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Complete Lockdown Is Meant For Developed Countries, Not Nigeria – PRP

The Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the stoppage of the ongoing lockdown, adding that lockdown is meant for developed countries and not for countries like Nigeria.

The PRP, in a statement issued by its National Chairman, Alhaji Falalu Bello, noted that the strategy choice of the administration was alien to the socio-economic as well as environmental realities in Nigeria, adding that such facilities that would have made the strategy choice workable were either rudimentary or non-existent in Nigeria.

The party also observed that the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic was not just a health concern, but a multi-sectoral thing, noting that the lockdown strategy could rather become counter-productive as the Nigerian circumstances, in which housing transportation, feeding and other basic human need were in short supply, leading to congestions and herding of people in limited spaces and sharing limited resources.

It also pointed out the limited capacity of government to meet up with the demand for palliatives, considering the alleged suspicious nature of the database to be used for those who would qualify to benefit from government’s arrangement.

“First, from his statement, the President appears not to understand and appreciate the futility and ineffectiveness of lockdowns as a panacea for the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in an economic and social environment such as ours.

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“Nigeria COVID -19 response strategy with terms such as aggressive enforcement of total lockdown, flattening of the curve, contact tracing, self-isolation, etc, is a very good strategy on paper but has been drawn in total disregard to our environment and circumstances.

“Complete lockdown for example may be useful and effective in developed economies and societies as exist in Europe and North America. But in our own environment where infrastructure such as housing, public transportation, sanitation and water supply are at best rudimentary, a wholesale copy of the lockdown template as a strategy against the COVID-19 pandemic is as good as playing the ostrich.

“Self-Isolation as another example in most of our houses in our towns and cities where tens of families stay in a house with only a toilet and tap is neither possible nor practicable. The Covid-19 Strategy sold to our President and his Governors is alien to our circumstances, not practicable nor sustainable and should be urgently jettisoned.

“Secondly, the President’s statement betrays a complete failure to understand that the COVID-19 pandemic is not just a health emergency but more appropriately a multi-sectoral challenge, with grave implications and threats to not just the public health but the livelihoods of citizens.

“So, to depend, as the President says he is going to do, only on the advice of the “scientific advisers” for the determination of whether and when to lift the restrictions on movements, is to say the least, most ill-advised.

“As experts in similar climes as ours have argued, complete lockdowns in and by themselves cannot and will not solve the challenges that COVID-19 has unleashed.

“Indeed, the lockdowns themselves may even compound and worsen the incidence of both contagion and spread by, for instance, weakening the immune system through worsening malnutrition, the herding together of masses of people in congested residential spaces which is what you find in most of our cities and towns, and the overstretching of rudimentary health-care facilities and infrastructures.

“Thirdly, President Buhari’s Statement convinces us of the Government’s utter disregard and lack of appreciation of its own low executive capacity. For the President to talk and promise that the Administration is going to distribute lockdown palliatives to the most vulnerable, who largely live from day to day in the interstices of the informal sector of the economy, in the face of gross bungling of the government’s initial efforts in this direction, only goes to betray this disregard of existential realities.

“The Nigerian government [both Federal and States] lack the executive capacity to do these in a transparent and effective manner. To begin with, the database that will be used to determine who qualifies for such an intervention and support is just simply not there.

“Furthermore, the executive capacity to execute the distribution in an equitable, fair and even-handed manner has simply been shown not to exist. These have been seen in almost all the States that gave out palliatives to their citizens as well as the fairly tale distribution of N20,000.00 each to 2.6million Nigerians in 4 days by the Federal Government which most people don’t believe”, the statement said.

It, however, suggested a couple of answers to sorting out the management of the COVID-19 response strategy, which it said would be more suiting to the Nigerian circumstances and its people.

Besides calling for the suspension of the lockdown immediately, to allow for a more custom-designed Nigerian response, PRP also called for urgent and mass procurement of testing kits, investment into healthcare facilities and training on mass contacts tracing and provision of stimulus packages for the sectors of the economy that would be most hit by the outbreak.

“Review the lockdown orders restricting movements with a view to relaxing them to allow citizens to go about earning their livelihoods in an orderly and supervised manner.

“Procure, subsidize and massively distribute face masks to the public and make the wearing of these compulsory in public spaces until the pandemic is over, urgently procure testing kits and make them widely available so that members of the community with individuals suspected of showing symptoms of the disease can have easy access for testing.

“Invest massively in the medical infrastructure and training for contact tracing of confirmed cases, their isolation and treatment, as well as the provision of protective gear for health workers, immediately prepare stimulus packages for sectors of the national economy which are going to be worst affected by the pandemic in the coming months, such as small-holder agriculture, small and medium enterprises, operators in the informal sectors of the economy and selected strategic industries.

“Reopening of the public services while maintaining social-distancing in the work-place and commercial operations, stop the wasteful if not fraudulent texting by NCDC reported to have cost the Government over a billion naira and divert such scarce resource to building the much required testing centres in and out of towns and cities.

“Immediately probe the fairy tale distribution of N20,000.00 each to 2.6 million Nigerians in 4 days as a means of confirming what happened and as important strengthening the distribution capacity of the Ministry of Humanitarian Services and Disaster Management before engaging them to handle further distribution of palliatives to the needy Nigerian population.

“Liminate police and military brutality coming from the enforcement of the lockdowns reported to have cost across the nation more harm than COVID-19 and resort to counselling and even fine as seen in the jurisdictions we have borrowed our Covid-19 strategy”, the statement said

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