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Implications Of The Two Weeks Extension Of COVID-19 Lockdown

Reading through a communiqué released on Wednesday  by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) ; of a possible  looming social unrest if the ongoing lockdown imposed on some states to curb the spread of COVID-19 is further extended.

 Nigerians , and the rest of the world ,  cannot wait to hear  good news about  the end to this scourge ravaging the human race which Africa is most vulnerable due to poor health system, ill equipped hospitals and lack of  technology based medical facilities. Whom do we blame ? Of course , our leaders .❗

On the said communiqué  , the NLC through its president , Mr. Ayuba Wabba , faulted the palliatives being provided by the federal government to the poor , urging for an expansion of the social register to cover most Nigerians whose sources of livelihood are affected by the stay at home directives of both federal and state governments.

With the  encrypted virtual conference  meeting  between President Muhammad Buhari and the 36  state  governors ; wherein,   Mr. President tenaciously sought their support for two weeks extension of the covid -19 lockdown directives . The governors , due to the spike in the number of covid-19 cases in the last few days , unanimously  agreed to ban interstate movement of people for additional 14 days .

However , as state  governors might have taken a stand on both the security and health measures in their collective fight against corona virus pandemic ; they should also consider the groaning and excruciating pains Nigerians are groping  in the wake of this global scourge. While we understand the public health imperatives for extending the lockdown in some states like ; Lagos , Ogun, federal capital territory, Abia , Imo , Anambra , Delta , Kano, Kaduna states ; etc, it is also very important to underscore the fact that these states under lockdown are part of the economic and administrative nerve centres of Nigeria , especially ; economic viable states like : Lagos, Abia , Anambra , Kano.

Regrettably,  the resultant effects of COVI-19 extension which will not only trigger hunger and social unrest , but will also cause loss of income per capita, job retrenchment , increase in exchange rate , marginal drop in oil prices ; as most companies may not be able to pay workers' salaries and meet up with overhead costs and logistical operations. 

The truth remains , Nigeria as a third world nation , her economy might  relapse into a prolonged coma if the current lockdown in the country's productive centres like the aforementioned , goes beyond the current extension .

Unfortunately, Nigeria is never  ready or  prepared for this shock that has befallen her as a number of her  citizens and many  families are already turning to beggars as those whose direct  businesses or sources  of livelihood are  affected by this zoonotic pandemic are obviously stranded , to say the least. 

So far , there has been widespread of civil disobedience as people who couldn't bear the agonising pains of hunger occasioned by the lockdown directives are damming the consequences while stepping out of their homes in search of food or continued greener pastures. Our security operatives are also playing accomplices game of relaxing the order at some checkpoints for tips passes.

The resultant  effects,  however , are recorded deaths  in some states for flouting the stay at home directives of government. In Kaduna State for instance , five people were reported to have been shot dead in search of food by overzealous security operatives who are strictly enforcing the lockdown order of the Kaduna state government: Also in Onitsha , Anambra state , a budding  innocent young man who was scampering  for safety like others at the pursuit of security operatives , having stepped out of his house in search of food , unfortunately met his untimely death through a close gun shot , our reporter gathered. 

Trending on since two days ago , was another recorded causality in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. This time around , it was a woman Police officer who was  gunned down at her duty post somewhere around Eneka road by a stray bullet sporadically shot in the air to disperse traders at the popular Eneka market by an alleged Team of the Rivers COVID-19 Taskforce.

Beyond and above this , various forms of violent crimes have been committed across the country in the wake of this lockdown order by the government , although underreported by the media. 'Hunger is indeed , a baber.'

Nevertheless, while we honestly commend both federal and state governments for being proactive , this editorial opines that the stimulus package will be best served through consultation with social partners and known respected community leaders whose integrity in their various LGAs is not in doubt .

Meanwhile , beyond the threat of corona virus to health and life , there are also emerging threats to source of livelihood as many jobs will be lost after this zoonotic covid -19 experience. A lot of employers of labour in the wake of this COVID-19 lockdown are finding it so difficult to source money to keep their workforce and sustain production line ; job  retrenchment is therefore , imminent.

Moving forward , we join Nigerians , civil society organisations , the organised labour and other humanitarian -based groups to passionately appeal to the federal government to set up among other things;  a devoted organizational -based COVID-19 Economic and Income Recovery Committee to prepare the country for a possible resurgence aftermath the corona virus pandemic experience.

While states like Imo and Rivers with a common boundary , where there is little or no recorded serious case of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic , should rather adopt a human faced approach to dealing with the situation now and aftermath of this  global scourge. 

The opinion expressed in this editorial is principally that of the writer and Editor -in- Chief of the online newspaper; 4thestatereporters.com.

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+ Njoku Macdonald Obinna

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