Says lockdown without palliatives dangerous to daily income-earners
Nigeria should grab the challenge thrown up by the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic and turn it into an opportunity to reset its healthcare delivery system and make a huge business investment out of the situation, a former minister of Education, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, has suggested.
Olorogun Gbagi, who was Minister of State for Education under President Goodluck Jonathan, told Newzandar News in Abuja on Wednesday that it was imperative for Nigeria to learn fast from the enormous health crisis thrown up by the pandemic and take urgent steps to provide the basic requirements that would give Nigerians good health.
The businessman pointed out that given the threat to lives posed by COvid-19 and the absence of basic functional health facilities to deal with the pandemic, Nigeria should as a matter of urgency rises to the occasion and invest heavily in health and allied services so that the nation is never taken unawares by any health challenge.
According to him, the pandemic has exposed Nigeria to the fact that the country has not met the basic requirements for a functional healthcare delivery system and should therefore not be ashamed to start from the cradle and put the basic healthcare delivery foundation in place to avoid future shame and discomfort.
“We should not be ashamed to go back to the foundational level and do what is most needed to give all Nigerians good health instead of running to other countries for help in health matters that other smaller African countries have since overcome,” the former minister said.
“Nigeria can also convert the challenge posed by COVID-19 to invest heavily in the production and manufacture of the critically needed facilities such as hand sanitizers, face masks, ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment that can become another huge industry in the country providing jobs and opportunities for further investments instead of importing these essentials,” Gbagi, a long-standing investor in hospitality and services industry counselled.
The former minister, who hails from Delta State, said the lockdown declared by the government to retard the spread of the virus nationwide was a step in the right direction but also warned that extended closure of the economy without a corresponding economic stimulus for businesses and palliatives for the daily worker could cause untold hardship for small income earner and ruin the economy.
Gbagi said: “It makes no senses locking down the economy without providing the basic needs for the people because 72 per cent of Nigerians earn their income from their daily work and cannot afford to be put at home for too long.
“I therefore good for the government and policymakers to make policies and decisions to curtail the spread of the virus but such policies must unfailingly come with a human face so that they do not inadvertently defeat their original purposes,” he said.