Moved by efforts of Lagos State government, under the watch of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in Lagos, President Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State, Chief Solomon Ogbonna has explained why market leaders in Lagos must follow the directives from Lagos state government on how to contain the deadly pandemic. He speaks on this and otherr national issues.
What is your assessment of the government response to Covid-19?
I commend the government of Lagos state for the steady progress being made in managing the virus and restricting its spread. Though, the number of cases keeps rising, but the government efforts are mitigating the situation. According to government projections, it will get worse before it starts getting better. I am confident the Lagos state administration under Babajide Sanwo-Olu is capable of handling the situation and protecting us. Whatever they are doing now is working and they should keep it up.
What is your assessment of people’s reactions to government instructions?
Human beings will always be human beings, as we all behave differently. It is always difficult to get people to comply fully with laws. Nonetheless, a good majority of Lagosians are heeding the advice and instructions of the government. The few who are defying the orders will surely answer to law enforcement agents across the state. In general, I will say that most Lagosians are heeding government advice and instructions.
What is your advice to Ndigbo especially traders?
My advice to Ndigbo in particular and Lagosians in general is to adhere strictly to government orders. It is only the living that does business. Quite, the recommendations might be hard to follow, but those recommendations and instructions are meant to keep us safe. The close of businesses is the best way to enforce the social-distancing instruction and prevent spread of the virus. It does not make sense for somebody to make billions of naira today and die tomorrow. The most important step in this crisis situation is to do everything possible to keep safe. Definitely, families will be under immense stress, but God Almighty will shield and keep people healthy with even the slightest of food and water intake. This is reminiscent of war time, so we should do everything to avoid the bullet—covid-19. So, I advise Ndigbo and all Lagosians to stay home and keep safe.
What is your assessment of government handling of the Abule Ado explosion?
It was a terrible accident, and government response was fast and prompt. I appreciate governor Sanwo-Olu quick response to the calamity. The governor’s response showed his commitment to the welfare of Lagosians. Remember, the governor, after visiting the explosion site, instituted two billion naira (#2billion) appeal fund to assist victims of the explosion. People including state governors across the country have been donating to the appeal fund. So, the Lagos state administration of Sanwo-Olu is putting into action, the axiom, government of the people, by the people and for the people. So, the government response is laudable.
What is OhanaezeNdigbo doing to support Igbo people affected by the explosion?
We visited the explosion site immediately we heard of it. Then, we set up fact-finding group to ascertain the extent of losses incurred by Lagosians not just Ndigbo. As at now, we are still gathering data on the losses incurred by the victims. We want to know families who lost loved ones to the explosion and those who lost properties. So, we are taking inventory, just as Lagos state government is doing. We intend to embark on fund-raising to support the victims of the explosion. We will be reaching out to well-meaning Igbo people to donate to the fund. The fund-raising will be coordinated by the President General of OhanaezeNdigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo. Whatever amount realised, will be channelled to support all Lagosians including Ndigbo, affected by the explosion.
What is your advice to those affected by the explosion?
I commensurate with all the victims of the explosion and pray God Almighty give them the strength to bear the losses incurred. To the bereaved families, I pray God give them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. And may God Almighty grant the souls of all the deceased eternal rest in his kingdom heaven. Quite, the losses are huge, but the survivors of the explosion will eventually overcome. So, my advice is that they should not lose hope and keep looking up to God. I know they are going through pains, especially with the complications occasioned by the Covid-19 crisis, but once there is life, there is hope. We will; all overcome the challenges posed by Covid-19, and when life returns to normal, we will reach out to the victims of the explosion. Once again, I advise them to keep up hope for greater tomorrow.
As the apex Igbo organisation, has Ohanaeze Ndigbo gotten her allocation of food items from Sanwo-olu administration for distribution to Ndigbo to cushion the effect of Covid-19?
I will not answer this question. So, you can answer it yourself.
We heard some persons have tested positive for the Covid-19 in Enugu state. What is your advice to the state governor?
The Covid-19 is an epidemic and epidemics are no respecter of persons or geographical boundaries. It is spreading like wild fire across the world, so it can reach anywhere. I advise Enugu state governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi to contact his Lagos state colleague, BabajideSanwo-Olu for advice and some tips on how to manage the situation. I will also advise him to intensify action on contact-tracing to stop the spread of the virus. The challenge is there, so the governor should mobilise all resources necessary to protect his people.
Do you think South-Eastern states are prepared for the Covid-19 battle?
I think all state governors including those of the South East are prepared to battle the Covid-19. Though, the level of preparedness may vary from state to state, but all states in the federation are prepared. That is the reason they have been issuing various orders to their citizens for the Covid-19 battle. Now that the Covid-19 case has been identified in Enugu state, all other south East governors will up the ante in arrangements for the Covid-19 battle. The governors know that laxity of any degree could spell doom for their states. So, they will soldier on, and fight the horror with all their might. This is a unique challenge of governance and I believe they will win and protect Ndigbo.
What is your advice to Ndigbo resident in the South-east?
First and foremost, Ndigbo in Enugu state in particular and South East in general should remain calm and obey all instructions from their governments. They should cancel all social functions especially Igba-Nkwu and funeral ceremonies to prevent crowds which could cause rapid spread of the virus. They should be vigilant and report any suspected case to the appropriate authority. They should avoid spreading falsehood and rumours, as such could impede government strategies to fight the pandemic. They should also listen to news reports from frontline news media, avoiding fake news from social media. Ndigbo, don’t be deceived by fake news peddlers, Covid-19 is real; so follow your governors and adhere to their instructions and guides.