Beyond The COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown in Nigeria: A View from MPAC

Friday, 20 March 2020 | Rajab 25, 1441 AH

As Africa recorded the 17th death in 24 hours today (WHO), it is crucial that the government takes more stringent and immediate actions to mitigate against a runaway infection spree of the COVID-19 as other countries unfortunately have experienced. The UN health agency said so far, there has been 633 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 33 African countries and the latest figures of COVID-19 virus infection in Nigeria from relevant state and health authorities are not heart-warming. As at today, there are 12 confirmed cases with a few suspected cases under observation.

At a time like this, we need to recognize the grim challenge humanity faces in this ruinous infection, and roll up the sleeves to prepare for the worst case scenerio. Our government needs to mobilize all the national assets, in a controlled manner and confront the challenges head on, motivating those working in the frontline of our defense and control efforts to perform at their best. For these reasons, the President now needs to address the nation and continue to do so to give hope to the nation, ignite determination and highlight his government’s strategies to win the war against this infection and adequately mitigate its impacts on our social and economic situations.

Nigerians are able to watch other nations grapple with this COVID-19 pandemic in different ways and as such they have different expectations of how visible leadership is important and why stronger measures should be put in place to clamp down the speed and spread of infection and safe us from recording fatal statistics due to lack of adequate preparation and planning.

Our surveillance system needs to be more robust and uncompromising, while greater empahisis must be placed on detection, isolation/quarantine and treatment.

After the State and Federal Government directives to limit social gathering, it is good to see the positive and immediate responses from the religious communities to the guided directives. As a result, most Islamic organizations have issued directives to their members to immediately stop all religious activities involving more than 50 people at a time, including cancelation of Friday communal prayers starting from tomorrow. This shows the extent to which Nigerians are prepared to sacrifice and co-operate to ensure that we protect ourselves from tragedy. This is necessary and commendable.

Now, it is time to build a strong coalition against the threat of this terrible infection. Citizens and governments need to work together to make sure that we stop the spread of the infection in its track by all means necessary.

Governments at all levels must continue to build capacity in the public health sector just as they increase investment in primary healthcare.

Now that the economic and the social lives of the populace are being locked down as a precautionary measure, with travel restrictions to 13 countries (effective 21st of March, 2020), measures on meaningful engagement and family subsistence sustainability are equally vital.

It may be necessary for the government to seriously consider a mandatory isolation procedure for Nigerians entering the country from high risk countries and to constantly review the ‘banned’ countries in response to fresh information and on-going changes. Lack of a coherent and special social protection initiative specifically to deal with the individual economic challenges of Nigerians may work against the fight against the spread of the infection. How the government deals with all these issues together and in delicate balance is very important to how quickly we make progress in overcoming this exceptional challenge.

We therefore urge the government to come out with sound and broad palliatives that will cushion the economic impacts of this ruinous global challenge that comes with COVID-19 pandemic.

As each of us takes the necessary steps and comply with professional guidance on tackling the spread of this virus, we pray that Allah (SWT) shows us His mercy, grants us protection, safety, peace of mind and prosperity.

AbdulWarees SOLANKE
Director, Media & Strategic Communications
MPAC Nigeria.


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