Review Lockdown to Save Economy, ANAP Urges FG

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A think tank under the aegis of ANAP Foundation has called for a review of the lockdown imposed on the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States and the reopening of business activities in the country.

The foundation in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman and Nigerian entrepreneur, Mr. Atedo Peterside, and the Vice Chairman, Mr. Abubukar Mohammed, entitled: “COVID-19: Time to Change Strategy towards Intelligent Lockdown and Voluntary Compliance,” said the current lockdown and forcible compliance was not yielding the needed result.

It said having reviewed the nationwide situation report with regard to the ongoing lockdowns and social distancing initiatives being implemented all over the country, it resolved to call on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and other stakeholders to also evaluate the effectiveness of the lockdown in a bid to manage the pandemic as well as the unintended consequences, which they continue to generate.

According to the foundation, since the commencement of the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun States as well as FCT, the number of people being infected has climbed steadily and the spread to various parts of the country has continued apace.

The foundation added that 28 persons have been confirmed as having died on account of COVID-19 whereas 25 Nigerians appeared to have been killed by security agents in their bid to enforce lockdown measures.

The foundation said: “A situation where Nigerians are being killed daily by law enforcement agencies at almost the same pace as the Coronavirus kills them is totally unacceptable.

“It is time to review the strategy, as it is clear that compulsory lockdowns (as implemented by our own security agencies) are not working. Food has become a lot more expensive in various urban centres, as transportation costs have soared due to rising security obstacles, arbitrary closure of inter-state borders and other supply chain disruptions.

“Restricted market days and curfews often result in needless overcrowding thereby negating adherence to social distancing. There has also been a rise in protests and mob action. The longer the compulsory lockdowns continue, the higher the risk of a breakdown of law and order despite the best efforts of government and other well-meaning Nigerians in distributing food and money to those in need.

“We believe there is a need to change direction from a compulsory lockdown to an intelligent lockdown (as practiced by a few countries), which largely thrives on voluntary actions by an informed populace.”

It explained that the expected benefit of the lockdown was to buy some time so that public enlightenment and awareness campaigns could educate the populace whilst also helping to popularise self-quarantine.

However, it explained that for an intelligent lockdown to be effectively implemented, most economic activities should be allowed to resume cautiously.

The foundation called for an end to the lockdown while public enlightenment and awareness of the importance of behavioural changes like social distancing, quarantine and other safety habits be intensified.