President Buhari Under Pressure, Faces Hard Options 24 Hours To Lockdown Expiration
In another 24 hours, Nigeria would have completed the 2nd phase of the lockdown (14 days to make 28) imposed on Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Ogun and Lagos states by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 29.
Sadly, despite the lockdown designed to flatten the curve of COVID-19, the number of positive cases has continued to climb.
Before the lockdown on March 29, Nigeria had a total of 111 confirmed cases, but as of 11.30pm on April 24, Nigeria had recorded a total of 1,095 confirmed cases with 32 deaths.
In Lagos alone, which is the epicentre, the infection rose from 68 cases on March 29 to 657 confirmed cases on April 23.
In Ogun, as of March 29, the state had three cases but as of last Friday, 24 days after, there were 29 cases while FCT figure rose from 21 before the lockdown to 133.
Also as of Friday, we had 27 affected states as against 12 states before the lockdown.
Experts say although the rise was expected, effective lockdown would have helped to flatten the curve.
Many Nigerians apparently ignored social distancing as recommended by W.H.O. during a pandemic of this nature to eke a living amid inadequate palliative by government.
Experts say Lagos alone, being the country’s economic hub, loses N108.05 billion per day, when activities are down to zero level. In essence, the commercial capital of the nation would have lost over N3 trillion at the end of the 28-day lockdown.
The deduction from the views of the experts is that Buhari faces hard options ahead of the expiration of the lockdown tomorrow.
According to them, with the increasing number of positive cases, relaxing the lockdown may be disastrous but Nigerians cannot be locked down indefinitely without appropriate palliative.
The President of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Dr Francis Faduyile, said allowing Nigerians to move around with the increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the community may spell doom, hence the need for a well planned lockdown balanced with palliative.
Faduyile, who warned that government cannot continue to lock Nigerians down without balanced palliative, said the ongoing shutdown was ineffective because the Federal Government failed to balance it with fairly distributed palliative.
“Looking at health situation alone, I will say the lockdown should continue but you cannot do that alone; you must balance it with economic, socio-cultural issues and security”, he said.
“Government needs to put something in place for us to have an effective lockdown process. If those things are not in place, lockdown will just be a pronouncement and not in action”.
Lagos and Kano
The NMA top official added that with community transmission going on in two big states, Lagos and Kano, Nigeria ha not been able to flatten the curve.
He explained that Nigeria was yet to get to a safe position to ease lockdown looking at health issue, regretting that the aim of lockdown was to stop transmission of coronavirus but it did not happen.
According to Faduyile, to contain the spread of the virus, government needs to put on its thinking cap to find a balance between palliative and lockdown.
“Sincerely, lockdown is supposed to continue but it might be difficult if you have not put down necessary plans to ease the pain of the lockdown”, he said.
“For you to lockdown, you need to find a way to make people stay at home and eat, the palliative must be distributed fairly and we need every activity of government towards that, otherwise, Nigeria may slip into the worst situation”.
Stating that the increasing number of cases was as a result of increasing tests, Faduyile said it was one of the gains of lockdown as it helped Lagos and the country at large to discover the communities.
For the virus to be contained, Aliyu added that Nigeria should continue with the lockdown, social distancing, and self isolation.
Lamenting that the lockdown has not been highly efficient as many cases are recorded and people have failed to comply with stay-at-home, he said government must put in place measures to ensure that people comply.
“Though we have heard of several efforts to get people palliative but that of course has not achieved expected result,” the NARD leader pointed out.
“It is not enough to declare a nationwide lockdown without appropriate preparation and ensuring measures are in place for compliance and lockdown will not be complied with if people don’t get palliative”.
While calling for extension of the lockdown, Aliyu said if palliative cannot be improved upon, there was no point for extension or nationwide lockdown as people need to survive.
According to him, government must be more realistic and honest about palliative at least for the downtrodden before considering lockdown extension.
“It is a fact that as much as 50 percent of Nigerians are living below the poverty line. These are people that go out every day to fend for themselves. If palliative is not sincerely provided, it will be difficult for them to comply”, the resident doctors’ association chief said.
He called for compulsory use of face mask by Nigerians to reduce the spread of the virus.
On his part, the National President, National Association of Nigerian Nurses & Midwives, NANNM, Abudulrafiu Adeniji, who called for national lockdown, said it was not the right time to ease lockdown, hence the need for government to increase awareness about the effect of the disease.
“We are talking about a disease that has already affected millions of people with no specific treatment and so many people are asymptomatic”, Adeniji said.
“In some states where there no cases before, they have started recording index cases. The worst thing is that Nigerians are very mobile.
“When Wuhan in China was locked down, we all heard that people were not moving in or out of Wuhan. The issue of lockdown should be reconsidered following what is happening in Kano now, let Nigerians exercise patience.
“If we don’t do things right now, the prediction of Melinda Gates may come to pass. The graph is not flattening at all. It is still going up and that means we are yet to see the end of the disease.
“We are talking about hunger; even when there is no lock down, there was hunger in the country. But government needs to put in place better palliative and not the one that falls in wrong hands. If it is only N10 that government can provide for every household, let it go round.”
Adeniji urged Nigerians to understand the devastating effect of COVID-19.
He further appealed to Nigerians to desist from hiding their status and medical history when they go to hospital or dealing with health workers.
Meanwhile, National President of Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals/ Vice President, Joint Health Sector Union, Dr Obinna Ogbonna, supported total lockdown following the increasing number of infected persons by the day.
Ogbonna regretted that many Nigerians are yet to know the gravity of COVID-19.
Reminding Nigerians that there was no specific treatment for the virus currently, he said it was necessary for people to stay at home to respect lockdown because the virus cannot move by itself but through human beings.
The union leader warned of possible overwhelming surge of infection in communities if nationwide total lockdown was not imposed.
On palliative, he recommended that government can adopt the town planners’ statistics to know the number of houses in a particular environment for effective distribution of materials to the right people.