THE Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano has explained that he relaxed the month long lockdown order, put in place to monitor the spread of coronavirus, because he feared that there could be a breakdown of law and order in the state due to prevailing rate of hunger.
In a statement Monday by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C-Don Adinuba, the governor said that in protecting people against the coronavirus pandemic, striking a balance between the economy and public health was imperative.
He said, “like every other government, Anambra is bound to protect its people from the ravages of COVID-19 but it cannot afford to do so by unwittingly allowing millions of its people to die of hunger and starvation or by causing their businesses to collapse through an unmitigated lockdown.
“Social unrest must be avoided. If people in developed nations could not accept more than three weeks of lockdown, despite the immense social safety nets for the poor and huge amounts paid by governments directly to the citizens who lost their jobs in the wake of COVID-19, we can imagine what the most vulnerable in our society and elsewhere in Africa have been going through.”
Obiano conceded that the lockdown, during when markets were shut, schools closed, and most crowd pulling events like church services, funerals, weddings were suspended, had taken its toll on the people.
The governor had in a broadcast, Saturday, announced the relaxation of the lockdown by asking Christians and Moslems to open their churches and mosques respectively, removed the restrictions on movements, and reopened the foodstuffs and medicine markets.
Shortly, after the announcement, traders in residents of Onitsha, the commercial nerve centre of Anambra, broke out in jubilations, commending the governor for his decision.
While the governor was yet to take a decision on the reopening of the major markets, it was gathered that the governor relaxed the lockdown because he felt the state was free from the coronavirus pandemic,
after the index index case had tested negative after repeated tests.
A jubilant trader at Oseokwodu, who thanked the governor for “telling us to return” said, “I don’t want to die of hunger, I would rather die from the disease.”
A widow and mother of six, Chikpom Aneme, a foodstuff seller at Ochanja market, said, “If this lockdown had continued, I would have taken my children to the village to the farm as a way of keeping body and soul together.”