By William Iyabor

Edo state, in South-South geopolitical zone of Nigeria, is called home by over four million people according to the previously conducted national census.

The outbreak of a global pandemic ravaging mankind referred to as the Corona virus disease or COVID-19 arrived Nigeria, through an Italian, who served as a vector, to the disease into the country.

After the instance of a confirmed case in the country, various states adopted several measures aimed at check-mating the spread of the virus, with Lagos state at the forefront of the roll back Coronavirus campaign, about led by the intrepid Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Lagos state, irrespective of the preliminary measures, such as sensitization and social distancing regulations, however still witnessed the disease taking its toll on residents, where the number of confirmed cases has risen to over 120 cases at the time of writing.

The Federal Capital Territory, is also another part of the country, where the virus has taken its toll on residents, which saw to the direct imposition of a 14 day sit home directive from the Federal Government, under the leadership of president Muhammadu Buhari, which also applies to Lagos state, as part of measures by the federal government to curb the spread.

State governors across the nation have swung into action with gusto, some have adopted the sit at home measure, either through curfew or a direct lock down. Some other governors have taken this a step further by banning all forms of entry and or exit for the state. Delta State is a quintessential example despite not having a single confirmed case, Governor Okowa isn’t resting on his oars.

The Edo state government has adopted a tepid, watered down, ineffective approach despite having recorded 11 confirmed cases.
While the Governor, Godwin Obaseki is in self isolation after having made contact with the Speaker who tested positive last month. While there is no shame in that, the approach of his administration to tackling the pandemic leaves a lot to be desired.

First the government issues a statement purporting to close down schools, offices and shops barring those that sell food, drugs and other essential commodities. The government also said every other person should stay at home. Transporters were ordered to reduce the number of passengers they commute.
At face value these appear to be very admirable steps taken to curb the spread of the Covid-19.
However when one does a little digging below the surface, the story is different and reeks with ineptitude.

Indeed schools have been shut down and all students sent home barring one or two dissenting schools. The state government ordered Civil Servants to stay at home and banned all gatherings above 20 people. Those are what we refer to as audio instructions in our own local parlance. More for cosmetic value than pragmatism. There is no sit-at-home going on in Edo State, movement still continues within the state as normal, there’s still unfettered access into the state with no visible buffer to protect Edolites. Social distance is almost completely non-existent or woefully inadequate. The transporters in the state are blatantly flouting the instructions of the government and continue to cram passengers into their vehicles like sardines.
Shops are still open and people are still making hanging out at bars in the capital city.

At the moment Edo state has a total of 11 confirmed cases, with 234 persons of interest. With the free movement within the city it’s horrifying to imagine what the domino effect will be considering the insouciance of the state government to regulate unnecessary movement in the state

Why exactly is the Edo State Government exhibiting such irresponsible nonchalance? Why is their response criminally lukewarm? One school of thought believes it could be economically motivated. How so? Well, the FG has allocated about 10bn to Lagos State considering the high number of cases in that state. Lagos has 120 cases and understandably gets the lion share of intervention funds.

Is it possible Governor Obaseki is deliberately waiting for the numbers to stack up before getting more proactive? It’s curious and worrying that accusations like these are being whispered in the corridors of power. If the confirmed cases of Covid-19 stack up to a certain number, maybe the state government will claim more money from the FG. If the government’s lackadaisical attitude is motivated by pecuniary interests, then Edo citizens need to start asking very deep questions.

Another school of thought believes that the free hand given to citizens of the state to do as they please by Governor Obaseki may not be unconnected with his quest for a second tenure. It is widely believed — and with good reason — that the governor is reluctant to take a firm stand so as not to offend some strata of the society. Put bluntly, this shows weakness and indecisiveness.

At moments like this, the citizens should be looking to their leader for guidance and should be able to count on the honesty, forthrightness and intrepidity of such a leader. Sadly Governor Obaseki is anything but, he’s continued to play politics with the lives of Edo citizens and by putting his political ambition ahead of the safety of his people he raises questions about his capacity to lead.

I enjoin the administration to eschew all pecuniary interests and intentions to cash in on the malady and misfortune of the good people of Edo State. They should show leadership in this time of distress and the Governor Godwin Obaseki should be the personification of that.