The Value News

COVID 19: Nigerians Fear Over Relaxation Of Lock Down In Lagos, Abuja And Ogun By Buhari

By Suleiman Umaru

Nigerians from all walks of life had warned  that the  lock down of the economy  would be easier to handle to in order to contain the spread of  the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of China emerged Coronavirus,  popular , COVID 19,  than reopening it  up again for now.

 Indeed  Lagos and Federal ,civil servants, traders and  business leaders appear confused over President Muhammadu Buhari, planned phased easing of the lockdown in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve center, descibed as the epicenter of the disease, Ogun and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, starting  from Monday, May 4, 2020.

Last Tuesday, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos state, had given an insight of the phased easing of the lock down. He had said  that  ‘’Eateries and restaurants would  open on Monday, May 4, 2020, but could only provide take out service as they would not be allowed to Seat Customers’’. He had said that markets would be  allowed to operate on designated days in the south west City.

He may have given the traders and businessmen a cause to be happy when he said Money Deposit Banks, MDB, and government offices would also be opened for business but could only accommodate 60 percent of their workforce while others would  work  from home.  

The government    may have bowed to pressure to begin a phased reopening of the economy as many Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs, were said  to have cried out  that they are  going broke and that the lock down would essentially make their  business Collapse.

   He also spoke about resumption of intrastate Commercial buses. Although the Lagos state governor had not given the nod  for the immediate  restoration of Commercial buses on the road because of the strict conditions put in place for return of their services. ‘’All Commuters  must  wear Face Masks and gloves as they are  expected to provide  had washing equipment and thermometers,’’.

Boss Mustapha: Chairman, Presidential Task Force On COVID 19 And Secretary To Government Of The Federation

 He had said  that  they could only carry 60 percent of their bus Seat  capacity, an indication that a bus which has a 10 passenger  Seat  could only be allowed to carry 6 passengers for a trip. The governor made it clear that there would be no standing in buses any longer but that was how far he could go.

In spite of the fact that the May 4, date for  buses to resume intra-state operations had not reached yet, the bus operators had forced themselves  on the road, thus sending a signal to the state governor  that they  are not ready to abide by the rules.

 The Value News went out on Friday, May 1, 2020, to observe what is happening along the Ikotun-Iyana Ipaja route of the Alomosho local government but found out that  nothing  had changed .  The buses were  still carrying  their full load of passengers  with  conductors  still standing with the  increased fares.

 They  were said to have taken advantage of the  state government’s laid down new rules on public transportation to hike fares, forcing  Commuters to cry out. It was  not surpring why  Rose Ukachukwu, a trader,  told the Magazine that  she would  watch the situation of things this week before stepping out from her home to the market.

Many had expected the Lagos state governor to also speak out when  schools  will  reopen but he had kept his silence. He may have kept silent on the reopening of schools as agreement may not have  been reached with the Presidential Task Force on COVID 19, headed by Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the government of the Federation  on which Classes should resume, how many students  would be allowed in  and whether any security measure would ensure their safety.  

The situation in Nigeria  was not different from Italy, one of the European countries hardest  hit  by the COVID 19, and  some other European countries. Take for instance , in Italy,  thousands of Small business owners, who could no longer stand the lock down,  were said to have complained  loud thus, forcing them to give out  the keys  of their restaurants  and Cafes to their City and District Mayors  in protest.

In France, Teachers say  the  plan by the government to gradually reopen schools staring from May 11, 2020,  have created a Climate  of fears and Confusion amongst parents because of the rising deaths as a result of the disease. Even Spain, another European country hard hit by the scourge  which had  planned  to relax some  lock down rules this May, had been forced to retreat key steps due to public pressure. The government initially barred Children from going outside , but later allowed them to  accompany their parents to go on errands.

But when the Opposition  and Parents had protested the restriction  on Children  movements, the government was forced to allow them go on Walks otside. The Value News findings show that for the first time  in the  seven weeks of the lock down in the country, adults and Teenagers were allowed to go  outside for exercise  but at a great cost. 

It was reported that the country experienced 164 deaths and  838 Confirmed infections  between  the Saturday, May 2, that people were  allowed to go outside for exercise and Sunday, May 3, 2020. This may have informed why  Pedro  Sanchez, the country’s Prime Minister   had asked the Parliament  to extend the  lock down  in the country beyond May 10, 2020.

The Katsina state born Nigerian President has no option but to take a cue from Sanchez, the Spanish Prime Minister rather than  risking the live of Nigerians. The lock down may have been relaxed  by the President at the instance of the governors not because the government is winning the war against COVID 19   but because   it  cannot afford  to meet  the needs of the  poor and vulnerable Nigerians for too long  at home without a revolt.

The Opposition Political Parties  believe  that it is a clever  way by the Buhari Administration  to avoid  taking responsibility  for the death of a Coronavirus patient  but shifting the responsibility to the family. ”The risk is still there and increasing daily”, an analyst said.

  Even without the government drawing the curtain open for the phased  relaxation of the lock down’to begin on May 4, 2020, Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NCDC, had tweeted  that there had  been overnight 220  new  cases ( Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3, 2020), of  the disease, thus bringing the total number of infected persons in the country  since the out- break  of the disease to 2,388. Of the new infections, Lagos alone  was said to have  produced  62 persons  while FCT , produced  52. The agency confirmed that  so far 85 persons had died as a result of the disease .

One of the latest victims of the Coronavirus was said to be  Adamu Suleiman, a member of the Nasarawa state House of Assembly. The death f the Lawmaker appear to have thrown  the Assembly into total Confusion as there are  Lawmakers who were said to have come  into contact with him before his  death. 

This is where  Abdullahi Sule, the state governor, and the House Speaker a may have to Collaborate with NCDC officials to fish out those  Lawmakers and force them to go for the COVID 19 Test to avoid spreading it to others.  

Late Abubakar, Emir Of Rano With His Staff of Office

There are indications that Tafida Abubakar  Ila II, the Emir of Rano, one of the newly carved out  districts from  Kano Emirate Council by Abdullahi Gandunje the state governor, may have  died of  the disease  on Saturday, May 2, 2020.  There have been speculations making the rounds that Kyari  El-Kanemi,  a First Class Chief  and the Shehu of Bama, in Borno state, may have died of the disease last  Tuesday.

Recall that Abba Kyari, a former Chief of Staff to the  President had died of the dreaded disease some weeks  after his return from  Germany on official Assignment where he had discussions with SIEMENS officials on the nation’s power sector.

The President had described him as his ‘’dearest friend’’  but  he was seen in political circles as the ” head of the Cabal in the Presidency”.

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Stephen Ubanna

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