The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Niger state council has called for empowerment of security officials and other essential workers for strict enforcement of the measures put in place to check the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.
The union’s position is premised on the information reaching the awareness centre set up by the union to get feedback on the measures put in place to check the spread of COVID-19 and enlighten the people.
Information reaching the NUJ awareness centre indicate that most of the security officials and those on essential duties enforcing the lockdown order lack protective kits making them more vulnerable.
A statement issued by the union reads: “Besides disregard for the precautionary measures necessary to curtail the spread of the virus, our awareness centre received reports that people come into the state without restriction on daily basis from locations with higher index cases of the virus in Nigeria.
“Whereas the measures put in place in Niger state can easily be compromised from experience and inability of people to understand how dangerous the virus can spread, in the few weeks of the lockdown,
it is worrisome that government provides such avenues through windows for recalcitrant members of the public through relaxation of the lockdown for religious gatherings, thereby negating social and physical distancing, germane in checking the spread of the virus.
“As sordid as the uncooperative attitude of the people to comply with measures put in place to check the spread of the virus is, the fact that the security officials and other essential workers receive poor welfare, cosmetic attention is paid to their welfare or they are totally neglected.
“It is even more disheartening that the union’s awareness centre has constantly been inundated with reports of little or no palliatives in most parts of the state; it is unimaginable for a community of over 500 households to share most times a bag of rice , maize and sometimes millet. We just wonder to what extent can this be a palliative?
“From information reaching the union’s awareness centrez the problems associated with the distribution of palliative is that it was done based on political delineation of wards instead of through community or village heads.
“The union therefore, calls on the state task force on coronavirus to strengthen the machinery of operations and lubricate the system to the extent that the measures put in place can yield the desire results of checking the spread of the virus in the state.
“All actions must be geared towards general good , the system should be operated collectively with all stakeholders participating actively. No room should be given for individuals to hijack measures aimed at alleviating the sufferings of the people at this trying period.
“We are not unaware of the problem of paucity of funds confronting the government at this trying time, it is therefore, important for individuals and corporate bodies to rise up to their social responsibility of supporting the government.
“We laud the efforts of those who have shown examples in this direction and we expect more from the public, after all, it is for our collective interest.”