Armstrong ‘Tope Akintunde, a young politician within the fold of All Progressives Congress in Ogun State, is a businessman and real estate developer. He speaks with BAYO ALADE, on the youth and COVID-19 pandemic.
You are an advocate of the youth and believe in their ability to build a virile and progressive nation. Why this passion?
Yes, the youth are very essential in the development of any nation. A nation is as great as its youths. Don’t forget this category of people form the largest percentage of the population. Unfortunately, many years of military misrule and bad civilian rule has disoriented the youth such that many now think of cutting corners to achieve their mundane goals. The rot in the system has led many into antisocial and illegal activities. Things should not be allowed to continue this way. To save the nation from self-destruct, we need to act fast. We need an urgent and complete overhaul in our value system and discourage the get-rich-quick syndrome that is the order of the day. The youths should remember that they own tomorrow and whatever they do now will be the direct consequences of what they expect in the nearest future.
As a young politician and budding democrat what roles do you see the youths playing in combating the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19?
Talking about the roles of youths in combating coronavirus, I was tempted to ask myself; “What has government been doing to empower the youth?” That is the salient question. It might sound a bit radical but that is the reality. As it has been said repeatedly in many fora, this pandemic has exposed our ineptitude, our ignorance, greed, unpreparedness, lack of meaningful ideology, large scale corruption, insincerity, I can go on. Yes, the youths should rise up and do something to save the community, the nation and the world at large but at what expense? To me this COVID-19 episode is a blessing in disguise. It will open our eyes to quite a lot of things and would make us stand and demand our fundamental rights.
It will awaken and re-awaken the sense of responsibility in every sector of our daily and national life and make us prepare better for any future occurrence. Right now, the youth being the engine room of a nation’s development should be at the forefront of the advocacy of enlightening and educating the people. They should channel their time, energy and initiatives towards getting the best out of this predicament and contribute their quota in the fight against the dreaded disease. But this also comes at a price; the youth should be empowered in every sense so that they have that sense of responsibility and belonging within the society.
Have state governors been doing well over this COVID-19, especially in Ogun State under Governor Dapo Abiodun in alleviating the challenges faced by the people during this lockdown period?
The pandemic has affected everybody including state governments which have now shifted all their focus on coronavirus and making the people safe. Generally I will say that state governments are trying. The Ogun State government is trying its best possible in setting up isolation centres and getting on top of the situation by mobilising medical personnel and also engaging the security agencies to enforce laws guiding the spread of the disease. I also give kudos to them for alleviating the challenges in the provision of palliatives and other essentials. Again, credit must be given to the sensitisation activities of the government in the media and other information dissemination channel including fumigation of public places.
We must also commend Governor Dapo Abiodun for the relaxation of the lockdown to ease the effect on the masses. Although, this comes with the risk of possible exposure of the people the more to the disease but since the government cannot afford to lock down an economy which is being sustained by small scale businesses, it is only wise that he gave the order and provided windows when people can briefly go out and take care of their needs before returning to their various bases.
Do you think there has been an improvement in the battle against the pandemic?
Definitely yes, the battle against coronavirus is being fought from all fronts and thank God, the people are getting more informed and knowing more and more about the disease. The government; starting from the Federal Government to states and local governments, have collectively risen to the occasion. What I can only observe is that equipment for testing people to ascertain their status are still short in supply which makes it a little difficult to know the actual number of people that have actually contracted the virus. I want to believe that there are a lot of carriers of the virus out there who are not aware of their status.
What would you say about the policies put in place to curb coronavirus?
If one doesn’t necessarily have anything worthy doing outside, it’s better to stay at home and stay safe too. This is for our own sake and for the sake of our family, community and the larger society. And again, we should observe the guidelines against COVID-19 as spelt out by WHO and other relevant agencies.
We should wear face mask when going out, wash our hands regularly and make use of the sanitiser often. Above all, we must also observe social distancing. It is pathetic that as soon as the lockdown was relaxed in Lagos State and people were given freedom to go about their businesses, they failed to comply with the regulations of social distancing and wearing of face masks.
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