Governors have endorsed a two-week inter-state lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus.
The states’ helmsmen said the movement of people across states contributed to the spike in COVID-19 cases.
This is in spite of the lockdown of Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by President Muhammadu Buhari since March 30, and the close of territories by states.
After their sixth COVID-19 teleconference meeting on Wednesday, the 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.”
However, they added: “Only essential services will be permitted,” according to the communiqué made available by Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) spokesman Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo.
The governors were briefed by their colleagues Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Bala Mohammaed (Bauchi) on their experience while undergoing treatment for the virus pandemic. Both tested positive and were isolated, treated and discharged.
They were also briefed by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun who shared their experience in managing coronavirus cases in their states.
Lagos is the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria with 430 cases out of the national tally of 782 as at Tuesday. One hundred and six cases have been discharged in the state.
Because of the evidence that community transmission of the virus has led to its spread to 25 out of the 36 states, governors called for the decentralisation of the COVID-19 response and the setting up of COVID-19 committees at the regional level to strengthen coordinated implementation of necessary public health recommendations.
They proposed that the regional committees be headed by commissioners of Health while the committees will continue to interface with the State Task Force panel on COVID-19.
They also expressed “serious concern” about 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.
They rejoiced with Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai who was on Wednesday discharged after “nearly four weeks of testing positive and observing very strict medical regime but has now received two consecutive negative test results to the coronavirus”
They also condoled with President Muhammadu Buhari over the death of his Chief of Staff Abba Kyari from COVID-19 complications.
But Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade warned that any further extension of lockdown of the country in response to the ravaging pandemic will spell doom..
According to him, it would give rise to uncontrollable youth restiveness.
Ayade, who spoke yesterday at the Industrial Park in Calabar, said he was recruiting 8000 youths to avoid social tension in view of the harsh economic impact created by COVID 19.
Ayade said: “With prices of oil falling, locking out is far better than locking down because another two weeks of lockdown will find this country under siege by young people. There is no way you can hold down these young energies for too long.
“It is demographic, it is statistics. 65 per cent 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”
The governor said the difference in climate conditions between the Western World and Africa is the reason the pandemic is ravaging that part of the world.
“Our demography is different from the West. 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.
“So, our response strategy should reflect our environmental sensitivity. Maybe what COVID-19 will eventually do is to sharpen the consciousness of young people to come together. That will be very dangerous and so, to nip that in the bud, we have to find jobs for them because sincerely, that is the provision in the constitution. Section 14 sub section 2 says the welfare and security of the people are the primary essence of government
“I have to get the young people off the streets, I need to get them engaged. I need to get them to survive and that is the essence of government.”
The governor advocated channeling of donations to the COVID-19 campaign to job creation. “If you have international support of N21 billion, you have to find how to use it to create jobs and not how to use it on COVID-19 campaign because it will end one day”, he said.