A chaotic scene of people struggling and scrambling over food palliation on top of a truck.

Any disease outbreak in Africa’s most populous country is never taken lightly and with the gravity of global situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian government moved fast to mobilize resources to respond to the outbreak response.

The first confirmed novel COVID-19 case in the country was confirmed in Lagos in the morning of February 27, 2020. The signs are ominous as the number of Nigerians infected with the deadly virus that has become a global pandemic continues to rise. By March 30,2020, the number of confirmed CODIV-19 cases in Lagos has risen to eighty-three, and from the initial three cases reported on March 23 in the Federal capital Territory (FCT, Abuja) to twenty-one. Some other states have confirmed case as well but Lagos and FCT Abuja remain the epicenter of CODIV-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

At this point Nigeria has felt the crippling effects of the pandemic and swiftly responded with a COVID-19 regulation lockdown involving cessation of movements in Lagos state, Ogun state, and FCT, Abuja for an initial period of 14 days. Citizens are to stay in their homes and businesses and offices closed, while national and international borders remain closed. This regulation has not gone down well with citizens in Lagos and Abuja who incessantly agitate for palliatives to mitigate the effects of the lockdown.

Youths struggling to cart away food palliatives from inside a truck.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is made up of Abuja Metropolitan city and five area councils of Abaji, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje and Kwali. Abuja Metropolitan city has an estimated population of six million persons placing it behind Lagos as the most populous metro area in Nigeria. The five other area councils are essentially rural settlements with a huge number of poor and vulnerable households in line with the overall status of Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world.

The first phase of palliative distribution is targeted at 100,000 poor and vulnerable households in each of the six council areas, given a total of 600,000 poor and vulnerable households.

However, the distribution of palliatives in FCT, Abuja is to say the least chaotic and uncoordinated. The first phase of the distribution of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown palliatives that is supposed to be concluded by April 14, 2020 is still ongoing. This is not unexpected because there is no verifiable digital data base in Nigerian which captures poor and vulnerable persons. Nigeria’s lack of good and systematic database has in small measure affected effective distribution of CODVIV-19 lockdown palliatives.

A huge population disappointed and frustrated over the distribution of palliatives in Abuja, Nigeria.

This has led to the allegation that the process is being politicized. The federal government has up till this moment been unable to utilize clear strategy of reaching the vulnerable and poor in the distribution of palliatives. It is not surprising to see throngs of people struggling for food as shown the pictures below. It is no news that many people out of frustration of the challenges of CODIV-19 pandemic lockdown openly complain against the government: is it possible to obey the lockdown.

We obey the lockdown. But we are hungry, No food. No light. How do they want us to stay inside?– https://www.premium timesng.com

Peter Ezeah (PhD) teaches Sociology/Anthropology in Nnamdii Azikiwe University Awka, Anambra Sate , Nigeria. He is a member 10/66 Dementia Research Group.