FINANCIAL experts have warned the federal government that the recent fresh restrictions introduced to arrest the spread of the coronavirus pandemic could hurt the Nigerian economy particularly flight restrictions which could limit the flow of foreign direct investment.
Yesterday, the federal government imposed a nationwide curfew effective from 12 midnight to 4am to limit the further spread of the Covid-19 virus. In addition, Mukhtar Mohammed, the national incident manager, revealed that night clubs, gyms and other public facilities will remain closed till further notice, all with effect from May 10.
Mr Mohammed said: “For gathering including wedding and parties meetings, we are expanding the limit to 50 people preferably outdoors, not in enclosed spaces and attendees must wear face masks and they must ensure proper sanitisation of their hands and maintain physical distance. For land and rail transport, there are no limitations anymore on inter and intrastate travel but service providers must abide by status stipulations from the federal ministry of transport and ensure that PPEs are used and where applicable physical distancing is observed.
“For the public sector, we are maintaining the restriction and encouraging the work-at-home policy for staff below the level of grade level 12. Those on grade level 12 and above will be allowed to come to work and for the hospitality and entertainment industry, hotels will continue to remain open but observing all non-pharmaceutical interventions.”
However, experts have warned that restrictions on flights in particular would limit the flow of foreign direct investment into the country. Financial analyst, Ovie Ogidiaka, explained that flight restrictions on certain countries would lead to loss of revenue and the downsizing in the aviation sector.
Travel expert, Olubiyi Oluwajoba, added that although restrictions and measures put in place by the federal government were done with probity, travel agencies were feeling the heat. He explained that thousands of Nigerians visit Dubai regularly but added that since February the number had greatly reduced.
However, Mr Oluwajoba did concede that the first concern of a leader should be the safety of the people. He added that the federal government had expressed this by flight restrictions to countries that are currently Covid-19 hotspots.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development World Investment Report for 2020, foreign investment to Nigeria totalled $3.3bn in 2019 while total stock was estimated at $98.6bn. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the 2020 figure was $9.68bn.