GOVERNORS of Nigeria’s 36 states have unanimously resolved to a introduce two-week inter-state lockdown starting from today as part of measures required to contain spread of the dreaded coronavirus pandemic across the country.
Yesterday, the Nigerian Governors Forum met via teleconference to discuss the pandemic and look for means to contain it. At the summit chaired by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, the governors decided to halt movement between their states for a fortnight and also harped on the need to decentralise the Covid-19 response, which they said is too centralised for now.
At the ends of their meeting, they issued a communiqué which read: “We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today deliberated on the Covid-19 pandemic in the country and resolved as follows. The forum held a minute’s silence in honour of all Nigerians who have lost their lives from coronavirus, especially health workers who were in the front lines of the epidemic.
“Members also conveyed their condolence to Mr President and the people of Borno State on the passing of the chief of staff to the president, Mr Abba Kyari who passed away on 17th April 2020 in the line of duty to the country. The NGF chairman briefed the forum on the rapidly evolving situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and coordination efforts with the federal government, multilateral and bilateral partners and the private sector through the Coalition against Covid-19.
“With over 25 states now affected by the spread of the virus and increasing evidence of community transmission, state governors called for the decentralisation of the Covid-19 response as the best chance of nipping the spread of the virus in communities. Following an update from the NGF secretariat on the number of Covid-19 cases in the country, members expressed serious concern over the rising spread of the virus among health workers and resolved to work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure that health workers are adequately provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and are constantly trained on the use of protective gears.
“In order to strengthen coordinated implementation of necessary public health recommendations across states, governors resolved to set up Covid-19 committees at the regional level, headed by their state commissioners of health. Regional committees will continue to interface with the state task force committees on Covid-19 already established in each state.
“Governors unanimously agreed to the implementation of an inter-state lockdown in the country over the next two weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus from state to state. Only essential services will be permitted.
“Lastly, the forum congratulated Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who after nearly four weeks of testing positive and observing a very strict medical regime has now received two consecutive negative test results for the coronavirus.”
Also, at the meeting, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State warned that any further extension of lockdown of the country in will spell doom for the country. He said: “With prices of oil falling, locking out is far better than locking down for another two weeks, which will find this country under siege by young people.
“There is no way you can hold down these young energies for too long. About 65% of the population is below the age of 35 and the virus itself does not have penetrative force in such a demography and that is what we have to recognise as a country.
“Our demography is different from the West and our climatic conditions are different. If you take the wind speed, the wind direction, sun intensity, radiation and the factors that govern the movement of a virus, ours is a situation that makes it difficult to spread with the speed it is spreading in the western world.”