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Household mean multiple family units, streets as relief packages reach Lagos residents

The meaning of a household assumed different interpretations as the distribution of relief materials provided by the office of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of the largest city in Nigeria and one of the fastest-growing cities in sub-Saharan Africa, reached local communities.

Contrary to the governor’s promise that an economic stimulus package comprising bags of rice, beans, garri (cassava flakes), bread, dry pepper, potable water, and vitamins would be distributed to each household, single units were instead distributed per multiple households and in some cases, a whole street.

In Mushin Constituency II, for instance, some residences with more than 10 households received only a unit of the relief package to sustain for the rest of the 14-day lockdown.

In what was initially targeted at the aged and vulnerable, Sanwo-Olu in a March 27 Tweet said 200,000 households at an estimation of six people per household would be reached in the first stage, adding it would be ramped up quickly.

“I am happy to announce an economic stimulus package to help our residents cushion the effects of our #StayAtHome directive to stop the spread of #COVID-19. We want each ration to last for 14 days as we continue to evaluate the impact of #COVID19. Please stay home with your loved ones. We want the best for you,” the governor said.

According to the United Nations Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, a household is defined by two classifications. The first classification, a one-person household, is defined as an arrangement in which one a person makes provision for his or her food or other essentials for living without combining with any other person.

The second classification is a multi-person household, defined as a group of two or more persons living together who make common provision for food or other essentials for living. This is the most common type of households that make up nearly 20 million population of Lagos.

Under a housing system fraught with severe shortages, many live together as multiple-person households, pulling resources together to ease the burden of high rental cost. Multiple-person households in the urban slums ordinarily fit the poor and vulnerable targeted in this relief effort and they would have been really impacted by the intervention if implemented as originally intended.

Many Lagos residents have protested the lockdown subtly, arguing their financial position would be wounded. But distribution of relief package inconsequential to the scale of their daily needs seems to be adding insult to their injury. Rather than relieving people, the food donation has stirred anger.

Although not from the governor’s office, some irate youths in Agege Constituency 1 of Lagos made a mockery of loaves of bread donated by Mudashiru Obasa, their representative and Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly in a viral video last Sunday.

They turned the loaves into footballs, tossing it at one another in a mocking display on the streets. Four loaves of bread were packaged and distributed to each house as relief materials from the Assembly leader, a young man said, groaning in the video. He shamed Obasa for terming loaves worth not more than N100 each and branded with his name as relief package.

The question dancing on the mind of many is why the government seem unable to relief the residents indeed despite fat donations to its purse since it confirmed its index case of coronavirus.


Temitayo Ayetoto

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