Lockdown: FIRS Wants Your Taxes Paid Before Due Date

Muhammad Nami
  • Says telcos, financial services companies, manufacturers, e-commerce and supermarkets experiencing boom
  • Nigeria’s cases climb to 1,182, US closes in on 1 million cases with 54,144 deaths
  • Kano’s unexplained deaths soar to 640
  • NPA denies staff infected
  • Lagos gives 2-week deadline to claim corpses from mortuary
  • Employers demand 60%salary support from FG to save jobs

Our Correspondents

Amid the growing revenue strains, the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Muhammad Nami, has appealed to corporate bodies especially, telecommunications, financial services companies, manufacturers, e-commerce and supermarkets, believed to be experiencing increased business activities in spite of the current lockdown to pay their taxes in time.

The total number of Covid-19 confirmed cases rose to 1,182 with 87 new cases recorded as at 11.55pm yesterday while the discharged rose to 222 and 35 deaths. The breakdown of the 87 cases are as folows: 33 in Lagos, 18 in Borno, 12 in Osun, 9 in Katsina, 4 in Kano, 4 in Ekiti, 3 in Edo, 3 in Bauchi while Imo recorded its index case.

This is as Kano has continued to experience increase in the number of unexplained deaths, bringing the total estimated death toll to 640.
Also yesterday, the United States of America, the world’s epicentre of the COVID-19 closed in on 1 million infected cases while the number of death crossed 54,000. With more than 2,920,738 infected cases worldwide and a total of 203,255 deaths reported according to Worldometer.
Back home, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) yesterday refuted reports that a senior member of staff at the agency had been diagnosed with COVID-19. A statement by NPA’s General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Jatto A Adams, described the report as baseless and unfounded.

In another breath, the Lagos State government has given Lagosians with dead relatives in mortuaries two weeks to bury them else it would give them up for mass burials. This followed alleged congestions in mortuaries in the state in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, worried by the effects of the lockdown on economic activities, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has unveiled a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, a plan that requires the federal government to grant the private sector some 60 per cent salary support till June 2020.

NECA, a platform for over 3,500 private sector employers, warned that failing to consider the scheme could compel private firms nationwide to take hard business decisions, which it said, might lead to the loss of several millions of jobs in the sector.
This notwithstanding, the Enugu State government has begun to pay additional 25 per cent COVID-19 allowance for all health workers in the state as part of its commitment to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the state as well as cushion the effect of the lockdown.
However, speaking on the current economic downturn occasioned by the shutdown in the global economy to address the pandemic, Nami said the development had taken a huge toll on government’s finances, thereby putting additional pressure on revenue generating agencies, including the FIRS to bridge budget funding gaps.

Specifically, he suggested that the identified businesses should commence the payment of their annual returns earlier than the due date, apart from their normal monthly obligations.

In a statement titled: “Update on Palliative Measures to Cushion Effect of COVID-19 on Taxpayers – 22nd April 2020”, which was posted on the agency’s Twitter handle @firsNigeria, Nami, said the move had become necessary to “ease some of the cash flow gaps being experienced by the government at this critical time”.

While further acknowledging the difficulty faced by businesses due to COVID-19, he nevertheless urged them to “go the extra mile at this time to cooperate with us in making special arrangements to pay their taxes”.

The FIRS boss, who had earlier announced some palliatives for taxpayers in the form of regulatory forbearance, noted that his latest appeal was to seek high level cooperation from taxpayers, whose sectors are experiencing a boom and significant increase in income at the present time.

Although he did not mention the names of the individual companies, he said processors of certain products among others were expected to comply.

Telecommunications service providers including voice and data services, financial services providers as well as online sales have witnessed a spike in commercial activities following the restrictions of movement by the government.
Nami had sometime in March, expressed the agency’s commitment to meeting the N8.5trillion revenue target for the year, despite the current economic challenges.

Addressing members of staff, he urged them to take up challenge and justify the confidence the country had reposed in the service particularly at this “critical time, when virtually all the other sources of revenue for government are being challenged especially, by the coronavirus pandemic, the downward slide in the price of oil at the international market for as low as $30 per barrel against $57 benchmark used for the budget.”

