*Extends lockdown for two weeks
*Says relaxation portends grave danger
By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The Federal Government has extended for two weeks, the lockdown imposed in the country to check spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, disclosed this in his remarks during the Press briefing by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 on Monday in Abuja.
Mustapha, who is also the Chairman of the PTF, said that measures put in place during the last broadcast by President Muhamadu Buhari yielded sufficient progress that requires consolidation to ensure that the health system and economy are in a position to adequately respond to any potential outcomes in the future – including a secondary outbreak.
He however noted that the results of the measures have been mixed.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the outcomes of the first phase of the eased lockdown have been mixed. While some objectives were met, our assessment showed that non-compliance was rampant but the PTF nevertheless continued to persuade the populace through its messaging and daily briefing, on the need to take responsibility.
“Therefore, our consideration of ease of restrictions has to balance lives and livelihoods and the slow and gradually phased approach should be science and data driven.
“The inevitable conclusion of the PTF, is that the fight against COVID-19 is long term as the virus is not likely to go away very soon.
“This is further underscored by the fact that no vaccine is expected till around the end of 2021.
“Nigeria is not where we wish to be in terms of control, ownership, infrastructure and change of behavior. We must do more.
“Last week we hinted about the refocusing of our policy on community ownership. Going forward, we shall intensify the mobilization of individuals, especially the communities to take ownership of this fight.
“This will be accompanied by a corresponding development of infrastructure and other Public health measures to be undertaken in every community and at every phase of the response.
“These include: surveillance, case finding, testing, isolation, tracing and quarantining contacts.
“The reality is that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority. Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace.
“Advisedly, the current phase of eased restriction will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures will be pursued.
“The two weeks extension of Phase one of the eased restriction is also to enable other segments of the economy prepare adequately for compliance with the guidelines, preparatory to reopening in the coming weeks. For the PTF, we share your pains but our future is in the hands of every Nigerian and future decisions will depend greatly on our compliance.
“Based on the recommendations of the PTF, Mr. President has approved the following:
i) The measures, exemptions, advisories and scope of entities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased locked down, shall be maintained across the federation for another two weeks effective from 12 00 midnight today (18th May, 2020 to 1st June, 2020);
ii) intensifying efforts to “tell (communicate), trace (identify) and treat (manage)’ cases;
iii) elevating the level of community ownership of non-pharmaceutical interventions;
iv)Maintain the existing lockdown order in Kano for an additional two weeks;
v)Imposition of precision lockdown in states, or in metropolitan/high-burden LGAs, that are reporting a rapidly increasing number of cases, when the need arises. This would be complemented with the provision of palliatives and continued re-evaluation of the impact of the interventions; and
vi)Aggressive scale up of efforts to ensure that communities are informed, engaged and participating in the response with enhanced public awareness in high risk states.
“The level of compliance has been reviewed and a specific directive has been issued to the security agencies to carry out strict enforcement of all measures. These include the nationwide curfew from 8.00pm to 6.00pm; the ban on interstate travels and the wearing of facemasks/coverings in public.
“The security agents are however urged to be mindful of the human rights of citizens, while citizens are equally urged to recognize the dangers posed to self, their loved ones and the entire community if they fail to take responsibility.
“Let me state categorically, that the exemptions allowed under the phase one are still in place. Particularly, Government remains conscious of the fact that we are in the rainy season and farming activities is critical to food and national security. It should therefore, not be hindered.