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Politics, pandemic and bad apples


Dayo Sobowale

In  defending the  Police in his law and order campaign strategy for  re- election,  US President Donald  Trump admitted that  that  there are ‘bad  apples‘ in the US Police who  will  be dealt with by the   system. It  may  be an un -assuring  statement   to   his   opponents but  for a president who  has lost  a lot of goodwill during this pandemic, his law and order  mantra is a  desperate effort of a sinking  man grasping  at   a  straw,  to clinch   re election in spite   of  the crushing blows of the pandemic on his re election chances. Similarly in banking in Nigeria customers tremble  to go to banks in this  pandemic  because of the discomfort of long queues   and  social  distancing, such that  some  if not many have wondered  if the banks are not conspiring to seize customers deposits  by  making  it difficult  for  customers to  access their money conveniently,  with  the banks  citing the pandemic  protocols as convenient excuse.

In   Lagos  the   pandemic  curfew   has made  life miserable for workers to return home from work  as they  try  to  beat  the curfew of 10  pm and avoid  police  harassment in violation of  a curfew that  seem  like  an extra burden on commuters, travellers workers and traders who  are  mostly  stuck in the snaky, long  traffic jams compounded by many  road  construction works  going on simultaneously    all  over the  city during this  pandemic. Also  in Germany this week over 30000 people demonstrated against the rules and constraints of the pandemic protocols on their way of life in various endeavors  especially on freedom of  movement. The  Police eventually  dispersed  them after acknowledging that the ranks of  demonstrators  had   been  infiltrated by Nazi  groups displaying  Nazi   symbols  banned in Germany.

The  import of these various events and observations is to admit that good intentions are  sometimes marred by  bad apples  as Trump  said  of white  policemen killing blacks  at random  under  his watch while he seem to  turn  his  eye  away in  supporting them   on the grounds that  law  and order is the basis of organized  society. Which  in a way is true.  But  good policies and laws  made  by government and  public institutions  can  be subverted by disgruntled and corrupt    public officials  who  exploit implementation  loopholes  to get quick, illicit money and gains  during this pandemic. Also  political, economic  and  police  power  can  be misused and abused  during the pandemic  as we  shall  show today with illustrations and analysis  of the  events we have  mentioned   earlier

In  the  case  of  the citing of bad apples  to be dealt  with in American Police  Donald  Trump was  adopting a phrase in a book  that says –  play  me foul  and I  will  play you tricky –  in his campaign  to  prevent Democrat Joe  Biden from sending  him  out of power in the November presidential elections,  and  the reason  is clear. The Democrats are using the pandemic and Trump’s handling of it as an  inefficiency    political  albatross   on  his  neck  and   the  main   issue  to defeat   Trump    who was ahead in the polls  before  the pandemic. Now  Trump  is  using the breakdown of law  and order in  swing states and those controlled  by Democrats as his  campaign retort    and rhetoric that  the Democrats will  destroy  American values and security if  voted into power. Trump  is suspicious of   the       coming   but inevitable  postal  voting occasioned  by the pandemic   for  the presidential election and has gone on to ask  his supporters to send their vote by post  but  to   still  go to  vote  to make assurance doubly sure. His explanation is that during tabulation this   will  be sorted out by polling officials. But Trump  has been accused    of asking  his supporters    to vote  twice   which again is   controversial  and debatable. Actually  Trump’s desperate suggestion to his supporters can be equally  used by the Democrats  and it will   be up to the electoral and   postal  authorities  to  sort  out the ensuing duplication. Which   certainly  shows the critical  and important effect  of the election, that  Trump himself  has  admitted to his supporters at their Republican  Convention,  as ‘the  most  important  election in American   history.‘

In  the situation of the massing of customers at  bank gates in Nigeria, a common sight   in this pandemic the CBN  and  banks’  management  should   do  something urgently  to show that the customer  is king in this service  industry,  especially in this crippling pandemic. Some banks don’t work on some weeks but on alternate  weeks. But  their customers don’t know until  they  get to the branches where they  are turned back by security  operatives. Which  is bad, as it is like using the pandemic to seize  customers money and earnings. It  may  mask   distress  in some banks  and bank regulators like CBN should  be alert  and on   their    toes ,  to ensure  that  some banks  do  not  use  their    financial   power of custody of customers funds to deny them access  on grounds  of    the pandemic. Banks  should protect  their  staff  by all  means but not at the expense  of customers  not having access  to their deposits, funds  and  assets on account  of the observance of the rules of the pandemic .   Customers  deposits after  all are the goose that lay the golden  eggs of skyrocketing bank profits even  in this  pandemic and banks   should find ways of eliminating the spectacle of sad and morose customers waiting to collect   their money  at the door steps   of many  bank  branches  nowadays.

On  the situation of the continuing curfew in  Lagos  there is no doubt  that it is affecting many  businesses of both corporate and retail traders as well  as professionals too. This is because people rush to get home and driving can  be tedious and treacherous  in the ensuing traffic frenzy. The curfew should be lifted so  that people  can have space to plan their lives  and get home in one piece. The  anxiety   and rush  to get home and not be caught by the police, or  paying their way through  can  be  a debilitating and costly  health and road  hazard.The  Police are trying and can be understanding at times but  then  as Trump noted there are bad apples in the  police and no nation is immune to that fact and Nigeria is not  an exception.

In  the demonstrations and protests in Germany the protesters were asking  government to ease  pandemic restrictions and not  curtail  their democratic rights of movement during the pandemic. According to German Police the protesters were a motley  crowd  and amalgam of  strange  bed fellows. This is because Far  Right and Leftists protesters, fierce opponents of each  other  at  most   times, flew their  banners at the rally  at which Police said anarchists  and well  known violent groups were also  marching before they were dispersed. One  of the  protesters  summed it up   ominously that they  all  were united in the acknowledgement  and knowledge that the government is their enemy on the pandemic issue  and the  curtailment of their rights and movement  consequently.  Some  of the demonstrators almost  forced  their way  into the German Parliament  which  the German President called an  attack  at the heart of German democracy.  But  the German  government  has been  quite efficient  in the way it has handled pandemic rules and testing and in reducing deaths unlike the UK and the worst of all, the US.  All  the same,   one man’s food is another man’s poison. And  in a democracy  as   buoyant   as Germany  the right of dissent is an  inalienable  one    to   be  respected at   all   times ,  even  in a pandemic.

From  the fury  of this raging pandemic therefore Good Lord Deliver Nigeria.

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