Nami therefore said several measures had been taken since assuming office to boost the welfare of staff as well as encourage them to give their best to improving its revenue profile, adding that, “We shall not relent in providing the right environment for you to succeed”.
According to him, “When the federal government set the N8.5 trillion target, it must have realised that we are equal to the task. As hub of the operations of the service, you are therefore expected to deliver the bulk of the target while the other groups support you.”

Kano’s Unexplained Deaths Soar to 640 and Four New Covid-19 Cases

Kano State has witnessed spike in unexplained deaths to 640 within eight days according to estimates, of a lockdown order, and government is yet to come up with modalities to arrest the situation.

This is however coming as the state recorded four new cases of coronavirus according to NCDC figures released as at 11.55pm yesterday.
Also yesterday, over twelve prominent people were confirmed dead and buried at different cemeteries within and outside the metropolis.
The attendants and undertakers at cemeteries in the state said unknown number of people are dying everyday.

Among the prominent people that died in Kano yesterday were Professor Ibrahim Ayagi, Dr. Musa Umar Gwarzo, Alhaji Dahiru Rabiu (former Grand Khadi), Musa Tijjani (Editor of Triumph Newspaper), Adamu Isyaku Dal (former SUBEB Executive secretary), Alhaji Salisu Lado, Haj Shamsiyya Mustapha, Haj Nene Umma, Alhaji Garba Sarki Fagge, Dr. Nasiru Maikano Bichi, Secretary, Student Affairs North West University, Prof. Aliyu Umar Dikko of Physiology department BUK and Ado Gwanja’s mother among others.

The spate of the deaths has caused fear and confusion among the residents, which prompted questions on why government had focused on fighting coronavirus while people were dying in silence.

Some even suspected that the deaths may have been caused by coronavirus without being detected.

Most of the deaths had been attributed to high blood pressure, malaria, ulcer and even hunger, while dearth of medical doctors to attend to the patients in all the hospitals across the state has became a worrisome situation.

Residents of the state have been left wondering why the increase in deaths immediately after the state government imposed a total lockdown on the state as a result of the rising cases of coronavirus.

Deputy Coordinator, Kano State Covid-19 Response, Dr Sabitu Shuaibu had clarified that the 640 deaths were recorded in the last one week and not in two days as insinuated by some persons on the social media.

“Let’s say about an average of 100 deaths daily from Kano metropolis, but don’t forget that around 50% of the Kano population are within the metropolis. We can agree that there are deaths going on, but we also understand that there are deaths going on from other causes. We are saying that we are putting up a system to investigate if there is a link between Covid-19 and the deaths.

But Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, in an interview, said only 13 people had reportedly died as against the rumours of mass death.
Ganduje said, “I would like to assure that it is not true; it is a rumor. We have people at graveside that are giving us information and they recorded dead people and the causes of their deaths.

“There were three deaths from Gwale, seven deaths in Kano Municipal, while three others from Kumbotso. So, this is the actual figure that our staff at graveyards were able to record.”

But with 77 cases of people who tested positive for Covid-19, the Technical Coordinator of the Covid-19 task force committee, Dr. Tijjani Hussaini said, “though Kano has not recorded any case in three days, as at yesterday Friday, 45 people were added and 23 out of the new cases as at yesterday also.”

But Ganduje has agreed that the situation in the state was getting serious and the government was doing everything within its power to contain it.

He added that already, the state government has rented a hotel, where suspected cases whose blood samples were taken were kept, adding that the Isolation Centre at Sani Abacha Stadium could accommodate 210 people at the moment.
According to him, the Isolation Centre at Kurna Dawakin Kudu, where the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) was situated was also active, though there were challenges of ventilators and other major facilities, while the 100 beds Isolation Centre at Muhammadu Buhari Specialist hospital was working.

Ganduje said the government was planning to produce one million facemasks, adding that once this was done, there might be need for making the wearing of facemask compulsory.

Acocording to the governor, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has promised to donate 5000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ventilators and monitors.

Ganduje, who cried out to the federal government for financial assistance said the state would soon commence the second phase of distribution of palliatives, targeting 50,000 households, estimated to cost over N600 million.

Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Murtala Sule Garo, who is the chairman of Almajiri Evacuation Committee, also told journalists that the government had so far evacuated 1098 Almajiris to Katsina, Jigawa and Kaduna.

He said the Committee evacuated 419 Almajiri to Katsina, 524 to Jigawa and 155 to Kaduna, adding that arrangements had been concluded to evacuate over 100 Almajiris to Bauchi State by Monday.

He said the Committee collaborated with the Ministry of Health and ensured that all the evacuated Almajiris were not COVID-19 positive.
Chairman of Kano Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, who is also the Deputy Governor, urged Kano residents to strictly observe the social distancing directive, personal hygiene and the stay-at-home order.

NPA: None of Our Staff Is Infected with Covid-19

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has refuted claims in certain quarters that a senior member of staff at the agency had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

A statement by its General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Jatto Adams, described the report as baseless and unfounded.
“The fact is that a member of staff of one of the terminals at the ports, who has not been at the office since Friday April 17, 2020 had visited his father-in-law and family during the weekend of Friday, April 17, 2020 and Sunday April 19, 2020. On arrival, he discovered that the medical practitioner father-in-law, his own wife and children had taken ill.

“On Monday, April 20, they were all diagnosed with Coronavirus as a result of which he decided to isolate himself and get tested. He wrote to the office to inform them about the situation and his decision to self-isolate.

“On Thursday, April 23,2020, he again wrote to inform the company that he had tested positive to Coronavirus and that the entire family was now receiving treatment at one of the isolation centres in Lagos.”

The NPA added that immediately on the same day, Thursday, April 23,2020, he wrote to inform and seek advice from the Coordinator of Health Ports Services in line with guidelines laid down by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for the report of COVID-19 incidents.
NPA said the company, in line with advice from Port Health Services, disinfected the premises, adding that all personnel, who interacted with the staff had been identified and asked to self-isolate.

“The Authority wishes to appeal to the media to verify information before going to press in order to avoid raising unnecessary tension. There are laid down procedures for the management of suspicions of COVID-19 incidents at the ports and the Authority will, in collaboration with all other government agencies, follow these processes through whenever the occasions arise. The NPA thanks all stakeholders and Nigerians for their support, “it stated.

Lagos Gives 2-week Deadline to Claim Corpses from Mortuary

Following congestions in mortuaries in Lagos State as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lagos State government has given Lagosians with dead relatives in mortuaries two weeks to bury them otherwise the government would give them up for mass burial.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the state, who said this yesterday during his 8th update on the Covid-19 pandemic, made it clear that such funerals must take place within the next 2 weeks after which the government may resort to mass burials of unclaimed bodies.

According to him, “One of the outcomes of this lockdown is that many families and households have had to postpone funeral plans for loved ones, who have passed away before or during this period.

“As you might know, many Christian denominations do not carry out funerals during the Lenten Season. Funerals are typically kept on hold during this period, and scheduled for the period immediately following the end of Lent.
“Unfortunately, this year, the Covid-19 lockdown coincided with the end of Lent, which caused many families and households to further suspend or put off funeral plans.

“Because of this inability to hold funerals, occasioned by the restrictions on movement, the mortuaries in Lagos State are now full and in urgent need of decongestion. Let me make it clear at this point that these are not Covid-19 deaths.”

Urging the media to be responsible in reporting the sensitive issue of funerals, Sanwo-Olu made it clear that, “The mortuaries in Lagos are not full, because of Covid-19 deaths. The total number of Covid-19 deaths in Lagos as at today is 20; the only reason the mortuaries are full at this time is because funerals are not being held, and have not been held for most of the last two months.

“I am now constrained to make this appeal to all Lagosians, who have the corpses of loved ones in the mortuaries, to please go ahead and schedule these funerals. Let me make it clear that funerals are on the list of activities exempted from the lockdown restrictions.”

He added: “You can hold or attend funeral ceremonies in Lagos State as long as you comply with the requirements that we have outlined including the total number of persons at the funeral, including officiating religious leaders, must not exceed 20. Physical distancing must be maintained at the funeral ceremony. All attendees/mourners must use masks and ensure they wash their hands after the ceremony.
“There must be no receptions or parties to accompany these funerals. Rest assured that as long as these directives are fully complied with, funerals will be allowed and encouraged to take place.

