Why Dapo Abiodun Remains My COVID-19 Lock Down Hero - Femi Orunsola - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Why Dapo Abiodun Remains My COVID-19 Lock Down Hero - Femi Orunsola

Governor Abiodun 

By Olufemi Orunsola
ABEOKUTA - When the year 2020 crept in on the Gregorian calendar, a unique euphoria greeted the dawn of the new doubled digits year being the dawn of a new decade.

I recall with swift nostalgia now the magnificent and stupendous fireworks organized by individuals, corporate organizations, states as well as countries across the globe on the eve of the year 2020. I am sure you can too!

I also recall quite vividly my personal opinion openly ventilated in an article titled; "2020:So What's New?" as published in one of Nigeria's leading online newspapers - penpushingonline among other social media platforms.

As if I knew what the year 2020 actually had in stock for humanity and the modern world at large,  I had in summary, cautioned everyone and anyone who cared to read or listen to bask less in the euphoria of the new year and square up to a life of adaptation to change and taking full responsibility for one's life. I particularly appealed to Nigerians not to abrogate their responsibilities of taking responsibility for their lives to anyone else under the guise of scavenging for prophesies from different mountains, valleys and exalted religious pulpits instead of mapping out personal, divinely guided stellar strategy  for surviving the  deluge of changes stealthily sweeping over our modern world in the form of the inevitable emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Everywhere.(IoE)

Without sustaining my background digression further, the year 2020 has indeed unfolded (though still unfolding) a significant part of the coming massive wind of change it has brought to the modern society of man with the current global trend of COVID-19 pandemic declared by the World Health Organization in the first quarter of the year.

The outbreak of the novel corona virus has occasioned the shut down, lock down and varying degrees of socioeconomic down turn of entire countries, continents and indeed the whole wide world has had to bow, shiver and  tremble at the roars of the crowned virus which saw churches, mosques, shrines, schools, markets and supermarkets, clubs, hotels and tourist centres, airports, casinos, many factories, public places and all social functions shut down, invariably leaving entire hitherto high brow cities and towns totally deserted even as the death tolls from the virus skyrockets in staggering cumulative figures of tens of thousands!

As different countries across the world experiment with different strategies for reopening and relaunching their shut down economies via the introduction of partial lock downs, what the second quarter of the year 2020 holds for the world still appears bleak and pallid with no particular assurance of end to the pandemic in sight.

The Nigerian story and experience of COVID-19 bears a unique degree of importance and relevance to me because the pandemic blew a whirlwind of change that really exposed the inadequacies and  inefficiencies of many plastic structures, infrastructures, systems and institutions on which the entire fabrics of the country's superstructures are built.

A silver lining on the dark gloomy cloud of the pandemic in Nigeria appears to be the swift response and influx of a retinue of COVID-19 funds, donations and all manners of monetary and material aids from the international community, faith based organizations, corporate organizations as well as high net worth individuals all targeted at ameliorating the effect of the pandemic on Nigerians as well as slowing down the curve of the virus in the country.

To say the least, the COVID-19 scenarios in Nigeria can only be best described as pathetic. No thanks to the already advanced and aggravated poverty in the country that was recently rated as the new World Poverty Capital by the Brooklyn Institute.
While government at the Federal and state levels wriggled their ways out to respond to the stimulus of slowing down the curve of the spread of the virus in the country, dishing out lock down orders and swiftly building and equiping emergency structures such as isolation centres and giving out palliatives to the most vulnerable of the vulnerable in the country, an hydra headed monster of multiple socioeconomic problems reared up its ugly head.

The monster bears such ugly heads as:heightened insecurity, a barrage of fake news and propagation of unfounded conspiracy theories, palpable fear of the collapse of the country's weak monolithic oil based economy, a visibly weak and decrepit health system without sufficient medical personnel and modern equipment to man the pandemic projected incidents.

Another ugly head of the monster that cannot be ignored is the absence of a functional national data base to drive the distribution of palliatives upon which to anchor strategic outreaches to different strata of the nation's demography.

Before long, while yet the lock down order which came in sequences of 14 successive days rolled into more than a month, the monster raised another ugly head of popular public agitations for a quick end to the lock down to enable the poor masses (most of whom lived below a dollar per day even before the pandemic) get back to business as usual for personal survival and the revamp of the locked down economy. This clamour for economic reopening was coming against notes of cautious warning from the country's Medical Association that predicted a spike in the spread of the virus if the lock down was eased or lifted too soon.

Suffice to state here that from the outset of the declaration of the novel corona virus a pandemic, the education sector being bedrock of development in the society had been locked down.

Given the huge trust deficit that transpires between Nigerians and their political office holders, public opinion turns on red alert lights over possible diversion of COVID-19 relief funds even as allegations of inequality in the distribution of palliatives fly around while the supply of such palliatives was outrightly rated as sub standard and as such, allegedly rejected by some Governors in some parts of the country.

Meanwhile Federal Government kept giving assurances of transparency and accountability in the discharge of its responsibility of managing relief funds, donations and aids.

Then came agitations about an alleged sneaky but draconian legislation to enforce forced vaccinations of Nigerians in test run of a COVID-19 vaccination with micro chip implant purported to be sponsored by forces in the country's upper legislative arms of government believed to be routing for their pay masters from the other end of the world.

