(EDITORIAL) Covid-19: Locking down the country with caution

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As the covid-19 global pandemic that ravaged Nigeria enters second wave, countries across the world are beginning to take cautious effort to prevent attendant effect on its economy. Up until December, the number of reported cases of covid-19 infection in the Nigeria had drastically dropped and remained insignificant and manageable not until a sudden upsurge reported in various parts of the world.

With the airwaves opened for international flights, Nigeria is therefore uninsulated to the second wave. The effect of the first wave still stares at us in the face. Nigeria is currently in a recession, the second in five years. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 3.6% after shrinking by 6.1% in the second quarter of 2020.

Apart from the slump in the price of crude oil that was due obviously to the pandemic and initially to the power play between the OPEC and Russia earlier in 2020, the governments have shown little commitment to the security situation in the country. This lackadaisical commitment has ripple effect on the economy. More also, the decision of the government to close all land borders to goods from neighbouring countries have no small impact on the informal sector where 80% working people in the country are employed.

That some states in the country are already mulling the idea of another round of lockdown, would ordinarily not elicit concern but the reality that Nigeria practices pseudo-federalism which implies that component entities that made up the country comes with bowl in hand to the centre for allocation to fund their states made the issue a big deal.

In October, President Muhammadu Buhari told the nation that Nigeria cannot afford another lockdown considering the economic loses and the negative impact of the initial lockdown. However, if recent actions and decisions in the presidency is anything to go by, the nation may be in for another round of lockdown.

At a recent press conference of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 in Abuja, the Chairman, Boss Mustapha recommended that federal civil servants of grade 12 and below are to work from home in order to reduce human contact and disrupt the spread of the disease.

In Niger state, the state Governor, Abubakar Bello ordered civil servants in the state to stay at home in order to curb the spread of the second wave of the virus in the state. In Kaduna, the state government has also threatened to impose restrictions to curb the spread if the spare of infection does not abate in the state.

With various states introducing various measures to combat the spread of the disease, it is important to factor in the state of the nation’s economy and its impact on the Nigerians. The government at both state and federal must be realistic in taking decisions. While we support any measure that would help to curb the spread of the disease, we caution that measures that would impact negatively on the economy should be discarded. The decision by the Niger state government, we therefore conclude is unwarranted and needless as it is a waste of resources.

What is most important is for the various governments to ensure that citizens adhere to the nonmedical preventive measures. The wheel of the economy should therefore be allowed to roll unhindered. This would ensure that the country speedily exit recession.

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