“If we are unable to see a decongestion of the mortuaries across the state in the next two weeks, the Lagos State Government will be compelled to carry out mass burials to achieve this. We do not want to be forced to do this, which is why we are asking for your cooperation in this regard.”

Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu has ordered the release of 209 inmates from various correctional centres in the state in order to decongest them in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

He said most of the inmates are mostly those over 60 years of age, those who have less than six months to end their terms or have completed over 95 per cent of their terms.

The Governor, who is the chief incident officer on the pandemic in the state, stated that, “As at midnight yesterday April 24, 2020, Lagos State had a total of 670 confirmed cases of Covid-19, an increase of 291 cases since the last time I addressed you, on Monday April 20. What this means is that we have seen a 76% increase in our number of confirmed cases within 4 days, an average of 70 cases daily.
He said the state was in the community transmission phase, which he lamented was a very dangerous time in the fight against the virus.
“One, that we are now firmly in the community transmission phase of this pandemic in Lagos; Two, that our strategy of ramping up testing especially, within local communities is working, and three, that this is not the time for us to relax or to slow down in the efforts we are making to break the chain of transmission.

“On an uplifting note, the number of discharged cases in Lagos continues to rise. Only yesterday, we discharged another batch of 10 patients, who have been treated and have now tested negative for the virus.
“We have now discharged a total of 115 cases in Lagos since the outbreak of the pandemic. We expect that the numbers of discharged patients will continue to rise and bring hope and optimism to all of us, not only in Lagos but across the country as well.”

Edo Commissions 30-bed Isolation facility

The Edo State Government has commissioned a 30-bed isolation centre at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Benin City, which was completed in record 12 days, as it ramps up efforts to curtail the spread of coronavirus.

Deputy Governor of the state and Chairman, Technical Sub-committee on COVID-19 Response, Comrade Philip Shaibu, who commissioned the facility, said the centre was built in record 12 days and would serve as a major centre for treatment of COVID-19 patients in the state.
“The Edo State Government furnished the facility with world-class medical equipment. The medical personnel at the facility are well trained to manage the condition of patients, who develop complications from coronavirus.

“I want to assure Edo people that we are on top of the situation and have prepared for the worst but pray that the worst will not come.”
Shaibu used the opportunity to appreciate the health workers, whom he described as heroes, who are making serious sacrifices on the frontline, attending to infected COVID-19 patients.

“We want to salute our healthcare workers, who are the true heroes, leaving their families to work on the frontline and ensuring that those affected by the disease get well.”

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Ltd, Adeleke Olanrewaju, who constructed the building, said the facility was built to international standard.

Enugu Pays 25% Allowance to Health Workers

The Enugu State Government said it has paid additional 25 per cent COVID-19 allowance to all health workers in the state, as incentive in furtherance of its commitment to contain Coronavirus and cushion the effect of the lockdown.

The allowance, according to a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, represents 25% of the basic salaries of the health workers as recently approved by the State Executive Council (EXCO).
The state government also announced the payment of salaries of all public servants in the state on April 23, 2020.

Employers Want 60% Salary Support from FG to Save Jobs

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has come up with a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which requires the federal government to grant the private sector 60 per cent salary support till June 2020.

NECA, a platform for over 3,500 private sector employers, warned that failing to consider the scheme could compel private firms nationwide to take hard business decisions, which it said, might lead to the loss of several millions of jobs in the sector.
Director-General of NECA, Dr. Timothy Olawale explained the imperative of the scheme among other recommendations in a report released on Friday on the effects of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown.

Explaining the scheme in an interview yesterday, Olawale noted that the forum simply requested the federal government “to establish a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, where Government pays up to 60 per cent of private sector salaries until June as long as workers are not laid off.”

He added that the job retention scheme was similar to the policies the United Kingdom (UK), France and Denmark individually adopted “to reduce the negative impact on businesses and slow the rate of job loss. It is a social obligation on the part of the federal government.
“In Demark, the government grants 70 per cent salary support to the private firms. By implication, the private firms will only add 30 per cent. In our own case, we are only asking for 60 per cent salary support from the federal government while the private firms will bear 40 per cent to prevent massive job loss.

