COVID-19 pandemic: Time for active citizenship, committed philanthropy

AS THE coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic  continues to hold the world to ransom and people are willy nilly locked down in their homes, pleas and cries have been coming from all angles as hunger and lack of money take their toll on the people.

IN NIGERIA, the pandemic has affected all aspects of social life and economic activities as the federal government and various states develop or adopt policies to prevent the spread of the disease amid a destabilising wave of  misinformation from various quarters distracting people from fully co-operating with government to stop the spread.

THE pandemic may turn out to win the battle if we do not pay good attention to the need to  cushion the adverse effects of the lockdown on many citizens and  homes, particularly those who live on daily income.

Both federal and some state governments are currently distributing food items and money to some  less privileged persons, while pleading for help from corporate organisations, philanthropists and public spirited individuals.

  FOR instance, the federal government in a nationwide broadcast last week, announced a plan to increase the  National Social Register from 2.6 million to 3.6 million. Lagos State Government also last week, announced that it would transfer cash and feed 100,000 youths in a free meal kitchen initiative, daily, while Anamabra State Government has provided 200 bags of rice, cash and other food condiments to elderly members of  all communities in the state respectively.

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Last week, Anambra State  Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, announced a special welfare package for youths of all the 181 communities in the state. Part of the package includes distribution of 400 bags of rice to each of the 181 communities for the youths.

  IN AS much as there are still some Nigerians who are yet to be convinced that there is COVID-19 in the country, hence are doing everything to defy governments’ directives by not obeying the partial or total lockdown orders from state governments, facts make it clear to everyone that there is rise in COVID-19 cases and in cries of hunger as well as  almost certain situations of loss of jobs.

There is also rise in crime wave which although is not necessarily caused by the lockdown but can be blamed on unemployment and general hardship in the country which the pandemic worsened.

  IT IS highly commendable that some wealthy Nigerians, corporate bodies, including some churches have  heeded the call from various governments to donate money, food and vital materials  to help ameliorate the hard times caused by  the COVID-19 pandemic. Those donations of  cash and food items to both government and the populace help douse the hard times  and  complement governments’ efforts.

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  NATIONAL Light notes that all the efforts are in the right direction, although they still  are not enough considering the huge population of the poor in Nigeria. We believe that more need to be done as people are hungry and miscreants are seizing the opportunity to commit crime.

  IT WILL help a lot if individuals and corporate bodies who have already supported government efforts should go a step further to provide palliatives and employment, even if ad hoc to  the poor and unemployed as part of their corporate social responsibilities.

This will not only enable them to have peace but prevent crime invasion in the location of  their companies and above all, ensure that  they have healthy and quality workforce since whatever affects the society affects the  organisation in it  and of course, its workers.

If the society is hostile, for example, and an organisation is making profit, it is obvious that the society will sooner or later turn against the organisation.

  IT IS equally important to note that times like this call for people to take up the challenge of philanthropy and creating employment. This is time for the spirit of ‘onyeaghana nwanneya’, an expression among  Igbo people for team work and collective social engagement of tasks to manifest.

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It should be noted that  it is  not only about giving money or donating food items. Organisations that are not working can volunteer to do certain social works or use their resources to produce essential materials needed in fight  against the pandemic disease.

  WE ALSO call on traditional rulers, town unions, age grades, faith- based organisations and local governments who are yet to make donations, particularly those seeing it as the duty of corporate organisations and very wealthy individuals to engage more actively in the anti-COVID-19 fight.

Everybody and organisation can  donate to government and the populace.  We should all mobilise the people and rise up to the emergency challenge to cushion the effect of the outbreak.

  THIS call becomes very necessary because only genuinely concerned and very engaged  individuals, groups and  organisations not governments or their agencies can do   better in the current campaign. They are well positioned  to go into the streets and have firsthand information of the sufferings of the people and devise ways   to help.

  THE onus lies on all of us to join hands and  save lives by doing the utmost  we can.

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