COVID-19: Abuja businessmen/women praise, vilify FG over easing of lockdown

As privately-owned organizations and civil servants on Grade level 14 and above are to report for proper work today (Monday) after five weeks of lockdown by President Muhammadu Buhari over coronavirus, some businessmen and women within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, on Sunday, praised the president while others vilified him over the actions taken so far.

It will be recalled that President Buhari had, in the past five weeks, placed a total lockdown on FCT, as well as Lagos and Ogun States with a view to curtailing the spread of the deadly virus.

Nigerian Tribune, who moved around the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), observed that people did not maintain safe distancing protocols of at least two meters but adhere strictly to wearing of face masks at all times, and followed sanitizing protocols.

Speaking with our correspondent, the Chairman, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Abuja, Comrade Adogah Abdullahi, said: “Well, I am been caught between the deep blue sea and the devil with this question. First, this COVID 19 is real and if care is not taken, it could jeopardize the five weeks lockdown gains recorded.

“Tomorrow (today, Monday) without being pessimistic, the risk of contracting this deadly disease will be higher notwithstanding the measure put in place.

“Secondly, the economy is suffering and with the rate of poverty in our society, the average citizens cannot afford the pain so far.” He declared.

In his own opinion, Director, Ak-Teech Safety, Dr Akinjide Ogunrotimi, recommended that the government should make testing kits available, train more personnel for testing skills, create plans for many areas of skill such that people can still work and do businesses within the safe prescribed limit.

A member of the Nigeria Security Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), who did not want his name in print told Nigerian Tribune that he was not noising any fear about retrenchment as Federal Government worker, saying although the pandemic had already affected the economy, the government would only merge some agencies together and may likely owing workers’ salaries.

“Government will not retrench, it will rather prefer owning salary because, where will it get their entitlements?” He stated.

A consultant at Edison and Partners Insurance Brokers Limited, Stephen Fashe, took a swipe at the Federal Government over the actions taken so far.

According to him: “To me, the Federal Government has not done enough to curtail the spread of this COVID-19 virus. The government is just trying to avert the anger of the public as a result of the lockdown period without the necessary palliative measures to cushion it.”

He said the pandemic is real and by the time it starts to show the adverse effect on the public, it would be too disastrous for the country.

A staff of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), Oluyinka Afolabi, said she was not panic as she is fully ready to resume work tomorrow (today).

Managing Director, Sonnekraft Technology Limited, Mr Johnson Olatunji said he believed Nigerians will see this measure taken by the Federal Government as a relief.

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“My piece of advice to all is for everyone to observe all the necessary preventive measures listed by the Federal Ministry of Health and National Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC).” Mr. Olatunji urged.

A businesswoman, Magdalene Etta, complained bitterly, saying the palliatives were only shared among politicians.

Also speaking, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), DONTINO BIZWORLD Limited, Valentine Eyo commended President Buhari for easing the lockdown in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States, saying as a businessman, the decision would help in no small measures to cushion the effect of the deadly virus.

He said as far as he is concerned, some major sectors will commence operations between the stipulated time of 6:00 am to 8:00 pm is very fair compared to when people were on total lockdown. “I give thumbs up to the President,” Eyo added.

Some motorists, who also spoke to Nigerian Tribune, promised to abide by the laid down rules and regulations of both the Federal Government and FCTA.

However, in its new guideline on easing of lockdown released at the weekend, the FCT administration said all schools in the territory remain closed until further notice, saying schools are not permitted to commence third term operations in any form until directed otherwise by the relevant authorities.

According to FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa, schools are, however, encouraged to continue with e-learning and virtual teachings.

He also thanked public-spirited individuals, associations and corporate organisations who made very generous donations for the provision of palliatives to those most in need in the territory.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Anthony Ogunleye, a copy of which was made available to newsmen in Abuja, Malam Bello said extant guidelines on market operations for the sale of food items only remain in effect.

“Markets are to operate for two days in a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm

“Pharmacies may remain open overnight and are to observe all other protocols as enunciated above.

“Companies involved in food processing, drug manufacturing and construction can commence operation, subject to following the approved health and safety guidelines

“All clubs, bars, gardens, beer parlours, recreational parks, communal sports facilities, movie theatres etc in the FCT remain closed.” The minister insisted.

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