Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, a lawyer and human rights activist, is the chairperson of Transition Monitoring Group (TMG)
The efforts of the government of Lagos State will go down in the history of the nation for the leadership role played in the containment and response to pandemic of this nature. We commend its forthrightness’ so far and wish it more success in the drive to ensure a COVID-19-free Nigeria.
We believe that Lagos State has set the standard and pace for other states in Nigeria to immediately emulate, we therefore call on other state governments to adopt the quick response approach of the Lagos State government to enable the country address this global crisis, with limited causalities.
Furthermore the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) frowns at the attitude of some citizens, mostly elites, who might have been exposed to the virus but have failed to follow the necessary self-isolation and self-reporting regime to prevent them from spreading the virus. Such behavior is inhuman, self-destructive and ungodly to say the least.
TMG also calls on Nigerians to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families from this new coronavirus. We advocate for a social ecological approach knowing fully that Nigeria has a huge rural community that needs to make informed decision on Covid-19. TMG therefore proposes a top-down/bottom-up approach to information sharing and responses.
We further commit to volunteering our membership to support in information management at the grassroots levels, distribution of materials and acting as conduit to support information management across the country that can stem the global pandemic as the civil society play pivotal roles in Nigeria and can support in ensuring that right information is passed across to the teeming population both online and physically.
TMG is however not unaware of the fact that there is a huge outpouring of information out there, but very few are useful and reliable and that the rural communities in Nigeria are still not properly captured to understand the impact of this pandemic. We therefore appeal to governments across Nigeria to target more the rural communities. We also call on Nigerians to desist from sharing fake news or misinformation at this time because it may lead to paranoia, fear and stigmatization.
While we applaud the efforts of the government, we are however concerned about the role of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in this phase of combating COVID-19, especially with evidence from the National Survey data showing that less than 30 per cent of poor Nigerians have access to improved sources of water, and the fact that households in rural communities are disproportionately impacted.
Lastly, even at a trying period like this we call for prudency, accountability and transparency in the management of public resources. We urge government to ensure proper monitoring and auditing of all resources deployed to combatting this pandemic, including those donated by the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and other indigenous philanthropist. It is more important that the resources get to where they are intended for, and achieve desired results, rather than spending more public resources and time afterwards to chase after looters of such critical resources. We hope the government will come out of this crisis with lessons for good governance and better management of public funds and resources for the good of all.