Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Lagos SPN accuses APC leaders of undermining effort to curb COVID-19 spread


The Lagos State Chapter of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) deems it fit to call the attention of the Lagos State government to the rowdy nature of distributing the limited and inadequate relief materials by Lagos state APC leaders at state and LGA levels as well as some government officials. Some NGOs and individuals also appear to be guilty of this conduct. The conducts of these elements become more concerning given recent claims by the Lagos State health commissioner, Akin Abayomi, that “community transmission is now responsible for 45 percent of new infections” (Business Day, 6 April 2020).
As a party, we are of the strong opinion that this rowdy method of distributing the inadequate relief materials which violates social distancing is undermining the efforts to contain COVID-19 pandemic and may have been responsible for the steady rise of new cases of infection despite over three weeks ban of local and international flights and a 2-week lockdown emplaced by the Federal government in Lagos, Abuja and the Ogun states.
We hereby challenge the Lagos State government to call its unruly party officials at the state and LGA levels to order and be prepared to apply the full weight of the law to them when they violate social distancing and risk the lives of all Lagosians. If the law could be applied to a few celebrities and ordinary Lagosians found jogging on the road, we expect that officials of the ruling party should not be treated as sacred cows. Moreso this method of relief distribution is dehumanising as it treats citizens like hungry wild animals. We therefore reiterate our call for house-to-house distribution of the relief materials by democratically-formed community committees.
While it cannot be denied that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled Lagos State Government has initiated some palliatives to cushion the effect of the lockdown, they have been measly to say the least. In most cases, the palliatives, which are insufficient, are turned to self-promotion items by politicians in the ruling party. As a result, many hungry citizens are being forced to defy the lockdown in search of food. We call for equitable distribution of relief materials and a cash grant of N50, 000 per month for individual working class and poor families as well as the unemployed in Lagos state to survive the lockdown.
This must be combined with measures by the Lagos State and federal government to protect jobs particularly in the private sector. We demand no loss of jobs as a result of the economic implication of COVID-19 and for continuous payment of salaries of all fulltime and casual workers. As an immediate measure, a governmental intervention to protect jobs can take the form of a special grant, backed by legislation, payable to needy industries to guarantee employee’s jobs/wages and on the basis of clear agreement to end casualization and all unfair labour practises. Any company, banks/financial institutions and corporate organisation that goes ahead to retrench or stop wages to be taken over by the state under workers control, compensation to be paid to former owners only on the basis of proven needs.
We call for other genuine measures to checkmate the breakout of community transmission of the dreaded Coronavirus disease in Lagos State. This should include free distribution of face masks and hand sanitisers to every residents as well as non-discriminatory mass testing in all communities. This can be achieved by rapidly scaling up the number of medical personnel by recruiting more doctors, nurses and laboratory scientists who can then be formed into medical brigades that would begin to go into all communities, nooks and crannies of the state to begin to test anyone with any signs that suggest any possibility of infection.
We also call for expansion of isolation centers with creation of more on local government basis, especially in local governments such as Ikeja, Eti-Osa and Alimosho Local Governments that have recorded high and increasing cases.
Of course at this stage when the importance of our medical personnel and public health sector have become clear to all and sundry, their welfare must not take a backseat. To this extent, the SPN reiterate our call for at least N100k special hazard allowances, provision of adequate protective gears and life insurance to all medical personnel and workers on the frontline. We also need to recruit more doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists and all categories of health workers to beef up our weak public health sector. This must be backed with provision of free and adequately-funded public health care at all levels.
We must add that this rowdy method of distributing relief materials makes a mockery of the recent efforts of Lagos State in arresting and arraigning Funke Akindele, a Nollywood celebrity and her hubby for failing to observe social distancing at the hubby’ birthday party. The arraignment itself witnessed the violation of social distancing guidelines by the Prosecutor, the Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN while addressing journalists after the arraignment and conviction of the Akindeles.
The SPN also observed the arrest and arraignment of Naira Marley and Babatunde Gbadamosi, who were in the Akindeles’ social party. The SPN views the pardon given to the duo as not only a retreat on the part of government due to the backlash over the Akindele’s case but also something that reveals the essentially pro-rich character of the Lagos State government. Just a day or two after pardoning them, over 200 people, mostly youth jogging on the empty expressways of Lagos were arrested, or arraigned and punished for violation of social distancing guidelines. What this means is that while the state government cautioned itself from further attacking the rich following the episode of Funke Akindele and her husband, it did not have any problem with heavily punishing 200 others because they are ordinary citizens of course.
We view the social distancing, which is a necessary measure, as scratching this surface. In the absence of spacious and modern housing, social distancing in working class neighbourhoods such as Agege, Ajegunle, Oshodi, Bariga, Ajangbadi, Lagos Island to mention a few is a pipedream. We call for public works programme to begin aggressive mass and spacious and affordable housing programme including sanitation and clean water for the working people.
The present pandemic has exposed the ruling All Progressives Congress in Lagos State has an out and out anti-poor party serving the interests of the few rich in the state. Without any genuine and concrete measures taken to assuage the sufferings of the people during this lockdown, an extension of the lockdown will lead to breakout of protests in the communities and neighbourhoods. Glimpses of these have seen at Agbado-Oke-Odo and Agbowa, Ikorodu.
The Lagos State SPN calls on those moving into struggle against the failure of the All Progressives Congress-led Lagos State Government to join the Socialist Party of Nigeria and build a genuine mass working people’s political alternative.

Comrade Rufus Olusesan
State Chairman

Comrade Y.K Shoyombo
State Publicity Secretary

E-mail: [email protected]