Covid-19: Why donations should not go to govt By Afam Echi
It has been indeed a trying moment for the citizens of the world. The sudden turn out of events in the wake of the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic has challenged the whole world in no small measure. One of the survival strategies is for the world to begin to rediscover its humanity and that is what is going on presently in the wide world.
Stemming the spread of the virus requires that people self-isolate themselves for a certain number of days. Those who have contracted it are quarantined till they obtain recovery. In every case all human activities for survival are shut down globally. It therefore poses great challenge to mankind to keep its head afloat.
The developed countries in response to this challenge have provided palliative measures for their citizens while in hibernation. This came in form of stimulus packages worth trillions of dollars when put together. These countries have shown some efficiency in the management of their men and resources in the past especially on welfare issues.
Besides, they are rich and resourceful and are better equipped to grapple with the situations on ground propelled by their concern to get the best for their citizens. We cannot say the same of our government which has remained in a decrepit state from the beginning in spite of our rich endowments of human and natural resources.
While other countries leaders has a good handle of the situation briefing their citizens periodically and encouraging them, it was like waking a victim drugged with opium to get President Muhammadu Buhari speak to Nigerians. Nigerians literally have to beg or push before the man woke up from slumber to speak and at the end many peoples expectations were dashed.
What could pass for stimulus package was strengthening and paying twice the meagre 5k paid to the most vulnerable. Funnily, he approved the feeding of primary and secondary school pupils who are already in their parent’s home. But some rich Nigerians have risen to provide some interventions on behalf of the people by donating to the federal governments and some state government huge sums of money to tone down the effects of the clampdown.
While these donations have attracted the applause of some Nigerians many others are not comfortable about it. Yours sincerely through this platform is rising in total condemnation of the donations made to the various governments. I hold a different view and for me some of the donors may just be playing to the gallery.
First, let us look at the class of people making these donations. They are Nigeria’s rich men of the capitalists’ class. There you have the likes of Elumelu, Dangote, Otedola, UBA, GTB, Zenith, Atiku, Rabiu, Agbaje, Ovia etc.
Nigerian government has never performed in any appreciable degree to better the lots of its citizens. From year to year it has been a tale of woe irrespective of the changes in government. In fact, each succeeding government has always performed more woefully than its predecessor as if there is a reward for it. There is gross mismanagement of men, money, and materials in the most despicable manner.
Nigerian governments at all levels wear corruption like dress. It is the gross mismanagement of our resources that has created the conditions we are experiencing today. What is the guarantee that the government was going to make any difference with the donations that it is receiving? Each year huge amounts of money are voted for some projects. To what extent have we realized those projects?
We are all witnesses to the sorry state of Aso Rock clinic which receives huge budget votes each year but still remain very unfit to be accessed by our men in power. Aisha Buhari, the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, once cried out over this. Even after drawing attention to this what changes have we experienced there?
A greater proportion of the donors are contractors who work with the federal government. Some are big financiers that have helped to birth almost each of the governments. Some of them are suspected to be among those who have creamed off our common wealth. What they are doing is just giving back to their benefactors and playing the good boy
Not many are enthused by their donations. They are donating to widen the opportunity for more contracts. My friend Sunny has likened the donation to a gift from a woman. According to him, women are so stingy and conservative that they hardly open their hands to give. He believes it is only your mother that can freely giver without expecting a reward.
Right or wrong, Sunny teaches that anytime a woman on her own gives you something, it is either it touches her to return your change or it is bait for something to request from. This is the way he views the donations coming from Nigerians men of money, men of timber and calibre. He has gone ahead to query that if this is not bait for more jobs why not make these donations available to the individuals directly.
These donors know very well the depth of corruption in our society. These donors have been successful in their respective business ventures and understand the right or appropriate audience. Aware of the weaknesses of the government one expected that rather than give money to the government these monies should have been used to procure whatever material based on the guidance of the government.
A greater proportion of the beneficiaries are people who survive on daily income generated through their business activities. Now that they have been holed up through the sit at home order life has suddenly become more distressing in order to feed their families. They are the ones who need financial support or food supplies more.
Admittedly, it is not our right to dictate how any donor should appropriate his funds but we only feel that a better approach would have been to procure some of the materials needed by the government guided by their supervision and expend the rest in procuring foods and cash reliefs which the people need badly. It does not call for any debate that there is a crisis of confidence between the leaders and the led. The Nigerian populace have resigned their fate to God and are hardly moved by the donation. Sample their views and you will be shocked to hear them declare that they are not expecting anything from those hand outs. Reason: they know their leaders. Trust is clearly lacking.