Opinion: Lockdown! Nigerian Government Can Do More for Citizens Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic – Dr. Taiwo Ayodeji
Caveat: The opinion expressed here by Dr. Taiwo Ayodeji, who is a seasoned economist, media expert, an entrepreneur and a member of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom (UK) are those of his views and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the publisher.
Believe it or not, the Nigeria government has what it takes to make lives more meaningful for her over 200 million people in Nigeria amidst the lockdown proclaimed by President Muhammad Buhari over the uncertain deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the call for the lockdown in the country but the government was not well prepared for the proclamation because the people and most generally the vulnerable citizens of Nigeria are not well considered in their plans before the pronouncement of the lockdown in the states.
For starters, I would like to make clear contributions on the implication of the lockdown as it affects the economy and the good citizens of Nigeria. It’s no doubt the lockdown will help to break the spreading of the virus but it would also tremendously affect our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in our dwindling economy that is trying to stabilize even before the breaking news of the Coronavirus pandemic globally.
The price of crude oil in the international market has also nose-dived unimaginably and unlike the years of oil boom in Nigeria and globally, the crave for crude oil is becoming obsolete because most western countries are running electric cars, buses and trains and so on. More so, the uses of alternative power supply without crude oil generating plants are now in place worldwide.
It is imperative to step up our foreign exchange to reduce our loans; this will have rapid effect on our naira and the economy can be looking upward and possibility the anticipated recession from the COVID-19 pandemic would be a thing of history for the sustainability of our economy in the local and foreign markets respectively.
To be frank, the rate of unemployment will surely rise because many industries will surely close down. And, the proposition of working from home can’t really fly in this part of the world because of our IT technology supplies are not adequate and effective like in the western world. And, apart from that many in our government parastatals are not computer literate, simply because they are used to carrying files from one office to the other. More so, the majority of the people don’t have access to the required reliable and effective internet to get the jobs done right from the homes.
For our economy to survive the uncertainty of this pandemic because no one in the world presently can categorically say that this is the particular time the contagion will end or the likely vaccine that will put a stop to the dreadful and deadly virus. The Nigeria administration is expected to pump more naira to the agro-allied industry and promote small scale enterprises and the manufacturing sector because without food in our land, many will die of COVID-HUNGER than the COVID-19.
However, the Nigerian government action now should be tailored in the direction of boosting domestic food production; creating more farm settlement in our Local Governments across the states, achieving food security by scaling up activities in our local manufacturing sector and more importantly providing adequate security for the people.
Secondly, the effect of the lockdown on the average citizens of the country is as important as the way we consider the consequence on the economy of our nation.
The take is now on us as a nation fighting the global pandemic- Coronavirus (COVID-19) currently ravaging the world with poor healthcare system plans. It is a pity nowhere to run to in any part of the world by our failed leaders at this COVID-TIME.
There is now the imposition of movement on the people and restrictions on business transaction nationally which is really affecting the average citizens of the once great nation considered to be the giant of Africa. Whereas, a place like United Kingdom has put most things in place to easy the stress the citizens will go through while experiencing the lockdown.
There is hardly any family in Nigeria that is not going through hardship and crisis presently. The rate of starvation is increasing day-by-day and high rate of debt to survive daily is going up because most of them survived through daily means and hardly do average Nigerians have monthly budget plans for survival from research.
Most of the shops, markets, pharmacies are closed and even the ones opened as an essential one stop shops can’t be patronized by an average Nigeria because of price hike and even scarcity of their daily needs.
The palliatives now have manifested in the form cash and food supplies to vulnerable groups and communities in the country. And mass poverty in Nigeria among the majority poor is so visible with the lockdown which has prompted the call of the government to save lives and alleviate the suffering of the people locked down in their homes as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
Nigerians can only survive on the path of our government doing the needful and be more responsible than the good will some citizens are enjoying in some states from billionaires and companies that have their investment in the particular state. The leadership of President Muhammad Buhari, the Senate and the House of Representatives should live up to their expectations by doing what is right as the only worthwhile step for the redemption of the people and the country at large.
I challenge the Nigerian government and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to put a proper administrative plan in place and better still find suitable ways in delivering succor to the masses and Nigerians that are yet to be affected by the virus susceptible to the on-going extreme hardship as a consequence of the failure in our leadership over the years and as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown of the country.