Coronavirus: Pay salaries now

March 25, 2020
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Covid-19 is fast spreading across Africa and the number of confirmed cases in Nigeria keeps increasing by the day. Already 43 out of 54 African countries have confirmed cases of Covid-19, while the figure in Nigeria has increased to 36 as at Monday, March 23.

Both Federal and State Governments are busy closing down schools, suspending church activities and other social activities. Some state have said if people must gather, the gathering should not exceed 20 persons in attendance, while others have put their limit at 50 persons.

From all indications, government may soon resort to closing down markets and impose a stay-at-home order if the Covid-19 continues to spread in the coming days. That would mean total lockdown of socio-economic activities across the country.

While imposing all these socio-economic activities threatening restrictions, the government has not also thought it wise to pay salaries of workers ahead of time as part of  measures to ease the looming hardship that may befall the people as a result of the spread of Covid-19 that has occasioned the need for social restrictions and distancing.

A government that claims that it is desirous to bring Nigerians out of this global pandemic that threatens human existence, should have envisaged that if the Covid-19 continues to spread, there would be need for a stay-at-home order and in that kind of situation; people would need food and money to stay at home. Hence the need to pay salaries immediately, so people could go shopping stock their house for the worse that is coming. God forbid.

We are all aware that if this pandemic continues to spread at the rate it is going without any clinically proven cure in the next two months, some countries like Nigeria would be unable to pay salaries or fund projects. In a case like that, there would be starvation. That may take us back to the era when people stole pot of soup, armed robbery was on its peak and food supply dropped to its lowest.

Perhaps, just as they announced the reduction of the pump price of PMS and did nothing to ensure filling stations sell at ₦125 per litre, they are imposing ban on social gathering, empower police to molest whoever fails to adhere and waiting for the official month end tradition or policy to pay salaries. I thought desperate times, require desperate measures? Or salaries are not part of desperate measures? God please help your children.

Ebiowei Okiemo

Bayelsa State

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