It is no longer news that the world is currently locked in a multifaceted battle with a dreadful health pandemic known as Coronavirus or COVID-19. Subsequently, it is not strange that the major talking point of most modes of mass communication is the multifarious effect of the ravaging novel COVID-19 pandemic that is currently upsetting the social, economic and political agenda of many nations across the globe.
According to health professionals, the coronavirus is a contagious disease that is easily transferred from one infested person to people who come in contact with him.
Therefore, it is in a bid to curtail further spread of this killer virus, that practitioners in the health sector under the aegis of World Health Organization (WHO) prescribed many safety precautions. Paramount among these measures is the restriction of movement, leading to the popular lockdown policy, currently trending worldwide. With the lockdown of offices, shops and other ancillary businesses witnessed the emergence of another social malaise known as ‘hungervirus’. This is the current problem of most ‘locked down’ households globally, especially among the low-income earners who depend on daily income to survive.
To tackle the menace of hungervirus, governments in developed countries rely on accurate data bank of the social status of their citizens to implement social welfare interventions that help in ameliorating the ugly situation. Unfortunately however, developing and underdeveloped nations are unable to marshal any meaningful palliative measure due to so many reasons.
Subsequently the lockdown policy seems like death sentence to many in such underdeveloped societies.
In Nigeria, governments at different levels have been churning out various strategies to address this ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the federal government claims to have released money to some levels of petty traders in the rural areas, state administrations are stocking and distributing food items centrally secured and donated philanthropists. Abia State is definitely not left out in the implementation of various creatively articulated policies aimed at managing the consequent social effect of the pandemic.
Recently, the Abia state government, under the leadership of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, commenced the distribution of different food wares to citizens through religious bodies. A good chunk of the items being distributed were sourced from donations made public spirited individuals such as Prof Gregory Ibe of Gregory University Uturu, whose singular donation of 850 bags of rice, fully equipped ambulances, hand sanitizers, fumigation and decontamination team, has gone a long way in bolstering the social welfare package of the entire state.
However, even with the distribution of these social welfare packages to citizens governments at different levels, the war against hungervirus seems far from being won.
It was therefore a welcome delight to thousands of less privileged families in Abia state when Prof Gregory Ibe decided to deepen his spirit of philanthropy complementing the initial efforts made the state government announcing the release of additional food items to the people.
In the second phase of his COVID-19 welfare package to the less privileged in the state, he recently commenced the direct distribution of 260 cartons of noodles and some bags of rice to the 17 Local government Councils of the state.
Available information confirm that more than 10,000 cartons of noodles have been earmarked for distribution during the exercise, which will be complemented with simultaneous home-to-home delivery and market distribution of essential commodities in different parts of the state.
Speaking while receiving the consignments for Isuikwuato Local Government Council, the transition Committee Chairman, Hon.Dr Osita Igbe praised the philanthropic disposition of Prof Ibe and promised equitable distribution of the commodities to the less privileged people in the LGA. It was also a visibly delighted Transition Committee Chairman of Umunneochi, Barr. Matthew Ibe, who was joined a host of Traditional Rulers from the area in receiving the consignments at Isuochi, headquarters of the LGA. In his speech, the Umunneochi council boss appreciated Prof Ibe for his magnanimity and challenged other well-to-do individuals to emulate the gesture.
So as the war against the COVID-19 pandemic rages globally, let all hands come on deck to ensure the survival of the vulnerable members of the society, especially in Abia, from the devastating onslaught of the emerging scourge of hungervirus
Sleek Ogbonnaya Ogwo, MNIPR
Public Affairs Analyst