Except for very few local governments in Lagos which is the most hit state by the COVID-19, local governments in Lagos and across the country have remained largely unconcerned about the global pandemic and how it affects the people they govern.
In Badagry federation (Badagry Local Government, Badagry West LCDA and Olorunda LCDA) for instance, the silence of our local councils is defeaning. And this is an area close to the border and more susceptible to the spread of the virus.
It was reported the other day that one of the positive cases came in through a border around the area. I have unconfirmed information that it’s even 5 of such cases. I am also aware of returnees from worse hit countries who because of the airport closure are planning to return through the borders in the area.
Sometimes before the index case in Nigeria, the three local councils in Badagry had on the instruction of the state government organized a town hall sensitization on the virus but this is not sufficient and with limited information at the time.
The Badagry West LCDA had even went further that time to share some very limited number of hand sanitizers which is commendable.
But with the pandemic staring us in the face, the local councils should wake up and act like the government at the grassroot that they are.
The three councils should independently or collectively set up a Local COVID-19 Response Team to help in reporting suspected cases to the NCDC, tracing contacts, enforcing state government directives, and generally sensitizing the grassroot appropriately particularly in the abundance of fake information everywhere.
Just yesterday, a lady in Morogbo who just returned from UI suspected she has the virus and had reported herself but didn’t receive much help. Also some market women in Agbalata had jeered a woman wearing nose mask saying she should give her life to Christ. Also last night, a church had organized a Corona Crusade against government directive for social distancing. The local governments can help to bridge this need, ignorance and defiance.
The local councils should put to good use the avalanche of local resources available to them to help their peoples. The Supervisors for Health, Officials in the Health Departments, the Public/Cimmunity Health Workers (Wole Wole), and the several Special Assistants on public enlightenment should be put to good use.
While I also believe that the crisis will soon thin out, it is not a time for our local governments to bury their heads in the sand.
Sewhude Akande writes from Badagry, Lagos State. He is Publisher of CityMood Magazine