Why Lagos wants to feed 100,000 youths daily amid COVID-19 unrest

The Lagos State Government has announced plan to provide free meal to 100,000 youths daily across the 57 local government and local council development areas of the state as part of measures to cushion the effect of the extended lockdown in the state due to the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu made the announcement after an emergency State Security Meeting held at the Lagos House, Marina, on Tuesday, and the move is in response to the recent reports of unrest in some parts of the state in the past few days.

Several gangs of hoodlums namely – 'Awawa boys', 'One Million Boys', 'No Salary Boys' and other cult groups have been exploiting the lockdown to unleash terror on residents in some parts of Lagos, Ogun and Oyo States.

To secure their communities against the robbers who invade homes in droves to steal and harm their victims, residents in these areas have resorted to vigils and setting bonfires over night. The tech-savvy ones among them have taken to social media to share their ordeals and call on government and security agencies to come to their aid by tweeting with hashtags like #LagosUnrest, #OgunUnrest. Some have also shared a series of videos on social media showing people setting bonfires at night and pockets of riots in Abule Egba, Agege, Igando in Alimosho local government area, Ogba in Ojodu LCDA and other areas in Lagos.

President Muhammadu Buhari failed to specifically address the reports of unrest in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo States during his statewide broadcast on Monday when he extended the lockdown in FCT, Lagos and Ogun for another 14 days.

The Lagos state government's new palliative measure for the youths is in addition to its ongoing distribution of food packages to 200,000 most vulnerable households in the state.

Many young people in Lagos live on daily income and find it difficult to feed themselves due to the lockdown. Many are street and highway hawkers who earn their daily living from the proceeds of their daily sales. This new initiative is expected to give succour to some of those whose daily living have been affected by the lockdown and reduce the unrest in the state by feeding the youths who analysts said took to crime over hunger.

In his address on Tuesday, Sanwo-Olu said "this additional palliative will further ameliorate the inconveniences occassioned by this extended lockdown. In the next couple of days we will commence a daily food kitchen programme where on a daily basis we will be feeding 100,000 youths. This we believe will address some of the immediate challenges we have seen on our streets."

To implement the programme, the government will engage local food vendors to provide one meal per day to 100,000 youths.

The programme kicked off today in some parts of Lagos. Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Gboyega Akosile shared photos of state officials distributing food to youths in some parts of the state on Wednesday.

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