In all of these, if you ask me who is my COVID-19 Hero? I will simply and unapologetically tell you that my COVID-19 Hero is none else but the Governor of my State, the Gateway State, Prince Dapo Abiodun(MFR).

Might you bother to further ask me why he is my own COVID-19 Hero, I will be most willing to articulate the strings of actions, strategies and policy decisions that endears the Ogun State Governor to me as my own COVID-19 Hero(and I think I am constitutionally entitled to hold and share my opinion in utter exercise of my freedom of expressions fundamental human rights).

My hero in question emerges as my own COVID-19 Hero on account of the following verifiable facts:

* Prioritization/Migration of Education to the Digital Realm 
Prince Dapo Abiodun pioneered, prioritized and swiftly took the lead in migrating the educational sector of the State's economy to the digital platform via the swift introduction of Ogun DigiClass with the introduction of Educational Television staffed with qualified professional teachers.
Some other states and invariably, the Federal Government, had to borrow a leaf from the sagacity of Prince Dapo Abiodun with the introduction of data free Mobile Classroom Application system for students of primary and secondary levels in collaboration with major network providers in the country.

* Domestication of Lock Down Order
When the Federal Government first declared the maiden total lock down order for Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, Prince Dapo Abiodun, conscious of the socioeconomic dynamics of Ogun state, swiftly pled with the Federal government to allow him domesticate the order more properly in his state with injection of relaxation windows in between. Again, that model later gained traction in some other states as the Federal Government thought it prudent to borrow a leave from the gateway state in the course of time.

*Swift Security Intervention
When the security situation of the locked down states, especially Lagos and Ogun got suddenly heated with threats of heightened insecurity by miscreants dubbed as one million boys, Prince Dapo Abiodun, my COVID-19 hero again swung into swift action by holding an emergency meeting with heads of all security agencies to quell the rising wave of criminality. He thereafter donated a retinue of facility vehicles and machinery to the security agencies to enable them deliver security deliverables to Ogun people. 

And pronto, Ogun people who momentarily had come under the attack of palpable fears of armed robbery and cult related attacks in some parts of the state, could go to sleep with both eyes closed as against what obtained where entire communities, especially the youths formed themselves into Community Vigilante groups, burning tyres, blowing whistles, brandishing weapons and keeping vigil through out the night in self defence against security threats! Again, my COVID-19 Hero laid that monster to rest without much ado.

*Prioritization of Food Security
Nature and providence in their own wisdom brought the dawn of the new planting season to us in this part of the world amidst the COVID-19 scourge.

While it is natural for government to be overwhelmed by the multiplicity of problems arising from the pandemic that stares at the country in the face, I take it to records with a huge sense of responsibility that Prince Dapo Abiodun, who understands the significance of Food Security to the sustainable development of society(even amidst the loud yells of "hunger in the land") took it upon himself to launch the commencement of the planting season in addition to his initial and continuous commitment to the functional operation of the Anchor Borrowers Agricultural Programme in the State. Food security is key to long term survival of any society as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on! Malnutrition makes a people more susceptible to diseases and infections I strongly believe.

*Introduction of Domestic COVID-19 Test Laboratory in Ogun State
Records have it that Prince Dapo Abiodun set the pace for increased COVID-19 testing and accessibility of testing and speed of securing test results with the erection of the very first COVID-19 real time domestic laboratory apart from the one in Abuja and Lagos.

*Incentives to Medical Personnel
There is no disputing the fact that Doctors, Nurses and other medical personnel who have been at the fore front of the battle against COVID-19 are more of an endangered species who truly deserve to be preserved to sustain the fight to victory. This is why I personally commend the decision of Prince Dapo Abiodun to give incentives to the State's medical force via payment of hazard allowances to them as well as provision of Personal Protective Equipments(PPE) for them.

*Digitization of COVID-19 Sensitization via Dedicated App & Media Machinery
Ogun, under Prince Dapo Abiodun, again took the lead in the introduction of a dedicated Application made available on the digital platform to update its citizens on the COVID-19 pandemic. I personally find this and all the aforementioned points commendable because it shows that my hero though not a naturally loquacious leader, is indeed a Solomon come to power.

*Stable Power Supply
Under him, Ogun State has enjoyed relative stability in power supply during the emotional and psychological darkness the pandemic tend to bring upon the state.

Since my conscience bears me witness that I am not by any means a propagandist paid by government or any agent or agencies of government to sing the praises of Prince Dapo Abiodun, I make bold to stress here that my self-rated COVID-19 hero, Prince Dapo Abiodun has yet a long way to go and indeed a lot more to do, especially in respect of possibly taking a tough decision on the  management and enforcement of physical distancing protocols during the lock down relaxation windows, enforcement of compliance to interstate lock down order, enforcement of the use of face masks by the populace without neglecting the monitoring of the distribution of palliatives as well as sustained welfare of Ogun workers and pensioners.

I have just told the story of my own COVID-19 Hero, in my own way and in my own words!

The question then is; who is your own COVID-19 Hero or perhaps, Villain?

Dapo Abiodun remains my own COVID-19 Hero for now. 

Olufemi Orunsola (SWGN), a Creative Artiste, Practical Scholar and Public Affairs Analysts/Commentator Writes from Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.

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