The Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other groups have warned that Nigeria’s fragile economy cannot withstand another lockdown.
MAN, the LCCI, and others, in separate interviews with media source, called on Nigerians to adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures to prevent another lockdown.
The groups gave the warning just as a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, on Tuesday disclosed that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, had tested positive for COVID-19.
Recall that following increase in COVID-19 cases in April, the Federal Government imposed lockdown in Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
The phase three of the lockdown, which was extended to other parts of the country, ended in September.
But there have been concerns about the increasing coronavirus cases with at least 26 generals and the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwolu, testing positive for the virus.
The Nigerian Army had also said a general, Olu Irefin, died of the virus.
The Director-General of the LCCI, Dr Muda Yusuf, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said second lockdown was not wise considering the current state of the economy.
He stated, “A second lockdown is not advisable. The social and economic environment is too tense and fragile to withstand the shock of another lockdown. What needs to happen is to intensify the sensitisation and awareness of COVID-19 protocols. Some subtle enforcement should also be put in place.”
Also, the acting Director-General of MAN, Ambrose Oruche, said the state of health of Nigerians was of paramount importance and the spread of the coronavirus should be prevented.
He, however, noted that it was not advisable for the government to introduce a complete lockdown considering the fragile state of the economy and the need for people to earn a living.
He advised the government to ban large gatherings and enforce the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control protocols like the wearing of facemasks, regular hand washing and observing of social distancing.
Another lockdown’ll crash production, consumption, economy – Economic groups
On his part, the President, Nigeria-Malaysia Business Council, Michael Aderohunmu, said it would be counter-productive to lockdown the nation’s economy again despite the likelihood of second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to one of our correspondents, he said, “We are talking about productivity, humans produce and consumed products. You can see the last effect of the lockdown on the economy. Consumption crashed and most products were short in the markets.
“So humans should not be locked down again, rather massive advocacy should be done. If people don’t go to work again, the effect will be devastating on production, consumption and the economy.”
The National Vice President, Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, who doubles as the President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, Billy Gillis-Harry, stated that a lockdown would not mean well for production in Nigeria.
Our economy may crumble under another lockdown—Virology institute CEO
The Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, Dr Patrick Dakum, said the country was in a dangerous period between lives and livelihood.
He stated, “Our economy may crumble under a total lockdown. We can modify the UK approach by having a hotspots locked down if the positivity rates shoots higher than what it is now. Our best bet is a down to earth communication strategy of the known non-pharmaceutical prevention measures targeted at key community gate keepers especially religious leaders.”
But in Abuja, Justice Saulawa, while unveiling of the national headquarters of the Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria, said the CJN had tested positive for the virus.
He said the CJN was receiving treatment in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
The CJN was conspicuously absent from the Monday’s new legal year ceremony of the Supreme Court during which 72 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria were sworn in.
In his absence, the Monday’s event was presided by the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour.
Justice Saulawa represented the CJN as the Chairman of the MULAN’s event on Tuesday.
Charging the people in his audience on the need to observe the needed precaution against COVID-19, he said the disease was the reason the CJN could not attend the event.
He said, “I stand not in my capacity as the chairman of this occasion but rather in an acting capacity. The chairman (CJN) that has been designated to be here with us couldn’t make it. He has travelled to Dubai and he is still there. That is the wish of Allah.
“I will have to use this (occasion) as a very serious admonition to all of us. Because the very reason that my Lord, the Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko could not make it is because of COVID-19 19. He has tested positive. But I have just realised that some of us have worn the toga of attitudinal disposition to this calamity, this adversity.”
He advised that the COVID-19 protocol should be taken seriously, as some world leaders who took the threat of the disease lightly later contracted it.
Shortly after Justice Saulawa’s comment on the CJN’s COVID-19 status hit the media space on Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s Director of Information, Dr. Festus Akande, issued a statement to discredit the claim.
He described the claim as a rumour.
The apex court’s spokesperson had earlier in his first statement on the state of health of the CJN, on Tuesday, denied reports that the head of the Nigerian judiciary was critically sick.
His second statement issued shortly after Justice Saulawa’s comment appeared to be a veiled rebuttal to the judge’s claim.
Akande stated, “In furtherance to the press statement earlier issued, I wish to state categorically clear that there is no medical report so far made available by anybody indicating that the Hon. CJN has tested positive for Coronavirus.
“Those peddling the rumour should go a step further to confirm from their sources and equally obtain the copy of whatever laboratory test result they are relying on.
Also on Tuesday, the Kaduna State Government announced the closure of schools across the 23 local government areas of the state.
This followed an upsurge of the COVID-19 in the state, according to the state Commissioner for Education, Dr. Shehu Makarfi.
The statement directed all schools in the state to close as from Wednesday, December 16, 2020.
The Commissioner in a statement issued on Tuesday, said the ministry decided to shutdown the schools due to the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the state.
According to him, the rising cases of COVID-19 showed a replicate of figures recorded in the first wave of the pandemic in April, May and June 2020, indicating that a new wave of the infection is rapidly spreading across the state.
Defence minister fails to self-isolate, Army continues contact-tracing
The Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.), has failed to go on self-isolation despite attending the annual Chief of Army Staff Conference 2020 in Abuja, where coronavirus outbreak was reported.
Following the development, the COAS, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, cancelled the event and directed the participants to immediately proceed on self-isolation in line with the Federal Government’s protocol for COVID- 19.
Buratai, who also proceeded on quarantine did not attend his son’s wedding in Abuja, last Friday.
But the minister has been going around on official assignment in violation of the COVID-19 protocols.
On Sunday, Magashi led a Federal Government delegation to Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari over the abduction of 333 students of the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has continued active contact-tracing of individuals who may have come in contact with participants at the conference.