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COVID-19: GPAAN Throws Weight Behind Lockdown

Ayo Oyoze Baje

The members of the Guild of Public Affairs Analysts of Nigeria (a.k.a GPAAN) led by Comrade Ayo Baje wish to express their unflinching support for the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory, that will last 14 days as declared by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The lockdown is aimed at containing the spread of the new deadly corona virus that has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Though, the lockdown is a painful decision but it is a sacrifice that must be made by the citizens of the areas affected by the lockdown. This is also to prevent community transmission of COVID-19 which the World Health Organization has said that it will be catastrophic if it does occur.
Though, the lockdown is commendable but we the members of GPAAN are however worried that there are no palliatives to mitigate the foreseeable sufferings the citizens will undergo during the lockdown. The reason for this worry is because many Nigerians are in the informal sector of the economy who get their daily bread by selling wares in the markets, hawking goods, riding commercial motorcycles, tricycles, buses and doing menial jobs in order to eat daily. With the lockdown, they can no longer go out to seek their daily bread and without palliatives, it will be impracticable to expect Nigerians to stay indoors for 14 days if there are no foods for them to eat.
To this end, for the lockdown to be effective, we suggest that the various donations from within and outside the country be fairly distributed to the vulnerable Nigerians through the instrumentality of the Bank Verification Number, Drivers’ License, Voter’s cards and National Identity Cards so that these underprivileged Nigerians can get relief in this trying times.
Again, it is not enough for Nigerians to stay indoors-there should be creation of more testing centres so that Nigerians can volunteer themselves to be tested for the COVID-19 so that they can ascertain their corona virus status.
There are certain lessons to be learnt from the outbreak of COVID-19. The first lesson is that there is an urgent need for a centralized data base which can be achieved by harmonizing the various data fractions such as the Bank Verification Number; Drivers’ License; Voters’ Cards and the National Identity Cards. If these fractions of data are harmonized, this will give us a workable centralized data base.
Another lesson to be learnt from COVID-19 is that it should be seen as a wakeup call for government to take the health sector very seriously. This is because there is no special disease for the poor or the rich. With COVID-19 ravaging the entire world, there is travel ban in many countries and Nigerian leaders that have the penchant for patronizing foreign hospitals can no longer travel out of the country to access high quality healthcare facilities in foreign lands. Nigerian leaders should therefore revamp the health sector so that they too can use the hospitals here in times of emergency such as this.

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