Top players in the nation’s economy have called on the federal government not to relax restriction of movement prematurely as the lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun expires tomorrow.
They unanimously moved for an extension to ensure that the curve of coronavirus infection is flattened to a less threatening level.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on March 30,, announced a two-week lockdown of the aforementioned places as one of the measures to stem the spread of coronavirus.
In his reactions, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Dr. Muda Yusuf while moving for an extension noted that the use of better palliatives to sustain lockdown.
According to Yusuf, “The lockdown has taken a huge toll on businesses and citizens’ welfare. But there is a reasonable consensus that it is a price worth paying for public health security. But the challenge is the weak social protection mechanism that we have. Over 70 percent of the adult population is engaged in the informal sector or working for small businesses. Most are dependent on daily economic activities that come with daily income.
“Practically, we are living from hand to mouth. The capacity of this class of people to absorb the shocks of the lockdown is very weak. Their staying power in the lockdown mode is fragile. They are beginning to run out of steam. Unless the social intervention scheme is radically reworked, it will be difficult to sustain the lockdown for long. Many of the people at the bottom of the pyramid are now more concerned about the risk of hunger than the danger of coronavirus. But it is the health authorities that would determine how long the lockdown will be.’’
Similarly, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) stressed that it is not yet time to relax lockdown.
MAN’s Chairman,Apapa Branch, Frank Onyebu, said: “ I want to once again commend the federal and state governments for the actions taken so far with regards to the fight against the spread of coronavirus. Looking at what is happening in other parts of the world, especially in Europe and the United States, I can’t but support the governments’ actions, especially with regards to the lockdown.
“Is the lockdown painful? Yes indeed. Does it impact on businesses? Certainly. Will the continued lockdown further compound the suffering of Nigerians, especially the poor? Most certainly. Is there an alternative? I will say not much, except we want to see the Italian or Spanish scenarios here in Nigeria.
“ I know many people are still living under the illusion that this disease is not a tropical disease and therefore cannot have much impact here. People are formulating all sorts of conspiracy theories. But my advice to Nigerians is, let us take this thing very seriously. We do not have the capacity to contain the disease if there is a full outbreak.
“We have begun a good fight, and I believe that collectively, we shall defeat this scourge. I know we have suffered a lot of hardships and inconveniences these past few days, but all our effort will be in vain if we don’t follow it to a logical conclusion.
‘’My take on this is, in as much as I would like the lockdown to be relaxed or even lifted, it is not yet time to relax the order.
Today, the lockdown in Wuhan where coronavirus originated, has been lifted. They endured the lockdown for three months. We don’t need to endure three months of lockdown if we do the right thing now. But I am afraid we could be forced to do more than that if we don’t.”
Moreso, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA is in support of the lockdown continuation.
On her part, President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA, Saratu Aliyu, said lifting the ban on restriction of movement prematurely would be counterproductive.
Supporting her argument, she said: “In my view, the lockdown should continue. This virus is transmitted from person to person. If people are allowed to move freely Nigerians will be hard hit because of our large population and manner of socialization. Nigeria does not have the capacity to fight the virus. The sooner we do the right thing, the better for us all. We should listen to the advice of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, to stay clean and safe
“I want to plead with the authorities to coordinate and intensify the distribution of relief materials. People want to stay home but if they are hungry there is a tendency for them to go in search of food. A lot of sensitisation is needed to make people in heavily populated areas understand the need for lockdown and social distancing. We need to lockdown to stay safe.”