The Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry and prominent economists on Monday assessed the country’s economic situation and concluded that another COVID-19 lockdown would unleash hunger on Nigerians.
National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, who on Sunday said the Federal Government was considering all options, including lockdown, to battle the second wave of COVID-19.
Aliyu, who lamented rising COVID-19 cases in the country, said the virus infected 6,000 people in the last one week, while 33 died of the disease during the same period.
According to him, Nigerians can avoid another lockdown if they adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures, including wearing of face masks and hand washing.
He, however, said government had not said it would impose a fresh lockdown to battle the second wave of the virus.
New COVID-19 strain more difficult to handle, says FG
The minister said, “On the issue of lockdown, I don’t think there is any time when the Federal Government has said it is going to have a second lockdown. However, the Federal Government is very unhappy that Nigerians are not adhering to the basic COVID-19 protocols of wearing face masks, of practising social distancing, of washing hands, of ensuring that they do gather in large numbers.
“If we do not do these, the surge will continue and with the new strain of COVID-19 which is becoming much more difficult to handle than the old strain, the Federal Government will continue to insist and encourage Nigerians to please obey the COVID-19 protocols.
We are aware of economic implications of second lockdown – FG
“The Federal Government is aware of the economic and social implications of a second lockdown but we want to call on Nigerians to help us, help themselves and help the economy, by adhering strictly to the COVID-19 protocols.”
The Director-General of MAN, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said another lockdown would lead to hunger and malnutrition among Nigerians.
According to him, a fresh lockdown in the country will be counterproductive and worsen food crisis.
He stated, “I think the new wave of the COVID-19 infection is actually quite worrisome. While one must recognise that we need to be healthy to be able to work, there is the need to keep the economy afloat, and this consideration should mean that we need to be circumspective in terms of what the long-term plans are to deal with the virus.”
He said manufacturers had been discussing among themselves what could be the possible impact of another lockdown.
Ajayi-Kadir said, “Their take is that manufacturers will commit to ensuring stricter adherence to the COVID-19 protocols, and that it would be counter-productive to lock down the economy for the second time, especially because most people believe that COVID-19 is majorly responsible for the recession that the county has entered into.
“So, we may not be able to easily recover from another round of lockdown. I think the position government should adopt is that we should recommit to even ensuring stricter implementation and enforcement of the COVID-19 protocols such that industries are not locked down and they are able to continue to produce and make their products available in the market.