COVID-19: Nigeria Gradually Shutting Down

COVID-19: Nigeria Gradually Shutting Down

On Sunday, the Lagos State Government directed civil servants in the state to work from home for the next 14 days, as the state keeps rolling out measures to curtail the spread of coronavirus outbreak.

The state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced the directive during a statewide address.

“I’m now hereby directing that all public officers in the entire unified public service from grade 1 to 12 which constitutes about 70% of the entire public workforce should stay at home from Monday 23rd March 2020 for 14 days at the first instance. We will review this as time goes on.

“Members of the public are advised to refrain from visiting our public offices and to transact such businesses as is possible that we can do this on the phone or online channels.

“This stay-at-home order does not affect any of our first responders, meaning the medical personnel are still meant to be at their duty posts, the fire service, members of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LAWMA and other essential services are not affected by the directive.

“In terms of proactive measure we are taking to curb the spread of the disease, we have shut down all public and private schools and institutions of higher learning and we have also instructed that we should not allow congregation gatherings of more than 50 people at any time,” Sanwo-Olu said.

In the same vein, the Kogi State Government has directed civil servants in the state to work from home, following the steps of Ekiti State Government.

“Civil servants from GL 1 to 13 are directed to stay off workplaces for 14 days which is subject to review after the first week starting from Monday 23rd March, 2020,” said Kingsley Fanwo, the Commissioner for Information and Communication. “Only workers from GL 1 to 13 are affected by the directive to stay at home while GL 14 and above are to report at their offices.”

Following international best practices, those rendering essential services have been excluded from the “work from home” directive.

In Kwara State, the government has directed the closure of all schools and asked all civil servants, apart from the Ministry of Health and essential services, to stay at home. All gatherings of more than 25 people have also been canceled.

In like manner, the Kaduna State Government has ordered its civil servants from level 12 and below to stay at home for the next 30 days. For self-employed businesses, only food and drug vendors are allowed to stay open.

In Niger State, the government has directed civil servants from grade 1 to 12 to stay at home while the State went further to impose 8:00am to 8:00pm curfew.

The Nigerian Police has also issued a statement warning Nigerians to stay away from police stations. The Inspector General of police made the order on Sunday, and enjoined Nigerians not to visit police stations unless it is extremely necessary. The directive also stipulates that AIGs and command CPs ensure that “cases of unnecessary arrests and detention of suspects are not condoned.”

Part of the directive is that detention of suspects must be reduced to the barest minimum, limited to serious cases such as armed robbery, homicide and other non-bailable offenses.

Governors in the 36 states have ordered the closure of schools, but other activities remain open, especially in the South-south and Southeast where there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus recorded yet. Cross River State Government, has however, placed entries to the state on locks, allowing only thoroughly screened persons.

Following the civil service trend, corporate organizations are gradually asking their staff to work remotely.

The Federal Government succumbed to pressure on Monday and placed the land borders on total lockdown, restricting movement to and fro all Nigerian land borders.

Nigeria has recorded its first coronavirus death. The victim, ex-PPMC (Pipelines and Products Marketing Company) managing director, Suleiman Achimugu, who returned from the UK two weeks ago, started showing the symptoms on Tuesday, and eventually died. So far, there have been 40 confirmed cases.

Former vice president Atiku Abubakar confirmed on Twitter that his son who just returned from Europe tested positive for coronavirus.

“My son has tested positive to coronavirus. NCDC has been duly informed, and he has been moved to Gwagwalada Specialist Teaching Hospital in Abuja for treatment and management. I will appreciate it if you have him in your prayers. Stay safe, coronavirus is real,” he tweeted.

It has triggered voluminous yearning for a total lockdown of the country. On Twitter, hashtags like #TotalLockDown and #LockNigeriaDown have been trending to push the government to implement stay-at-home.

“It is commendable that state governors have closed down schools; however, this could be counterproductive if parents are still going to work. We should not isolate students and expose their parents. Let us remember that they will meet at home,” said First Lady Aisha Buhari.

She joined other Nigerians calling for a total lockdown of the country. In response to these calls, the federal agency, acting on the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force, advised Lagos and Abuja residents to stay at home.

“All Abuja and Lagos residents are strongly advised to stay at home, avoid mass congregation of any kind as well as non-essential outings, until further advice is given,” a presidential statement said.

However, the concern has been if Nigerians will comply with sit-at-home order as their daily needs will likely push them to defy such others. In Lagos, despite the encouragement for social distancing and the government’s order limiting social gatherings to 50 persons only, many are still queuing in bus stations, fighting for buses.


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