Easing the lockdown under any excuse is not reasonable at a time we continue to post rising infections and deaths from the disease. The government should have devised other means to cushion the impacts of the lockdown on the people. I know the government had little choice but to ease up given rising unemployment and inflation caused by the closures. Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer has seen its revenues battered by the collapse in crude prices and there is little financial room for maneuver. With the huge fall in oil prices, rising debt and limited fiscal room to respond to the negative effects of this crisis, the future seems very bleak. The authorities faced a huge dilemma weighing the health risks against the social pain. Those are very difficult health and economic decisions to take. The shutdown had been devastating for the informal sector which includes some 70 percent of workers.
I am not in support of the lockdown being lifted because at this stage of community transmission, there will be more problem. The objective of the lockdown in the first place is to prevent community transmission and scale up testing capacity to break the chain of transmission, but unfortunately it has been hindered due to challenges of testing capacity. If the aim of the lockdown has not been achieved, I see no reason why the government should lift the lockdown prematurely. We are going to have a chaotic situation, because we would have a lot of asymptomatic people mixing with others. By the time that they would be detected or start showing symptoms, the system might not be able to cope with the numbers of people that needs to be admitted at the hospitals. I must commend the government for implementing social distancing and compulsory wearing of face masks in the public. Also, the government should make available Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at various hospitals to enhance facilities with the capacity to cope with potential COVID-19 patients.
The decision by the government to ease the lockdown is the right course because the suffering, hunger, idleness, and uncertainties of the past one month will ease. At least, people can go out to look for money to feed.
In as much as I sincerely understand the challenges the lockdown have placed on virtually every Nigerian, my concern is how the ease of lockdown of places like computer village in Lagos, Idumota and Oshodi markets among other markets, commercial bus activities will be regulated without compromise. The lockdown is already compromised in some areas. I would say that pressure should rather be mounted on government at all levels, particularly the Federal Government to provide sufficient palliative measures to citizens, wave some tax deductions, suspend loan repayments by State governors, etc so that we do not experience what countries like Italy, Spain, etc have experienced or are experiencing. It is only the living that can think about the economy.
It is a good step by the government because lockdown can’t be forever and whether we like it or not the whole world is experiencing the pandemic and it does not look as if the virus would vanish anytime soon. Easing the lockdown requires that more measures be put in place and which the government has started doing but more needs to be done. Government must judiciously utilize all funds being donated and released to fight Covid-19. We don’t need to execute any capital project for now. The security votes and constituency allowances should be converted to procure equipment to fight this pandemic. This should be the focus of the budget amendment discussion as Senate reconvenes. We have scientists and researchers in Nigeria, some have proposed cures, but the government has been too busy to consider or encourage our local content. We are waiting for China! I bet you that our local remedy has been the best cure. Most blacks that did not have bed spaces in UK hospitals but they returned home, took local remedies and got cured. Let’s avoid fears and creating panic. This can be tackled if our government shows more sincerity, seriousness and commitment beyond lockdown.
There should be increase testing centers. This is where I feel Nigeria is losing the fight. We cannot test up to 1,500 people a day; samples are sent from Kano to Abuja for testing with a turn-around time of over 24 hours. Kano State government still cannot ascertain the cause of the recent deaths in the state (obviously they don’t want it to be tagged Covid-19 and we assume it is also not Corona disease). Who is fooling who? I disagree that testing equipment is so scarce now. There are a lot of things fishing in Nigeria. Politics and corruption have been Nigeria’s cankerworms. The lockdown should be relaxed because continuing it would be counter-productive. No test equipment, no sanitizers, no fumigation of the environment (just some few corners and markets). People will surely interact within their neighborhood – buy food, fuel, gas, water, electricity, etc. How will a total lockdown work in this farming season? This is some citizen’s only means of livelihood. I live in Abuja and have a farm in Nasarawa. What happens to my farm? I have neither received a dime from government nor got any support from the Agric funds being advertised. So, I support that the lockdown be relaxed.
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