Olalekan Adetayo, Femi Asu, Joseph Olaoluwa & Daud Olatunji
The Presidency on Sunday warned Nigerians to continue to observe the guidelines released to curtail further spread of COVID-19 in order to avert fresh lockdown.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement titled, ‘Presidency: Nigerians should comply with mandatory mask wearing to avert lockdowns.’
But the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry warned against second lockdown, saying government should ensure strict enforcement of protocols.
Nurses on their part said the Federal Government should lock down if cases continued to rise.
The Presidency statement was released on a day opposition Peoples Democratic Party accused the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), of allegedly violating the regulations on COVID-19 which he signed last week.
The party said the President violated the regulations about the use of face mask and physical distancing in Daura, Katsina State while participating in the All Progressives Congress membership registration and validation.
But Shehu in his statement on Sunday said the Presidency was worried by reports of non-compliance with the regulations that makes mask wearing and observation of social distancing in the public mandatory.
While appealing to Nigerians to cooperate with the government to ensure the success of the policy, the presidential aide said Buhari introduced the order with the best of intentions and not with any motive to punish citizens.
The statement read, “The Buhari administration is most reluctant to lockdown the country and continues to emphasise the non-pharmaceutical measures and the only way to avert lockdowns is to observe these measures as put in place by the Presidential Task Force.
“Nigerians have come a long way from the dreaded lockdown and the administration is unhappy about any prospects of bringing it back as many citizens will not have food on the table without venturing out on a day-to-day business.
“Nigerians are required to wear masks, wash hands regularly with soap and clean water, and keep safe distance with anybody not in your household, hoping that this will help check spread of COVID-19.
“Though vaccine availability is within reach, the propensity of the public for noncompliance weakens the fight against the virus.”
Shehu said Nigerians have a duty to protect themselves and others in this difficult global health crisis; adding that “no one has immunity against this pandemic. Ignoring health warnings and refusing to comply with safety measures does more harm than good.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a major threat to public health and wearing of masks, social distancing in public places and the basic hygiene are necessary measures that have to be taken to safeguard the well-being of our citizens.”
We can’t afford to shut down economy –LCCI
However, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Muda Yusuf, said the country could not afford to shut down the economy.
He said, “It is noteworthy that the government is not contemplating a complete lockdown. We do not have the capacity to manage the social and consequences of a complete lockdown. We cannot afford to shut down the economy.”
Noting that majority of the working population depend on daily income for survival, Yusuf said, “The economy is about 50 per cent informal. The lockdown model cannot achieve much in this environment. The chances of a serious pushback and backlash are very high.
“We should strengthen enforcement and put in place a risk management framework that targets activities and locations that pose the highest risk to the containment of the pandemic. Lives matter, but livelihood is no less critical. We should ensure a balance between the two.”
A Nigerian professor of political economy and management expert, Pat Utomi asked the government to prioritise the health of its citizens.
He said, “If we are all dead, the economy would not matter. I think that it is important to bear in mind that while the economy is critical, a case spike can adversely affect the country. We have to take it one step at a time because it is a trade-off between lockdown and no lockdown.”
NANNM backs FG
The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives said on Sunday said it supported lockdown plan by the Federal Government to stop continued rise in COVID-19 cases.
The President of NANNM, AbdulRafiu Adeniji, said it would be irresponsible of the Federal Government not to take a drastic measure to curb the further spread of the virus in the country.
He said, “The Federal Government has the prerogative of protecting lives and property.
“To me, anybody that tells the Federal Government not to lock down again must be able to enforce those principles of social distancing of use of masks, avoiding large gathering. If all those things can be complied with, there may not be need for lockdown.”
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