On Monday, April 27th, President Muhammad Buhari addressed the nation a third time since the coronavirus became pandemic in Nigeria.
In his speech, the president announced that the lockdown and restriction of movement imposed on Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), will be relaxed with conditions by Monday, May 4. Cumulatively, the lockdown placed on those states means that the residents of those states would have spent at least 5 weeks in isolation indoors.
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While 5 weeks seem like a little time to other countries such as Italy, Spain, China, Germany, South Africa and Ghana where there has been a national lockdown for longer but it is no small time to Nigerians here who depend mostly on their daily wages to make ends meet.
Within the period of the lockdown in the respective states, there were reported incidents of crime ranging from burglary, murder, rape, and so on which exemplified the desperation which the lower income section of the populace have been subjected to by restricting their movement. Equally, the wobbly manner which the Federal Government and some of the state governments took in providing and distributing relief to the vulnerable ones in the society did not help in the matter of keeping Nigerians indoors and away from the deadly virus.
Therefore, it must have been on the consideration that the lockdown might destroy the country that the Federal Government now chose to opt for the lesser evil of relaxing the restriction despite the number of new coronavirus cases climbing daily. The Nigerian economy which was not altogether doing very well initially would have tanked into a record depression, massive job losses would have been recorded, chaos would have most likely set-in in the society and more lives would have been lost if the lockdown was not lifted that soon.
Already, there are reports that Access Bank, one of the top banking institutions in the country will be laying off up to 75% of its staff due to the viral pandemic. Individuals employed in the labour force and small businesses are also reporting their wages/salaries being slashed and unable to pay staff for the month of April respectively. For the impact of coronavirus to be so much that there was no other sensible option left for the government than to allow people start co-mingling again in a rowdy city like Lagos means that we are in desperate times.
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It is hoped that at least this difficult path being towed by the presidency is immediately compensated with a restart of the economy so that the private sector too can begin to contribute to national productivity. In order to restart the economy at the level of government ministries, departments and parastatals (MDAs), the Federal Government also had to order civil servants from Grade Level 14 and above back to work from the 4th of May.
Whether the President made a bad call with his decision to open the economy back up from the lockdown inspite of the looming threat of Coronavirus as a favourable move will definitely be adjudged in a few months time.
But as good citizens, all we can do at this stage to help things improve could be as little as maintaining social distancing wherever we go, frequently washing our hands, sneezing into the elbow and other hygienic practices as encouraged by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
Featured image source: GalaxyTVonline
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