Coronavirus Bishop Okoye Wants Measures with Human Face …Hails Compliance in First Phase of Lockdown
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 ensure qualitative consideration of the masses’ plight before issuing out directives and moves towards its enforcement.
Bishop Okoye who made the call through a phone interview, said the masses should be greatly considered in the face of the lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, 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, he said, had been indoors for more than two weeks, in order to 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 was an essential worker was required on the part of law enforcement agents to prevent the harassment which people had experienced ever since the beginning of the total lockdown order.
He noted that it was important for the government to produce a list of essential workers, noting that such a list should be made available to the enforcement agencies for them to understudy in order to promote effective comprehension of what essential services entailed.
He termed blockade of roads and denial of access to 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 for 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.
Bishop Okoye who had earlier frowned at the directive of 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 in labour to the hospital or in case of any form of emergency? The electricity supply is quite epileptic, how does one buy fuel for the generator? he queried.
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 lacked access to running water. He however commended the creativity of Nigerians, especially the way they fashioned buckets with taps to supply running water which were often refilled from time to time. He stated that the Covid-19 pandemic had helped to improve the level of hygiene and consciousness among people.
The auxiliary bishop commended the joint efforts of all Anambrarians and residents and the cooperation in complying with the government directive in the first phase of the lockdown. He stated that the cooperation contributed greatly to the success which the state had 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 Houses 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 were 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.
By Chioma Ndife