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Covid-19 lockdown in Nigeria: matters arising

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari extends Covid-19 lockdown in Lagos, Ogun, FCT for seven days, imposes nationwide 8 am to 6 pm curfew. The curfew will commence May 4. 


The President ordered the extension at a televised speech while addressing the nation Monday night. 


As Buhari battles to save its citizens from the coronavirus pandemic, he is also trying to keep the economy from a total collapse. 


The President admits that "no country can afford the full impact of a sustained lockdown while awaiting the development of vaccines."


He, therefore, has approved a gradual phasing of lockdown measures in Lagos, Ogun, and the FCT. 


But has the lockdown been a success? 


Recall that nonessential businesses in Lagos, Ogun, and the FCT were shut down on March 30. As at then, restriction of movement in and out of the states was imposed to curtail the rapid spread of the Coronavirus to other parts of the country. 


When Buhari imposed a lockdown in the three states, there were 131 recorded Covid-19 cases reported across 12 states in Nigeria. 81 in Lagos, 25 in FCT, and 3 in Ogun. 


According to the NCDC, Nigeria's recorded case of the Coronavirus has risen to 1337, with 40 fatalities as of April 28. With Lagos, FCT, and Kano recording the highest cases with 767, 151, and 77, respectively. 


Despite the lockdown, states like Ekiti and Kano recorded instances where their index cases 'sneaked' out from the lockdown states. 


It does not appear difficult to 'sneak' out of states with lockdown restrictions in place. Fisayo Soyombo, an investigative journalist, reported instances of interstate commercial operators in Lagos soliciting for passengers under the (non) watchful eyes of security agents. 


The unintended consequence of the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun state is a rapid increase in insecurity in the state. While residents tried to stay safe in their homes, the fear of getting robbed forced landlords and young men to the streets to act as vigilantes. 


One of the Lagos residents alleged that the robbers flee before the arrival of the police.


The police have brought relative calm to the cities, but residents still stand guard at night to protect their families and communities from robberies. 


Will the announced 8 pm to 6 am curfew restrict the work of community vigilantes?


Coronavirus vs hunger


Social media is filled with videos of residents who flout social distance directives as they scamper for food and other relief palliatives. 


The government claims to have begun the distribution of stipends to the "poor and vulnerable households". The question is, how will the government determine the poor and vulnerable?


Read more: Nigeria’s Descending Disposable Income: Is It Worth The Worry?


The majority of Nigerians are daily earners who are out of jobs and means of livelihood. Would the government's data include these as part of the "vulnerable"?


Micro Small and Medium Enterprises account for more than 84 percent of jobs in the country, according to the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment. 


The fate of the majority of businesses remains unknown. Massive loss of jobs and means of livelihood is imminent because of the economic consequences of the Coronavirus.


The President has announced a gradual phasing of lockdown measures in Lagos, Ogun, and the FCT effective May 4. He also said selected businesses would be opened.


As the states prepare for the nationwide 8 pm to 6 am curfew, it is left to be seen how residents in Lagos known to leave their homes as early as 4 am to beat traffic would cope with the new restrictions.

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