Huge confusion over which lockdown policy is superior, FG threatens a review

Do not rejoice yet.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

/ by National Pivot

The Federal Government’s recent directive on the gradual easing of lockdown in the country, has caused confusion in some states particularly, in Kaduna where resident's jubilation were cut short.

According to Boss Mustapha, who is Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and head of Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, the nation is now in a second phase of “gradual easing of lockdown”, which permits the reopening of worship centers and businesses across the country.

This announcement triggered excitement among Nigerians who felt relieved from months of lockdown which greatly impacted their means of livelihood.

However, there was huge confusion in Kaduna State as business owners stormed out on Tuesday to reopen their businesses only to be told lockdown in the state is still very much in place.

According to our reporter who visited the State's commercial center along Kano road to Yakubu Gowon way, huge crowds of people who maintained no social distancing and without nose masks, were seen hanging around and restricted from accessing their businesses. Some would-be shoppers were also left stranded as critical roads were blocked.

In the wake of the confusion as business owners clash with the State's taskforce, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, released a statement clarifying that Kaduna State Government did not review its lockdown despite FG's announcement on June 1.

The statement which was released by the State's Special Adviser to the Governor (Media and Communication), Muyiwa Adekeye, reads in part, "The Kaduna State Government has not reopened markets or places of worship. These public spaces were closed in March 2020 as the state stepped-up Covid-19 prevention efforts. As announced last week, relevant government agencies will engage business, community, and religious leaders to discuss and agree on the protocols for the safe opening of businesses and market, and resumption of congregational worship."

Meanwhile, the Buhari administration has threatened to review its ease on lockdown to reopen worship centres amidst concern that noncompliance could heighten risk of transmission.

Leader of the taskforce, Boss Mustapha, said the government will continue to monitor overall compliance to gradual easing of restrictions and the evolution of the pandemic. He also said the implementation of guidelines nationwide and statewide oversight of this second phase of the response to coronavirus is critical.

He said, “The response needs to be decentralized to the local governments level, identifying high burden LGAs and ensuring mapping of adequate support to rapidly trace, test and treat cases.

“States need to drive aggressive campaigns to engage communities in order to address behavior change and debunk misconceptions and stigma. Traditional and religious institutions have a role to play in sensitizing communities about COVID 19,” Mustapha said.

While saying that in the last couple of days, the PTF has received inquiries on some aspects of the guidelines, the SGF assured all Nigerians that they have been simplified as much as possible and the dissemination has already commenced through the electronic and print media.

On guidelines for reopening of worship centers, he said, "Compliance is important so as to avoid unwanted consequences that put the lives of people at risk of contracting COVID19. We urge utmost caution at all times. The PTF will continue to monitor the overall compliance to the easing of restriction as well as evolution of the outbreak,” said Mustapha.

“However, we will not hesitate to review as we progress, should the situation warrant, to avoid preventable risks of transmission."

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