Nigeria Governors' Forum in Session Photo: File

Ban on interstate travels to stop Coronavirus in Nigeria

* NLC warns against extension of lockdown, says it’s dicey for economy

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Nigeria popularly adjudged as the Africa’s most populous nation is nearing a full lockdown with a recent proposal to ban on interstate travels across the country.

The governors of the 36 states of the Federation under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) have banned interstate travels for two weeks to curtail the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a statement after their recent meeting, the state chief executives said that only essential services would be permitted to move between the states, more than 25 of which they observed have virus cases.

Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) said: “We are very concerned. If you look at the number of times we met over the last one month.

“We’ve had five meetings which focused almost exclusively on COVID-19 and its spread and the concomitant economic effects on the Nigerian citizens.”

He warned: “I don’t think we have reached the peak yet. So, Nigerians need to take this very seriously. This is not entertainment.”

Africa’s most populous nation has so far recorded about 981 Coronavirus cases as of Friday, April 24- with new infections confirmed recently in the North-East, where there is an ongoing militant Islamist insurgency.

It is recalled that Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), commercial hub of Lagos and Ogun State in the South-West of the country are currently in the fourth week of a lockdown, extended from an initial two weeks.

There are indications that the lockdown might be further extended to include other states as there are fears that Kano in the north could become the new epicentre of infections.

The state has registered 73 cases, but there are concerns that the figure could be much higher as testing there was suspended after lab attendants at a testing centre became infected.

Southern states like Rivers and Delta already have curfews and restricted travel while others have banned large gatherings and made the wearing of face masks in public compulsory.

But with all 36 governors are now in agreement about the ban on interstate travels, the country is nearing a full lockdown, reports BBC.

In the meantime, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the Federal Government to not extend the current stay-at-home directive as a measure against further spread of Coronavirus.

The Labour union warned that doing so might cause social unrest in the affected states of the Federation and Abuja, FCT.

In a letter addressed to Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, and signed by Comrade Ayuba Wabba, President of NLC, the union also criticised the method employed by the Government with regard to the distribution of the palliative measures.

It called for the expansion of the initiative to all Nigerians affected by the pandemic.

The latter reads in part: “While we understand the public health imperatives for extending the lockdown in some parts of the country, it is also very important to underscore the fact that the states currently under total lockdown are the economic and administrative nerve centres of Nigeria.

“This is very dicey. As much as it is important to keep many Nigerians from dying in the hands of coronavirus, loss of income and the accompanying destitution can also be a pathfinder for numerous other sicknesses and deaths. This is the time to play the balancing game.

“The truth is that our economy might relapse into prolonged coma if the current lockdown in the nation’s nerve centres goes beyond the current extension.

“There were widespread acts of civil disobedience, inducement of law enforcement agents to gain passes and even various forms of violent crimes.”

Wabba added that “no one is sure how long this dam would hold. We fear that the situation will get out of hand if the lockdown exceeds one month.

“Labour and private sector employers have a good understanding of industries where jobs and production are in most danger.”

Kindly Share This Story