President Muhammad Buhari yesterday April 28, 2020 approved a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun states from Saturday 2nd May, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.
In a nationwide broadcast yesterday, Buhari explained that the decision followed the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
Buhari, however, said this would be followed strictly with an aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors. Announcing the highlights of the new nationwide measures, Buhari said: “Selected businesses and offices can open from 9am to 6pm. There will be an overnight curfew from 8pm to 6am. This means all movements will be prohibited during this period except essential services. There will be a ban on non-essential inter-state passenger travels until further notice.”
Furthermore, Buhari said there would be partial and controlled interstate movement of goods and services from producers to consumers“and we will strictly ensure the mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public in addition to maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene.”
“The restrictions on social and religious gathering shall remain in place. State governments, corporate organisations and philanthropists are encouraged to support the production of cloth masks for citizens.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states shall remain in place until these new ones come into effect on Saturday, 2nd May 2020 at 9am.
“The Presidential Task Force shall provide sector specific details and timing guidelines to allow for preparations by governments, businesses and institutions.
“The above are guidelines. State governors may choose to amend, adapt and expand based on their unique circumstances provided they maintain alignment with the guidelines issued above on public health and hygiene.
“These revised guidelines will not apply for Kano State. The total lockdown recently announced by the state government shall remain enforced for the full duration. The Federal Government shall deploy all the necessary human, material and technical resources to support the state in controlling and containing the pandemic.”
The president commended those he described as the frontline workers across the country who, on a daily basis, risk everything to ensure that the nation win the fight against the deadly virus.
“For those who got infected in the line of duty, rest assured that government will do all it takes to support you and your families during this exceedingly difficult period. I will also take this opportunity to assure you all that your safety, wellbeing and welfare remain paramount to our government.
“I also recognise the support we have received from our traditional rulers, the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and other prominent religious and community leaders. Your cooperation and support has significantly contributed to the successes we have recorded to date. I urge you all to please continue to create awareness on the seriousness of coronavirus among your worshippers and communities while appealing that they strictly comply with public health advisories.
“I also thank the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Presidential Task Force for all their hard work to date. Through this collaboration, I remain confident that success is achievable.
“I also thank corporate organisations, philanthropists, the UN family, the European Union, friendly nations, the media and other partners that have taken up the responsibility of supporting our response.
“And finally, I thank all Nigerians again for your patience and cooperation during this difficult and challenging period. I assure you that government shall continue to take all necessary measures to protect the lives and livelihoods our citizens and residents.”
President Buhari said some three million confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been recorded globally with about 900,000 recoveries. Unfortunately, some 200,000people have also died as a result of the pandemic. He explained his administration’s plans for the coming months, stating that some key variables and assumptions might change in the coming days or weeks.
“Exactly two weeks ago, there were 323 confirmed cases in 20 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
“As at this morning, Nigeria has recorded 1,273 cases across 32 states and the FCT. Unfortunately, these cases include 40 deaths.
“I will use this opportunity to express our deepest condolences to the families of all Nigerians that have lost their loved ones as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is our collective loss and we share in your grief.
“Initial models predicted that Nigeria will record an estimated two thousand confirmed cases in the first month after the index case.
“This means that despite the drastic increase in the number of confirmed cases recorded in the past two weeks, the measures we have put in place thus far have yielded positive outcomes against the projections.
“The proportion of cases imported from other countries has reduced to only 19% of new cases, showing that our border closures yielded positive results. These are mostly fellow Nigerians returning through our land borders. We will continue to enforce land border arrival protocols as part of the containment strategy.
“Today, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has accredited 15 laboratories across the country with an aggregate capacity to undertake 2,500 tests per day across the country.
“Based on your feedback, Lagos State Government and the FCT with support from NCDC have established several sample collection centres in Lagos and the FCT. They are also reviewing their laboratory testing strategy to further increase the number of tests they can perform, including the accreditation of selected private laboratories that meet the accreditation criteria.
“Several new fully equipped treatment and isolation centres have been operationalised across the country thereby increasing bed capacity to about three thousand. At this point, I will commend the state governors for the activation of state-level emergency operation centres, establishment of new treatment centres and the delivery of aggressive risk communication strategies.
“Over ten thousand healthcare workers have been trained. For their protection, additional personal protective equipment have been distributed to all the states. Although we have experienced logistical challenges, we remain committed to establishing a solid supply chain process to ensure these heroic professionals are can work safely and are properly equipped.
“In keeping with our government’s promise to improve the welfare of healthcare workers, we have signed a memorandum of understanding on the provision of hazard allowances and other incentives with key health sector professional associations. We have also procured insurance cover for 5000 frontline health workers. At this point, I must commend the insurance sector for their support in achieving this within a short period of time,” he said.
The president declared that the distribution and expansion of palliatives which he directed in his earlier broadcast was still ongoing in a transparent manner.
“I am mindful of the seeming frustration being faced by expectant citizens. I urge all potential beneficiaries to exercise patience as we continue to fine- tune our logistical and distribution processes working with the state governments.
“I have directed the Central Bank of Nigeria and other financial institutions to make further plans and provisions for financial stimulus packages for small and medium scale enterprises. We recognise the critical role that they play in Nigeria’s economy.
“Our security agencies continue to rise to the challenge posed by this unusual situation. While we feel deeply concerned about isolated security incidents involving hoodlums and miscreants, I want to assure all Nigerians that your safety and security remains our primary concern especially in these exceedingly difficult and uncertain times. As we focus on protecting lives and properties, we will not tolerate any human rights abuses by our security agencies. The few reported incidences are regrettable, and I want to assure you that the culprits will be brought to justice.”