Home Governance CORONAVIRUS & NIGERIA — WEAK COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC SAFETY MEASURES HAMPERING EFFECTIVE...

CORONAVIRUS & NIGERIA — WEAK COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC SAFETY MEASURES HAMPERING EFFECTIVE CONTROL – As Africa prepares for harder times

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  • Federal Government orders stricter enforcement of regulations
  • Bed space problem might emerge
  • Why citizens must cooperate with government
  • Post COVID-19 anticipated economic and diplomatic issues
  • Africa & COVID-19 – Horrible consequences and developments may emergeBOSS MUSTAPHA BRIEFS THE MEDIA: Faced with the problem of rising cases of reports of suspected and confirmed cases of Coronavirus, the Presidential Task Force on the control of COVID-19 has again called on the citizenry to respect the regulations put in place to tackle the pandemic for the common good.  Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha who announced this at the daily briefing of the PTF in Abuja yesterday expressed concern that people have continued to exhibit carefree attitudes and non-compliance stipulated safety protocols. He said the PTF had, therefore, directed security agencies to undertake stricter enforcement of the protocols.

    Nigeria had about 3, 500-bed spaces as at last week but with the opening of new treatment centres, the figure has gone higher. Mustapha said government had no choice other than to enforce stricter enforcement of its containment protocols. These include intensification of the monitoring of the level of compliance with the advisories and guidelines already issued. Surveillance activities show that violations are still rampant and the situation portends a very dangerous trend.

    The PTF in consultation with Security Agencies has arrived at the conclusion that strict enforcement should be adopted. As part of the conclusions of the meeting with Security Chiefs, the following were also agreed:

    • Security agencies should improve monitoring of their personnel and interaction with the citizenry;
    • Citizens should respect the sacrificial role of security agencies and desist from assaulting security personnel and damaging security infrastructure;
    • to strengthen enforcement in collaboration with the States;
    • All exempted persons including journalists and medical personnel should always carry a verifiable and authentic means of identification;
    • Appropriate PPE and related protective gears will be provided for the security personnel;
    • Security agencies should always respect the fundamental rights of citizens during enforcement;
    • Enlightenment and awareness should be intensified; and
    • If need be, revisit the strategies on the basis of spatial compliance
    • NEED FOR MORE COOPERATION: Reports from States are also not too encouraging as treatment centres are said to be running out of bed spaces. The PTF has assured that as it assesses the situation,  it will also begin to examine peculiar circumstances, modify the strategies for care management, and consider viable alternatives, where necessary. At the appropriate time, the guidelines and protocols shall be unfolded. “The PTF is liaising with the Task Force on Movement of Agricultural produce under the leadership of the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in order to ensure that food scarcity is not experienced in any part of the country.Another objective of this collaboration is also to minimize the abuse of the exemption granted for movement of goods under guidelines”, the SGF added. Ehanire explained that the Ministerial Technical Team deployed in Kano State by Health ministry to support the State in handling the ravaging community spread and providing direction in managing the COVID-19 situation has gained very significant community acceptance and is now generating a pool of trained and updated health workers, including over 100 ambulance drivers and patient handlers.

      AFRICA: Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa had last month hinted that US $100 billion is needed to “urgently and immediately provide fiscal space to all countries to help address the immediate safety net needs of the populations.”  Songwe said in the statement  that countries in Africa have been suffering under the virus’ fiscal effects, even if the physical ones have not yet made their full impact felt.

“The economic costs of the Pandemic have been harsher than the direct impact of the COVID-19,” Songwe said. “Across the continent, all economies are suffering from the sudden shock to the economies. The physical distancing needed to manage the pandemic is suffocating and drowning economic activity.” Much of this economic devastation will be an “unavoidable” part of supporting the continent’s medical response and preserving as many lives as possible — but at least some of it may be mitigated, the agency said, by “fighting the urge to impose export bans,” temporarily halting debt collection and freeing up access to emergency funding and intellectual property on lifesaving supplies.

WHY THE CITIZENRY SHOULD COOPERATE:  Community transmission of the deadly coronavirus is being recorded in states across Nigeria because of increasing violation of regulations and even direct confrontation of government by peasants protesting against lockdowns that are in their own interests.  The magnitude of the community transmission as the COVID-19 disease is high and the number of people tested so far are smaller than the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Media reports and World Health Organization officials have stated the statistics of the affected patients in Africa are likely to significantly underestimate the true number of cases. And that cannot be far from the truth if we want to be honest. There are fears that lockdowns will bring significant hardship for the continent’s poor, many of whom live hand to mouth without formal employment. But realists would admit that there is the need for people to exercise some restraint and suffer some pains and hardships than allow COVID–19 to overrun the poorest continent in the world.  

A WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM REPORT reveals that for example, that Africa’s most vulnerable social groups are struggling to feed their families, cannot wash their hands regularly because they have no access to clean water, and cannot self-isolate if they live in crowded slums. Other African countries – with far less developed social-welfare systems than South Africa – face even bigger challenges. According to the World Health Organization, the continent has just 1.06 nurses and midwives for every 1,000 inhabitants. And current evidence suggests that the belief that Africa’s tropical climate will help to suppress the coronavirus is a myth.

In the coming weeks and months, millions of Africans may become infected with COVID-19. Researchers at Imperial College London recently estimated that, even under the most optimistic scenario, the virus would kill 300,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa – not to mention the immense economic costs it would impose, owing to lost export revenues, severed supply chains, and plummeting demand. African governments therefore must make COVID-19 their top priority, and urgently design and implement ambitious, well-informed policies to combat it. After all, international support – although much-needed – is no substitute for resolute national action.

LEARN FROM OTHER NATIONS: For starters, African leaders must learn from countries that have already experienced the pandemic, in the way that South Africa is drawing lessons from South Korea. Furthermore, it is vital that governments collaborate effectively, share their experiences of tackling the virus, mobilize experts – both local and from the diaspora – and strengthen their coordination with the WHO. Indeed, every African government should coordinate action by private and public actors and civil society, but without resorting to force. And while governments should establish wartime-like organizational structures and seek to maximize coordination among national and local agencies, they should not use the crisis as an excuse permanently to constrain or remove individual freedoms. Rather, political leaders should encourage the public to hold them accountable for their management of the public-health crisis, and accept checks and balances on government power. (WEF Report)

Experts in the report counsel that” ‘’Managing the economic crisis is critical. And the biggest mistake would be to place all economic activities on an equal footing and try to make everyone happy. Instead, policymakers should focus on export industries, which are vital to ensure foreign-exchange liquidity, ease balance-of-payments constraints, and generate employment. Encouraging services exports and high-value service activities is also critical, as is ensuring affordable food supplies.

NIGERIA’S INFLUENCE IN GLOBAL POLITICS: If only people know the enormity of the problem shouldered by Nigeria arising from the outbreak of COVID-19 and the problems that will still arise post COVID-19 era, they will certainly shudder. Too many countries in Africa look up to Nigeria for leadership. While leading Africa to develop, it is evident that Nigeria, the most populous black nation has a great role to play in leading the African continent to political and socio-economic advancement.  Already, ECOWAS heads of government have shrewdly placed on President Muhammadu Buhari a burden as the ‘Champion of CORONAVIRUS’. They know what they are doing

GETTING IT RIGHT: ‘’Getting it right’’ translates into playing less emphasis on distracting issues like ethnicity, religion, and other issues. Nigeria is the engine of the economy of West Africa, and its economy constitutes 76 percent of the economy of ECOWAS. The country holds 30 percent of the economy of sub-Saharan Africa and has 21 percent of the economy of Africa.  We know the implications of shutting Nigeria’s borders for a few days. God forbid, let’s then think of the consequences of disturbed Nigeria on the socio-political and economic situation of West Africa. Predictably, those nations will practically collapse.

In a Year 2009 speech tagged: “Africa must take greater responsibility for its own problems and solutions” delivered by late UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan to mark the centenary of the birth of Chief Obafemi Awolowo,  Annan  set out his vision of how African nations can address the challenges and opportunities they face in the 21st century. As documented by the Kofi Annan Foundation, Annan, in praising Chief Obafemi Awolowo as an “outstanding son of both Nigeria and Africa” reflected on how far Africa has come towards fulfilling the ambition of a “peaceful and progressive continent”, two decades after his death. He declared that: ‘’Africa must take a greater responsibility for its own problems and solutions: “The African Union is increasingly influential and important. ‘’But both the AU and Nigeria can, and must, do more. Across the continent, there is huge potential for increased regional and sub-regional co-operation not least to improve infrastructure, boost trade and create jobs. Africa would be in a stronger position to demand and win the changes needed in international organizations if it showed the courage and will to tackle problems within our own continent.”

In the referenced speech, Kofi Annan said: ‘’both the AU and Nigeria’’, meaning Nigeria and other African countries. These are very complimentary words that demonstrate clearly Nigeria’s strategic importance in global politics. What Nigeria has done to Africa is remarkable and appears divine.

ATTENTION: We most respectfully invite the attention of the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to the foregoing issue that might have been captured in consultation with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council for input into its report on how best to approach the current economic challenges. Reports indicate that the teams are working round the clock to harmonise positions after which the final report would go to Mr. President. Like the Boys Scouts Motto: We must be prepared and also make the peculiar case of Nigeria known to the international community for a sizeable chunk of whatever aid might be heading to Africa.

HEAVY YOKE: Given the magnitude of this health crisis and its attendant devastating effect, socio-economically and politically, every conceivable method that could help African nations come out of this situation is most desirable. If divine intervention would stem the tide, let us go before the Lord and plead for mercy while al Matthew 22:21 Jesus said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” Romans 13:1 “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.

May the Good Lord help Nigeria.