TO say that the Covid-19 pandemic has caught many governments across the world pants down is a huge understatement. Six weeks ago, not even the most pessimistic modellings of the spread of the coronavirus anticipated that things would rapidly degenerate to the extent of literally shutting down the global economy. And yet, here we are, with more than 1 million confirmed cases worldwide, and over fifty thousand fatalities. In Nigeria, as of April 5, there were 224 confirmed cases and five deaths, while 27 people had fully recovered after contracting the virus.
State response in Nigeria appears to have tracked the global pattern. After initial sluggishness, the Buhari administration, to its credit, has moved to get on top of the situation. In this regard, the address to the nation by President Buhari on March 29, while belated, was a step in the right direction, and in regard to measures aimed at curtailing the spread of the coronavirus, two things stood out.
First was the President’s insistence that “As individuals, we remain the greatest weapon to fight this pandemic. By washing our hands regularly with clean water and soap, disinfecting frequently used surfaces and areas, coughing into a tissue or elbow and strictly adhering to infection prevention control measures in health facilities, we can contain this virus.” There is an encyclopedia of medical wisdom in this single sentence, and we urge all Nigerians to strictly adhere to the president’s call. Until such a time, hopefully in the proximate future, when a vaccine or some other cure is found for Covid-19, this is the responsible thing to do, and we urge Nigerians to make a fetish of these sanitary habits.
The second aspect of President Buhari’s address that stood out is the 14-day curfew imposed on Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), starting 11pm on Monday, March 30. Following this, several other states have imposed different variants of the same measure, to the extent that most of the country is now effectively in lockdown mode. As much-needed steps intended to curtail the spread of the virus, we applaud these measures taken by the Federal Government and individual state governments. If experience with previous pandemics shows anything, it is that it is better to overreact than underreact, and we urge the authorities at all levels of governance to continue to monitor the situation, relaxing or stiffening the lockdown as they may deem necessary. Furthermore, we urge Nigerians to support the authorities in their efforts to bring this deadly virus under control.
Having said that, it is extremely important that the authorities at all levels pay heed to the deep economic sociology of the country as follows: the spine of the Nigerian economy is the informal economy, characterised by the day-to-day exchange of labour for cash. Proudly, the majority of Nigerians work to eat, and very people have unlimited resources, whether in cash or consumable goods. Nigeria is a country of millions of carpenters, farmers, bus drivers, bus conductors, vulcanizers, auto electricians, overworked and underpaid teachers, floor sweepers, messengers, watch repairers, and artisans of various stripes, nearly all of whom live from hand to mouth, eager to catch the break that the next day must bring.
What this means is that a lockdown, while medically sensible, is also potentially ruinous in its financial implications. The remedy recommends itself: government at all levels must step in quickly, at the same speed with which it has imposed a lockdown, and come to the assistance of the poorest of the poor. In doing so, it must enlist the help of financial institutions, civil society organisations, private bodies, business concerns; in short, every entity whose resources can be mobilised. We have already seen in a few unfortunate cases across the country what can happen when people feel pushed to the wall. Especially for the Federal Government, this crisis is a great opportunity to show that it is capable of great things.
We are by no means suggesting that everything should be left to the government. For Nigerians who pride themselves on their sense of solidarity, this is the time to put their monies where their mouths are. For those of relative means, this is the time to loosen their purse strings, and for others, even a simple greeting can go a long way in easing a neighbour’s sense of isolation. In plague time, Nigerians must find and renew their sense of community.
Fiction, Faction And Presidential Marabouts As COVID-20
In discussing the above, permit me to begin from a seemingly intangible occurrence that happened during the week that just ended. Yoruba Waka music genre singer, Salawa Abeni caused a stir on the information highway last Wednesday when she released her own nude pictures on social media. The 58-year-old musician was being… Read full article
We Have No Protective Gears, We Are Paid N1,000 Allowance For Three Days, Say Policemen Guarding Ejigbo Isolation Centre
Policemen guarding the Ejigbo isolation centre in Osun State on Saturday lamented over what they described as poor welfare and lack of protective gears for the discharge of their duties. This was just as all the returnees who tested negative and not from Osun State left the isolation centre in Ejigbo on Saturday for their… Read full story
Alleged Rape In Kogi: NMA Calls For Thorough Investigation
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called on the relevant law enforcement agencies to conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged battering and rape of Elizabeth Oyeniyi, by the Kogi State Commissioner for Water Resources, Abdumumuni Danga… Read full story
We Did Not Put Ex-Presidential Aide Obono-Obla In Illegal Detention–ICPC
The Independent Corrupt Practises and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has denied allegation that it put the Chairman of the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, in “malicious and illegal detention.” The agency said it was responding to the claim in a press statement issued on social media… Read full story
COVID-19: Kaduna Govt Begins Distribution Of N500m Food Items
Kaduna State government on Saturday began distribution of the N500 million worth of food items in the eight pilot local government areas of the state. The commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Hajiya Hafsat Baba disclosed this, while flagging off the distribution at Kaduna North local government which is… Read story
UPDATE: Chronic Kidney Disease Killed Enugu Health Commissioner ― Family
The Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Professor Anthony Ugochukwu, died of chronic kidney disease, the family of the late top government official has revealed. A statement signed by Dr. Kingsley Ugochukwu on-behalf of the deceased family which was made available to Tribune Online in Enugu on Saturday stating that the late… Read full story
COVID-19: Oyo Begins Markets Fumigation This Week
Interim Chairman, Oyo State COVID-19 task force, Professor Temitope Alonge has said the state will this week decontaminate (fumigate) markets spread across the state. As contained in a statement by Chief Press Secretary to Oyo State governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, the decontamination would be carried out using experts… Read full stor
COVID-19: Bauchi Gov, Bala Mohammed, Tests Negative
Unconfirmed reports have it that Bauchi State Governor, Sen Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, has tested negative after completing the first round of treatment for COVID-19. Though the story is trending in the social media, as at the time of filing this report, no official statement from the government unlike in the past when such… Read full story