On Monday, April 27th, Nigerian Ruler, Muhammadu Buhari, during his address to the nation, declared that selected businesses across all states of the Federation (except Kano) will open from 8am to 6pm, starting from Monday April 4th, 2020.
However, he said that there will be an 8pm to 6am curfew on daily basis after close of business. The restriction on social and religious gathering remain in place and the ban on interstate movement is still in place until further notice.
The decision from the Regime to relax the total lockdown has caused divided opinions amongst the masses. Many have wondered if the latest directive came too soon while others have noted that the country is too broke to remain on total lockdown.
One fact that remains clear is that Nigeria’s COVID-19 curve is not flat. Yesterday, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) announced new 195 cases which brought the total number of cases to 1532.
So why has the Regime decided to relax the total lockdown when there is still an obvious increase in number of cases?
It is proper that we look into some of the reasons for placing restrictions on movement in the first place. Some of them include:
- Flatten the infection curve.
- Trace exposed contacts.
- To test aggressively.
All of these were targeted at preventing treatment centers and health workers from being overwhelmed as well. It was meant to buy some time to get a cure or vaccine or at worst, contain the spread of the virus.
It is logical that once the curve is on a convincing downward trend, or a cure or vaccine is found, then the lockdown can be eased off gradually.
Truthfully, the lockdown has had its effect on how much revenue the Regime generates which has further plunged the economy into crisis.
Also, there are vulnerable individuals and families that cannot afford to feed if they remain indoors. There have been complaints of palliatives not getting to them. Is it that the Regime is yet to find a valid means of identifying them or that they cannot afford to feed them? These questions without answers from the Regime has made it quite difficult for many to either agree or disagree with the latest decision to relax the lockdown.
To be recommended are the donations from individuals and organizations, which to a very large extent should help cushion the effects of the pandemic. The Regime is yet to properly account for how these funds have been used to help combat the virus. Some of these are necessary to help calm the agitating masses and vulnerable ones who will definitely jump at this opportunity to go back to the work the puts food on their table.
The regime was faced with two options; manage the resources they have at hand, and constantly update the masses on the developments, while they get the COVID-19 curve to flatten out, or take the risks of easing off the lockdown, and allowing more people to be exposed to the virus. They went for the latter.
Nigeria cannot afford more setbacks than it already has. If the virus ravages people and kills thousands, it will still cause a lockdown of the country anyway.
In as much as we pray and hope for the best, opening up at this point seems like a national suicide. Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have suggested ways the Regime can cope with the uphill task lying in front of them. Maybe the Regime can take a clue from some of the suggestions on how best to react to the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the country and its resources.