Posted by News Express | 24 May 2020 | 7,431 times
What do you think about the controversy generated by the recent cases of Almajirai from the North intercepted in some states, including the South-East?
The Federal Government, in its wisdom, banned interstate travels so that the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic does not spread uncontrollably. Many governors complied with the directive but the almighty Governor of Kano State (Abdullahi Ganduje) decided to do the opposite. He ordered the hitherto untouchable Almajiri boys and girls back to their states of origin.
Today, all the other governors in the federation are up in arms about it and the Igbo people are singled out for condemnation for obeying the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari. For the avoidance of doubt, the Governor of Kaduna State (Nasir El-Rufai) had in a recent statement condemned the directive of the governor of Kano State. He stated clearly that the Almajiri kids were testing positive in Kaduna. The government of Taraba followed suit.
Some states even insisted on sending the Almajirai people back to Kano. It should be noted that former President Goodluck Jonathan had built special schools for the Almajiri but this government abandoned the scheme. The All Progressives Congress even made it a campaign issue in 2015. The almighty Almajirai kids were prominent voters in 2015 and 2019, including eight-year-olds.
What do you think is behind the movement of these Almajirai people in trucks to different states at this time, despite the ban on interstate movement?
The migration (from the North) to all the southern and Middle Belt states is akin to a biological warfare against the mentioned areas. The government of Nigeria knows what to do but it has chosen to ignore it while the areas are massively exposed. Somebody is delicately sending the weapons of biological warfare down South. The Almajirai kids had never been to the South but now, somebody is paying for their fares to get to the South. The kids can only speak Hausa. They are beggars and no one will employ them. So, it is a way to deal with the South.
They have been intercepted in states in the South-East and South-West, how do you think they are able to move despite the ban?
There is another invasion which has just been noticed. Able-bodied men aged between 20 and 35 are smuggled by food-carrying trucks to Igboland. They speak little Hausa and a lot of French. They are normally hidden underneath bags of tomatoes and pepper, yam tubers and cattle. They do not know their destinations and occupations.
Igbo people are justified raising the alarm. This is happening under the guise of Almajirai movement. It is even alleged that military and police vehicles have even joined the transportation threat. The Igbo people must stay alert and promptly stop this invasion as the Federal Government will do nothing.
The President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, was quoted to have threatened war against Igbo people, saying they had no right to turn back his northern brothers but has now come out to deny it, what do you think about that?
The amorphous group led by Yerima has been quoted as threatening Ndigbo for challenging this clandestine transfer of liability. The reason given is freedom of movement and residence. I am glad that Yerima has denied making such a threat but for the avoidance of doubt, restrictions on the basis of health are legal. The constitution protects the citizens of the country from the menace of those able-bodied men who are smuggled daily from outside Nigeria for nefarious purposes.
A coalition of pan-Igbo groups recently threatened to get the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, arrested if he doesn’t stop parading himself as the leader of the organisation, what do you think about that?
Chief John Nnia Nwodo is the duly elected President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide. His tenure ends in January and persons from Imo State will vie for the presidency. Ohanaeze is too big to be troubled by rabble-rousers, who are at best agents of destabilisation of Ndigbo. We are blessed with diverse membership of Ndigbo. We cannot be intimidated by the painted faces of errand boys. Now and then, agents of disunity spring up but Ndigbo worldwide know their leaders. Leaders are elected and they rotate among seven states.
Remarkably, the South-East has recorded the fewest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, what do you think they have done right so far?
The Federal Government dilly-dallied in responding to the COVID-19 threat. It is really a major exposure of the inadequacy of our healthcare system. In 2014, the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration successfully battled Ebola. The experience was jettisoned in preparing for the COVID-19 battle. We have no medical emergency procedures and neither do we have equipped hospitals and allied services. Today, the government of Kano State will rather enjoy denial than face reality.
How would you assess the distribution of palliatives by the Federal Government in the region?
The distribution of palliatives is so poorly done that even a blind man will see it. How can you fail to realise that for 80 per cent of Nigerians, their daily income and expenditure are dependent on what they earned the previous day. More than 90 per cent of Nigerians live in multi-tenanted premises. Yet, the government talks of self-isolation. The most important step in finishing this battle is to face reality.
The 2023 elections are thwarting the Federal Government from focusing on the real thing that should be taken away from the Buhari-led government. Invisible leadership is not a virtue but a disaster waiting to truncate whatever achievement Buhari will like to be remembered for.
Do you think the South-East state governments are also doing enough individually or collectively too to help their people?
The governments of Igbo states and indeed the people are sensitive to the return of people to their villages. This should be encouraged to control the community spread of COVID-19.
•Source: Sunday PUNCH.
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