By Ayo Akinfe
(1) We are a nation of petty artisans. Our economy thrives on the basis of the activities of mechanics, carpenters, bricklayers, market women, small retailers, Okada riders, etc. These kind of people simply need to work everyday to earn a living
(2) Most Nigerians do not have the storage space for more than two week’s worth of food. Those living in face-to-face housing for instance simply do not have the option of stocking up
(3) Only the elite can afford to buy their food in bulk. Your roadside vulcaniser cannot go out and buy a 500kg sack of rice or gari for instance. He is most likely to buy 1kg to feed his family
(4) From what we have seen in India, the economic side-effects of the shutdown may lead to more deaths than coronavirus itself. When you deny millions access to food, people will start dying of hunger
(5) My biggest fear, however, is the explosion of violence, armed robbery, kidnapping, etc we will see once the all clear is sounded. Millions of youths who have had nothing to do and are on the verge of starvation are likely to go on the rampage once the shutdown ends. Is anyone making plans for this eventuality?
(6) Has it occurred to anyone that we might get an outbreak of diseases like dysentery, cholera, typhoid fever, etc in places like IDP camps, among the Almajiri and in our crowded inner city areas like say Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State? When you ask people not to go out and they live in crowded spaces, disease will spread. If we want to be honest, the casualty rates from all these diseases will dwarf the numbers we get from coronavirus
(7) So far, Nigeria has only had 139 cases of coronavirus with two deaths. Our government has to decide whether it is the right thing to continue with the lockdown if it will lead to 10 or 20 times more deaths from disease, hunger, violence and the breakdown of society
(8) We have the added problem of the urban poor not being really able to self isolate. If five families use one kitchen, how do they keep their distance from each other?
(9) To compound our problems, we do not manufacture enough facemasks to supply the population. For instance, any lockdown is nonsensical if you are allowing people to go into a molue without wearing facemasks
(10) Nigeria, like India and maybe other large nations such as Pakistan, Brazil, Bangladesh and Indonesia, simply cannot afford this lockdown. It is these nations that need to lead the search for a coronavirus cure. That is our only hope