President Muhammadu Buhari
IF our coronavirus battle was only a matter of speechmaking we would deck President Muhammadu Buhari in flying colours. For the third time in a row since he came into the picture of this pandemic, Buhari touched most of the right places during his Monday, April 27 national broadcast setting the date for a partial reopening of the country.
Perhaps the most important portion of the broadcast to most Nigerians was in paragraph 37 which contained the “phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States effective from Monday, May 4, 2020”.
The President had to follow the advice of fellow politicians (the Governors) and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 rather than the expert opinions of medical professionals who preferred a further extension of the lockdown to see if we could stop the spread, especially in the inner communities. And rightly so.
Because of the inadequacy of the palliatives both in quantity and in the strategy of implementation, hunger is already pushing the people to desperate points. Even the middle class, which is seen as being capable of bearing their own cross and even offering a helping hand to the downtrodden, was already at the end of its tether.
Any further lockdown could have resulted in civil disobedience which would, in turn, reverse what little progress we have made. It could have resulted in infection flare and a doomsday scenario.
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With the anticipated partial reopening of our political and economic capitals next Monday, we need to prepare our people to conduct themselves in a manner that will minimise the infection spread while we go about our normal businesses. Let us learn from the experience of Ghana which, on April 19, 2020 reopened some key regions only to run into a sharp rise in infection spread.
We can minimise this risk if our people continue to observe the rules of social distancing, hand washing and sanitisation and the correct wearing of masks.
It is obvious that the reopening does not involve some activities within our economy and society. Schools will remain closed while places of worship are not to reopen. The various governments must remember people involved in yet-to-be-reopened sectors and extend palliative packages to them. It will be unjust not to do so.
Our financial resources should be channelled to frontline activities. It is not only the medical professionals that are there. We also have the security agencies, media professionals, media houses, farmers and all those involved in the distribution of the palliatives. Their welfare should also be factored.
We need all hands on deck and working towards the single purpose of defeating COVID-19. That way, we can resume our normal lives.