By Leke Akinrowo
I’ve heard this statement many times of recent, and I’m now seeing the pragmatism behind it more than ever.
This COVID-19 pandemic (or PlanDemic as some would have it), presents us with a very useful crisis which many people are already taking advantage of. Let’s take the Northern governors for example. Starting from Kano, they have used this crisis to deal with their Almajiri problem.
Unfortunately, one of their solutions is to transfer the problem to the South, rather than contain and address it responsibly. But they’re doing something.
Corporate bodies and the business world are doing the same thing. Many companies are already saying many of their employees will no longer return to the office. They’re not laid off, but they don’t have to report to work anymore.
They will henceforth work from home. The implication is that the companies may not need as big an office space anymore, they may not spend as much on cleaners, security, energy, lunch, tea and coffee, stationery, etc. Crisis has opened up all those opportunities for them.
If Northern governors are seizing this crisis to address one of their biggest social challenges, what are our own governors using this crisis for in the South?
Here are a few ideas that come to my mind:
- Hygiene & the Environment.
We know the problems that road side trading causes us in the South West, particularly Lagos State. This is an opportunity to put a permanent stop to the practice of selling fruits, vegetables fish and meat openly by the road side. This is going to be controversial, but it’s the only civilised solution to many problems caused by these practices.
We’ve seen fruit sellers using gutter water to ‘wash’ their fruits, and people selling stale, expired and poisonous ‘fresh’ food by the road side. All of that should be stopped now, and all fresh food sellers should supply them to public cold rooms where accredited wholesalers and retailers can go buy them.
Accreditation would require that you have proper storage facilities. It can all be adduced to COVID-19 cautions.
- Deepen DAWN (Development Agenda for Western Nigeria)
Just as Northern governors have taken the drastic measure of scrapping Almajiri, the South West governors should do the same: outlaw street begging, homelessness, motor park touting, etc. Anyone who doesn’t have a relative or friend to stay with, should stay in his village, not come and constitute a nuisance on the streets of Lagos, Ibadan, or other cities, sleeping under the bridge, causing insecurity and an environmental eyesore.
Blame it on COVID-19 under the aegis of DAWN. Moreover, develop a blueprint for the security and development of the region. Other regions will develop theirs too.
- Develop Solid Database
One of the fallouts of this COVID-19 is that our lack of a credible database got exposed. Other countries where they had reliable databases, used those databases to determine how many of their citizens were out of job, lost income, or never had any job to start with. We will not have a better opportunity to address this problem than COVID-19.
This is the time to mandate all Lagosians to register with LASTRA. It should be an offence to live in Lagos, or work in Lagos, or have children in Lagos schools, or have properties (land or house) in Lagos; without registering with LASTRA. Let every Lagosian be captured in the data. It can be incentivised by providing some benefits to those who register, like receiving free medical treatment for small illnesses like malaria, aches and pain, paediatric care, etc. Of course, these benefits will be free to tax-paying residents.
All others who are not registered with LASTRA will be treated as visitors to Lagos, and so they will pay commercial for all services, and will not have precedence over registered tax-paying Lagosians. I believe the same can be replicated across the states covered by DAWN.
Some of these measures will not be popular or easy at first, but we will all benefit from them in the long run. All the advanced countries of the world took some or all of these measures at some points in their development histories. Let’s do it.
Mr Akinrowo, a former HR and Admin Manager at Chevron Nigeria, is the CEO of Riveting Integrated Entertainment Limited.
You want to share a story with us? You want to advertise? You need publicity for a product, service, or event? Contact us on WhatsApp – +1 (317) 665-2180