown necessitated by the Coronavirus, noting that such consideration would minimize the hardship faced mostly by commoners.
He advocated that government directives and manner of enforcement must have human face for it to go well with the masses who have been indoors for more than two weeks and prevent possible mass demonstration which might be triggered by hunger and lack of basic amenities.
The Catholic prelate enumerated the likely consequences which the total shutdown would cause and commended the initiative behind free movement of essential workers.
He maintained that adequate knowledge of who is an essential worker was required on the part of law enforcement agents to prevent the harassment which people have been met with ever since the beginning of the total lockdown order.
According to him , it was important for the government to produce a list of essential workers and such list should be made available to the enforcement agencies for them to understudy as such would promote effective comprehension of what essential services entailed.
Okoye however termed blockade of roads and denial of access for private cars to move about as inhuman and wondered how a pregnant woman under labour could be rushed to the hospital or in the case of any form of emergency.
He argued that people in the face of the lockdown should be allowed to move about in the quest of basic amenities, noting that the providers of those basic amenities should be given a free hand by security agencies enforcing the lockdown directive to operate.
The clergy who had earlier frowned at the directive by the Anambra State government to relocate local markets in different communities, said the reversal of the directive, 24 hours after it was issued, was a right step in the right direction.
He noted that most of the designated places mapped out to serve as foodstuff markets were not easily accessible by people especially those living in sub-urban communities that required transportation for their movement.
In his words ‘I don’t subscribe to the shifting of the community markets at all. Yes, they could close the motor parks but it would be inhuman for entire blockade of roads even for private cars.
” How would you want to take a pregnant woman under labour to the hospital or in case of any form of emergency? The electricity supply is quite epileptic, how do one buy fuel for the generator’ he stated.
Bishop Okoye who agreed that it was essential for people to wash their hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds, regretted that most individuals do not have access to running water.
He therefore commended the creativity of Nigerians especially at how they fashioned buckets with taps to supply running water which were often refilled from time to time.
He stated that Covid-19 pandemic has helped to improve the level of hygiene and consciousness even as he commended the joint effort of all Anambrarians and residents for the cooperation which they gave the government directive in the first phase of the lockdown.
He stated that the cooperation contributed greatly to the success which the state has been recording in her fight against the spread of coronavirus.
Bishop Okoye who hailed the philanthropic deeds of wealthy Anambrians and representatives at both Federal and State house Assembly who took turns to sensitize their constituents on the need of keeping proper hygiene in the face of Covid-19 pandemic, said more cooperation and coordination is needed.
He beckoned on people especially the wealthy ones in society to reach out more to the less privileged to ameliorate the hardship which Covid-19 introduced.