The Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, has urged government at all levels to, not just protect lives, but also livelihoods, as it fights the COVID-19 pandemic.

This, he said, was necessary because there would be life after the pandemic.

Ayade, said this in a statement by his Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, in Calabar, on Monday.

The governor warned, “Protecting lives without protecting livelihoods of Nigerians will spell doom for the nation after COVID-19 as hunger will be the next deadly virus.

“Globally, hunger and hunger-related diseases like kwashiorkor and tuberculosis kill about 8.4million people every year and so there is more pandemic when it comes to hunger.

“So, we will do all we can to curtail the pandemic from spreading to our state and protect lives too, but protection of lives without the protection of livelihoods is a complete imbalance. There must be a holy matrimony between protection of lives and protection of livelihoods.

“Some of our brothers and sisters depend on daily work. If you carry blocks for a living, the day you are stopped from going to work, there will be no money to feed the children.”

According to him, this reality was the reason behind his opposition to a total lockdown and his support for wearing of masks and the observance of personal hygiene.

He further said, “We are preparing ourselves for the post coronavirus era when the planting season is just coming with the onset of the rains.

“We have prepared ourselves to be the biggest rice producers in the country with the Ogoja rice mill which is the most professional and the first vitaminized rice mill in Africa, and is currently undergoing a dry test and by May we should be ready to start milling.”