Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Ahead of Monday’s decision by President Mohammadu Buhari to either lift the lockdown or extend the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, has asked the President to take into consideration the health of the economy and the plights of the vulnerable.
Secondus in an interview with THISDAY said that as much as the actions of the federal government was to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, it was necessary to do so with the “milk of human kindness by not preventing one virus and creating another deadlier one, that is hunger”.
He called on the federal government to emulate the United States government where all the states were not shut down, but places where the pandemic was worse were locked down with partial movement .
Secondus said as Nigerians expected the federal government’s decision, that considerations should be taken on the nature of economy that the country runs.
According to the national chairman of the PDP, “the Nigeria economy, apart from the fact that it is mainly dependent on oil, it is also majorly dependant on the entrepreneurial skills of the artisans, the traders, the bricklayers, the market men and women and other small and medium scale business people.
“The continued stay at home of these set of people does not help the already peril economy, where our major foreign income earning measure has fallen to the worst state in the last twenty years. We should not use policies that could worsen the economy. Crime and criminality is on the rise now in the country”.
Secondus asked the federal government to also take into cognisance the plights of the pensioners and other vulnerable in the country.
He said, “there are those that have served this country meritoriously. What palliative measures has been put in place for this set of people”.
He asked, ” Has the distribution of the palliatives taken care of these set of people. What of the artisan that depend on their daily sales to feed themselves and their families.
“Before this virus, these set of people depend on the proceeds of their daily sales to feed their families. Now that there is restricted movement, what do we expect them to use and feed their families”, he stated.
Secondus asked the federal government to heed the advise of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and other well meaning Nigerians and ensure a partial restriction of movement and allow people to engage in their daily chores.
He said, “the economy is gradually being heated and this is dangerous for all. This is the time to be wise. Everything is not Jack boot poltics”
He said that already, “these restrictions of movement had contributed to increase in the level of crimes every where and every night”, while appealing that the bottled up anger before the coronavirus pandemic should not be allowed to cause more damage to the perilous economy.
Secondus advised that a better alternative to a general lockdown should be adopted in states where the pandemic is most affected and such states should be partially locked down as the governors had advocated.
He called for a situation where the state governments were also taken into consideration in the distribution of the palliatives, saying, ” the governors are a tier of government and therefore should be considered in distributing the palliative by ensuring that everyone gets a piece of the action.
The national chairman of PDP said that there should be a decentralised method of testing for the pandemic by giving more facilities to the states than concentrating every aspect of the text on the federal government and its agencies like the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
According to Secondus, “This is the time to show leadership. Every thing is not politics. Government should ensure that Personal Protection. Equipments (PPE) are equally distributed to states”.
He explained that “How Nigeria manages this pandemic will go along way in how other nations will take us serious”.