T.U.R.N – NIGERIA’s POSITION ON LIFTING COVID-19 LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS IN NIGERIA
TURN would like to thank the Nigerian government and its agencies, especially the NCDC and other agencies for the strides taken so far to tackle the COVID-19 global pandemic.
TURN commends the federal and state governments who reacted proactively enough by closing schools and taking measures to restrict the movement of persons as the first step
towards mitigating the effects of the pandemic on the Nigerian populace.
While a substantial chunk of decisions so far made by government is commendable, TURN would like to point out some of the perceived errors made so far and to offer some suggestions going forward.
TURN however notices with dismay the lackadaisical attitude of some state governments and the unfortunate pronouncements of some otherwise respected religious and community leaders.
TURN would like to say that COVID-19 is a global pandemic that needs the resolve of government, non-governmental organizations and the entire citizenry if it is to record any level of success.
A system where government issues directives and some people chip at those directives with counter directives and non-scientific pronouncements portends grave danger for the curtailment
of the spread of this virus with no known cure and no immediate vaccination. In tackling such a pandemic, all hands must be on deck and efforts must be coordinated at all levels.
While thanking providence that COVID-19 has so far not hit Nigeria with the same ferocity with which it has hit several other nations, TURN opines that except a multi-pronged
coordinated approach is adopted with immediate effect, even the relative successes recorded so far could be reversed with devastating consequences on life and living in Nigeria.
We state this with trepidation; mindful of the impact a big hit of this virus could have on densely populated and unplanned communities where there is no coherent and efficient
pandemic response programme. A mild possibility of what could happen nationally is visible in Lagos, Kano and several other major towns and cities.
WHAT SHOULD RE-OPENING OF THE ECONOMY LOOK LIKE GOING FORWARD?
After weeks of lockdown that has grounded the formal and informal sectors and created unprecedented panic, the following are TURN’s recipe for reopening the economy.
TURN believes that effective re-opening of the economy should follow advise from health professionals tested and trusted to foster effective mitigation, reduction and, isolation and
treatment options. An uncontrolled re-opening will result in the acceleration of the rate of transmission that could overwhelm the already vulnerable
and fragile health care system in Nigeria. This could result in the loss of many more lives.
- TURN believes it is time to revisit the national response to the global pandemic in Nigeria. It also believes that this would need an effective national response strategy that fully
integrates local, state and federal agencies and actors in the health care delivery sector at all levels, but more especially with the active help of mental health professionals
(psychiatrists, psychologist, social workers).
- Government should involve the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association and other health stakeholders in designing a pandemic plan that would involve public sensitization and education on COVID-19 that is synthesized into languages understandable by the people.
- Vaccine procurement and treatment should be embarked upon on a model that debunks the many conspiracy theories mushrooming on social and some form of mainstream media.
- The strategy suggested above should leverage on the provision of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for all health professionals catering to patients. Our suggestion is based on reports that in some instances, health care professionals run or refuse to take in patients not as much in violation of their various oaths of professional practice, but due to lack of PPEs.
- An effective re-opening strategy should include the establishment, funding and effective monitoring of health care facilities to manage COVID-19 infected persons in every state for 24-hour full-time readiness for action.
- A holistic approach that includes and integrates the efforts of primary, private and public health practitioners, stakeholders of schools, education boards, state chambers of commerce and industry as well as opinions of religious leaders.
- TURN takes cognisance of Nigeria’s role in the West African sub-region and the continent as a whole. On the 51st anniversary of signing of the protocol for the establishment of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, a duty is imposed on Nigeria to seek the collaboration of its neighbouring states in tackling Covid-19 and the reopening of business.
- Again, this is premised on the porosity of national borders and other social exigencies that makes the full-closure of our land borders uneconomical.
- The Federal government should collaborate with ECOWAS countries in leveraging with the leadership of WHO and its African counterpart to mitigate the health and security risks posed by the pandemic to the sub-region and the continent in general. A team effort is not only desirable but also essential.
- A reopening of the Nigerian economy should be measured and phased in. A planned regional reopening is more desirable in line with global best practices.
FINALLY, TURN observes that COVID-19 has opened a door to a place where political affiliations, religion and ethnic leanings have no single relevance. This virus does not discriminate, any action plan to deal with it should not.
The Pandemic has inspired unity of purpose and provided a good template for acts of patriotism, therefore TURN feels it is time to work together.
Signed, Ottawa, this 30th day of May, 2020.
Transforming, Uplifting and Reforming Nigeria (T.U.R.N)
AG Ahmed, MD, LLM, FRCPC,
Nelson Irobi, MASC, M.sc, CSLT, AIMLT
is a diaspora non-governmental organization with a mandate to address critical issues relating to the humanitarian needs and services in Nigeria.
It was formed in 2004 and has worked without much publicity on projects aimed at alleviating the suffering of Nigerians. It operates on the ideology that rests on a tripod of collaborations
with reputable organizations of like minds within Nigeria and the diaspora who share the goals of transforming, uplifting and reforming our great country, Nigeria. TURN operates on the
philosophy of giving back to the homeland.
For additional information about TURN and further information, kindly visit:
TURN website: www.turnigeria.org or mail TURNigeria@gmail.com.