FEDERAL government health officials has expressed dismay at the speed with which Nigerian state governors have lifted the restrictions on social distancing aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
In March, the Nigerian government imposed restrictions on movement to curtail the spread of the virus, with total lockdowns imposed in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja and Lagos and Ogun states, Partial lockdowns were introduced in other states, especially with regards to large gatherings like religious meetings, sporting events and political rallies.
State governors were empowered to introduce bans within their domains as they saw fit and as the situation dictated. Over the last week, numerous state governors have been very eager to lift the ban on religious worship, re-opening mosques and churches despite the number of infected people still rising.
For instance, the governors of Borno, Gombe, Adamawa and Zamfara states have reopened mosques and churches, mainly due to the fact that the Ramadan month of fasting is in progress and the religious faithful want to worship. Boss Mustapha, the secretary to the federal government and the chairman of the Covid-19 presidential taskforce, warned that these hasty measures could spell trouble.
According to Mr Mustapha, the governors did not consult with the federal government before lifting the restrictions. He added that the federal government believes that the situation of the virus spread had not reached a stage whereby it is safe to lower the guard and the task force will be engaging with the governors on the matter.
Information minister Lai Mohammed, added: “We are always working together with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF). We believe that the governors won’t do anything that will put in jeopardy all we have achieved in the last few weeks of lockdown.
“I think it is better that we continue the engagement and I am sure that the chairman of the taskforce who is constantly in touch with the governments will take up this matter and we hope that he will be able to give a feedback.”
In Gombe State, Governor Muhammadu Yahaya said places of worship could be opened, only when members wear face masks, keep social and physical distance, as well as maintain regular hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers. He added that members of aid groups in mosques and the Boys Brigade in churches would be trained to ensure full compliance and the enforcement of the protective measures.