As the Joke Continues in Abia, the Government Must Sit Down and Think: By Ferdinand Ekeoma.
I sincerely sympathize with the woman shown in the trending video carrying out what was supposed to be a “fumigation” of the Aba environment by Abia state government. She’s possibly a wife and a mother, and even if she isn’t, she has got a family and friends, and thus shouldn’t have been subjected to such public odium and avoidable ridicule by a government that struggles to differentiate between excellence and mediocrity.
As I watched and listened to the video, I could hear some “Crazy” Aba residents mock her and Abia state government. The residents were disgusted by the mediocre kind of fumigation being carried out and thus resorted to mocking the woman and the state government amid laughter. (
Of all the statements of mockery, the one that hit me was the one from one man who shouted “Gbawa gbawa gbawa, nwayi Otele Ukwu gbawa” (Spray Spray, Big buttock woman spray!)
I saw a poorly rehearsed showmanship of fumigation that backfired, sadly, the direct recipient of the ridicule turned out to be the innocent woman who was merely on an assignment. No body deserves to be publicly humiliated unjustly, and it’s more painful when the victim of such humiliation is a woman.
I only wish that some of the pro government sycophants and social media abusers had been deployed for that ignominious “fumigation” so that they could be thoroughly humiliated by the Abia residents they have perpetually chosen to humiliate.
We are told that governance is not a Rocket Science, but in Abia it appears to be, else we wouldn’t be seeing these endless spectacles of silliness that have continuously insulted our sensibilities.
I had intentionally refused to write or publicly discuss Abia state government’s response to Coronavirus from day one even when there was obvious and pressing need to call out the government, because I saw a government that was desperate to divert attention, politicise the issue as well as engage in unnecessary media war.
Everyone knew how long it took Abia state government before they started putting measures in place to halt the spread of Covid-19. As at the time some government officials were moving from one radio station to another to boast about the preparadeness of Abia to fight the Virus, no measures had been put in place. In fact on one occasion, a staff of the government hospital at Amachara had to call on radio to warn that the government was not ready and that nothing was on ground.That was after government officials had in their usual style boasted once again that “We are prepared to fight Covid-19, because verything is on ground”
At a point, our state was a topic for discussion on national tv stations because of a statement credited to our governor concerning Covid-19 and how our state would not be affected because the name Abia is the Bible. Those who took a swipe at the government didn’t do so because they do not believe in God or in the efficacy of what’s written in the Bible, but because they saw the governor’s biblical adumbration as ill timed having not anchored it on any visible practical measures, coupled with the fact that he was alleged to have returned from one of the countries badly bit by Coronavirus, and yet refused to self-isolate, an action many considered dishonourable in the face of the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic.
In times like this, leadership matters a lot. I have listened to some respected Nigerians who are grounded in the fields of economics and financial matters make case for government to roll out policies and programs that could halt the predictable economic hardship that is likely to befall Nigerian citizens, especially low income earners courtesy of Covid-19.
In the face of this, it’s important to plead with Abia state government to desist from carrying out projects and programs for purposes of showmanship. There’s nothing wrong in copying from states who are better than you if you aren’t creative and visionary enough to think out your own original lofty ideas and strategies.
The government must execute her programs with some seriousness and organization in a way it wouldn’t just impact on the people, but also be worthy enough to receive the applause the government desires.
Abia has the human and material resources to effectively fumigate major parts of the state, especially the urban areas which suffer pollution and degradation the more; this shouldn’t be a tall order for the state. The state is just struggling to do it because, in spite of the general dirty environment we are associated with, yet we never fumigated our state prior to now.
Beyond the palliatives distributed to some citizens recently by the government through some churches, which of course is a one-off intervention, the government needs to sit down with some eggheads and marshall out a pro people and sustainable economic strategy that could assist citizens, especially the youths and the elderly ameliorate the economic pains caused by Covid-19.
One doesn’t need to be a professor of economics to know that there would be serious economic crisis and hunger even after this period, because many are going to lose their jobs, many institutions are likely to downsize, many citizens must have eaten up their capitals due to the lockdown which halted business activities, and of course, this would definitely give room for serious rise in crimes and criminality.
If the government won’t be able to roll out any stimulus package at this time, then it must strive to finally tackle the unending problem of non-payment of salaries and pension arrears.
Most pensioners and workers have children and dependants, they need money to take care of them.
Agents of the government have been accusing some of us of over flogging the issue of salary and pension, querying if workers and pensioners are the only citizens that exist, sadly they forget that most of them depend solely on their pensions and salaries and thus become endangered species when badly owed by the government. Again, they rejig the economy by spending the money they are paid on purchases sold or produced by other citizens, thus ensuring serious activities and circulation of money in the economy.
The government can doubt, defend and attack as much as it likes, but the truth is that danger is starring us all in the face, so the earlier the government sat down for decisive action, the better for all.
.. Ferdinand Ekeoma is a journalist from Nigeria.