“Three days ago, South Africa announced similar package for its private sector apart from economic stimulus. If we cannot follow the example of Denmark, what about South Africa? Out of our 3,500 members, some of them are classified as essential services. Some may not apply. But it is up to the government to come up with modalities for support for the private sector,” he said.

He, therefore, urged the federal government “to provide stimulus to businesses. The announced stimulus, to a large extent, has not addressed the critical needs of businesses that will guarantee sustainability and protection of jobs.”

As canvassed in NECA’s report, Olawale said much more “can still be done now, not belatedly, to save jobs. Such direct interventions as direct wage or income support, wage subsidies, tax credits or tax deferrals, short-term work schemes, and moratoriums on loan payments are needed to save jobs.”

NECA’s director-general however called for the relaxation of the lockdown or its outright removal, which according to the report, was essential to managing the socio-economic impact of the lockdown on businesses nationwide.

With a large population of the country in the informal sector and many surviving on daily wages, Olawale noted that the lockdown “has the tendency to further cripple businesses, hasten the rate of job loss, and increase the level of poverty with the consequential effect of increased insecurity.”

He argued that a relaxed lockdown with legislated state and national guidelines to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 “will go a long way in maintaining the gains of the past few weeks.”

He said the guidelines should include compulsory use of sanitisers, free protective wears (where necessary), maintenance of social distancing, increased education and awareness (posters, etc.), total banning of religious, political and social gatherings, limited number of passengers in public and private transportation and strict enforcement of same, amongst others.

While the risks of total relaxing at this time are real and present, Olawale said gradual relaxation could be considered under these stringent conditions “as done in Ghana, Germany and some other countries, although with a high sense of alertness.”

He explained the exigency of balancing protection of lives with economic interests, especially considering that business operations were shut to safeguard human lives and the need to protect the economic foundation of the country.

“Balancing the protection of lives with economic interests should, ordinarily not be difficult. While protection of life should take precedence, the need to protect the economic foundation of the nation cannot be discounted, as the economy will ultimately sustain life.
“While the federal government takes decisive steps to protect lives, efforts should also be made to keep productive activities going. Without delicately balancing the scale, the consequential negative effects of the pandemic will not only include unimaginable loss of lives, massive job losses and heightened insecurity, it might also lead to unnecessary social revolt.”

Kano Benefits from NNPC’s N21B Medical Support

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), on Saturday in Kano, said it had so far supported all the states of the federation, including Kano with medical consumables and infrastructure, worth over N21billion in its efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timpire Sylva, stated this when he led management of the NNPC, who presented support materials to the Kano State government in an effort to stem the spread of Covid-19 in the country, on Saturday at Government House.

Sylva noted that, since the inauguration of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, efforts had been put in place and geared towards ensuring that the spread of the virus was curtailed.

Following this development, he said the NNPC and partners in the oil and gas industry had embarked on an initiative covering three areas.
The areas, he claimed, included the provision of medical consumables, deployment of logistics and delivery of medical infrastructure as well as donating critical medical equipment to the Rivers State Covid-19 isolation center.

He said till date, the total commitment of the NNPC and partners stood at N21b, but that the gesture was till growing.
“Today, NNPC and its partners, Chevron and Bovas Company Limited are distributing these items to more affected by the pandemic in Kano.”
Sylva said the items included 100 PPE overall full Kit, 100 PPE shoe covers, 2,000 PPE disposable caps, modern Ambulance, 500 medical surgical masks, 2 full kit ventilators, 5,000 Nitrile examination Gloves, 250 face masks and fluid resistant face shield, 10 pulse oximetres and 250 respiratory value.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, while speaking, said his administration had taken all necessary measures in curtailing the spread of the virus yet the virus had continued to spread in the state.

He said the state government had also established three modern isolation centers with the aim to halting the spread of the virus.
Ganduje noted that, with regards to the high population of Kano, there was the need for additional testing centers in the state.
He however assured the minister and the management of the NNPC that all the items presented would be used judiciously.

