Let’s examine if we should blame the #COVID19 palliatives ‘looters’ for being greedy – or not

It was a historic moment when the very generation that was thought to be more concerned with social profiles than day-to-day government affairs saw to the organisation of one of the most organised protests in Nigerian history. The looting and vandalism that followed, however, was antithetical to the peaceful demonstrations.

Even though the two public actions are polar opposites, they are driven by the consequences of governance, polity and the Nigerian system. In the wake of the coronavirus onslaught which left the economy crippled, the private sector, commendably, sought to cushion the effect on the masses by donating to the government which comprises the elected leaders of the nation.

Yet, the enormous figures announced did not seem to match the sporadic palliative schemes across the country. Even when economists deemed that the country was in recession, there was nothing tangible to hold as the impact of the numerous interventions.

But when images and videos surfaced of warehouses loaded to the brim with CACOVID-branded foodstuffs which included rice, noodles and garri, one could not help wondering what manner of people sat on those provisions – some of which were already getting spoilt – while hunger appeared to be ravaging the land.

As the palliatives, evidently, meant for the people were being accessed by the same people, albeit raucously, should it be termed looting? The culture of looting is one that entails large scale robbery but a foreign observer may remark that the people are simply taking what’s theirs or should have been theirs way earlier, considering that over 82 million Nigerians have been estimated poor by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Reacting, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, said during an interview on Channels TV, that greed, not hunger and anger, was the reason for the people’s actions and it should not be excused. He was able to conveniently deflect from why palliatives – capable of sustaining a nationwide feast – which should have been distributed since May, were hoarded by governmental overseers. The silence of the private sector on the issue is as loud as any reaction could be.

Just like the #EndSARS protests were triggered by the high-handedness of security agents on lives they swore to protect, the ‘lootings’ were a product of deliberate impoverishment of the masses whose interests leaders swore to represent.

Although the trail of destruction is indeed condemnable, pointing of fingers should start with those at the helm who were comfortable depriving people of their deserved palliatives rather than the ‘looters’ who appear to be taking what should have been theirs in the first place.

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