Those on the minister’s entourage included the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Alhaji Mele Kyari and other top officials.

WHO Demands Action to Eradicate Malaria

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged African countries to take further measures to curtail the destructive impact of malaria disease on the continent.

This was contained in a message by WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti to commemorate World Malaria Day by drawing attention to the devastating impact of malaria disease on families, communities and societies.
“As the world grapples with COVID-19, this is an opportunity to highlight the importance of maintaining robust health systems and continuing delivery of essential health services in times of crisis,” he said.

The theme of World Malaria Day 2020, “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” was first launched in Senegal in 2014 as grassroots campaign.
It aims to engage everyone from policy-makers to the private sector to communities affected by malaria. WHO said African countries had led a massive effort to control the disease. It said Algeria was certified malaria free in 2019.
“However, there were still 213 million cases in the WHO African Region in 2018, accounting for 93% of cases worldwide. Every year, over 400 000 people die of malaria, and 94% of these deaths occur in the African Region. Children under five years are the most vulnerable group, accounting for 67% of deaths.
According to WHO, the situation has remained alarming and inequitable, noting that through the Sustainable Development Goals, countries have committed to ending the malaria epidemic by 2030.

Abaribe Warns against Planned Extension of Lockdown
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, has warned the federal government against its plan to extend the four-week old lockdown in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun States.

Abaribe, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Uchenna Awom, in Abuja on Saturday cautioned against the planned extension of the nationwide lockdown over the Covid-19 pandemic, saying resorting to it would rather ignite major economic and security crisis that could hurt Nigerians, a majority of who depend on daily earnings for sustenance.

He warned that pushing for it could be combustible and counterproductive, as the people seem totally worn-out in all ramifications to soak in further shocks.

The Senator, therefore, appealed to the authorities to seriously ponder the economic and security implications of a further extension of the lockdown on the people and of course, the country as a whole.

“I will rather opt for a cautious and guided lifting of the lockdown, where the existing measures like, protective barriers such as compulsory wearing of face masks, sanitizers, and other associated sanitary conditions and personal hygiene are enforced in public places.
“Aside from the above, daily disinfection of halls, rooms, vehicles, vessels, surroundings et’al, must become the new normal. Doing these would definitely tamp the hot air and guide our people to resume their normal life.

“My fear is that majority of our people in the informal sector are daily earners hence their survival is predicated on their going out daily if they must survive. Our people operate mostly in the commercial sector. I have the feeling that further extension of the lockdown would hurt the people the more”, he said.

Group Cautions Govt against Extending Lockdown

A non-governmental organisation, Equity International Initiative (EII), has cautioned the federal and state governments against a further lockdown as it could lead to a total collapse of the nation’s economy.

Addressing a world press conference in Jos, the Plateau State capital on Saturday, the Country Director of EII, Mr. Chris Iyama, also feared that complete closure of religious worship centre, from where citizens draw faith and hope for survival, does not portend well for a religious nation like Nigeria.

Iyama, also raised concern over the way and manner the donations towards tackling the coronavirus has so far been spent.

“We are concerned that government has not been very transparent about the money; we don’t know the amount that has been donated, we don’t know the amount that has been disbursed, we don’t know the measure used in the disbursement, and we don’t know the modalities used in determining the poorest of the poor.

“We saw that in China, and some other countries. Within a few days of the outbreak, they had quickly built hospitals and other health facilities to address the pandemic,” he said, adding that the donations in Nigerian largely came from the European Union (EU), World Health Organisation (WHO) and many other international bodies, spirited Nigerians and banks,” and therefore called on the “government to be more transparent and accountable with it so that the fund will not be looted by selfish people.”

He however suggested that inter-state borders could be closed, while business could continue within each state to avoid total collapse of economy.

Speaking from the legal standpoint, Plateau State Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Barrister Yakubu Bawa said this is a time to actually know, who a good and visionary leader is; a good leader will know how to navigate through the current situation and come out of it strong.

“Lockdown should not be the only option left for government. We must consider the dire economic consequence of the action. Most of our people rely on daily income, and when government relaxes lockdown for two or three days for people to quickly re-stock, the question is where do they get the money to re-stock?”